09-10 Tri-Metro West Preview

Minnehaha coach
Lance Johnson

This is the 11th preview in my metro area season previews series. In this installment, I take a look at the West Division of the Tri-Metro Conference. To access all of the previews in the series, view the season preview page here.

Should be a fun year in the West Division. De La Salle is loaded and could be better than last year. Minnehaha loses great talent and they may have higher expectations this season. St. Paul Academy and Brooklyn Center return their top players. Blake and Breck continue rebuilding efforts.

Blake Bears (2008 season 7-20, 2-14 Conference)
Last season I wrote in one of my "Monday Morning Point Forward" MN Preps columns about the Bears 4-0 start. They finished the season after that 3-20. Leading scorer David Nash graduates from a guard spot. Austin Hoeg and Tim Zellmer return to provide some experience. Freshman Kebu Johnson is one to watch. He played up with the MN Select 15s this summer.

Breck Mustangs
(2008 season 10-14, 6-10 Conference)
3 of the top 4 scorers including Blake Johnson are gone. Coach Daryl Woods does have some pieces to work with. Junior Jeffrey Lurie is the leading returning scorer. Senior Sam Greely is another member of the rotation.

Brooklyn Park Centaurs (2008 season 8-19, 5-11 Conference)
Another second half meltdown for the Centaurs last year. After a 6-6 start, they finished up 2-13. Point guard Freddie Young leads the way. There's a transfer from Kansas City who played some AAU ball who's also with them. He'll be an interesting addition. Soph Mahari Wilson saw lots of time at a guard spot last year.

De La Salle Islanders (2008 season 17-9, 11-5 Conference)
Loaded and one of the season's favorites in 3A. Walter Franklin returns to run the point. Bretson McNeal will step right up from JV to replace AJ Barker at the 2. Jalen Jaspers is a powerful scorer at the 3. Jonah Travis and Marcus Dorsey are athletic interior players. Juniors La Monte Hall and Melvin Collins saw plenty of time last year along with senior John Hertle. Plenty of talent in the pipeline too for future years.

Minnehaha Academy Redhawks (2008 season 26-3, 15-1 Conference)
Minnehaha's 3 losses were 2 to St. Bernard's and a holiday loss to Sibley in a game they were up by 9 at the half. Wings David Burnham and Greg Meyer along with Taylor Sparkman were a great trio and are gone. Parker Hines and Austin Brown return to man the backcourt. Taylor Hanson is an animal up front. Role players like center Erik Klingner will make solid contributions for the other major contender in this division.

St. Paul Academy Spartans (2008 season 13-13, 7-9 Conference)
The Spartans return 4 starters and some bench play. Seniors Evan McMillan and Santano Rosario seem like they've been there forever. McMillan is a another high scoring forward who leads the way. Rosario runs the point. Junior Gabe Mast provides a nice post presence inside. Seniors David McVeety, Harry Whitaker and Paul Nerland all return with junior John Micevych.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. De La Salle
  2. Minnehaha
  3. St. Paul Academy
  4. Brooklyn Center
  5. Breck
  6. Blake
West Division MVP: Jalen Jaspers - De La Salle

Breakout/Surprise Player: Bretson McNeal - De La Salle

Games that will determine the regular season conference title

  • De La Salle at Minnehaha - January 19th
  • Minnehaha at De La Salle - February 13th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Minnesota Transitions at Minnehaha - December 8th
  • De La Salle vs Osseo - December 12th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Braham vs Minnehaha - December 12th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Minnehaha at Holy Angels - December 15th
  • De La Salle at Grand Rapids - December 30th
  • De La Salle at Cretin-Derham Hall - February 20th
  • Benilde-St. Margaret's at De La Salle - February 27th
  • De La Salle at Minneapolis Patrick Henry - March 2nd
I had a chance to ask Minnehaha Academy coach Lance Johnson some questions about the Redhawks and the Tri-Metro Conference. Minnesota Preps subscribers can read that interview here.

