2018-19 IMAC Preview

This is the 4th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  Week 1 of the 6 week series fully transitions to local class AA and higher schools with a look at the Independent Metro Athletic Conference (IMAC).  For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

Blake Bears (2017-18 season 11-15, 2-7 Conference, Tie 4th)
Blake returns their trio of tiny sophomore guards Gabe Ganz, Jasper Liu and Robert Grace.  They combined for 40 PPG last year.  Add in 10.8 PPG from forward Eli Kilpatrick and coach Tyler Biwan has a nice group to build around.  Little firepower beyond that and they weren't deep.  Last year's experience will help them but can they move into the upper half still being so young?

Breck Mustangs (2017-18 season 17-10, 8-2 Conference, 2nd)
Forward David Roddy returns with video game numbers (about 25 and 13 last year).  Expect another ridiculous season of stats from him.  30 and 15 is not out of the question.  2nd leading scorer Joey Ganley also returns with 11.9 PPG.  Beyond that only soph guard Jaren Morton returns.  They'll need to find some shooting with Jefferson Slocum being one of the main losses.

Minnehaha Academy Redhawks (2017-18 season 28-4, 7-0 Conference, 1st)
The 2 time defending conference and class AA champs are once again the favorites to repeat.  That's despite losing 3 big contributors from last season.  Post JaVonni Bickham, G Lorenzo Smith and PG Terry Lockett (now at a prep school in Ohio) all depart after combining for over 30 PPG.  But they still have star PG Jalen Suggs to run the show and expect a much better season for him with the ball in his hands full time.   Skilled forwards Chet Holmgren and Prince Aligbe are amongst the best underclassmen in the state.  Not to mention Kaden Johnson as another forward to give them a gigantic lineup.  Depth will be interesting to watch. They've won 26 league games in a row over the last 4 seasons.

Mounds Park Academy Panthers (2017-18 season 9-20, 2-7 Conference, Tie 4th)
Coach Jacob Schwartz turned in a miracle 1st season with a crazy run to the 4A section final and breaking a decade long losing streak in conference games.  3 starters including double figure scorer Nick Guiang have to be replaced.  But there are pieces to work with.  Jumping jack Yahya Madar returns after averaging 16 PPG last year.  Soph Jack Paulson and senior Ben Nippolt should join the starting lineup after being major factors last season.

Providence Academy Lions (2017-18 season 11-15, 6-3 Conference, 3rd)
Despite playing a lineup of all juniors, Providence stayed in the middle of the league. That experience will benefit them greatly this year.  Double figure scorers Mark Richelsen and Logan Blomberg both return at the forward spots.  Guards Joey Fafinski and Dylan Servais man the backcourt.

St. Paul Academy Spartans (2017-18 season 16-13, 2-8 Conference, 6th)
Leading scorer Gus Grunau and 18 PPG depart from a guard spot.  PF Ryan Moore is the top returnee at 13.3 PPG.  Not much firepower beyond him.  Soph guard Adam Holod and Will Christakos return to the lineup.  Another soft non-conference schedule will help the overall record.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Minnehaha
  2. Breck
  3. Providence 
  4. Blake 
  5. Mounds Park Academy
  6. St. Paul Academy
Conference Overview
I don't expect much to change in this year's standings.  Minnehaha is still the clear favorite with their treasure chest of talent.  Breck with David Roddy still has be a pick for 2nd with the rest of the teams having no answer for him.  But with everybody back for Providence and Blake, those 2 could challenge.  Providence with 2 wins over Blake last year and the better finish by a mile gets the nod there.  The gap has definitely narrowed for the 2 thru 4 spots.  Mounds Park Academy and St. Paul Academy take up the last 2 spots.  With Yahya Madar and 4 others returning, I'll give Mounds Park the edge.

Conference MVP: Jalen Suggs - Minnehaha

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Robert Grace, Gabe Ganz, Jasper Liu - Blake
  • Jaren Morton - Breck
  • Chet Holmgren, Prince Aligbe, Donovan Smith - Minnehaha
  • Jack Paulson - Mounds Park Academy 
  • Adam Holod - St. Paul Academy
Conference Games to Watch
  • Minnehaha at Breck - Jan 29th
  • Breck at Minnehaha - Feb 12th
 Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Minnehaha vs Perham - Dec 1st (Big 12 at Cretin-Derham Hall)
  • Breck at Cristo Rey - Dec 4th
  • Minnehaha vs Champlin Park - Dec 8th (Tip Off Classic at Hopkins)
  • Breck vs Lake City- Dec 8th (Tip Off Classic at Hopkins)
  • Hopkins at Minnehaha - Dec 11th
  • Minnehaha at Eden Prairie - Jan 8th
  • Minnehaha vs Onalaska (WI) - Jan 26th (Border Battle at East Ridge)
  • Minnehaha at Minneapolis North - Feb 19th
  • Minnehaha at De La Salle - Feb 23rd
  • Maranatha at Minnehaha - Feb 28th

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