First Heavyweight Showdown Complete

The first event loaded Saturday of the 2014-15 season is in the books.  It included the Hopkins Early Bird Tournament championships and the Anoka-Ramsey Showcase.  I caught both games at Hopkins before the last 3.5 games at Anoka-Ramsey.  A quality day for the waistline with a couple bottles of Coke to keep the beverage counter ticking.  The Walking Taco at Hopkins did not disappoint.  The pizza at Anoka-Ramsey was dinner.

Beverage Consumption Counter: 144 ounces (10 days, 10 games, 2 scrimmages added on)

Pepsi: 32 ounces
Coke: 80 ounces
Sprite: 32 ounces

Hot Dog Counter: 2

Song of the Day
It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere - Alan Jackson (featuring Jimmy Buffett)

Hopkins Tournament
Who needs conference play when you can meet up in an early season 3rd place game?  That was the case for new Metro West members Bloomington Kennedy and Benilde-St. Margaret's.  BSM would jump out to a 14-7 lead behind 10 points from Jalen Floyd.  Kennedy would jump back in it with a pair of bombs from lefty Tyson Chase.  BSM would push the lead up to 12 thanks to a 9-1 run.  Chase would counter with a pair of buckets as Kennedy would close to 3.   A late 3 sends BSM to half leading 34-28.  Chase adds 3 freebies to end a 10-1 run to start the 2nd half and put Kennedy ahead 38-35.  BSM counters with 3 bombs in a 15-4 run.  But the Red Knights can't put the game out reach.  Chase with another bomb to tie the game as Kennedy is back with a 12-2 run.  Sam Baker for 3, Chase a layup after 3 offensive boards and a triple, Baker with a pair of free throws as we go back and forth.  59 all with 6 to play.  Frosh Markel Aune 4 FTs for Kennedy to give them a 67-63 lead inside of 2 minutes with the ball.  But 4 turnovers in the next 90 seconds for the Eagles.  BSM seems Floyd convert the last into a bucket for a 68-67 lead.  Another offensive board and another bomb for Chase. BSM 1 last chance and Matt Lilienthal grabs an offensive board and makes 2 free throws with 1 second left to send the game to OT.  Kennedy makes 12-16 FTs in the OT to seal it.  86-79 Kennedy wins in overtime.  Guard Tyson Chase with 36 points on 7 3s.  Markel Aune 20 points on 14-16 FTs.  For BSM, Jalen Floyd 16 and Sam Baker 12.  Baker sat out a large chunk of the 1st half with foul trouble.

Now to the heavyweight matchup of #4AAAA Champlin Park vs #3AAAA Hopkins.  The initial pace is furious.  Amir Coffey a tough jumper, 4 free throws, a pair of assists for 3 and a monster dunk early.  John Warren drives right baseline for another huge dunk.  29-15 Hopkins after a 12-2 run and we're still at the 11:06 mark of the 1st.  Xavier Johnson off the bench with 2 bombs in that run.  Coffey with a reverse and a pair of bombs.  40-29 Hopkins inside of 8.  But Champlin Park responds with a 24-1 run of their own.  Jeremy Johnson for 3, JT Gibson inside out for 3 more.  Marty Hill runs for a layup, Gibson with a steal for 2 and the lead and he converts another turnover for a 3.  Aaron Kloeppner with a pair of 3s off the bench.  Marty Hill ends it with a jumper.  53-41 Rebels at 3:10.  Coffey with 7 straight Hopkins point to shock their offense back to life.  59-54 Champlin Park at half.

Hopkins slows the pace with a 2-3 zone in the 2nd half.  Champlin Park saw Theo John in foul trouble in the 1st half and he sits with his 4th at the 13:53 mark.  Coffey with a couple of long 3s to break stretches where Champlin Park wanted to pull away.  Xavier Johnson with a layup with 3:20 left to finally bring Hopkins back to even at 81 all.  John back in the game and Hopkins had nobody to guard him inside.  He makes 4-4 FTs and a big swat with 1:45 left to keep Champlin Park up 3.  The Rebels turn it over inside a minute and Coffey misses a 3 to tie inside of 40 seconds left.  Champlin Park makes 1 free throw.  Hopkins gets 2 offensive boards and misses 2 3s.  Then they miss 2 free throws with 18.2 left that would have cut the lead to 2.  Champlin Park goes on the road and gets the outstanding win 90-86.  JT Gibson leads Champlin Park with 26 points, many against very good John Warren defense.  5 other Rebels in double figures 11-14 points.  Amir Coffey goes for 36 with 6 3s.  3 other Royals in double figures.

Anoka-Ramsey Showcase
The big section 8AAAA matchup in game 2 ended with Moorhead getting a 3/4 court buzzer beater to beat Elk River 62-60.  #10AAA Marshall pulled away from Minneapolis South in the 2nd half to win 72-59 in the 3rd game of the day. Then a pair of games using the shot clock.  We had 1 shot clock violation on the day and only 3-4 other possessions where it even came into play.  Spring Lake Park hung around with St. Francis until late in the 1st half.  Then the Saints pull out to a 10 point lead at half and controlled the 2nd half for a 80-56 win.  Blake Moreno with 19 for the Saints in the win.

Roseville took on #9AAA Washburn in the 5th game of the day.  Washburn's without head coach Jamin Cook for this one.  JoBreil Powell with a hot start as he scores 8 of the 1st 9 points for the Millers.  That leads them to a 9-3 lead at the 15:25 mark.  But this one is all Roseville after that, 44-18 the rest of the half.  Jesper Horsted banks in a halfcourt 3 at the horn for a 47-27 halftime lead.  The 2nd half is never a question.  Roseville wins big 88-63.  Jesper Horsted leads Roseville with 21.  JoBreil Powell with 24 to lead Washburn.

The showcase game featured  #9AAAA East Ridge taking on #10AAAA Shakopee.  Steffon Mitchell showing the full game early with a putback, a jumper and the foul and converting a turnover into 1-2 FTs.  He adds another jumper as its all Shakopee early.  Mitchell doing this against a big time athlete in Seth Green.  East Ridge ice cold and getting out worked.  The Raptors don't get their 1st 2 point FG until the 10:40 mark.  Mitchell drives the right baseline and knocks down the 1 foot fade falling toward the baseline from 10 feet, absolutely sick.  2 more in the post and then a fade in the post and he's smacked on the wrist.  E Ridge bench gets the T with that (2 earlier charge calls part of the unhappiness).  On the possession after the 2 technical free throws, Mitchell steps off the post after being driven at and buries the right wing 3.  Great basketball IQ.  Its a 7 point possession and Shakopee leads 35-12 at the 4:05 mark of the 1st.  A late East Ridge run cuts the margin to 40-24 at the half.

