2017-18 Metro East Conference Preview

This is the 8th preview in my 2017-2018 season preview series.  Thanks to the traditional MEA break, we'll end this 2nd week of previews here with a look at the Metro East Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and an explanation of how the previews are generated, click here.

Hastings Raiders (2016-17 season 12-15, 8-8 Conference, 5th)
Senior forward Sawyer Levos averaged 13 points a game last season.  He is the only member of the starting lineup and top 7 scorers that returns.   Those losses include tough Colin Kummer (13.6 PPG) and shooter Brandon Haraldson (12.1 PPG).  Grant Hollar moves up in the rotation at a guard spot.  Levi Zak will see time up front.

Henry Sibley Warriors (2016-17 season 5-22, 4-12 Conference, 7th)
Senior PG Rieshaun Satar more than doubled his production to 19 PPG last season.  Center Antonio and wing Jack Korte both averaged double figures and need to be replaced.  Junior forward Malik Spearman saw major minutes last year and should see a significant increase in production.  Junior Elijah Lonetree also returns to the rotation.

Hill-Murray Pioneers (2015-17 season 5-22, 3-12 Conference, 8th)
The Pioneers have a big task in replacing 30.9 PPG from PG Simeon Davis.  The next 3 scorers do return but none were over 7 PPG.  Lance Meniboon gives them an athletic perimeter player.  Matt Langer and lefty forward Ryan Vimr also return to the rotation.  Their guard play without Davis struggled last year.  That means handling pressure could be a major problem.

Mahtomedi Zephyrs (2016-17 season 24-4, 14-2 Conference, 1st)
Mahtomedi built everything up for last year.  Now the entire rotation has graduated.  That includes high flying forward Parker Fox and his 23.3 PPG.  Forward Jack Shay looks like the top option.  Timmy Lindquist will be a top backcourt option.  Soph center Cole Chapman will be an option as well.

North Polars (2016-17 season 17-10, 11-5 Conference, 4th)
Former Gopher player Damien Johnson takes over for Joe Janquart who moved on to Lakeville South.  He has 2 nice pieces to work with as seniors Goodnews Kpegeol and PG Bryce Phillips return as the top 2 scorers (20.9 and 10 PPG).  They'll miss the shooting of Josh Steckler (9.2 PPG).  Dylan Bateman looks to replace that.  Soph Brenden Lankford-Johnson saw minutes in the middle last year as a freshman.  Tytist Dean should be the replacement on the wing for the athletic role guys they lost.
St. Thomas Academy Cadets (2016-17 season 24-8, 12-4 Conference, 3rd)
Coach Jason Birr took the Cadets to the state tourney last season.  The Cadets look to repeat that with their top 3 scorers returning.  Junior guard Jack Thompson leads the team with 16.3 PPG.  Forward Sam Vascellaro is another solid option at 13 PPG.  George Stewart works inside (9 PPG).  A ton of role guys behind them need to be replaced.  Junior Noah Chamberlain is the top candidate to break out.

Simley Spartans (2016-17 season 13-15, 5-10 Conference, 6th)
The 19 PPG mismatch quality of DeAndre Smith and 10.1 PPG from Logan Tschida need to be replaced.  Senior Jake Binley averaged 19 PPG last season and could see a jump in that this season.  He'll have help from shooter Sam Vujovich and junior Isaiah Robinson.  Their size will be inexperienced.  Skyler Clairmont looks to be their top option there.

South St. Paul Packers (2016-17 season 1-25, 0-16 Conference, 9th)
57 straight league home losses now for the Packers.  All 3 double figure scorers and plenty of the rotation have graduated.  Those double figure scorers accounted for almost 44 points per game.  Mark Williams and Hamza Hussein appear to be top internal options.  Rumor has it they've picked up some talented from the east side of St. Paul that could contribute.

Tartan Titans (2016-17 season 25-4, 14-2 Conference, 2nd)
Similar to Mahtomedi, Tartan also has to replace everything.  That includes 4 double figure scorers lead by 18.5 PPG from D1 point guard Jordan Horn.  However the Titans do have junior guard Antwan Kimmons (6 PPG) returning to the rotation as the top option.  They do have some quality JV options moving up.  That includes Andre Jenkins-Whitmore along with juniors Matt Maanum and M'Akil Weems.  Senior Brady Hartman should provide size.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. St. Thomas Academy     
  2. North
  3. Tartan
  4. Mahtomedi
  5. Simley  
  6. Hastings   
  7. Henry Sibley 
  8. Hill-Murray 
  9. South St. Paul
Conference Overview
St. Thomas Academy is the clear favorite with their stars and coach coming back.  North can give them a run but will need time to adjust to the coaching change.  After that heavy losses for last season's top teams.  Tartan and Mahtomedi will rely on JV guys from last year.  Hastings and Simley have 1 quality guy coming back but important losses.  Sibley will try to ride Rieshaun Satar into that group.  Hill-Murray and South St. Paul will struggle.

