Henry Sibley Warriors (2011-12 season 14-13, 9-7 Conference, Tie 5th)
The Warriors return sharpshooter Adam Huessner at 17.2 points a game. Julius Johnson returns to run the point. The front line is strong with Nick Goldberg, Zach Haas and Kessler Geschwill all seniors who started last year. They have a pair of experienced juniors returning as well in forward Mark Pumper and Javon Daniels. After Huessner, all of the scoring averages very similar for the rest of the rotation. After going up by 8 wins last year, expect another jump this year.
Hill-Murray Pioneers (2011-12 season 17-11, 10-6 Conference, 3rd)
The Pioneers lose 3 of their top 5 scorers from last year. That includes a powerful front line of 6'9" mountain Dave Simmet and Cullen Ogren who each averaged over 15 a game. Fellow frontliner Jay Zobrowski averaged 6.6 a game and graduated. Jake Christensen is the leading returning scorer at 8.7 a night and he'll be the inside focus for what should be a more guard oriented squad.. Lucas Glomb returns at the point. Ryan Buron is a solid shooter and Eric Weimar can play both guard spots. But the big news is soph star Marshawn Wilson coming over from Tartan. Expect him to be the immediate focus for this squad. With a smaller line up and defensive demon Wilson, will coach Dick Ghizoni stay with his 2-3 zone that has been so effective for years or will he extend the defense more? Expect them to be a factor in the middle to top of the league.
Mahtomedi Zephyrs (2010-11 season 18-8, 10-6 Conference, 4th)
Mahtomedi returns matchup nightmare and the league's top returning scorer Zach Lindquist at 17.6 PPG. The next 5 top scorers all graduated. Only 2 other players of note return. Those are guard Trey Johnson at 3.3 points a game and Jordan Goodmanson. The rest of the roster has questions with experience. Lindquist can go off the bounce or over power people inside. He'll need to have a huge year to keep the Zephyrs in the top half.
North Polars (2011-12 season 12-15, 6-10 Conference, 7th)
Assistant Joe Janquart takes over at North but he also spent time at Sibley so he's plenty familiar with the league. They lose their top 2 scorers in forward Hunter Books (18.5 a night) and almost 12 a night from guard Korey Dean. This year's group will be young but they did get plenty of experience last year. Junior post Joe Messerole started all year and played as a frosh. He's the leading returning scorer. Soph guard Jacob Steckler was a varsity player all year. Junior Jonathan Hjelmgren saw lots of time as a soph. Senior guard Tevin Beards provides experience as well.
Richfield Spartans (2011-12 season 16-12, 11-5 Conference, Tie 5th)
The high flying Spartans were the fastest paced team in the metro. They played a ton of people and lost 8 members of their rotation. Shooter and point guard Shawn Bear is gone. Jared Noonan was another major catalyst and he's gone. That's 32 points a night. Deshawn Jones is a beast who averaged 13.7 a night last year. He should contend for player of the year honors. Louis Williams and Octavius Harris are athletic wings who return. Expect more of the same from the Spartans this year where they'll play like nobody else in the league, run up and down and attack you in waves.
St. Thomas Academy Cadets (2011-12 season 18-11, 12-4 Conference, 2nd)
Former De La Salle assistant Dan Rubishko takes over for the Cadets. Don't expect much of a shift in philosophy though. The Cadets will still be hard nosed defensively with their man to man and run good motion offense. The offense loses the league's top scorer Thomas Sjoberg and his 20.1 PPG. This year's offense will be more balanced. A pair of starters return with Harrison Patt to man the middle and Nick Valdvogel to run the point. They Cadets have shooters in junior Ben Fiers along with senior Mitch Newberg and Keegan Zimprich. Junior Cal Schneider gives them another banger. They also have a talented sophomore class so keep an eye on their JV squad.
Simley Spartans (2011-12 season 7-20, 2-14 Conference, 8th)
In the last 4 years, the Spartans are 7-1 vs South St. Paul and 2-54 against everyone else in league play. Leading scorer Johnny Spillane and 15.3 PPG graduated. The next 4 leading scorers return including sophomore sniper Sam Stensgard and almost 9 points a night. Posts Dillon Kaup and Connor Wells will need to be replaced. They played North St. Paul tough last year so could this be the year they jump above the 8 slot?
South St. Paul Packers (2011-12 season 1-26, 0-16 Conference, 9th)
The Packers enter the season on a 36 game conference losing streak. In the last 8 years of Classic Suburban play, they have a record of 3-125. Leading scorer Sam Doody and his 14.1 points a game are gone. Another long year ahead for the Packers.
Tartan Titans (2011-12 season 20-7, 14-2 Conference, 1st)
Tartan has huge losses with point guard Darrion Strong leaving for Quakerdale Prep and Marshawn Wilson transferring just up the street to Hill-Murray. One of the state's top 2015 guard prospects Donnell Gresham also left for Cretin-Derham Hall. Post and shooter Kyle Von Schmidt Pauli also graduated. But don't feel all that sorry for coach Mark Klingsporn. He still has a squad that should be very good defensively with Xavier Hall, Kharie Kirkland and Mike Hudspeth to get after people. Hudspeth and Mike Wales can both knock down shots. Junior post Brody Jackson provides a big body inside.
Predicted Order of Finish
- Henry Sibley
- St. Thomas Academy
- South St. Paul
Despite the losses of their top 2 players, Tartan still has to be the team to beat. I take Sibley 2nd as I think they'll be as deep as anybody in the league. Their front line along with a shooter in Adam Huessner will make them a tough matchup. Speaking of tough matchups, Richfield's style and athletes along with a difference maker in Deshawn Jones makes them a factor in the race. Hill-Murray has been known for big lineups over the years but I like their guard depth this year. 2-4 is a group that is very similar. 5-7 fall into their own group. St. Thomas will be adjusting to a new system and will need to find consistent scoring. I like Zach Lindquist but will Mahtomedi have any help for him? North St. Paul's youth moves them down the list. Simley and South St. Paul show more of the same.
Conference MVP: Deshawn Jones - Richfield
Underclassmen to watch:
Marshawn Wilson - Hill-Murray
Jacob Steckler - North
Sam Stensgard - Simley
Ryan Jacobsen, Kai Endahl, Jake Wright - St. Thomas Academy
Conference Games to Watch
- Hill-Murray at Tartan - Jan 4th
- Sibley at Tartan - Jan 8th
- Tartan at Richfield - Jan 11th
- Richfield at Sibley - Jan 25th
- Richfield at Tartan - Feb 8th
- Tartan at Sibley - Feb 12th
- Sibley at Richfield - Feb 22nd
- Sibley at Prior Lake - Dec 4th
- Tartan vs Hopkins- Dec 8th (Tip Off Classic at Minnetonka)
- Richfield at Waconia - Dec 8th
- Chaska at Richfield - Dec 11th
- Richfield at Holy Angels - Feb 2nd
- Richfield at Blake - Feb 16th