Then Shakopee's offense goes south.  Mitchell with a bunch of chances inside that he couldn't finish (a concern I have with him for those who project him as a high D1 guy).  Bobby Franks controlling the paint and after a free throw and putback from Green, the lead is down to 43-38 with 10:14 left.  Shakopee doesn't get their 1st FG of the half until just inside the 10 min mark.  Taylor Triplett for 3 to end a 7-0 Sabers run and the lead is right back to 12 with 8:30 left.  Sid Tomes finally gets a field goal for the Raptors with 7:25 left as he couldn't buy a shot on this night.  Mitchell inside for 2 and an assist for a Triplett layup.  Bobby Remke with the 3 point play with 4:26 left and the lead once again is down to 5, 54-49.  But its Mitchell to Triplett inside out for another 3.  Mitchell closes it out with a putback of a missed front end and 4-6 FTs in the last 1:20.  Shakopee wins 67-59.  Steffon Mitchell leads all scorers with 29.  All 5 starters for East Ridge in double figures, Colin Masgai 14 (3 3s).  Sid Tomes ice cold with 13 points. 

Cadets too much for Crusaders

Off to one of the less traveled buildings on The Czar's schedule as I visit St. Croix Lutheran for their non-conference game with #3AAA St. Thomas Academy.  Overflow crowd onhand.  I end up behind the home students so its stand up, sit down, fight fight fight.  Ok, maybe not the fight part but they were out of hot dogs when I attempted to up that count which is worth fighting about.  Note: Czar is a pacifist, I don't condone violence people.   My waistline is suffering in the early going of this season.  Best story was the train ride home being held up by protesters taking up half of University Ave in St. Paul.

Beverage Consumption Counter: 104 ounces (6 days, 4 games, 2 scrimmages added on)

Pepsi: 32 ounces
Coke: 40 ounces
Sprite: 32 ounces

Hot Dog Counter: 2

Song of the Day
Long Black Train - Josh Turner

Game Time
Jake Wright with a steal for St. Thomas that he turns into a pair of free throws and sends St. Croix Lutheran point guard Aage Rovney to the bench with his 2nd foul.  That ties the game at 8 all at the 13:42 mark.  One of the few effective actions for St. Croix Lutheran was the side pick and roll.  Trenton Krueger converts that for a 11-8 lead.  Then its St. Thomas off on a run.  Forward Ryan Jacobsen on the post to put the Cadets on top.  Kai Endahl for 3 and Jacobsen with a transition bomb off a turnover.  Rovney back into stop the bleeding and immediately makes a pair of freebies.  Endahl with another triple and Nate Chaffee finishes the run with a pair of free throws.  It's a 15-2 Cadets run in just under 4 minutes.  St. Thomas up 23-13 at 7:34.  Ade Lamu cuts it to 5 with a pair of free throws and a pullup jumper.  Jacobsen with a steal and dunk to keep the lead at 7 late in the half.  Then Jacobsen with a hustle play off his own air ball and converts a free throw.  That's also Krueger's 3rd foul.  Not a big play but typical of the night where St. Thomas outhustled the Crusaders.  34-30 St. Thomas Academy at the break.  Jacobsen with 14, Lamu with 10.

Rovney for 3 to cut the lead to 3 on the 1st possession for St. Croix Lutheran.  But Jacobsen carved up the defense all night.  He opened the half with flex cut for a layup.  The counters Rovney's hoop with a steal for 2 and then a pretty weak side curl for another layup.  St. Thomas Academy goes 2-3 zone that totally puts things out of whack.  St. Croix Lutheran tries to counter with their 1-3-1 (usually used only on BLOBs) but its Jacobsen on the backside for another layup.  Timeout Crusaders as the lead is back up to 12 with 14:54 left.  Chaffee picks the zone apart for a layup on the backside again after some patient offense.  Jacobsen 2 more cuts for a layup and a free throw.  Endahl converts a free throw to conclude an 18-3 run in 6:19.  54-36 Cadets with 10:41 left and the outcome is never really in doubt.  Lamu gets the crowd's attention by going hard on the left baseline and dunking on Jacobsen for a 3 point play.  The Crusaders start to figure out the 2-3 as Rovney gets a high post kickout for 3 and Krueger puts back a miss to cut it to 12.  But Endahl goes Curly Neal style to avoid some Crusader defenders and finds Jacobsen for a layup before knocking down a 3 to push the lead back to 18.  St. Thomas Academy wins 70-53.  Funny moment from the St. Thomas student section late in the game.  During a free throw, they pulled out the classic Wayne's World intro from SNL  Outstanding.

Post game
St. Croix Lutheran falls to 1-1 with the loss.  Aage Rovney with 3 triples on his way to 17 points to lead the Crusaders.  Ade Lamu with 15 including the strong dunk and he almost had 1 more to match it.  Trenton Kreuger 10 points to round out the scoring for the big 3.  But the rest of the roster only gives them 11 and only 4 from the bench (2 more in garbage time that I'm not counting).  Its a very short rotation of only 7 guys.  Interesting to see Krueger at the top of their 1-3-1 and Lamu on the wing with a smaller guy in the middle.  I'd like to see Lamu on top and Krueger in the middle of that and let them go get every rebound.  Lamu's athleticism would be very effective at the top of that.  They did have a couple of effective sets.  I mentioned the side pick and roll (though I'd like to see a post look first). They also would run a ball reversal after starting by feeding Lamu on the wing.  Lamu would get a back screen from Rovney would then come off a double for a 3.  Lamu got a pair of inside looks from it and Rovney had a 3 from it.  Very similar to what Minnetonka likes to run to start most games and 2nd halves with.  Defensively no real success in their man or in the 1-3-1 as St. Thomas got a truckload of easy buckets.  The Crusaders continue their difficult 4 game homestand with Simley and Fridley next week.  Then it ends with the big section showdown against St. Paul Academy on December 9th.