Conference MVP: Goodnews Kpegeol - North St. Paul

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Cole Chapman - Mahtomedi
  • Brenden Lankford-Johnson - North
Conference Games to Watch
  • North at St. Thomas Academy - Jan 19th
  • St. Thomas Academy at North - Feb 9th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Chaska at North - Dec 2nd
  • St. Thomas Academy vs Osseo - Dec 9th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • North vs Eden Prairie - Dec 9th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • St. Thomas Academy at Apple Valley - Dec 15th
  • North at Woodbury - Dec 21st
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at St. Thomas Academy - Dec 23rd
  • St. Thomas Academy vs Hopkins - Dec 27th (UST Holiday Tourney)
  • St. Thomas Academy vs Wayzata - Dec 28th (UST Holiday Tourney)

2017-18 Minneapolis City Preview

This is the 7th preview in my 2017-2018 season preview series.  Yesterday was the St. Paul City Conference, now equal time for the Minneapolis City Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Edison Tommies (2016-17 season 3-25, 1-13 Conference, Tie 7th)
Edison broke a 50 game league losing streak by beating FAIR late last season.  With FAIR now combining with Henry, that means the Tommies haven't beaten a league opponent since the 2012-13 season.  The program combines with Heritage Academy this season.  That includes new head coach Ahmil Jihad who was the head man at Heritage last year.  That will add much needed athleticism.  1 double figure scorer is lost.  Guard Tenzin Chime (11.1 PPG) is the top returnee along with junior forward Jackson Rusnacko (10.7 PPG). 

North Polars (2016-17 season 32-2, 14-0 Conference, 1st)
Despite losing high scoring forward Isaac Johnson (23.4 PPG) and guard JaQuan Sanders-Smith (11.8 PPG), the Polars still are the heavy favorite.  Senior Odell Wilson's 17.1 PPG holds down the post as the top returning scorer.  Wing Tayler Johnson will see a much expanded role after averaging almost double figures.  Zion Sanford will run the show.  Juniors Nasir El-Amin and Eli Campbell will step into bigger rotation roles at the guard spots.  The Hines twins, Da'Kei and Da'Koi, give them a ton of length inside. 

Patrick Henry Patriots (2016-17 season 20-8, 10-2 Conference, 2nd)
North sider Jamil Jackson takes over the program.  He has to replace 4 double figure scorers who combined for 57 points a game.  That includes forward Lamar Wood and guard Jordan Lynn.  Junior guard Rashaud Rollins is the lone returning starter and top scorer with 7.7 PPG.  William Laabs looks to take over the interior role.  Guard Devon Johnson also returns to the rotation.

Roosevelt Teddies (2016-17 season 20-9, 10-4 Conference, 3rd)
Roosevelt combines with Wellstone for hoops this year.  The Teddies have to replace 3 double-figure scorers including forwards Jordan Johnston and Devon Hannah.  But coach Rob Mestas still has plenty coming back.  Guards Desi Sims and Leo Buchwald both averaged double figures.  Forward Luke Barnes and guard Eric Atson also return.  Barnes is their only size but the Teddies will scrap and claw their way thru it.

South Tigers (2016-17 season 5-22, 5-9 Conference, 6th)
It was one of those seasons where nothing went right for coach Joe Hyser.  Injuries destroyed the lineup.  Soph Curtis Jones was one of those who missed time.  He returns as the only double figure scorer (10.5 PPG).  Guard Jalan Jones and Demetrius Gladney also return to the lineup.  3 of their top guards need to be replaced.  Cossy Kowouto gives them a big body inside. 

Southwest Lakers (2016-17 season 9-18, 6-8 Conference, 5th)
Forward Brennan Hawkins and 16.3 PPG needs to be replaced.  Forward Niko Polydorou (16.2 PPG) is the top returnee.  Ari-Bogen-Grose and big man Alex Fischer return to the lineup.  JayZee Brown will step into a bigger role in the guard rotation

Washburn Millers (2016-17 season 14-11, 7-7 Conference, 4th)
Head coach Jamin Cook left for the Bloomington Kennedy job.  The job has not been filled at the time of this writing.  Guard Cortez Adams and his 10.9 PPG graduated.  Leading scorer Terrell Adams (13.3 PPG) and PG Isaac Lotz (8.1 PPG) are the top returning players.  Charles Cook-Gordon and Damon Neubert return to the perimeter rotation.  Gavin Yares returns and will take over the top role inside.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. North
  2. Roosevelt
  3. Washburn
  4. Henry
  5. South 
  6. Southwest 
  7. Edison
Conference Overview
North is the runaway favorite this year.  Roosevelt and Washburn are in the next tier but I like Roosevelt here especially with the late coaching change at Washburn.  Edison brings up the rear with the other 3 fighting for middle spots.  I'll go with Henry by default.  South jumps up over Southwest if they can stay healthy.

