2014-15 Section 6AAA Preview

This is the 18th preview in my 2013-2014 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the final metro area section in class AAA , section 6.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here

Defending Champion: Holy Family

Predicted Seeding
  1. Waconia  
  2. Washburn 
  3. Holy Family
  4. Benilde-St. Margaret's
  5. Blake
  6. Holy Angels  
  7. Mound-Westonka
  8. Richfield
The bottom five teams in the section are all down.  Benilde-St. Margaret's, Blake and Holy Angels lose all of their top players.  Mound-Westonka and Richfield are in the midst of major rebuilds.  At the top, the Wright County looks to hold the top spot again.  The front line of Cole Peters and Oliver Smith vs Holy Family's Justin Dahl (UNI commit) makes for fun discussion.  Dahl needs somebody to score though, Jack Mugford's shooting will be critical.  Waconia loses a ton including forward Ryan Boll but they still have plenty coming back.  Washburn has some nice pieces to work with wings Evan Shephard and JoBreil Powell to go with PG Kevin Gleason.  However, I think you could say they've underachieved in both of head coach Jamin Cook's seasons. 

Sleeper: Benilde-St. Margaret's.  The Red Knights offensive system was very effective last season.  Junior wing Sam Baker should see a much expanded role this season.

Section Winner: Waconia.  Too much tradition and I think they match the size of Holy Family and are deeper.

2014-15 Section 4AAA Preview

This is the 17th preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  In this preview, we look at section 4AAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Defending Champion: St. Paul Central

Predicted Seeding
  1. St. Paul Johnson
  2. St. Thomas Academy
  3. Simley  
  4. Hill-Murray
  5. St. Paul Central
  6. St. Paul Highland Park
  7. St. Paul Harding
  8. South St. Paul
Johnson remains loaded and a favorite but the top of this section is as strong as ever.  St. Thomas Academy returns a nice group.  Simley has 4 talented guys back including 3 solid perimeter guys.  Hill-Murray's backcourt is as good as anyone's in the metro.  Central is still talented.  Highland Park goes 6th by default.  Harding and South St. Paul will struggle.  The potential semifinal matchups of Mobley vs Wilson and Simley vs St. Thomas Academy are very interesting neighborhood matchups.

Sleeper: Hill-Murray.  The backcourt strength is hard to ignore.  Marshawn Wilson is capable of going off and leading his team alone to a win.

Section Winner: St. Paul Johnson. 

2014-15 Section 3AAA Preview

This is the 16th preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  Week 4 of the series starts our 2 week look at the large school sections in the metro.  We'll begin with section 3AAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Defending Champion: De La Salle (3 time defending state champion)

Predicted Seeding
  1. De La Salle
  2. Columbia Heights  
  3. Minneapolis Patrick Henry  
  4. Spring Lake Park
  5. Totino-Grace 
  6. Fridley 
  7. St. Paul Como Park 
  8. St. Anthony
Obviously De La Salle is the favorite here with their D1 trio of Jarvis Johnson, Sacar Anim and Josh Collins leading the way.  Columbia Heights should be right behind them.  Henry has a tough schedule so I think that knocks them to third.  Slots 4 thru 6 are all about the same with the old members of the North Suburban.  All lose most of last year's rosters.  Como Park could jump over Fridley at the Fridley holiday tourney.  St. Anthony is still rebuilding as well.

Sleeper: Minneapolis Henry.  They have a bunch of athletes and a bunch of kids back.  They'll be battle tested coming into the playoffs.

Section Winner: De La Salle as they make a run for 4 in a row.

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.