St. Thomas Academy is now 1-0 with the win.  Ryan Jacobsen slices and dices the defense for 27 points.  He had a block or 2 and a steal or 2 to go with what I figure was double digit rebounds.  Kai Endahl with 14 of his 22 in the 2nd half.  That included 4 3s on the night.  Nate Chaffee with half of his 12 points at the charity stripe.  The Cadets also have a thin rotation of only 7 guys (maybe an 8th).  TJ Wright with the only 3 bench points.  Their starters will have to carry a heavy load.  You have to like the toughness and moving the ball that the Cadets show.  I liked their offense better when they got out of their high/low stuff and got more into a motion set.  The Cadets have a pair of tough home games next week with #10AAA Washburn and an Eau Claire Memorial group that returns everybody from last year.  Then they finish the week by visiting Roosevelt on Saturday.  That starts a 3 game road swing.

Rogers is Tornado Proof

A very quiet Monday night on the schedule takes me to Anoka for their non-conference game with Rogers.  After passing on pizza last week, I don't miss the opportunity tonight.  Sausage pizza always a good find.  A 20 oz bottle of Sprite to wash it down keeps the beverage counter ticking.  John Lithgow on duty tonight as part of a 3 man crew. How tight will the game be called?

Beverage Consumption Counter: 84 ounces (5 days, 3 games, 2 scrimmages added on)

Pepsi: 32 ounces
Coke: 20 ounces
Sprite: 32 ounces

Hot Dog Counter: 2

Song of the Day
Pharrell Williams - Happy

Game Time
Anoka hanging around early despite MN-Moorhead commit Cole Murray getting his inside with 7 early points.  A Rogers 8-0 run puts them up 15-6 at the 12:50 mark.  Anoka takes a timeout and temporarily stops the bleeding.  Max  Kukharchuk off the bench to score inside and the lead is down to 17-12 at the 10 minute mark.  But Anoka doesn't get their next field goal out of their Read and React offense until the 2:10 mark.  During that time, Rogers goes on a 24-4 run (all 4 Anoka points were free throws).  Steffan Musoke with 7 points during that run as the lead expands to 41-16.  Musoke ends the half with a big dunk.  43-22 Rogers at the half.  They expand the lead to 34 with 10:32 left.  But Anoka does go on a run to keep the game out of running time.  The end result is never in question.  Rogers wins 82-55

53 fouls were called which really killed the flow. But that's to be expected with the new point of emphasis.  Despite this being a Lithgow crew, I had no problem with that.  The entire crew was the most consistent with the new emphasis that I've seen so far.  The very early reports have been that its been very inconsistently implemented which speaks to a training and or implementation problem from the upper levels.

Post Game
Cole Murray leads Rogers with 23 points.  Junior wing Steffan Musoke finished with 20.  He definitely has some upside.  Will Alexander ran up a late streak of 9 in a row to reach 13.  Allen Wilson with 10.  Ky'Eric Baynes comes off the bench to lead Anoka with 12 points.  Jackson Sutton with 10.  Anoka falls to 0-1 with the loss.  The JVs and Sophs were also soundly beaten.  A top freshman left the program.  Hard to see much in the Anoka future.  They travel to St. Francis on Tuesday before jumping into NW Suburban play after the Thanksgiving holiday.  Rogers hosts Stillwater after the holiday before going on the road for 3 including a tough section night/day back to back at Moorhead and Bemidji.

2014-15 Week 1/2 Quick Hitters

Here is some of what caught my attention from Week 1 of the 2014-2015 Season.

Top Performances
  • Concordia's Roger Moore Jr with 47 vs Cristo Rey
  • Cristo Rey's Davonte Smith with 35 at Concordia
  • Lakeville South's Brenon Larson-Gulsvig with 34 vs Johnson
  • Hill-Murray's Marshawn Wilson with 31 at Holy Family
  • Rochester Mayo's Dan Jech with 40 and 14 at Farmington
  • Holy Family's Justin Dahl 27,20 and 10 blocks at Mankato East
Top Wins
  • #9AAA Waconia coming from 24 down to win at Columbia Heights
  • #2AAA Johnson coming from 12 down to win at Lakeville South
  • #4AAA Hill-Murray winning at Holy Family
  • Forest Lake with a dominant home win over Blaine
Turn off that buzzer
Farmington suffered 2 tough section losses at home.  They lose at the buzzer to Rochester Mayo on Thursday and then fall by 2 to Rochester John Marshall on Saturday.  Wyatt Ferm is picking up the slack for the injured Zach Speikers.

Double Take
Math and Science Academy is 2-0, break up the Dragons.  They defeated Liberty Classical Academy on Friday.  They opened the season by blowing out defending EMAC tournament champ North Lakes Academy.  That game was the 1st game in North Lakes Academy's new gym.

Looking ahead to Week 2
Week 2 is split due to the Thanksgiving holiday.  But no shortage of entertaining matchups on the schedule.  Tuesday night has a handful of quality games as the schedule ramps up.
  • #2AAAA Cretin-Derham Hall at #5AA St. Paul Academy
  • #3AAA St. Thomas Academy at St. Croix Lutheran
  • Stillwater at #2AAA St. Paul Johnson
  • #9AAA Waconia at Prior Lake
  • Chanhassen at #1AAAA Apple Valley
  • #4AAA Hill-Murray at St. Paul Central
The weekend event season starts this week as well.  Hopkins has their early bird tournament with games Friday and Saturday afternoon.  The likely championship game is #3AAAA Hopkins hosting #4AAAA Champlin Park at 2 PM Saturday.  That would be the 1st heavyweight match of the season.

Saturday also features the Anoka-Ramsey showcase.  Breck and Perham have a rematch of last year's tight game that Perham hung on to win.  Moorhead and Elk River have an important section 8AAAA matchup.  I'd expect the Mr Basketball committee to be interested in Moorhead's Cody Dorow in that one but its at the same time the Hopkins/Champlin Park game.  Dorow exploded for 36 points in his game here vs Minneapolis South last year.  Games 4 and 5 will use the shot clock with St. Francis taking on Spring Lake Park and Roseville taking on #10AAA Minneapolis Washburn.  The night cap is a repeat of last year's finale as #9AAAA East Ridge takes on #10AAAA Shakopee. 

Another class AAA team in survival mode

A late change of plans allows me to get in one of my games of the week as #2AAA St. Paul Johnson visits Lakeville South.  A 20 ounce Coke keeps the beverage counter ticking.  It was needed as the hot dog bun was a bit dry and almost dusty.  Limited sightings tonight but there were a couple AAU guys in the building along with a couple of coaches scouting.  The anticipated matchup of D1 Minnesota point guards doesn't unfold as soph Jack Sorenson sat out with mono.