Conference MVP: Odell Wilson - North

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Trejuan Holloman - North
  • Yusuf Abdullah, Jamar Gardner - Henry
  • Curtis Jones, Jaylen Blakley, Demarco Dowden - South
Conference Games to Watch
  • Roosevelt at North - Jan 19th
  • North at Roosevelt - Feb 20th
  • Twin Cities Game - Mar 3rd (at St. Paul champion)
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • North vs Apple Valley - Dec 9th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • Eden Prairie at North - Jan 3rd
  • North at Minnehaha - Jan 25th
  • Hopkins at North - Feb 13th

2017-18 St. Paul City Conference Preview

This is the 6th preview in my 2017-2018 season preview series.  In Week 1, it was suburban schools and private schools.  To start week 2, we move to the city schools.  That equals 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 (2016-17 season 15-13, 11-1 Conference, 1st)
Star forward Daveonte Davis returns after averaging over 16 PPG last season and is only a junior.  Fellow juniors Luke McElroy (10.2 PPG) and Ronelle Porter should comprise the starting backcourt.  Dion Ford also returns to the rotation.  Forwards Re'Twan Balenger and Shawn Blanchard were important scoring options that need to be replaced.

Como Park Cougars (2016-17 season 8-18, 5-7 Conference, 5th)
Leading scorer Trey Clark (13.1 PPG) and Brian King-Keller (8.5 PPG) are the top returning threats.  Center Donald Ventrelli returns to the lineup as a banger.  Point guard Jason Jett and guard Kyrin Woodard are 2 major losses on the perimeter after combining for over 23 PPG.

Harding Knights (2016-17 season 7-18, 3-9 Conference, 6th)
The Knights have a serious scoring threat in PG Jovan Christian (19 PPG).  2 other double figure scorers return at the guard spots as well, De'Million Randle (10.7 PPG) and Nuradean Adam (10.2 PPG).  Forward Chris English averaged 13.6 PPG but has graduated.  Davonte Bolton provide their size. 

Highland Park Scots (2016-17 season 23-5, 10-2 Conference, 2nd)
Assistant Undre Ellis takes over for Jon DePerry in the 1st chair.  He has 2 major pieces to replace in 20.2 PPG guard Amitri Collins-Westlund and 19 PPG from athletic forward Dreem Kelly-Jabbar.  Junior guard Evan Brodtman is the top returning player at 6.1 PPG.  Mohamoud Bue also returns at a guard spot.  Gopher football commit Josh Aune will provide muscle up front.

Humboldt Hawks (2016-17 season 9-19, 1-11 Conference, 7th)
Humboldt has to replace 3 of their 4 double figure scorers.  They combined for over 42 points per game.  Senior Derron Riley is the 1 returnee of the 4 and he averaged 12.6 PPG.  Junior Darnell King and senior Avrik Bell are other returning options. 

Johnson Governors (2016-17 season 11-13, 7-5 Conference, 3rd)
The 13 year run of league titles is over.  Leading scorer Kyle Lee returns with 12.6 PPG.  4 of the next 5 top scorers also return for coach Vern Simmons.  Artereal Spriggs and Keylan Jackson will be the size.  Shemar Tucker-Adams, Kobe Anderson and Lamonte White are the top guard options.  Forward Justin Yang's 12.5 PPG needs to be replaced. 

Washington Eagles (2016-17 season 13-15, 5-7 Conference, 4th)
Washington has to replace one of league's top players in Curtis Bell (25.5 PPG).  They also have to replace their other 2 double figure scorers in guards Maurice Carter and James Boua-Taylor.  Soph forward Drewjuan White could have a breakout season after averaging 7.2 PPG last year.  Jackson Carver is another scoring option.  Junior center Da'Quan Grimes is experienced in the middle.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Central 
  2. Johnson
  3. Highland Park
  4. Washington
  5. Como Park
  6. Harding  
  7. Humboldt 
Conference Overview:
My view is that Central retains the top spot.  Johnson has a bounce back year and is the only team who can give them a serious run.  After that, a major drop off.  Highland Park and Washington have major losses but still as good as anybody else.  Como Park and Harding could jump into that group as they have some fire power coming back.  Humboldt holds down the last spot.

Conference MVP: Daveonte Davis - Central

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Drewjuan White - Washington
Conference Games to Watch
  • Johnson at Central - Jan 12th
  • Central at Johnson - Feb 5th
  • Twin Cities Game - Mar 3rd (at St. Paul champion)
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Central at Cretin-Derham Hall - Nov 30th
  • Delano at Central - Dec 12th
  • East Ridge at Central - Jan 3rd
  • Central at Minnehaha - Mar 1st

2017-18 Tri-Metro Preview

This is the 5th preview in my 2017-2018 season preview series.  Week 1 of the 6 week long series concludes with a look at the Tri-Metro Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Academy of Holy Angels Stars (2016-17 season 3-22, 2-10 Conference, 5th West)
Forward Sam Boehne and his 19 PPG needs to be replaced.  Senior wing Ryan Mazurek is the top returnee at 10.4 PPG.  Senior Jacob Werle is the other returning starter.  Juniors Tommy Shelstad and lefty Max Gerstner lead the full bench group that returns.
Brooklyn Center Centaurs (2016-17 season 19-8, 9-3 Conference, 2nd West)
Athletic forward Davonta Price (14.5 PPG) and guard Deshawn Pickford (13 PPG) need to be replaced.  All the other major contributors last year were talented underclassmen.  That starts with leading scorer Lu'Cye Patterson  (16.8 PPG) returning to run the point as a sophomore.  Junior wing Adreone Sprinkles averaged 13+ a night as the top shooter.  Soph Rudwan Tahir is an experienced defensive piece along with junior Quentrell Douglas in the rotation.

