2014-15 Section 5AA South Preview

This is the 15th preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  Week 3 of this 5 week long season preview series concludes with a look at the south subsection of section 5AA.  The north subsection is omitted because there's only 1 school in the subsection that I follow.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here

Section 5AA South Sub-Section
Defending Champion: Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted

Predicted Seeding
  1. Breck
  2. Rockford
  3. Watertown-Mayer 
  4. Providence Academy 
  5. Brooklyn Center
  6. Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted
  7. International School 
  8. Minneapolis Edison 
Breck is loaded and has to be the favorite on paper.  They have 5 senior starters returning and their 6th man.  The 3 teams outside of the area I follow lose 8 of their 9 double figure scorers.  Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted loses 4 double figure scorers.  Watertown-Mayer loses a pair of double figure scorers.  Rockford loses their top 2 but does return Jeremiah Bingham (10.3 PPG).  Rockford also brings back 3 juniors who saw time last year.  Junior Cole Gagnon is the only top 6 scorer returning for HLWW.  Soph Trae Berhow and senior Ryne Alger will be the top options for Watertown-Mayer.  Brooklyn Center has a scorer and some athletes back from a midlevel team in this section.  Providence has to replace their front line but they have backcourt options.  Rockford and Watertown-Mayer fight for 2 and 3.  Providence and Brooklyn Center fight for the last home game.  HLWW takes up the 6 slot.  International School finished 2nd in the EMAC last year. They lose top scorer Ethan Forney and over 23 PPG.  Junior Rich Berkeley averaged 12.5 last year and should see that go up.  But they'll still have to fight with Edison to not get the 8 seed.

Sleeper: Brooklyn Center.  With wing Tedyke Clark coming back, they have a goto guy to carry them.  Add in some athletes and their style of play is something not seen by the others in  this section.

Sub-Section Winner: Breck.   Considering what everyone else lost, this is a no-brainer pick.  But the Mustangs had a disappointing year last year.  Now they're on their 3rd coach in 3 years.  They have a very challenging schedule to test themselves.  Non-conference games include Holy Family, Redwood Valley, Minnetonka, Perham, Annandale, and Waconia.  Watertown-Mayer can make a case to steal the top seed if they can win at Breck on January 3rd and at home in the season opener vs Rockford.

2014-15 Section 4AA Preview

This is the 14th preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at section 4AA. For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Defending Champion: St. Paul Academy

Predicted Seeding
  1. St. Paul Academy    
  2. St. Croix Lutheran  
  3. Minnehaha 
  4. Minneapolis Roosevelt  
  5. Concordia Academy
  6. New Life Academy
  7. St. Croix Prep
  8. St. Paul Humboldt
  9. Trinity
  10. Mounds Park Academy
  11. St. Paul Washington 
  12. Great River 
  13. Prairie Seeds 
  14. FAIR
  15. Hmong Academy
  16. St. Paul Prep
The top of the section is as strong as its been in recent years.  St. Paul Academy has 2 top players coming back from last year's state qualifying team.  Minnehaha and St. Croix Lutheran also have plenty coming back and are talented.  St. Croix Lutheran hosts SPA in early December and visit Minnehaha in early January.  Those 2 games and the 2 head to head games between SPA and Minnehaha in IMAC play will determine how those top 3 are seeded.  Roosevelt's guard trio makes them a tough out at 4.  Concordia and New Life fall next in line.  St. Croix Prep could jump up and join that group.  Humboldt and Trinity goes to the middle by default.  A Demond Dawson vs Michael Gutierrez matchup in round 1 would make for good theater in something like a 7 vs 10 or 8 vs 9 game if it came to that.  The rest of the section is really down so outside of the 8 vs 9 game, expect a bunch of 1st round blowouts.  The top 4 are a level above the next 4 so no upsets lurking there.

Sleeper: Concordia Academy.  Mostly because I've taken New Life Academy here the last 2 years.  The Beacons have experience back including 3 year point guard in Roger Moore.