Beverage Consumption Counter: 64 ounces (2 days, 2 games, 2 scrimmages added on)

Pepsi: 32 ounces
Coke: 20 ounces
Sprite: 12 ounces

Hot Dog Counter: 2

Song of the Day: Blueberry Hill - Fats Domino

Game Time
Brenon Larson-Gulsvig (BLG) opens with a pair of free throws, a triple, a post bucket and a drive for the 1st 9 Lakeville South points.  9-6 Cougars at the 14:44 mark.  Johnson evens the game at 11 before a Lakeville South run.  BLG starts it with his last bucket of the half, Jack Swanhorst comes off the bench with 4 bunnies and frosh Shea Mitchell to the rack for 2 and the harm.  The Cougars run is 14-2 in just under 4 minutes.  Lakeville South takes the MoKiller timeout at 9:12 with a 25-13 lead.  South gets a field goal at the 8:15 mark but no more buckets the rest of the half.  Johnson got out of a diamond press and switched to a softer 3/4 court 2-2-1 that really bothered Lakeville South.  Thankfully the new hand check rules cause 14 Governors fouls for 13-19 Cougars FTs.  36-28 Lakeville South with the lead at the half thanks to the last 9 points being free throws.  BLG hot in the 1st 5 minutes but struggled after that.  Jalen Mobley with a quiet half of 6 points for Johnson.

BLG picks it back up to start the 2nd half.  Shea Mitchell drives and finds him for a 4 point play.  He also gets a skip for 3 and a pair of layups for the 1st 11 Cougars points of the half.  Mitchell adds a jumper for a 49-37 lead with 10:43 left.  Johnson coach Vern Simmons takes timeout to talk to his guys.  2 quick buckets force a Lakeville South timeout with 8:47 left.  Coach John Sheehan tries to steal a break for BLG but that strategy backfires as the offense looks lost.  BLG right back to the table after 2 more Johnson buckets.  After he scores and misses a layup, Jalen Mobley comes to life.  He catches the zone sleeping on the backside and dives in for a BLOB layup.  Eric Elliot steals the ensuing inbounds for a pair of free throws.  That cuts the lead to 1 with Johnson on a 13-4 run since their timeout.

Mobley buries a 3 with 5:40 left for Johnson's first lead since 3-2.  55-54 Govs back on top.  Mitchell grabs a rebound and goes coast to coast to find BLG for a layup.  That puts BLG at 30 for the night.  58-55 Cougars up with 5 minutes left.  After a pair of free throws by Justus Murphy, Johnson finally gets back in the 2-2-1 that was so successful in the first half.  Surprised they waited that long.  Mobley back at it grabbing his own board for 2 free throws and a putback.  That was after Mitchell went to the hoop twice and somehow didn't get a whistle.  Max Barber with a big 3 point play to tie the game at 61 with 3:43 left.  Murphy with a 3 point play to put Johnson up for good.  BLG hand-checked on the next possession but his drive doesn't get that whistle either and its a charge.  Lakeville South switches their flat 3-2 zone with BLG on top (had great success with it) to a more extended version with Mitchell on top.  I'd have him there all the time anyway, plus it would be better disguise for traps.  However, he needs to be more active up there to make the zone a factor.  Mobley drives for 2 with 1:43 left for a 5 point Govs lead.  After a South miss, Mobley misses both ends of the bonus but Johnson gets it back but doesn't convert.  After a BLG ends his scoring night with a clutch triple, its 70-67 Johnson wth 26.4.  Mobley makes the 1st of 2, misses the 2nd but gets his own miss back and that will seal it.  2 offensive rebounds of free throws in the last minute just can't happen.  Johnson comes back from 12 down with 10:43 left to win 73-67.

Post Game
For Lakeville South, Brenon Larson-Gulsvig picks up the slack with Jack Sorenson out.  He scores 21 of his 34 in the 2nd half.  Jack Swanhorst next in line with his 8 point spurt.  Frosh Shae Mitchell with 7.  The last 3:30 they couldn't make a play.  Despite a 10-12 point lead early in the 2nd half, it always felt like the Cougars were just hanging on as Johnson had not yet make their run.  When that happened, they couldn't get the momentum shifted back.  3 tough no calls down the stretch were big too.  Offensively, the ball tended to stay on 1 side which is something I'm sure they'll look to address.  The Cougars fall to 0-1 and now go on the road for 5 out of 6.  That includes games at Chaska, Edina, Prior Lake and Apple Valley with a home rivalry game against Lakeville North thrown in before the holiday break.

Johnson is 1-0 with the win.  They have a tough home game with Stillwater on Tuesday.  Jalen Mobley with 18 of his 24 in the second half to help bring the Govs back.  Justis Murphy with 11 points after seeing limited first half action.  The rest was just typical Johnson balance and generating offense with defense.  26 fouls for the Govs were a big factor as the hand check rules were called much tighter tonight than I saw last night.  That lead to Lakeville South shooting 23-35 from the charity stripe.  That compared to 18-28 for Johnson (16-20 2nd half vs 2-8 in the 1st half).  They'll have to keep that gap down.

A Wild(cat) Opening Night

Opening night of Czar Season 8 takes me to Columbia Heights.  The Hylanders get a tough opener as #9AAA Waconia comes calling to start this season.  Plenty of early season scouts in the building as Prior Lake, Concordia, Hopkins and Richfield were all looking on.  Hamline also checking out the talent.  For some unknown and strange reason, I pass up on the usual pizza and just go with Snickers.  As the night went on, that was definitely NOT a good decision.  But I don't pass up on 20 ounces of Pepsi on opening night. 

Beverage Consumption Counter: 44 ounces (1 day, 1 game, 2 scrimmages added on)

Pepsi: 32 ounces
Sprite: 12 ounces

Hot Dog Counter: 1

Song of the Day: Linus and Lucy (Peanuts Theme) - Vince Guaraldi

Game Time
Waconia comes out in a trance and can't handle the Columbia Heights press.  Tak Anwey with a bomb and a bucket for a 7-0 Columbia Heights lead.  Timeout Waconia at the 14:13 mark.  The hits keep on coming for Heights.  Jerrett Baptiste with a free throw, layup off a turnover and a steal for bonus free throws.  That was after being very active on the glass early.  Kick out to soph Khadeem Thomas for 3.  Waconia starting to break the pressure but they miss a bunch of bunnies.  Montroy Scott with the pull up jumper and then a deep 3 and the Hylanders lead explodes to 34-10 with 3:30 to go in the half.  Oliver Smith converts some easy buckets for Waconia late in the half and the Wildcats close the gap to 38-19 at the half.  Waconia with 9 layups and 1 late free throw.  No outside points, 12 turnovers by 1 count and almost that many missed layups. 