Columbia Heights Hylanders (2016-17 season 22-10, 8-4 Conference, 3rd West)
The Hylanders look to make noise in AAA this year with all of their top players returning.  3 double figure scorers return.  That includes Deaundra Roberson on the wing (17.7 PPG), forward Wendell Matthews inside  (15.9 PPG) and point guard Quentin Hardrict (13.9 PPG).  Christian Kelly is another solid wing.  Junior Jarvis Wright was a revelation off the bench.  They will need to find depth as they lose role guys Kadeem Thomas, Nate Sherefaw and Airreon Austin.
Concordia Academy Beacons (2016-17 season 8-19, 0-11 Conference, 4th East)
Concordia returns their top 3 scorers including 2 in double figures.  Junior forward Barnabas Preble averaged 13.2 PPG.  Senior guard Gavin Harbo averaged 11.2 PPG.  Senior Casey Hackett also returns to the rotation.  Lots of depth behind that is lost and will need to be replaced.  A pair of sophomores could be the answer to that.

De La Salle Islanders (2016-17 season 27-3, 12-0 Conference, 1st West)
Islander alumnus and former Centennial head coach Travis Bledsoe takes over for legend Dave Thorson who's now an assistant at Drake.  Star forward Goanar Mar and his 21 PPG is the biggest loss.  The shooting of Dominic Bledsoe will also be missed.  Senior wing Gabe Kalscheur (17.7 PPG) will take on the bulk of the scoring.  Junior Jamison Battle comes over from Benilde-St. Margaret's to man the other wing.  Junior point guard Tyrell Terry will run the show again.  Christian Dickson and Sage Booker are high quality defensive role guys.  The interior will be the question.  The development of Malik Lamin inside will be something to watch.

Fridley Tigers (2016-17 season 14-13, 5-7 Conference, 4th West)
High scoring guard Tirik Reeves and his 20 PPG are a major loss for the Tigers.  3 starters return including Jerome Cunningham (10.9 PPG) and shooter Evan Nelsen (10.6 PPG).  Nate Soto is the other returning starter.  Junior Casey Fisher should see more time at the point guard spot.

St. Agnes Aggies (2016-17 season 14-15, 2-9 Conference, 3rd East)
Coach Chris Hopkins has to replace 4 of his top 5 players.  Darius Lopez (16.8 PPG) and Brandon Plasch (11.4 PPG) graduated.  Athletic forward Gary Smith  (11.8 PPG) is now at Roseville.  Junior big man Jonathan Prokop will not return.  The small junior guard duo of Terrell Jones and Kentale Morris will lead the way.

St. Anthony Huskies (2016-17 season 19-8, 6-5 Conference, 2nd East)
Forward Rhys Langums and his 19.3 PPG as one of the top big men in the league has graduated.  Soph Tait Nelson (15.6 PPG) returns at the point and senior shooter Aaron Smith (16.1 PPG) return as a very good backcourt.  Mickey Jah also returns to the starting lineup.  Drew Nelson and Abe Jaeger Mountain will provide experienced depth.

St. Croix Lutheran Crusaders (2016-17 season 16-13, 8-3 Conference, 1st East)
Forward Jamaris Johnson is the lone starter that graduated.  His 13.9 PPG and athleticism will be missed.  But the Crusaders return 4 senior starters and 2 reserves.  was a revelation once added to the starting lineup last year.  Forwards Garett Maag and Jack Kuckhahn are the top offensive options at 15.9 and 11.9 PPG respectively.  Stephen Kletcher does the inside dirty work and Aaron Jenniges runs the point.  Adam Arroyo and Dorrell Bratton return to the rotation as well.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. St. Croix Lutheran 
  2. St. Anthony 
  3. Concordia
  4. St. Agnes 
  1. De La Salle
  2. Brooklyn Center  
  3. Columbia Heights
  4. Fridley 
  5. Holy Angels    
Conference MVP: Gabe Kalscheur - De La Salle

Conference Overview:
Once again the west division has the heavyweights.  Expect the top 3 teams to be in the state polls all season.  De La Salle remains the favorite but not as heavy as past years.  Columbia Heights and Brooklyn Center will both look to give them a run.  Brooklyn Center won 2 close games vs Heights last year but since that logic didn't work for me last year in picks, I'll say a tie for 2nd.  Fridley and Holy Angels fall in behind them.

The east should look about the same as last year.  St. Croix Lutheran will take the top spot with St. Anthony behind them.  Concordia with returnees and St. Agnes with major losses will swap spots.  But both are a level behind the saints at the top of the division.