Section Winner: St. Croix Lutheran. The Crusaders top guys are more experienced than Minnehaha.  They also matchup very well with St. Paul Academy.  If you look at Hanson vs Krueger, Peyton vs Lamu and Egly vs Rovney, that's as tough a matchup as SPA will have at all of those spots

2014-15 Section 4A Preview

This is the 13th preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  103 individual team and 11 conference previews are completed.  Now I move on to phase 2 of the previews.  Over the next 2+ weeks, I'll take a look at 12 metro area sections.  It starts with a look at Section 4A.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 4A
Defending Champion: Maranatha (2014 state 3rd place)

Predicted Seeding
  1. Minneapolis North
  2. Maranatha 
  3. Southwest Christian
  4. Legacy
  5. MTS
This section boils down to the matchup at the top between Maranatha and Minneapolis North.  Both are loaded and contenders for a state championship.  Maranatha won the section final in a tight game last year.  We'll get a preview of that likely showdown on January 17th at Minneapolis North.  As to the rest of the section you can pencil in MTS, CHOF and the 9 other MCAA schools next in line.  The 10 MCAA schools, MTS and CHOF are a mind-blowing 48-0 against the EMAC over the last 3 seasons.  That includes 25-0 last year.  Southwest Christian and Legacy should be the next MCAA teams in line in the seeding.  MTS, CHOF and Cristo Rey should all be in the 5-10 range.  Bethany is looking at an 11 or 12.  EMAC schools, Math and Science and Learning for Leadership should fill in below that.  The fun question is will the EMAC champion get a higher seed than the last place team in the MCAA.  Last year PACT got the 12 seed after going 0-13 in MCAA play while Christian Life got the 11 after a 12-1 EMAC campaign.

Sleeper:  None.  This section was pure chalk last year except for the notorious bracket busting 5 vs 12 game where PACT pulled the upset at West Lutheran.  Maranatha and North are so superior to every one else in this section there's no compelling reason to go another direction.

Section Winner: Minneapolis North.  Hard to go against either Maranatha or Minneapolis North with the success that their coaches have had.  But Minneapolis North is a deeper team with a year under McKenzie's system.  I think that depth and the hunger to avenge last year's loss drives the Polars all the way to a state championship.

2014-15 Rest of the Metro Preview

This is the 12th preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  In this preview, I conclude my look at the teams around the metro with a look at the local independents and any other teams in The Kingdom that I haven't previewed yet and want to mention.  That even includes a couple of EMAC teams I came across last season.  For a list of all the season previews and how they were generated, click here.

CHOF Lions (2013-14 season 12-12, Independent)
The Lions lose 17 points a game from point guard Nate Johnston but return most everything else.  They'll build around an experienced group of juniors.  Leading scorer Kit Piepkorn was good for 18 a night last season.  Tim Rohlf and Anders Strandlund were just under double figures.  Senior Grant Geerdes joins that trio.

Christian Life Hawks (2013-14 season, 15-9, 12-1 EMAC, 1st)
Wing Caleb Wochnick is the lone returning starter.  He was the leading scorer (18.5 PPG) for the regular season EMAC champs.  The next 4 scorers and remaining starters are all gone.  That includes point guard Mick Spangrud and his 18.3 PPG and 10.2 PPG from Aaron Green.  Everyone else is back.  Senior Joey Jaeger returns in the middle.  Jakson Griffith returns at a guard spot.

Community of Peace Tigers (2013-14 season 9-1, ? EMAC)
The Tigers were a mid-level EMAC team last season (due to a couple of home and home series, I'm not sure what their exact league record was).  Junior Marquez Perry returns as a top scoring option.

Cristo Rey Jesuit Pumas (2013-14 season 9-17, 2-3 Twin Cities)
Assistant Stan Clay takes over after head coach Kris Babler took the Rainy River job. 3 of the 4 double figure scores return from last season.  That includes almost 17 a night from Davonte Smith.  Lefty sophomore Jericho Sims should up his 11.5 PPG average.  Lefty forward Brandon Williams is another double figure scorer returning.

FAIR Falcons (2013-14 season 6-12, 0-4 Twin Cities)
The top 2 scorers are gone.  Forward Keith Washington graduated and point guard Markel Aune is now at Bloomington Kennedy.  Freshman Sy Chatman will be a top option. 