Anwey makes 2 free throws to start the half and then its all Waconia.  A high ball screen leads to a Joey Kortuem 3.  Then a skip pass for another Kortuem triple and he'll complete the trifecta from straight away after a Heights timeout.  Roch Whittaker involved inside during this run.  He goes to the pretty spin and lefty finish and adds another layup.  Heights has to take another timeout as the lead is down to 43-38 with 13:20 left.  A pair of missed free throws and Waconia capitalizes with a Josh Rands 3 (foreshadowing).  An Anway putback breaks a 4 minute drought from the field and stops a 23-3 Waconia run over 4:40.  Then a big moment as Baptiste gets called for his 4th foul on a charge with 11:17 to play.  Heights promptly turns it over and Whittaker converts another layup to bring Waconia all the way back to even at 45.

Cole Peters back in the game with 4 fouls (an early 4th in the 2nd half) and his layup just inside 8 to play gives Waconia their 1st lead of the game at 49-48.  Avery Talton would pick up his 4th just before that and coach Hayes would flip flop them most of the rest of the way.  Smith layup at the 5:05 mark for a 54-52 Waconia lead as no one pulls away.  Ernest Dixon's bucket at 3:57 allows Baptiste to come back in the game.  Heights looked lost on offense without him but they appeared to weather the storm as they were only -1 during that 7:20 stretch that he sat.

Baptiste has an offensive board kicked out to him, he gets the extra hop (almost never called and always a travel) and bangs home a big 3.  Kortuem counters with bonus free throws.  Baptiste with a man sized rebound but misses 2 critical free throws with 2:24 left.  That fouls out Peters.  Heights gets the ball back with a 2 point lead and spreads but a big time blocked shots gets Waconia the ball back.  Smith knocks down a right elbow jumper on a post kickout to knot the score at 60 with 1:15 left.  Heights holds and takes timeout with 45.8 left.  They hold for 1 and a tick-tack call on Talton with 3.7 left sends Scott to the line for bonus free throws.  He misses the front end.  Waconia rebound and takes timeout with 2 ticks left.  They get a decent chance on a baseball pass but can't get a shot off.  Off to overtime tied at 60.

Scott starts the scoring with a drive for 2.  Kortuem counters with another 3 at 2:55 of the OT.  Baptiste misses a tough free throw line pull up and then a pair of missed Heights free throws.  Waconia gives it right back after missing 2 freebies of their own.  Heights misses and Waconia takes time with 1:40 left, the ball and a 1 point lead.  You expect spread but Rands buries a no no no, great shot 3 with 1:20 left.  The Wildcats never lead by more than 2 before that shot.  Heights misses and the rest is free throws.  Waconia comes back from 24 down in the 1st half (and 21 down at the start of the 2nd half) to win 72-64 in overtime.

Post Game
Columbia Heights is 0-1 with the loss.  Tak Anwey with 16 points, Montroy Scott with 15.  Jarrett Baptiste with only 11 thanks in part to foul trouble and he approached double digit boards.  But he really wasn't a factor in the halfcourt game.  He wasn't going to post up against the big Waconia front line.  To counter that we didn't see him step away and try to take those guys off the bounce all that often.  Soph Khadeem Thomas with 3 important 3s off the bench.  Heights only has 1 more home game before the new year.  They go on the road for 4 straight, come home for 1 and then play in the Tartan holiday tournament.  Once they couldn't score and get in the press, plus a little moment shift, the entire complexion of the game changed.

Waconia is 1-0 with the win.  Oliver Smith with 18 points and a handful of blocks.  Joey Kortuem with 17 points all after halftime.  He made 4 3s on the night.  Roch Whittaker with a productive 12 points off the bench.  The schedule only ramps up from here.  They go to Prior Lake and St. Michael-Albertville for their next 2.  Then a road game at Richfield before their 1st 2 home games against Shakopee and Hopkins and a trip to Chanhassen.  All of that before the tough Eden Prairie holiday tournament.  Waconia used 11 guys in the 1st half and it didn't help, that's how ugly that half was.  Despite a overwhelming size advantage, the Wildcats didn't rebound well.  They'll have to dominate the glass to be successful.  Getting after their guards can really bother them too as shown in the 1st half.  Expect a team like Orono to throw some serious heat at them.

2014 Spring Lake Park Jamboree thoughts

The 2014 Spring Lake Park Jamboree is in the books.  As always, it was a nice showcase of north metro teams.  I keep the beverage count rolling with a can of Sprite.  Understandable but disappointing that there were no hot dogs, only candy so Snickers will have to suffice for my waist line.

Beverage Count: 24 ounces

6 regular time halves of basketball on the slate, here are the results.

Session 1: North Branch def Totino-Grace 26-22
Session 2: Maple Grove def St. Francis 33-28
Session 3: Forest Lake def Spring Lake Park 41-14
Session 4: Irondale def Coon Rapids 30-21
Session 5: Osseo def Fridley 42-20
Session 6: Mounds View def Blaine 31-10