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Lu'Cye Patterson, Rudwan Tahir - Brooklyn Center
  • Aaron Terhaar, Bryce Paul - Concordia
  • Conor O'Rourke - Holy Angels
  • Xavier Garcia - St. Croix Lutheran
  • Tait Nelson, Jeremiah Lucas - St. Anthony
Conference Games to Watch
  • Columbia Heights at Brooklyn Center - Jan 9th
  • De La Salle at Brooklyn Center - Jan 16th
  • Brooklyn Center at St. Croix Lutheran - Jan 19th
  • St. Anthony at St. Croix Lutheran - Jan 26th
  • St. Croix Lutheran at Columbia Heights - Jan 30th
  • De La Salle at St. Croix Lutheran - Feb 1st
  • De La Salle at Columbia Heights - Feb 13th
  • St. Croix Lutheran at St. Anthony - Feb 16th
  • Brooklyn Center at De La Salle - Feb 20th 
  • Brooklyn Center at Columbia Heights - Feb 23rd
  • Columbia Heights at De La Salle - Mar 2nd
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • De La Salle vs Iowa City West - Dec 2nd (Breakdown Girls Tipoff at Hopkins)
  • De La Salle vs Hopkins - Dec 9th (Breakdown Tipoff at Hopkins)
  • Brooklyn Center at Minneapolis North Holiday Tourney - Dec 27-28
  • De La Salle  at Cretin-Derham Hall - Feb 10th 
  • Minnehaha at Columbia Heights - Feb 16th
  • Wayzata at De La Salle - Feb 23rd

2017-18 IMAC Preview

This is the 4th preview in my 2017-2018 season preview series.  Week 1 of the 6 week series fully transitions to local class AA and higher schools with a look at the Independent Metro Athletic Conference (IMAC).  For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

Blake Bears (2016-17 season 10-17, 5-4 Conference, 3rd)
The Bears lose 4 top senior scorers plus 20 PPG game from Jack Moe who left for California.  The top 2 returnees are freshmen Robert Grace and Gabe Ganz.  Juniors Alex Martha and Isaac Gittleman should see increased roles.

Breck Mustangs (2016-17 season 19-10, 8-2 Conference, 2nd)
Star forward David Robby returns to the lineup.  He averaged 18.3 PPG last year and had a very good AAU season.  Guard Elijah Zackery also returns to the starting lineup.  Josh Roddy and Joey Ganley also return to the rotation.  The size of Sam Willey inside will need to be replaced.  Biggest loss is the transfer of soph wing Kerwin Walton (16.3 PPG) to Hopkins.

Minnehaha Academy Redhawks (2016-17 season 26-5, 7-0 Conference, 1st)
The defending conference and class AA champs are the favorites to repeat.  They carry a 19 game winning streak in league games going back 3 seasons.  The Redhawks lose only 1 notable senior, forward Jose Williamson.  Top 5 national player in 2020 Jalen Suggs (21.5 PPG) and senior forward JaVonni Bickham (14.5 PPG) lead a loaded group of 5 returnees that averaged double figures.  Senior Lorenzo Smith and sophs Terry Lockett and Kaden Johnson all averaged double figures and return on the wings.  Freshman Chet Holmgren and 8th grader Prince Aligbe are the next youngsters in line.

Mounds Park Academy Panthers (2016-17 season 3-20, 0-9 Conference, 6th)
2009 guard and former JV coach Jacob Schwartz takes over at his alma mater.  The program's all-time leading scorer Brendan Connolly graduates.  He was the only double figure scorer last year at 16.4 PPG.  Guard Nick Guiang and center Tom Fitzgerald are the top returnees. Anthony Kuba and Ben Nippolt also return to the rotation.  The program is 0-29 in conference play in the 3 year history of the IMAC.

Providence Academy Lions (2016-17 season 7-19, 4-5 Conference, 4th)
Juniors Mark Richelsen and Dylan Servais return after averaging double figures last season.  Richelsen was the team leader at 17.6 PPG.  Junior Sam Young and Joey Fafinski return to the rotation as well.  Jackson Baird and the size of Gavin Blomberg inside will need to be replaced.  Senior Adam Kettler should step into that inside role.

St. Paul Academy Spartans (2016-17 season 10-17, 3-7 Conference, 5th)
2 of the top 3 scorers for SPA depart.  Tommy Dicke and Emerson Egly are double figure scorers that will be hard to replace.  Leading scorer Gus Grunau returns with 13.8 PPG.  Ryan Moore (6.8 PPG) and Ryan Kuntz (8.9 PPG) also are returning starters.  The bench crew all returns.  Junior shooting guard Andrew Johnson leads that group with 6.1 PPG.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Minnehaha
  2. Breck
  3. Providence 
  4. Blake
  5. St. Paul Academy
  6. Mounds Park Academy
Conference Overview
Minnehaha is the obvious favorite here.  Their non-conference schedule is a ridiculous guantlet of the best across AA, AAA and AAAA.  Breck with just David Roddy is enough for clear 2nd here.  Providence with 2 top scorers back falls into clear 3rd.  The bottom 3 are going to have long seasons.  Blake and St. Paul Academy will fight for 4th.  Mounds Park Academy still fighting to get out of the cellar.

