2016-17 Tri-Metro Preview

This is the 5th preview in my 2016-2017 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 (2015-16 season 9-16, 4-8 Conference, 5th West)
Assistant BJ Etzold takes over the program.  Sam Boehne once again returns to lead the Stars inside.  He averaged 16.8 PPG last year.  Junior guard Ryan Mazurek (4.9 PPG) looks to fill the void left at 2 guard by the graduated Rob Metcalf (14.1 PPG).  Dan Voxland and Jack Anderson also return to the rotation.
Brooklyn Center Centaurs (2015-16 season 14-12, 5-7 Conference, 4th West)
Leading scorer Landon Kirkwood and 15.2 PPG is gone.  But the Centaurs went with a youth movement last year and see most of the rest of the rotation return.  Davonta Price gives them an athletic wing (13 PPG).  Soph Lu'Cye Patterson (11.4 PPG) takes the point and Deshawn Pickford (13 PPG) takes the other wing spot.  Size will be a problem.

Columbia Heights Hylanders (2015-16 season 16-9, 8-4 Conference, 2nd West)
Willie Braziel returns to the helm after spending 3 years at Bloomington Kennedy.  Top 2 scoring forwards Jarrett Baptiste (after what seems like 6000 years) and jumping jack Rodney Jones graduate.  That's almost 25 PPG.  But 3 juniors return to the starting lineup.  Guard Deaundra Roberson reached double figures.  Raw center Wendell Matthews was just behind that.  Guard Quentin Hardrict also returns to the starting lineup.
Concordia Academy Beacons (2015-16 season 3-24, 1-10 Conference, Tie 3rd East)
The top 3 scorers for the Beacons graduated.  That leaves 4.7 PPG from Brandon Lively as the top returning scorer.  They do have experience returning but not much firepower.  But coach Schutte is still the best dressed coach in the metro so at least that beacon burns brightly (with apologies to the white coat of Brooklyn Center head coach Matt McCollister).

De La Salle Islanders (2015-16 season 24-4, 11-1 Conference, 1st West, AAA State Champion)
The 5 time defending class AAA champs look to repeat again.  The 1 major loss is PG Samm Jones.  George Mason commit Goanar Mar (19.5 PPG) mans the front line.  Gabe Kalscheur is a go to player on the wing at over 20 PPG.  Soph Tyrell Terry will take over at the point.  Add in high level role guys like Sage Booker, Dominic Bledsoe, Christian Dickson and Will Irvin and you have another great season ahead.

Fridley Tigers (2015-16 season 13-14, 6-6 Conference, 3rd West)
Athletic forwards Tessy Pal (16.8 PPG) and Shyheem Murray (9.3 PPG) have graduated.  3 starters including Tyree Caruthers (12.6 PPG) and Tirik Reeves return to the lineup.  3 bench players including shooter Evan Nelsen also return to the rotation

St. Agnes Aggies (2015-16 season 11-16, 1-10 Conference, Tie 3rd East)
Former Hamline and Edina assistant Chris Hopkins takes over the program.  With his previous association to Michigan coach John Beilein, expect donut pivots galore.  Guard Cahlil Golden is gone to North St. Paul.  Also gone is 13.1 PPG from Liam Skulley.  Leading scorer Gary Smith (13.3 PPG) gives the Aggies an athletic forward to build around.  The return of Darius Lopez to the lineup is a boost.

St. Anthony Huskies (2015-16 season 19-8, 5-6 Conference, 2nd East)
The Huskies beat up on a very weak non-conference schedule to the tune of 14-1 on their way to a surprising 19 win season.  Guard Aaron Smith and forward Rhys Langums lead the starting lineup.  Freshman Tait Nelson also returns to the rotation.  Lots of experience from last year's balanced lineup departs.

St. Croix Lutheran Crusaders (2015-16 season 29-3, 11-0 Conference, 1st East, AA 3rd Place)
After 2 consecutive state 3rd place finishes and a 59-6 record, the Crusaders move on to a new era.   The top 4 scorers have graduated after combining for almost 60 PPG.  Forward Jamaris Johnson was a revelation once added to the starting lineup last year.  Junior forwards Garett Maag and Stephen Kletscher also return to an area of strength . The guards will be inexperienced.

Predicted Order of Finish

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

Conference Overview:
The west is by far the stronger of the 2 divisions.  De La Salle of course is the favorite.  I like Columbia Heights over Brooklyn Center for 2nd as Heights won both meetings last year.  Holy Angels and Fridley battle for 4th and can surprise the 2 in front of them on any given night.

The east on the other hand leaves much more to be desired.  St. Anthony and St. Croix Lutheran will battle for the 1st spot but both are down from last year.  They look to be at about the level of the bottom teams in the west.  St. Agnes and Concordia will struggle to win a game against anybody else in the league besides themselves.

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Lu'Cye Patterson, Quentrell Douglas, Ridwan Tahir - Brooklyn Center
  • Barnabas Preble - Concordia
  • Tyrell Terry, Malik Lamin - De La Salle
  • Thomas Shelstad - Holy Angels
  • John Prokop, Terrell Jones - St. Agnes
  • Tait Nelson - St. Anthony
Conference Games to Watch
  • De La Salle at Columbia Heights - Jan 13th
  • Columbia Heights at De La Salle - Feb 14th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • De La Salle vs Des Moines Hoover - Dec 3rd (Breakdown Girls Tipoff at Hopkins)
  • De La Salle vs Maple Grove - Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff at Hopkins)
  • Osseo at De La Salle - Jan 4th
  • Mahtomedi at Columbia Heights - Jan 5th
  • De La Salle vs Kaukauna (WI) - Jan 28th (Border Battle at Apple Valley)
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at De La Salle - Feb 11th 

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