Hope Academy (2013-14 season 7-19, 5-8 EMAC)
Leading scorers Christian McFadden and Darrius Ross depart.  They combined for 29 points a night.  Lefty junior Tobias Griffin leads with 13.7 PPG last year.  Soph forward Nate Elifson was good for 9.1 PPG.  Guards Matthew Anfinson and sophomore Dashon Holcomb also return.  The rest of the roster will be very young. 

Minnesota Transitions Wolves (2013-14 season 13-10, 3-2 Twin Cities)
Assistant Bruce Weston took over the Wolves program during the middle of last season.  He'll have to replace 17.6 PPG from guard Willie Parrish.  He has a pair of junior guards who can do that.  Lewis McCaleb scored 17.5 PPG and Isaiah Williams added 10.6 PPG.  James Hancock returns in the middle.  Tramaine Cole is a returning guard.

St. Croix Prep Lions (2013-14 season 14-13, Independent)
Coach Matt McCollister has to replace 3 starters.  That includes their 2nd through 4th scorers.  But talented point guard Michael Gutierrez and 23.6 points per game returns to lead the way.  Junior Quinn Fisher also is back in the starting lineup.  Stillwater transfer Jared Shea will also join the lineup after sitting out last season.  Sophomore Austin Have saw plenty of time last year.  Wade Krueger is the only experienced size.

Spectrum Sting (2013-2014 season, 10-13, Independent)
The Sting return their top 2 scorers.  18 PPG combined from Stefan Mayer and Evan Emmel depart. The rest of the rotation is back.  Junior Zach Knollenberg scored 13.5 PPG to lead the team.  He was also the team leader in assist, steals and blocks.  He's the top returning rebound this year too.  Senior Ben Maki scored 11 points per game. 

2014-15 South Suburban Conference Preview

This is the 11th preview in my 2014-15 Season Preview Series.  To begin week 3, a look at the South Suburban Conference.  The Bloomington schools have departed for the new Metro West Conference.  Farmington and Shakopee replace them from the disbanded Missota Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Apple Valley Eagles (2013-14 season 27-2, 18-0 Conference, 1st)
Apple Valley has won 38 straight games in league play and 24 straight at home in South Suburban play.  Duke commit Tyus Jones (26.3 PPG, 8.7 APG) and forward Dennis Austin (11.4 PPG) need to be replaced.  Defender and shooter Robert Tobroxen will also be missed.  But the Eagles are still loaded and a contender to bring home the gold ball.  Junior center Brock Bertram and soph wing Gary Trent return to the starting lineup as double figure scorers.  Freshman Tre Jones will take over for brother Tyus at the point.  Those 3 are at or very close to the top of their class, not to mention the rest of the program is loaded throughout the levels.  The development of Trent's all-court game will be important to the Eagles success.  Forwards Cam Kirksey and Steve Christiansen have experience up front.  Junior Jordan Bolton provides guard depth.  Scary part is that Christiansen is the only senior of that group.

Burnsville Blaze (2013-14 season 8-19, 3-15 Conference, 9th)
The Blaze improved by 5 wins last season.  The forward duo of Joe Morris and Brett Shepley is back along with point guard Jake Ruffing.  Junior Jason Gumm provides more front court depth.  Guard Zach Smith departs after leading the team in scoring at 14.9 PPG last season.  Donny Parsons is another returning guard.

Eagan Wildcats (2013-14 season 12-14, 8-9 Conference, 5th)
Eagan returns a very good nucleus of PG Bryndan Matthews, SG Chase Seiberlich and swiss army knife forward GT Johnson.  The guards were both double figure scorers last season.  Senior forward Michael Gorder is off to University of Mary.  His 18.4 PPG is the major loss along with some role players up front.  Cole Hibbard will provide guard depth.

Eastview Lightning (2013-14 season 6-21, 2-16 Conference, 10th)
Lanky center Jordan Machacek departs but that's it.  The top 5 scorers and sophomore guard Jameson Bryan all return.  Obi Obeneme was the team's top scorer at 11.7 PPG.  Sioux Falls commit Drew Guebert and Keegan Dixon also averaged double digits last year.  They have experience and shooters. This is a team I don't want to play come playoff time.  I think the Lightning are much better this season.