Conference MVP: Jalen Suggs - Minnehaha

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Robert Grace, Gabe Ganz- Blake
  • Jaren Morton - Breck
  • Jalen Suggs, Kaden Johnson, Terry Lockett, Chet Holmgren, Prince Aligbe - Minnehaha
Conference Games to Watch
  • Minnehaha at Breck - Jan 11th
  • Breck at Minnehaha - Jan 30th
 Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Minnehaha vs East Ridge- Dec 2nd (Girls Tipoff at Hopkins)
  • Breck at Brooklyn Center - Dec 5th
  • Minnehaha at Apple Valley - Dec 7th (ESPN game)
  • Breck vs Perham - Dec 9th (Boys Tipoff at Hopkins)
  • Eden Prairie at Minnehaha - Dec 12th
  • Minnehaha vs Hopkins (projected) -Dec 23rd (Augsburg Tournament championship)
  • Breck vs Orono - Jan 15th (MLK event at Totino-Grace)
  • Minneapolis North at Minnehaha - Jan 25th
  • Austin at Minnehaha - Feb 3rd
  • Breck at Maranatha - Feb 13th
  • Minnehaha at Columbia Heights - Feb 16th
  • Caledonia at Minnehaha - Feb 17th
  • St. Paul Central at Minnehaha - Mar 1st

2017-18 MCAA Preview

This is the third preview in my 2017-18 season preview series.  Week 1 of the 6 week series moves on with a look at the Minnesota Christian Athletic Association (MCAA).  For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

Bethany Academy Eagles (2016-17 season 15-11, 3-8 Conference, 10th)
After the departure of the head coach to New Life, many of the players followed him.  So Bethany will not have a team this season.  Whether those kids will be eligible at New Life this year is still to be determined.

Heritage Christian Academy Eagles (2016-17 season 23-6, 11-0 Conference, 1st)
Heritage holds a 26 game regular season conference winning streak going back to 2014-15.  That will be hard to uphold this year.  CJ Woda and Zach Johansen both averaged over 20 PPG and have to replaced.  Starting center Jack Vander Top also graduated.  Seth Halvorsen and guard Ben Allen are experienced returnees.

Legacy Christian Academy Lions (2016-17 season 15-13, 5-6 Conference, Tie 6th)
Assistant Josh Olson takes over as the 3rd head coach in 3 years at Legacy.  The backcourt duo of Lucas Nelson and Cole Bertsch was worth over 31 PPG last year and needs to be replaced.  Overall the top 4 scorers depart.  Junior Josh Hinrichs is the top returnee at 4.1 PPG.  Junior Justin Demars and Luke Chaika return to the lineup.

Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity Bulldogs (2016-17 season 12-15, 5-6 Conference, Tie 6th)
Junior guard Michael Ziermann is the top returnee with 13.3 PPG.  Expect that number to go up significantly this year.  Big man Rees Schutte and 18.9 PPG needs to be replaced inside.  He's one of 2 6'8" centers that graduate for the now smaller Bulldogs.  Guards Leighton Burr and Tyler Scheevel return to the lineup.

Maranatha Christian Academy Mustangs (2016-17 season 13-14, 6-5 Conference, 5th)
Rob Ware comes over from Totino-Grace to take the head job.  Transfers Beijan Newbern (Cooper) and Quinn Smith (Armstrong) provide a major boost to the roster.  That will ease the pain of losing 2 of their top 3 scorers.  That includes 14.5 PPG from guard Elisha Coleman.  Soph Hakim Daniels returns to the front line after averaging just under 10 PPG last season.  Juniors Julian Cavin and Jeff Ekiyor and Justin Mason provide experienced depth.

New Life Academy Eagles (2016-17 season 24-4, 9-2 Conference, 2nd)
Longtime head coach Doug Linton has moved up to D3 University of Northwestern-St. Paul.  2010 graduate Kory Kiekhofer comes home from Bethany to replace him.  8 seniors have to be replaced including all of their top perimeter play.  Kyle Kaemingk (17.5 PPG), Chris Ketema (13.1 PPG) and PG Adam Busch (8.6 PPG) are all major pieces that graduated there.  Size won't be a problem as senior forwards Drew Wynia (9 PPG) and Zach Thor return.  Tate Hullett should be a top option to step into the vacated perimeter roles.

PACT Charter Panthers (2016-17 season 2-25, 0-11 Conference, 12th)
Senior Cade Johnson had another big season with 22.5 PPG last season.  The rest of the roster returns along side of him.  That includes 8+ PPG from forward Bennett Olson and guard Matt Johnson.

St. Croix Prep Lions (2016-17 season 15-13, 5-6 Conference, Tie 6th)
Leading scorer Matt Kaul and his 17.5 PPG graduated.  Point guard Jayton Metcalf and almost 16 PPG returns. 9.3 PPG from Adam Wiering also is back.  Size is a question mark.

Southwest Christian Stars (2016-17 season 16-10, 9-2 Conference, 3rd)
This will be the final year for the Stars in the MCAA.  They'll move to the Minnesota River Conference next year.  4 major rotation pieces have to be replaced.  That includes guard Trey Sandness and his 11.7 PPG.  The backcourt as seems is always the case will be their strength.  Juniors Max Steensland (14.2 PPG, leading scorer last year) and Jalen Wight will be the main firepower.  Senior David Solfelt will provide the size.

