This is the 13th preview in my 2011-2012 season preview series. In this preview, I conclude my look at the teams around the metro with a look at a couple of local independents and then some quick thoughts on the EMAC, Wright County and Mississippi 8. Did you miss any of the conference previews? For a list of all the season previews, click here. Coming next week predictions for the metro area sections.
CHOF Lions (2010-11 season 5-17)
Senior center Tyler Strandlund remains one of the top 1 bands in the state. Last year he averaged 21 points and 15 boards a night. But he's the only person with any size on a tiny roster. Guard Adam Rohlf is gone but the rest of a short rotation returns. Shooting guard Tate Piepkorn put up 14 a night last season. Junior Kendall Strandlund missed time last year with an injured wrist but almost reached double figures in scoring. Soph Nate Johnston will run the point and his play will be a major barometer for the Lions.
Four Directions Wolves (2010-11 season 16-8)
They lose a couple of high scoring guards including 26.2 a night from James Red Eagle. But 6'9 big man Kyle Roy returns in the middle as a major double-double threat and soph guard Gus Christianson and Marcus McDade return.
Eastern Minnesota Athletic Conference Thoughts
Apologies to the EMAC as I don't have enough to go on to even begin
to look at the little guys but 2 quick bits from the 1 league game I saw
last year. International School does have 2 of their top 3 back
including soph guard Ethan Forney. Loss of Omar Bushara will hurt but coach Shun Tillman figures to keep the Huskies in contention for the league crown along with Great River. Calvin Christian was 13-9 and in the middle of the EMAC pack. They return their top player center Ben Stephens.
Wright County Conference Thoughts
Big losses in the Wright County as Jordan Smith (Orono), Mike Yahnke (Delano) and Shelby Moats (Waconia) all moved up to the D1 level. Most of Orono's rotation except Brady Wohler is gone. Anthonie Tholey will play a much bigger role. Waconia has some nice pieces returning with Wylie Ferron, Alex Chandler, Tommy Gove, Matt Rachey and Alex Schmitt. Schmitt being the only senior in that group. Delano also returns a nice core despite losing Yahnke. Grayson Pulis is a big body in the middle. Junior Zach Checkal had a nice season for them last year along with Toby Hanson. Then you have the league's top player Nate Kratch (Santa Clara signee) returning at Watertown-Mayer as 3 of their top 5 scorers return. So I think that has to be the top group of teams. Annandale loses star forward James Fort but returns shooter Brett Ahsenmacher. Mound-Westonka needs to replace the duo of Matt Daoust and Dan Flesher but returns shooter Collin Host. Ethan Maass returns to lead Glencoe-Silver Lake. Zach Miner returns for Hutchinson but they lose their top 4 scorers including guards Adam Hjelter and Trent Kucera. Litchfield returns their top 3 scorers so they look to jump into the top half.
Mississippi 8 Conference Thoughts
The league takes a hit with state qualifier Zimmerman and Princeton leaving for the new Granite Ridge Conference. Defending champ Buffalo loses their top 2 scorers including sniper Andy Ortmann but junior Ethan Freer and Dominic Gilmer are 2 core pieces coming back along with Caleb Ruter. St. Michael-Albertville loses their star Joe Carpenter (top scorer and rebounder) and his sick athleticism. The starting guards Michael Wiese and Michael Mooney both return and center Herbert Tarpeh should give them productive minutes. Continuing down the road toward the metro, Rogers loses post Rory Donovan (16 a night), forwards Trevor Morlock and Trevor Berkley and point guard RJ Dean. Post Michael Schreiber will be the goto guy after a nice summer. Forward Josh Turnquist is a nice fit with him to stretch the defense. Austin Barbeln and Chase Cleveland will man guard spots. Big Lake loses their top 3 scorers including point guard Michael Stevens. Soph Austin Poe is the top returning scorer. The top 5 scorers at Monticello are gone including posts Kevin Flesch and Anthony Svaavedra. Junior guards Ryan Tuffs and Hayden Laimer will lead the way. Becker leaves for the Granite Ridge next year and looks to go out with a bang behind forward Damien Reinke and his 19 a night. But they lose a ton of people after him Ryan Rosenberg returns to lead Cambridge-Isanti. They lose shooter Ted Lutterman who was their only double figure scorer last season. Soph Matt Swanson saw action in over 20 games last year.