Farmington Tigers (2013-14 season 19-8, 8-5 Missota Conference, 4th)
The return of senior point guard Zach Speikers will determine much of the Tigers season.  He blew out a knee last last season but averaged 19.2 PPG before that.  Wyatt Ferm is the only other member of the rotation returns.  Forwards Nick Varner and Eli Rockett are gone up front.  Guards Johnny Dittman and Mac Bassett were the rest of the perimeter starters.  The program was strong at the rest of the high school levels last year.  Matt Anderson should step up from the JV to be an important piece.

Lakeville North Panthers (2013-14 season 27-5, 16-2 Conference, 2nd)
Also 33 a night and the clutch play of JP Macura will be impossible to replace.  But the Panthers still have enough to make a run back to state.  Wing Connor Flack is the lone double figure scorer returning at 13.1 PPG.  Look for a breakout campaign from junior wing Drew Stewart.  The lefty has the ability to put up big numbers.  Isaac Brooks and Carl Engwall will fill in for the loss of Bronson Bruneau up front.  Junior guard Cal Pesola will fill the role of departed Alex Reiland.

Lakeville South Cougars (2013-14 season 10-16, 7-11 Conference, Tied 6th)
The Cougars have a nice trio to build around in sophomore point guard Jack Sorenson (20.7 PPG), bruising forward Brenon-Larson Gulsvig and freshman wing Shae Mitchell.  Defender Grant Mosser, forwards Ryan Kretzschmar and Kyle Martin also return with guard Blake Wacholz.  15.4 PPG from Cody Kairis and 4 other rotation members need to be replaced.

Prior Lake Lakers (2013-14 season 16-12, 9-9 Conference, 4th)
The 4 year leadership of Jon Sobaski at the point and his team high 19.5 PPG will be missed.  Kevin McKiernan averaged 7.2 PPG last year and will fill that PG role.  Forward Connor Bair is the top returner at 15.4.  He provides a dangerous versatility of inside scorer and outside skill/quickness.  Austin Heidecker is another frontline returnee.  Seniors Sam Schultz and Lucas Olson and junior Jack Kortes all saw meaningful minutes last year.

Rosemount Irish (2013-14 season 15-13, 7-11 Conference, Tied 6th)
The Irish need to replace the guard trio of PG Garrett Goetz and shooters Cole Northwick and Matt Stephenson. That group combined for 40+ points per game last year.  Shooter Logan Halvorsen and forward Kyle Kaupa return to the starting lineup.  Kaupa has the body to bang but you have to find him at the 3 point line.  Those 2 along with Tyler Hartigan are the top 3 returning scorers.  Gavin Rudoll, Jack Kessler and junior Jared Hanson will look to step into bigger roles

Shakopee Sabers (2013-14 season 24-7, 12-1 Missota Conference, 1st)
Junior forward Steffon Mitchell averaged 12.8 PPG last year.  With the loss of fellow forwards Tyler Weiss (15.8 PPG) and Jake Maiers, expect Mitchell to have a much bigger role.  The lefty continues to evolve into one of the top 2016 players in the state.  Senior point guard Evan Hagen returns to run the point for the 4th year.  Booker Coplin and Tevin Killeen also return on the perimeter. 
  
Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Apple Valley
  2. Shakopee 
  3. Lakeville North   
  4. Prior Lake
  5. Eagan
  6. Eastview  
  7. Lakeville South
  8. Rosemount  
  9. Farmington
  10. Burnsville
Conference Overview:
Apple Valley is so loaded that they are the clear favorite.  After that I see a big jumble in the top half.  Shakopee, Lakeville North, Prior Lake and Eagan all have plenty of important pieces returning but lost their top player.  Shakopee's tradition and last year's finish too much to ignore.  Can't move Lakeville North down much either.  Prior Lake and Eagan also very solid.  That group of 4 I could see in any order.  Eastview and Lakeville South also have plenty coming back but I don't see them at the same level as the others.  They'll battle for 6th.  Rosemount and Farmington have major pieces to replace.  Burnsville will be competitive but hard to see them moving up much.  Those last 3 I could see in any order.