Here are some observations from the evening.
  • North Branch ran a UCLA screen to side ball screen/double away continuity to death.  But their last clinching bucket was a layup from none other than THE WORLD'S WORST OFFENSE.
  • With Brad Davison back in the lineup, no surprise that we saw lots more ball screen looks from Maple Grove.  He was the best player on the floor in his half.
  • Kayode Awosika was too much on the low block.  Also notable inside were the times when Blake Moreno and Reed Nikko went at each other.  Nikko got the better of those on the defensive end but Moreno wasn't going to be scared away.
  • For those of you in section 7AAAA who thought I didn't think enough of St. Francis, I'll admit you were right.  They won't be the dominant team in the section again but they will be better than what I initially thought and should be in the discussion for who's next behind Cambridge-Isanti.  They struggled with turnovers otherwise they might have won (for those who actually care about the final score of a scrimmage)
  • Forest Lake running lots of stuff for Connor Knutson.
  • Spring Lake Park looked depleted with the end of their football season.  No size and despite some of the WORLD'S WORST OFFENSE from them, no real offense.
  • Osseo will have to grind games out this year with a roster of new guys.  But beware of the youngsters, they have plenty in the pipeline.
  • Interesting to see Osseo use Elliot Kane some in almost a 4 man capacity.  He would set ball screens and pop.  Also a set where he'd catch on the elbow and look for a post to post ball screen.
  • Fridley has great length in Tessy Pal and John Conyers (who look almost the exact same height), but I don't see how they generate offense.  Pal can be contained by forcing him to use his right hand and Conyers offense is still developing.  They struggled mightly against Osseo's pressure man. 
  • Conyers and Pal will be significant factors in keeping the ball out of the paint and they'll come out to challenge shots too.
  • Mounds View's Ryan Kaczynski is still a beast.
  • Blaine's junior forward Ben Scherer is a mountain inside with a nice touch.  Mounds View couldn't keep him off the block and over his left shoulder was a quality look every time.
  • No Kyle Cappard on Blaine's roster takes away the 1 ball handler and perimeter scorer they were going to have.  It showed as they showed you can really pressure them and turn them over.

2014-15 Week 1 What to Watch

Here's what grabs my attention in the metro during the short opening week of the 2014-15 season.

A quiet opening night on the schedule but a couple of games stick out.  Waconia at Columbia Heights is where I'll be.  A quality matchup of 3A teams that have high expectations and you'll likely see both in the 3A state poll for much of the year.  Waconia has a big front line, how will that impact Heights' star forward Jarrett Baptiste.

Also of note is an metro area appearance by South Dakota commit Dan Jech.  His Rochester Mayo squad opens at Farmington.

St. Paul Johnson gets a tough road opener against Lakeville South.  The point guard matchup of Jalen Mobley vs Jack Sorenson highlights that.  Then Justus Murphy and Brenon Larson-Gulsvig go at each other after I coached them together in The League this fall.  South frosh Shea Mitchell jumps onto the scene in a tough opener vs  the swarming Govs defense.

In section 7AAAA, Blaine visits Forest Lake.  This early season matchup will likely have longer term seeding implications.  Blaine has a huge lineup while Forest Lake is best at the guard spot.  Going up against a Rangers 1-3-1 and their 5 out offense early in the year, no fun.

We even get an early neighborhood rivalry game as Mahtomedi visits White Bear Lake.

Chaska visits Apple Valley in a non-conference battle.  The Hawks look to be one of the favorites in the Metro West while Apple Valley reloads.  Tre Jones vs Jacob Hansen at the point spot will be fun to watch.  A major key in this one will be the underclassmen battle on the wing between top sophs Gary Trent and Myles Hanson.

Another quality 3A game on the schedule this week is Hill-Murray opening at Holy Family.  Big Justin Dahl in the middle for Holy Family will get plenty of chances to protect the rim against the slashing guard duo of Marshawn Wilson and Simeon Davis.  Can the Pioneers rebound well enough to not allow Holy Family easy points?  Hill-Murray will need to get out and run to beat Dahl down the floor.

2014 Cretin-Derham Hall Jamboree notes

Its the start of the scrimmage and jamboree season for 2014-15.  One of the top jamborees is the old St. Thomas Academy/Howard Pulley/now Cretin-Derham Hall jamboree.  This year is the 1st year it moves to Cretin-Derham Hall.  The format moves to a shorter time frame with 4 sessions of 2 gyms going at once.  I took in the 4 sessions in the main gym with concessions.   CDH with the usual high quality hot dogs and the unexpected addition of Pepsi.  Usually its a Coke shop.

Beverage Count: 12 ounces
Hot Dogs: 1

Here's what I noticed

Tony Rodriguez, Todd Klingsporn and The Reverend working the games with another official (1 ref resting each game).  The Rev in rare midseason form with a handful of crazy late NBA like whistles.  The classic if it goes in I won't blow the whistle otherwise it must have been a foul syndrome.  

Main thing of note from the night was the missing kids and kids in unexpected spots.

No Brad Davison or Kayode Awosika for Maple Grove.  Kevin McKiernan out for Prior Lake with an injured shoulder.  Josh Collins getting the DNP CD for De La Salle.  Tyler Johnson and Odell Wilson out for Minneapolis North.  Amir Coffey sat out a large chunk of the time for Hopkins.  No Ishmael El-Amin either for the Royals.

Session 1: Prior Lake vs Minnetonka
Justin Moes came off the bench for the Skippers.  Heck of a bench weapon to have.  Seth Coatta and Evan Altenburg doing their usual thing.  As mentioned, Kevin McKiernan out with a shoulder injury for Prior Lake.  That meant that De La Salle transfer Isaiah Sims (played JV late last year for the Lakers) had to spend time at the point.  Connor Bair was able to poach a couple of passing lanes for bunnies but he looks like he's still getting his wind for the season.  Minnetonka won both sessions by a point.

Session 2: Apple Valley vs Minneapolis North
Some fun moments in this one with Cam Kirksey guarding Jamil Jackson.  Kirksey was long and athletic enough to really bother Jackson's game.  Gary Trent Jr put up big numbers while handling the ball much more than expected.  During fall ball, you'd see the inbounds to Tre Jones and then a quick kick ahead up the sideline.  Didn't see any of that tonight which was mind-boggling.  The Eagles jumped out quickly in the 1st half before a North run brought them back.  Apple Valley pulled away late to win that half and then ran away in the 2nd half.

Session 3: Maple Grove vs Cretin-Derham Hall
Reed Nikko with an impressive night.  Have to like how Maple Grove really looks to pound the ball inside.  Beyond Brad Davison, they'll need to find a shooter to open things up to make the next highest level.  Frosh Daniel Oturo with a productive night for Cretin-Derham Hall.  Both halves close

Session 4: Hopkins vs De La Salle
The marquee match-up we all expected really didn't evolve into much.  Lots of run and gun, not pretty from either end in that scenario.  The Hopkins pressure really took De La Salle out of anything offensively.  Not really a surprise as the Islanders will be about their defense and let the offense figure itself out.  Amir Coffey sat for a big chunk of this one which only allowed a couple of possessions where he went at Sacar Anim.  John Warren was impressive on both ends.  He had the dunk of the night and knocked down shots.  But it was really nice to see guard Jarvis Johnson full court.  Very effective there with his length.  Hopkins won the first half easily while De La Salle won the 2nd half easily.

