2017 Week 1 Sanford League Preview

So the April open periods are now behind us.  Now we move into May where there are a couple more weeks for the D2 schools to be out.  While the shoe companies and NY2LA played their league games during the open periods, the Sanford Pentagon Tournament Series kicks up this week.  They'll be playing games Saturday and Sunday on 4 courts at the fantastic Lansing Center at Mounds Park Academy in Maplewood.  Then next week the teams invade the Iowa West Fieldhouse in Council Bluffs, Iowa for week 2.  That building is the home of league member Omaha Sports Academy.  Then the teams get a week off before playing the finals at the Pentagon in Sioux Falls over Memorial Day weekend.

This weekend features 30 games in each of the 15U, 16U and 17U divisions.  12 teams will play in each division with 13 total organizations being represented.  6 Minnesota programs plus Omaha Sports Academy, Dakota Schoolers, ECI, WI Playmakers (16U and 17U) and new SPTS members IA Mavericks, Team KC and 43 Hoops (15U only) make up the league this year.  Let's take a look at the programs.  One of consistent themes you'll see here interestingly enough is size, something that seems to be lacking nationally.

Dakota Schoolers
In 17U, the Schoolers feature the top rated 2018 player in South Dakota.  That's 6'8" center Trevor Hanson.  6'7" Forward Mason Larson is ranked 4th.

ECI Prospects
In 17U, 6'3" Josh Sipes and 6'6" Kade Amundson are ranked 3rd and 4th in North Dakota.  They are high school teammates at Bismarck Century.  They struggled at the Comets Shootout last month.  In 16U, ECI has the top 3 ranked players in North Dakota, Jaden Klabo, Isaac Undlin and Mitch Larson.  They lost to Heat Bui in St. Cloud before winning 2 consolation games.

Iowa Mavericks Purple
The 17U Mavs have played well in the open period going 7-2 the last 2 weeks.  That included a semifinal finish in Des Moines 2 weeks ago.  Keep an eye on 6'7" forward Peter Timmerman.  The 16U group went 3-4 in those 2 events.  That included a loss 2 weeks ago to fellow SPTS member Team KC.

Minnesota Comets
The Comets Lewis 17s finished 5-4 in NY2LA play after being the runner up in the Comets Shootout.  PG Matt Todd and C Joe Hedstrom have both shined in spots so far.  The Comets Stumpf 16s won their division of the NY2LA league after an early playoff loss to the very good SD Storm at the Comets Shootout.  The Comets have shown great success in the history of the Sanford league and should be right near the top again.

Minnesota Fury
The Fury Wilde 17s have gotten off to a very solid start losing only 1 game in each of their 1st 3 tourneys.  Wing Michael Jones is a big scorer for this crew.  His stock has gone up with a nice spring.  Fury Mikiska has also been very solid in the 16s.  Fury Zurn 15s are off to a great start.   They swept the open division at NY2LA last week, ran the table at the Comets Shootout and their only loss is to MOKAN Elite in Iowa 2 weeks ago.  Fury has run the table with Sanford championships. They look to do so again.

Minnesota Heat
Its a down year for the Heat 17s but they'll still claw and scrap.  The Heat MacDonald 16s were knocked off by the Playmakers last week.  They meet again Saturday night.

Minnesota Select
The Select 16s and 17s were both 4-4 in NY2LA play.  Coach Mitch Ohnstad's 17s were 4-1 in St. Cloud with a loss to Comets Lewis.  Beijan Newbern gives them a go to scorer.  The Select 16s made a run to the Comets Shootout final.  Jack Thompson and Malik Willingham is a very effective guard tandem for them.  Both teams lack size but have a bunch of interchangeable parts. 

Omaha Sports Academy
The OSA Crusaders are a traditional Sanford league power.  This year should be no different.  The 17U team was an impressive 7-1 in Adidas Silver play the last 2 weeks.  6'10" Gopher target Brady Heiman leads the way in the middle.  The roster is loaded with 7 of the top 9 ranked players in Nebraska.  PG Shereef Mitchell just picked up a Nebraska-Omaha offer.  The 16U roster features Nebraska's top ranked player 6'5" F Akol Arop.

Southwest Minnesota Stars
The Stars have fallen out a bit in the last couple of years.  Marshall's Trey Lance leads the 17U group along with Noah Slagter of Willmar.  Carter Henry from Central Minnesota Christian and Bentley Boike of Dawson-Boyd are top guys for the 16U team.

Wear Out The Net
WOTN Ewing 17s impressively went 6-0 to win the NY2LA open division last week.  That included a very nice win over 43 Hoops in the championship game.  They were also solid in Iowa going 3-1.  The only loss was in the opener to the champion MOKAN 16s.  They were 3-1 in St. Cloud with the loss to Comets Lewis.  Very impressive 12-2 start so far.   Owatonna forward Dalton Kubista is their main weapon. 

WI Playmakers 17s and 16s
The Playmakers put separate squads in the NY2LA and Sanford Leagues.  The 17U group is the 1 Playmakers team that was not in St. Cloud last month.  The Sanford roster features South Dakota St recruit Owen King from Caledonia.  But they also have plenty of Wisconsin talent around him.  In 16U, Owen's brother Noah plays up a year.  Keep an eye on 6'10" Bennett Loersch in the middle for that 16U crew as well.

43 Hoops 15s
43 Hoops 15s impressively ran the table at 9-0 in NY2LA play.  They made the semifinals at the Comets Shootout before losing to Fury Zurn.  No better way to start league play than with the 8 AM Saturday rematch.  That will be one of the top 15U games in the league.  Henry Abraham and Nate Heise give this group a couple of the best shooters in the 2020 class in MN.  Tate Machacek is a very skilled forward who plays inside and outside for this group.

Team KC
Sorry, too far away and too little info.

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