Lance Johnson picture courtesy of MNPhotoNet.net


  1. Morning Czar, got another update for you....Mahari Wilson is no longer at Brooklyn Center, he's now at Osseo from what I've heard.

    I so agree with you on the Bretson McNeal call, the kids a flat out scorer! Kinda in that undersized 2/combo guard mode.....a high school Steph Curry maybe?

  2. Thanks Hoop, McNeal can fill it up in a hurry. But I'm concerned that he likes to make too many flashy plays and that will get in the doghouse very quickly. He's going to be the main shooter they trust so they'll need him on the floor to open things up for guys like Jaspers and Travis.

  3. Czar,

    Saw you at Minnetonka yesterday taking in a few games. Any thoughts on the games you watched?

  4. I'll be writing putting my weekly MN Preps fall review together tonight. I'll enjoy writing it as it was a fun group of games with the exception (sans Sibley/Osseo).

  5. It sounds like Rowland will be okay though. Even before that it was a pretty rough game in terms of rust coming off for HS. I know they weren't at full strength but I'm wondering about their guard play. I know the Como Park kid is trying to fit in so it'll take some time to assess. I thought AA ran the point really well for Osseo. Love a point guard who is a finisher and creator. I'd put him and Birch on the same level that way. AA also surprised with the defense. Nice job there as well.

  6. Yeah, Rowland just came out and said he'll be fine. Very glad to hear that. No surprise that Anderson can defend. But with him committed to UND, why is nobody talking about Birch?

    With Anderson playing in 2 major local tournaments + Comets, where 43 only played the Comets, did that hurt Birch with the local schools because they didn't see him play?

    I'm not buying this 4 of top 7 stuff about Sibley. With Jackson and Rostampour, they should still be better than this.

  7. The Birch v. AA debate for me comes down to two things for me; exposure and scoring. Exposure - who he's played with the past two years compared to Birch. Top programs recruiting Dower at Osseo were able to see how Anderson can penetrate and create with Dower. They saw him at practice as well. Birch hasn't gotten the looks to an extent during the season as it's been a couple of years since the big looks at Eastview.

    AA can also score more consistently. Birch's form is a bit non-standard and therefore his jumper can be inconsistent.

    Defensively, he's certainly the equal if not superior to AA on that side of the ball utilizing his strength and quickness.

    VB will need a big senior year to get that D1 offer he most likely desires but may have more success at a high d2 school.

    As far as Sibley, I think it's going to be a disappointing year if they can't be more consistent. Playing with energy is great but you need to know where you are going. Rostampour as an example, just seems to me he'd benefit but a few less elbows and grabs and a more consistent jumper. Finishes well underneath but I'd like to see his range expand.

  8. I'm with you Czar, the "we weren't at full strength" comment could be used by every team playing fall ball! Everyone has players that play football who aren't allowed to play fall basketball, its just the way it is and the way it has been. I think the biggest thing with Sibley right now is trying to find someone to replace the leadership that you get from a Brueswitz, Hernandez or Halverson....and thats not an easy thing to do. The guys coming up behind them are obviously big and talented, but thos other qualities are just as important (if not more). I can't imagine them just completly falling off just based off of what they have, and besides that, the coach is no slouch either......BUT it will be more of a struggle than it has been the past couple years.

    Now back to the Tri Metro which this section of discussion was supposed to be about....How good is Freddie Young really? where do you see him post high school, what level of college does he fall into? Same question for Jalen Jaspers and Evan McMilian.

  9. Freddy Young? In 2009-2010 he'll be one if not the toughest point guards in the conference. Great on the ball defender, improved three point shooter and a great creator. He'll need to be good if BC will have any hope of improvement. Freddy's a mid-major if he can develop more consistency offensively. Saw he just frustrate some of the "elite" national point guards this summer!


Have a different take than mine? You can provide your take here.