Conference MVP: Steffon Mitchell - Shakopee

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Gary Trent Jr, Tre Jones - Apple Valley
  • Jameson Bryan - Eastview
  • Jack Sorenson, Shea Mitchell - Lakeville South
  • Garrett Mitchell - Shakopee
Conference Games to Watch
  • Lakeville North at Shakopee - Jan 9th
  • Apple Valley at Lakeville North - Jan 13th
  • Shakopee at Apple Valley - Jan 16th
  • Shakopee at Lakeville North - Feb 10th
  • Apple Valley at Shakopee - Feb 13th
  • Lakeville North at Apple Valley - Feb 17th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Chanhassen at Apple Valley - Nov 25th
  • Apple Valley at Minnetonka - Nov 29th
  • Shakopee vs East Ridge - Nov 29th (Anoka-Ramsey Classic)
  • Hopkins at Shakopee - Dec 4th
  • Apple Valley vs Waukee (IA) -  Dec 6th (Girls Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • Shakopee at Waconia - Dec 9th
  • Prior Lake at St. Paul Johnson - Dec 12th
  • Apple Valley vs De La Salle - Dec 13th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka) 
  • Eagan vs Orono - Dec 13th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka) 
  • Lakeville North vs Minneapolis North - Dec 13th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)  
  • Eden Prairie at Lakeville North - Dec 20th

2014-15 Tri-Metro Conference Preview

This is the 10th preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  Week 2 of the 5 week long series concludes with a look at the remade Tri-Metro Conference.  6 members leave to form the IMAC.  The MSHSL then adds Holy Angels, Columbia Heights and Fridley after the Missota and North Suburban folded.  So that leaves 9 teams but with a west class 3A vs east class 2A split, expect more changes to come.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Academy of Holy Angels Stars (2013-14 season 11-15, 5-9 Missota Conference, 6th)
The dynamic duo of forward Charlie Koontz and shooter Taylor BonGiovanni (AKA Bon Jovi on my stat sheets) and their 40 PPG will be tough to replace.  Most of the rest of the rotation is gone too.  Sophomore Sam Boehne is a piece to build with for the future.
 
Brooklyn Center Centaurs (2013-14 season 15-10, 6-4 Conference, Tied 3rd)
The league's leading scorer Tedkye Clark returns after scoring 24.5 PPG last year.  Seniors Tyrell Beasley and Romell Carr also return to the lineup.  Sophomore Devonte Prince is the 3rd leading returning scorer.  Wing Sammie Watkins and his 14.7 PPG is the biggest lost.

Columbia Heights Hylanders (2013-14 season 19-8, 10-4 North Suburban Conference, 2nd)
The Hylanders coming off an impressive season where they had a chance to reach 20 wins and win the final North Suburban conference title.  A loss on the final night at Totino-Grace cost them both.  Double figure scorer Colton Williams needs to be replaced.  Jarrett Baptiste scored 16.1 PPG as an inside force last year.  He leads a group of 4 returning starters.  Montroy Scott and Tak Anwey give the Hylanders athletic options on the wing.
 
Concordia Academy Beacons (2013-14 season 14-13, 5-5 Conference, Tied 6th)
The Beacons need to replace double figure scorers Will Preble and Austin Moldenhauer (27 PPG combined).  Point guard Roger Moore Jr returns to run the show.  He was the team's top scorer at 18.8 PPG to go with 5 assists a night.  Seniors Sam Root, Jacob Falk, Connor Johnson and Kyle Leistkow all will contribute.  Root is the top returning scorer of that group at 8.4 PPG.  Junior Chris Carlson will also be in the rotation.

De La Salle Islanders (2013-14 season 26-3, 10-0 Conference, 1st, AAA State Champion)
The 3-time defending state AAA champion Islanders are still loaded and the prohibitive favorite to win it all again.  That's despite losing D1 talents Reid Travis (Stanford) and Geno Crandall (North Dakota) along with James Lawson (D2 Sioux Falls).  Minnesota commit Jarvis Johnson returns at the point.  Sacar Anim should be a bigger offensive option this year and is a stud defender on 1 wing.  North Dakota commit Josh Collins is the other wing.  Sophomore star Goanar Mar and Jeff Daubanton provide some up front options who can also play facing the hoop.