2014 Season in a Nutshell Preview

The 2014-2015 Season Preview Series concludes with an overview of what and who you need to see and when and where you can find it.

10 Events to Watch
  • Nov 28-29 - Hopkins Early Bird Tournament
  • Nov 29- Anoka-Ramsey Showcase
  • Dec 6 - Breakdown Girls Tipoff Classic at Hopkins (4 premier boys games)
  • Dec 13 - Breakdown Boys Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka 
  • Dec 26-27 - Granite City Classic at St. Cloud Apollo
  • Jan 10 - Timberwolves Shootout at Target Center
  • Jan 19 - Super 60 Showcase at Minneapolis Roosevelt and Minneapolis Washburn
  • Jan 19 - MLK Classic at Minneapolis Patrick Henry
  • Feb 7 - Border Battle at Cretin-Derham Hall
  • Feb 21 - Twin Cities Game at Minneapolis champion
10 Other Nights to Watch
  • Hopkins at Shakopee - Dec 4th
  • St. Paul Academy at St. Croix Lutheran - Dec 9th
  • Augsburg Holiday Tournament Championship - Dec 31st
  • Hopkins at Cretin-Derham Hall - Jan 6th
  • Maranatha at Minneapolis North - Jan 17th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at St. Paul Johnson - Jan 24th 
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at De La Salle - Feb 14th
  • Section 4A and 4AA Championships - Mar 5th at Macalester
  • Section 3AAAA Championship - Mar 5th at Farmington
  • Section 5AAAA Championship - Mar 6th at Rogers
10 Players to Watch
  • Sacar Anim (Sr) - De La Salle
  • Brock Bertram (Jr) - Apple Valley
  • Amir Coffey (Jr) - Hopkins 
  • JT Gibson (Sr) - Champlin Park  (committed to Nebraska-Omaha)
  • Jarvis Johnson (Sr)- De La Salle (committed to Minnesota)
  • Goanar Mar (Soph)- De La Salle
  • Steffon Mitchell (Jr) - Shakopee
  • Reed Nikko (Jr) - Maple Grove
  • Gary Trent (Soph) - Apple Valley
  • Marshawn Wilson (Sr) - Hill-Murray 
10 Teams Looking to Win It All
  • Apple Valley
  • Breck
  • Champlin Park
  • Cretin-Derham Hall
  • De La Salle
  • Hopkins
  • Maranatha
  • Minneapolis North
  • St. Paul Academy
  • St. Paul Johnson
Season Thoughts
In Class AAAA, its a wide open field.  I think here are 4 teams that stick out as the top contenders for the Gold Ball.  Cretin-Derham Hall with all their stars coming back has to be in that list.  Hopkins with Amir Coffey the best overall prospect in the state and coach Ken Novak can't be ignored.  The development of players like Simon Wright and Ishmael El-Amin will be key.  Champlin Park has a loaded backcourt and quality youth coming back from a very good team last year.  Apple Valley is still loaded with top kids in 3 of the 4 high school years

In Class AAA, De La Salle is again a large favorite to win state and make it 4 in a row.  The rich get richer at De La Salle as they have a couple of incoming freshmen to keep the program moving in future years.  Johnson will try to give them a run behind Jalen Mobley.  But they'll have to get past some very solid teams from the Metro East in section 4AAA to get there.  St. Thomas Academy, Simley and Hill-Murray could all knock the Govs off if they don't come to play.

Let's talk a bit about the games above.  Too many great games in the 10 events to mention but you have to like the non-Minnesota teams in those events.  Henry Ellenson from Rice Lake, 3 top Iowa teams, powerhouse Omaha Central (NE) and Morgan Park out of Chicago make for great viewing.  Champlin Park will likely get to play the other 3 contenders I mentioned in AAAA.  They could get Hopkins on Thanksgiving weekend in a dynamite rematch of last year's 106-103 game.  Then they have Cretin-Derham Hall in the Tip Off Classic and Apple Valley in St. Cloud over Christmas.  Cretin-Derham Hall gets their shot too as they'll have Hopkins at home on Jan 6th and likely play Apple Valley in the 3AAAA final in March.  The Tip Off Classic also has the dynamite Apple Valley vs De La Salle rematch from last year.  Minneapolis North and Maranatha could be 1 and 2 in class A.  They meet in January and will likely meet again in the 4A title game in March.

2014-15 Section 7AAAA Preview

This is the 24th preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  I conclude my list of section and conference previews with a look at section 7AAAA.  The final season overview preview is all that remains.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Defending Champion: St. Francis

Predicted Seeding
  1. Cambridge-Isanti
  2. Forest Lake  
  3. Blaine
  4. Andover
  5. St. Francis
  6. Duluth East  
  7. Coon Rapids
  8. Anoka
From the strongest section in 4A to the weakest.  The thrill, the pagentry, the YUCK that is section 7.  5 teams won 10 games or less last year.  Now defending champ St. Francis loses just about everybody.  Cambridge-Isanti is my favorite after 16 wins last year and bringing their top 2 scorers.  Forest Lake should be right there with them as the Rangers have most of their roster returning and a solid perimeter group.  The Rangers can make a case for #1 with a home win over Cambridge-Isanti on Dec 2nd.  They also host Blaine on the opening Friday.  Blaine will feature a large lineup but their guard play is suspect.  Andover has Jake McNallen coming back which is a nice start in this section.  The rest of the section is down.  We already mentioned St. Francis and the other 3 teams combined for a total of 9 wins last year. 

Sleeper: Everyone else.  This section is so weak that anything could happen.

Section Winner: Cambridge-Isanti.  I'm going against my inner gut feel here and taking the favorite.  I originally had Forest Lake listed here.  However, I just can't bring myself to pick a team that I picked 7th in league and only won 7 games last year.  Too big a leap of faith.  But in a section where its very possible only 1 team ends up above .500, its very open.

2014-15 Section 6AAAA Preview

This is the 23rd preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  The final week of previews continues with a look at section 6AAAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Defending Champion: Hopkins

Predicted Seeding
  1. Hopkins
  2. Minnetonka
  3. Eden Prairie
  4. Robbinsdale Armstrong
  5. Edina
  6. Minneapolis Southwest
  7. Minneapolis South
  8. St. Louis Park
This section is absolutely loaded with 5 teams that could all win 20 games.  Hopkins with their tradition and the top player in the section, Amir Coffey, can't be discounted.  But the Royals aren't the juggernaut of years past.  Lots of youth and inexperience behind Coffey and John Warren.  Minnetonka has a very good backcourt trio coming back.  Eden Prairie will be tough as always.  Armstrong is loaded but even as a division champ, don't be shocked if the Lake voters gang up like in years past and drop them to 4 so they can avoid Hopkins.  Edina has a solid group coming back behind Walt McGrory, Ben Boone and Max Lynch but depth is a concern.  The bottom 3 are a level below.  St. Louis Park with everybody back could jump up over one of the Minneapolis teams.