Spectrum Sting (2016-17 season 11-15, 5-6 Conference, Tie 6th)
Spectrum returns their top 3 scorers.  Junior Cole Elrod tops the list at 16.2 PPG.  Junior Matthew Kruse and soph Max Lawrence also averaged double figures last year.  Kelton Sundstrom's double figure production needs to be replaced.  Fisher Marberg also returns to the rotation.

Trinity Tri-Hawks (2016-17 season 11-16, 6-5 Conference, 4th)
Leading scorer Luke Lodoen and his 10.5 PPG needs to be replaced.  But the rest of the rotation returns from a very balanced lineup.  The other 4 starters all return and averaged 6.9 to 9.8 PPG.  Plus no fewer than 4 bench players return as well.  Does somebody step up as a go-to scorer?

West Lutheran Warriors (2016-17 season 9-18, 2-9 Conference, 11th)
3 of the top 4 scorers depart.  That includes leading scorer Griffin Ewing and power forward Ben Beise who were their double figure scorers.  Junior Brett Volrath is the top returnee at 9.6 PPG.  Lefty Josh Englert also returns in the backcourt.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Maranatha  
  2. Trinity
  3. Southwest Christian 
  4. Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity    
  5. New Life 
  6. Heritage Christian
  7. St. Croix Prep
  8. Spectrum  
  9. Legacy
  10. PACT  
  11. West Lutheran 
Conference Overview
Maranatha is far and away the favorite, especially with all the top teams coming there except for the long trip to Lester Prairie.  Trinity was a pleasant surprise last year.  With 8 returnees and major departures from the teams above them, I like them to make a jump.  The next group is a major jumble.  Very similar to last year where there were about 6 teams behind the top 3, only with 2 of those dropping back to the pack.  I see SW Christian, LP/HT and New Life in the next group as they have quality pieces coming back but significant losses.  Heritage is similar but the losses are bigger and returnees not at the same level.  St. Croix Prep with a healthy Jayton Metcalf and Spectrum with a solid group of returnees also fit into that group.  Legacy and West Lutheran have too much to replace and PACT struggled last year so those 3 make up the bottom group.

Conference MVP: Beijan Newbern - Maranatha

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • TJ Guggenberger - Heritage Christian 
  • Payton Thomsen - Legacy Christian
  • Hakim Daniels - Maranatha
  • Ben Kaus - New Life
  • Daniel McCarrell - St. Croix Prep
  • Max Lawrence - Spectrum
  • Troy Kokkinen- West Lutheran
Conference Games to Watch
  • Trinity at Maranatha - Jan 9th
  • Maranatha at Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity - Jan 23rd
  • MCAA Tournament Championship - Feb 24th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Maranatha at Mayer Lutheran - Dec 5th
  • Maranatha at Minnetonka - Feb 13th

2017-18 TCAC Divisions B and C Preview

This is the second preview in the 2017-2018 season preview series.  The 6 week preview series moves along with a 2 for 1 preview of Division B and Division C of the Twin Cities Athletic Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

Division B

Christian Life Academy Hawks (2016-17 season 7-17, 4-8 Conference, Tie 5th)
Christian  Life returns 6 of their top 7 scorers from last season.  That includes almost 13 PPG from senior Kyle Ringley and soph Jacob Kyllo's 10.9 PPG.  Juniors Caleb Carlson and Kyle Hovey also are experienced returnees.  Carlson will provide shooting and Hovey provides size.

Groves Academy Griffins (2016-17 season 3-24, 0-12 Conference, 7th)
Both double figure scorers return for Groves.  Senior guard Malik Bodden averaged 18.7 PPG.  Forward Max Bilcik averaged almost 15 PPG as a freshman.  The next 3 top scorers have departed.  Junior guard Larry Mohamed will one of the players to step into that void.

Learning for Leadership Mustangs (2016-17 season 15-11, 6-6 Conference, 4th)
High scoring duo Kafi Abdi and Badrudin Aden return for another season.  They combined for over 38 points a night with the 6'4" Abdi getting almost 25 of those.  They knocked off a couple of teams above them last year but gave those wins back with a couple losses below them to finish in the middle of the pack.

Liberty Classical Academy Lions (2016-17 season 18-9, 10-2 Conference, 1st)
The defending division champs need to replace their top 2 scorers in Luke Hill and Nate Bliss.  That's 19.2 and 16.5 PPG that are gone.  Peter Klarr is back on the front line with a team returning high 10.6 PPG.  William Reid and Noah Nelson also return to the lineup.

Math and Science Academy Dragons (2016-17 season 15-8, 9-3 Conference, Tie 2nd)
Rich Zellmer takes over for head coach Nathan Schroeder who moved on to be an assistant at New Life Academy.  The Dragons have to replace 2 big scorers in Brian Smith (23 PPG) and Andrew Jeyachandran (17.7 PPG).  Junior Ahmad Elhassen is the top returnee with 6 PPG.

Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf Trojans (2016-17 season 2-15, 0-9 in Division 1, 8th)
MSAD moves down from the top division of the league.  They have to replace their top 2 players Kyrell Cummings and Dawson Moder.  Juan Salgado is the top returnee.  Jon Schmidt also returns to the starting lineup.

Nova Classical Academy Knights (2016-17 season 12-12, 9-3 Conference, Tie 2nd)
The Knights lose only 1 senior from last year's team.  Isaiah Boudreaux leads a group of 3 returning double figure scorers.  Fellow senior Shae Nelson and junior Noah Olson were the other double figure scorers.  Junior Mathieu LaFrambois is also an experienced returnee.

Division C

Academy for Sciences and Agriculture Eagles (2016-17 season 14-9, 9-1 Conference, 1st)
AFSA loses their top 4 scorers from the division championship team.  That includes 11.8 PPG from Kyle Cantwell.  But they return the next 5.  Junior Cole Walker (7.9 PG) and senior James Wilfong (6.6 PPG) are the top returning scorers.  Soph DeAndre Mason returns to the rotation along with seniors Jackson Coenen and Najib Ahmed.  Jamey Strand takes over as head coach.  He previously spent time at Calvin Christian.

Calvin Christian Cougars (2016-17 season 11-16, 4-8 in Division 2, Tie 5th)
Calvin Christian moves down from the 2nd division.  Leading scorer Jaedan Schaap returns for the Cougars.  Big center Alex Meybaum and Brad Mateer are important pieces that need to be replaced.

Chesterton Academy  (2016-17 season 8-12, 4-5 Conference, 4th)
The move to the 3rd division definitely helped Chesterton play a more balanced schedule.  They lose only 1 senior from last year's roster.

Hmong Academy Warriors (2016-17 season 10-7, 6-4 Conference, 3rd)
Hmong Academy had one of their best seasons ever last year.  That was thanks to Chinou Vang.  He put up a huge season but now needs to be replaced.  Tidley Yang is one of the top returnees.

Metro Schools College Prep (2016-17 season 0-11, 0-8 Conference, 6th)
This crew suffered blowout losses all season.  No other information available.

North Lakes Academy Huskies (2016-17 season 6-20, 3-7 Conference, 5th)
North Lakes returns most of the major pieces of their roster.  Senior Alex Stockton and soph Ethan Crandell lead the way.  David Christopherson is the biggest loss. 

Shattuck St. Mary's Sabers (2016-17 season 6-3, 6-3 Conference, 2nd)
The Sabers have to replace a senior laden lineup.  Not much else known about this group

Predicted Order of Finish - Division B
  1. Nova Classical Academy
  2. Christian Life Academy
  3. Learning for Leadership
  4. Liberty Classical Academy 
  5. Math and Science Academy
  6. Groves Academy
  7. Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf
Division B Overview
Nova Classical is the favorite here with basically everybody back.  I picked Isaiah Bourdreaux as the division MVP last year and I'll do it again here.  Christian Life returns a ton as well.  They played the league leaders tough last year and those teams have big losses.  Kafi Abdi is enough to make Learning for Leadership dangerous but they were up and down last year.  Liberty Classical and Math and Science each have to replace their top 2 guys so I see those 2 teams falling back in the standings.  Liberty gets the nod as they still have a double figure scorer coming back.  Groves and MSAD struggled last year and I don't see that changing.

Predicted Order of Finish - Division C
  1. Academy for Sciences and Agriculture 
  2. Calvin Christian
  3. Shattuck-St. Mary's
  4. Hmong Academy
  5. North Lakes
  6. Chesterton Academy
  7. Metro Schools College Prep
Division C Overview
This is the most fun I'll have with a preview since I didn't see anybody in the division last year despite seeing 92 local teams.  AFSA loses a ton but they also have a lot of experience returning.  So that's enough for me to pick them to retain the crown.  Calvin Christian has my pick for the league MVP so they'll be up there as well.  Shattuck-St. Mary's is usually respectable in this group of teams so I'll pick them to stay fairly high.  Hmong Academy I put in the middle as they could go anywhere.  North Lakes and Chesterton have players returning but need to show they can compete at another level before I move them up.

Conference MVPs: 
  • Division B: Isaiah Boudreaux - Nova Classical Academy
  • Division C: Jaeden Schaap - Calvin Christian
Underclassmen to watch: 
  • DeAndre Mason - AFSA
  • Jacob Kyllo - Christian Life 
  • Max Bilcik - Groves 
  • Ben Horn - Liberty Classical
  • Jager Hansen - Math and Science Academy
  • Ethan Crandell - North Lakes
Conference Games to Watch
  • AFSA at Calvin Christian - Jan 12th
  • Nova at Christian Life - Jan 26th
  • Calvin Christian at AFSA - Feb 5th 
  • Nova at Learning for Leadership - Feb 5th
  • Christian Life at Nova - Feb 20th
  • TCAC Tournament Championships - Mar 3rd
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Nova at Maranatha - Dec 19th
  • CHOF at Nova - Jan 5th