Fridley Tigers (2013-14 season 15-8, 6-6 North Suburban Conference, Tied 5th)
The top 5 scorers and 6 members of the rotation all depart.  Each player in that group averaged between 9 and 11 PPG.  Center Jonathan Conyers is the top returning player.  His 8.8 PPG will need to drastically increase this season.  Tessy Pal gives the Tigers an option on the wing. 

St. Agnes Aggies (2013-14 season 7-20, 0-10 Conference, 11th)
Leading scorer Nick Turch and his 24.5 PPG need to be replaced.  Guard Jake Gutzmann also departs. Those were the 2 most effective scorers for the Aggies.  Luther Missoh is the top returning scorer at 5 PPG.  Upperclassmen Alula Tesfay, Peter Vaske and Alex Davis return to the lineup.  Sophomore Darius Lopez should be one of the better offensive threats.

St. Anthony Huskies (2013-14 season 5-22, 2-8 Conference, 10th)
Leading scorer Noah Bluth and his 14.6 PPG depart.  Ben Peterson averaged 13.2 PPG, lefty Nick Peterson averaged 7.3 PPG.  They are the top 2 returning scorers.  Guards Nick Knutson and Cole Richmond also return.  Kevin Omodt returns in the middle.

St. Croix Lutheran Crusaders (2013-14 season 17-12, 5-5 Conference, Tied 6th)
Assistant Coach Jay Wendland takes over the Crusaders program.  He has a talented group of juniors to build around.  Plus only 1 member of last year's rotation departs.  The trio of point guard Aage Rovney, forward Ade Lamu and center Trenton Krueger combined for 47 points a night last year.  Rovney is a solid lefty PG who can also shoot it.  Lamu is an athletic wing and Krueger is one of the best post players in the league.  Josh Arndt and Jason Rupprecht also return in the backcourt. 

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. De La Salle
  2. St. Croix Lutheran
  3. Columbia Heights
  4. Brooklyn Center
  5. Concordia Academy  
  6. Fridley
  7. Holy Angels
  8. St. Anthony 
  9. St. Agnes  
Conference MVP: Sacar Anim - De La Salle

Conference Overview:
No doubt about De La Salle at the top.  St. Croix Lutheran and Columbia Heights both have good talent coming back, I see them battling for 2nd.  But with St. Croix Lutheran playing the east half of the schedule (league is using a division schedule), that saves them a loss.  Plus they host Columbia Heights in the only meeting.  Brooklyn Center and Concordia played 2 tight games last year, expect a good battle there for 4th.  Fridley and Holy Angels both have a truck load to replace so they'll battle for 6th.  St. Anthony could jump into that group with their returnees.  St. Agnes will be young and without their top dogs, hard to see them scoring enough to move up.

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Davonte Prince, Deshawn Pickford - Brooklyn Center
  • Sage Booker, Gabe Kalscheur - De La Salle
  • Sam Boehne - Holy Angels
  • Cahlil Golden, Darius Lopez - St. Agnes
Conference Games to Watch
  • Columbia Heights at St. Croix Lutheran - Jan 27th
  • St. Croix Lutheran at De La Salle - Jan 30th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • St. Thomas Academy at St. Croix Lutheran - Nov 25th
  • Simley at St. Croix Lutheran - Dec 2nd
  • De La Salle vs North Scott (IA)- Dec 6th (Girls Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • St. Paul Academy at St. Croix Lutheran - Dec 9th
  • De La Salle vs Apple Valley- Dec 13th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • St. Croix Lutheran at Minnehaha - Jan 8th
  • De La Salle vs Chicago Morgan Park (IL) - Jan 10th (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • Eden Prairie at De La Salle - Jan 13th
  • Columbia Heights vs TBD - Jan 24 (E Metro Showcase at Johnson)
  • Armstrong at De La Salle - Jan 31st
  • De La Salle vs Kimberly (WI) - Feb 7th (Border Battle at Cretin-Derham Hall)
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at De La Salle - Feb 14th
  • St. Croix Lutheran at Breck - Feb 17th

2014-15 St. Paul City Conference Preview

This is the 9th preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the St. Paul City Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Central Minutemen (2013-14 season 20-7, 10-2 Conference, 2nd)
High scoring wing Rayeon Williams and 18.8 PPG depart.  Soph Kelson Valentime will likely replace one of the league's top posts, Kalu Abosi (11.4 PPG), inside.  Junior lefty Sam Gubbrud put up over 13 PPG last year and will be a top option this season.  Abdi Muse, Garrett Gardner and Jakobi Jackson will all see expanded roles.