Sleeper: Edina.   Point guard Walt McGrory is a high level guard.  Ben Boone provides scoring and experience.  Max Lynch can be a defensive factor.

Section Winner: Hopkins.  The Royals are one of my 4 teams that could win it all so I have to take them here.  But this won't be an easy section to get out of.  The opponents are talented and familiar with them.  That 3rd game against an opponent like that is always difficult to win.

2014-15 Section 5AAAA Preview

This is the 22nd preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  This final week of previews continues with a look at section 5AAAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Defending Champion: Osseo

Predicted Seeding
  1. Champlin Park
  2. Maple Grove
  3. Osseo
  4. Robbinsdale Cooper  
  5. Wayzata 
  6. Centennial 
  7. Park Center
  8. Irondale
Champlin Park is absolutely loaded.  They fall into my group of 4 teams that could win the Gold Ball in March.  McKinley Wright has enough experience to fill Ian Smith's shoes.  How sophomore Theo John replaces Brennan Witt will determine just how dangerous the Rebels are.  Maple Grove is a rough and tumble team that should make for a great matchup.  Soph PG Brad Davison and Junior C Reed Nikko are D1 caliber stars and there's plenty to go with them.  Osseo is rebuilding but they're so good at reloading that I won't shove them too far down.  Cooper's transfers give the Hawks some extra scoring punch.  Wayzata has 4 starters returning and the addition of Austin Slater to their junior filled lineup.  Their strength of schedule will help them but their win/loss record will suffer in the brutally tough Lake Conference.  Centennial and Park Center are trying to learn new systems with new coaches.  Irondale is in complete overhaul mode.

Sleeper: Wayzata.  Battle tested in the Lake, lots of experience and pieces at every position.

Section Winner: Champlin Park.  A 2nd game vs Maple Grove in the section final would be electric.  The Crimson have the physical play and a star in Davison to pull the upset.  But I think next year is their year.  Champlin Park is still smarting after falling to Osseo in last year's title game.  That experience puts the Rebels in the big show this year.

2014-15 Section 4AAAA Preview

This is the 21st preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  The previews of class AAAA continue with a look at Section 4.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Defending Champion: Tartan

Predicted Seeding
  1. Tartan
  2. Stillwater
  3. Roseville
  4. Mahtomedi
  5. Mounds View
  6. Woodbury 
  7. North
  8. White Bear Lake
I said Tartan was young last year, this year they're looking at 4 top players being sophomores.  Stillwater has 3 very good pieces coming back and a Randy Jordan team is always a tough out.  Roseville returns a very good group on the perimeter.  They'll battle an experienced Mahtomedi group for the 3 seed.  Mounds View will be dangerous again if they can have guys step up to help Ryan Kaczynski.  Woodbury is rebuilding and North is still a year or 2 away.  White Bear Lake loses one of their few returning guys, I think they have an uphill battle.  Matchups will be very interesting to watch in this section.  Tartan matches up very well with Roseville as does Mahtomedi with Stillwater (though Hjelle and McKinley didn't go at each other much during their meeting last year).  Stillwater has also given Roseville fits.

Sleeper: Mounds View.  Ryan Kaczynski is a tough forward that is a difficult matchup.  They play hard-nosed basketball and with last year's success as a foundation, they could definitely be a spoiler.

Section Winner: Tartan. Too talented, too well coached.  While they don't have a true interior presence, I don't see the teams in this section hurting them enough there to make a difference.

2014-15 Section 3AAAA Preview

This is the 20th preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  The previews of class AAAA continue with a look at Section 3.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Defending Champion: Cretin-Derham Hall

Predicted Seeding
  1. Apple Valley
  2. Cretin-Derham Hall
  3. East Ridge
  4. Eagan
  5. Eastview
  6. Rosemount
  7. Henry Sibley
  8. Park
Another stacked year in section 3.  Apple Valley and Cretin-Derham Hall are 2 of the favorites to win the AAAA championship.  This will be the biggest game of all the local section finals if those 2 end up in rematch of last year's epic section final.  The letter E teams all have a ton coming back.  The rest of are rebuilding.  An Eagan vs Eastview rivalry matchup in the 4 vs 5 game sticks out as one of the best 1st round games in AAAA.  

Sleeper: Eastview.  They have a ton of experience, lots of shooters, enough athletes and an experienced coach. 

Section Winner: Cretin-Derham Hall.  I think the Raiders experience vs the Apple Valley youth is a difference maker here.  Also, with no Robert Tobroxen to guard Sam Neumann, the Eagles have to find an answer.  A big chess match to watch in that game will be the management of Brock Bertram.  Will his size and interior play offset a difficult matchup on the defensive end.  Don't underestimate the impact of the Raiders win last year either.  That gives CDH the confidence to know they can win that big game and gives Apple Valley an extra bit of motivation.

2014-15 Section 2AAAA Preview

This is the 19th preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  In this preview, I start a look at the class AAAA sections in the metro.  I'll start with a look at section 2AAAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Defending Champion: Shakopee (State 3rd Place)

Predicted Seeding
  1. Shakopee
  2. Chanhassen 
  3. Prior Lake
  4. Chaska
  5. Lakeville South
  6. Bloomington Jefferson 
  7. Bloomington Kennedy
  8. Burnsville
Shakopee looks to make another state run behind star forward Steffon Mitchell.  This is the year that Chanhassen has been building for over the last few years.  Chaska and Prior Lake will battle for 3 and 4 and will be a handful to knock out.  Jefferson and Lakeville South battle for 5th.  Burnsville will try to jump over a down Kennedy squad for 7th.

Sleeper: Chaska.   Jacob Hansen is a solid point guard and scorer.  Soph Myles Hanson is a wing who's only going to get better as the year goes on.  They have the tradition and coaching experience on the bench to get there.

Section Winner: Shakopee.  In a grind it out, defensive-minded group of teams at the top, Shakopee stands out as the one who does it as well as anybody.