Como Park Cougars (2013-14 season 11-16, 6-6 Conference, 4th)
Leading scorer Demetrice Mitchell was good for 13+ a night and will lead the way this year. 3 double figure scorers and all but 1 other member of the rotation need to be replaced.  There is a bit of help on the way as the JV squad represented St. Paul in the Twin Cities Game.

Harding Knights (2013-14 season 5-20, 3-9 Conference, 5th)
Leading scorer Dalontray Nins was the only double figure scorer for the Knights and he departs.  But the next 4 scorers return to the lineup.  That includes guards Malik Samuel and Donovan Adesoro and forwards Michael Williams Jr and Layvontae Allen Jr.   While there is experience, the talent level will keep them in the lower half.

Highland Park Scots (2013-14 season 11-16, 8-4 Conference, 3rd)
Leading scorer Isaiah Brower and 12.1 PPG depart from a group of 4 of the top 6 scorers.  Small perimeter players Kwashon Collins-Westlund, Emanuel Murphy and D'Anthony McAdory-Beckman return to the rotation.  Collins-Westlund averaged almost 11 PPG.  Once again there's no returning size of note.

Humboldt Hawks (2013-14 season 4-19, 2-10 Conference, 6th)
Demond Dawson returns after leading the league in scoring last year at 19.3 PPG.  He's one of only 2 seniors returning from last year's 16 member all-conference 1st team.  A pair of double figure scorers join him on the perimeter.  Terel Haughton-Lyons and Marion Moore combined for 25 PPG a night.  Its another city roster lacking size.

Johnson Governors (2013-14 season 27-3, 12-0 Conference, 1st)
The balanced Govs lose 3 double figure scorers including interior option Peirre Conwell.  But Johnson ability to reload is why they've shared or outright won the league title for the last 11 seasons (93-2 in last 95 league games).  They haven't lost a conference game at home in almost 10 years (Jan 28, 2005).  PG Jalen Mobley is the most explosive scorer in the league.  He returns with 16.7 PPG.  Lanky Justus Murphy will enforce the law inside.  Eric Elliot is the other double figure scorer coming back.  Andre Smith, Sedrick Clark and Malik Jones all saw plenty of minutes last season.  Expect the usual waves of defense and Mobley to make clutch plays when necessary.

Washington Eagles (2013-14 season 8-16, 1-11 Conference, 7th)
The Eagles jumped out to a 7-1 mark through Christmas thanks to a very soft schedule.  Then the new year and conference play came and Washington lost 13 straight and 15 of 16 to end the season.  Lefty senior Robby Sanders returns after scoring 13.2 PPG.  Sophomore Curtis Bell should reach double figures this season after 8.4 PPG last year.  Leading scorer Da'Vonte Adams and his 13.3 PPG are the biggest loss.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Johnson
  2. Central
  3. Highland Park
  4. Humboldt 
  5. Como Park 
  6. Harding
  7. Washington
Conference Overview:
The more things change the more they stay in the same.  Johnson will reload and be a heavy favorite.  Central and Highland Park logically slot in behind them.  The bottom 4 will be very weak.  Humboldt suffered 2 close losses to Como Park last year (111-104 in one) but they overcome them this year.  Como Park blasted Harding twice so I can't flip them.  Washington and Harding will battle to stay out of the cellar.

Conference MVP: Jalen Mobley - Johnson

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Kelson Valentine - Central
  • Curtis Bell- Washington
Conference Games to Watch
  • Johnson at Central - Jan 6th
  • Central at Johnson - Jan 30th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Central at Minneapolis North - Dec 12th
  • Johnson at Eden Prairie - Dec 16th
  • Central at Roseville - Feb 6th
  • Twin Cities Game - Feb 21st (Minneapolis Champion)