2018-19 Section 7AAAA Preview

This is the 26th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  The class AAAA previews move on to section 7AAAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 7AAAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: Forest Lake

Tournament Schedule:
Quarterfinals: Tuesday, March 5th
Semifinals: Saturday, March 9th at Chisago Lakes
Finals: Thursday, March 14th at Chisago Lakes

Predicted Seeding
  1. Cambridge-Isanti 
  2. Blaine
  3. Coon Rapids
  4. Duluth East
  5. Forest Lake
  6. St. Francis  
  7. Andover
  8. Anoka
Cambridge-Isanti has been looking ahead to this season and for good reason.  They have their 2 double figure scorers coming back from an 18 win season.  That includes one of the state's best shooters in Henry Abraham (20.9 PPG).  A drop off to the second group follows.  Jason Kaul should lead Blaine to 2nd spot.  Coon Rapids and Duluth East with their returnees get the other home games.  Everybody else has a ton to replace.  St. Francis with Wyatt Schroeder leading the way takes a step up with Andover and Anoka needing to replace top guys.

Sleeper: Duluth East.  The Greyhounds struggled last year but they do return everybody.  They also had that shocking double figure win over Cambridge-Isanti in the final game of the regular season so potential is there.

Section Winner: Cambridge-Isanti.  In a bad section anything can happen but I'll go with chalk here.  They go on the road to visit a few of the Lake Conference teams which will be a big help come tourney time.

2018-19 Section 6AAAA Preview

This is the 25th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  The class AAAA previews roll along with a look at section 6AAAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 6AAAA (7 teams)
Defending Champion: Wayzata

Tournament Schedule:
Quarterfinals: Tuesday, March 5th
Semifinals: Friday, March 8th at High Seed
Finals: Wednesday, March 13th at High Seed

Predicted Seeding
  1. Hopkins
  2. Wayzata
  3. St. Louis Park
  4. Robbinsdale Armstrong
  5. Minneapolis South
  6. Minneapolis Southwest
  7. Minneapolis Washburn
Very little changes in this section.  The big drama is can Hopkins get past Wayzata in the section title game.  Wayzata has pulled the upset the last 2 seasons.  Both are far and away the best 2 in this section again this year.  Everybody else has major losses.  St. Louis Park and Armstrong will battle for the 3rd slot but should have no problem getting the home games.  Its a rough year in the Minneapolis City with the last 3 spots going to them.  South has a piece or 2 back.  Southwest and Washburn have to replace everything.

Sleeper: Robbinsdale Armstrong.  New coach Jon Bryant has some young pieces to work with.  By the time the tourney comes around they could gel into something above where they are now.

Section Winner: Hopkins. The starting 5 is big and as talented as any in the state.  I've liked the size in the past and it hasn't paid off.  A 3rd time upset in the section finals?  That seems like too much to ask.

2018-19 Section 5AAAA Preview

Happy Freshman tryout day.  That means we're 1 week away from the start of the 2018-19 official practice season.  This is the 24th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  In this final week of previews, I complete the class AAAA section previews and then finish up with the annual season overview on Friday.  Today its section 5AAAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 5AAAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: Osseo

Tournament Schedule:
Quarterfinals: Wednesday, March 6th
Semifinals: Tuesday, March 12th at Coon Rapids
Finals: Friday, March 15th at Rogers

Predicted Seeding
  1. Park Center
  2. Champlin Park
  3. Osseo
  4. Roseville
  5. Spring Lake Park
  6. Centennial
  7. Mounds View
  8. Irondale
Park Center is a heavy favorite here and a state championship threat with all the pieces.  They also haven't been able to get out of this section the last couple of years which should be great motivation.  Champlin Park is the best of the rest with Bennett Otto leading the way.  Osseo, Roseville and Spring Lake Park will battle for the remaining 2 home games.  I wouldn't be shocked to see Centennial jump into that group either.  Mounds View and Irondale will battle to stay out of the last seed.

Sleeper: Centennial.  They lost a truckload of close games last year and have that experience coming back.  They run quality offense and they have the ability to shoot you out of the gym.

Section Winner: Park Center.  The Pirates look to get back to the big dance and make noise like they did in the Quentin Hooker days.  Too deep and talented and Champlin Park and Osseo have too much to replace.

2018-19 Section 4AAAA Preview

This is the 23rd preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  Continuing our look at the class AAAA sections, we move on to section 4.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 4AAAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: Cretin-Derham Hall (defending AAAA state champion)

Tournament Schedule:
Quarterfinals: Wednesday, March 6th
Semifinals: Saturday, March 9th at Hastings
Finals: Thursday, March 14th at Hastings

Predicted Seeding
  1. East Ridge
  2. Cretin-Derham Hall
  3. Tartan
  4. St. Paul Central 
  5. White Bear Lake 
  6. North St. Paul
  7. Woodbury
  8. Stillwater
This is another section where you could end up with 3 conference champions all battling it out.  Certainly the Suburban East champ will be here.  Tartan hopes to be that team from the Metro East.  Central is the heavy favorite in the St. Paul City.  They could get an interesting 1st round matchup as the weaker St. Paul City schedule always knocks their seed down.  Cretin-Derham Hall has a bunch of talent so they won't drop far despite losing a ton from the state championship squad.  Schedules and Suburban East voting pretty much ensure that Tartan and Central won't end up higher than 3rd and 4th respectively.  White Bear Lake is the best of the rest.  Woodbury at North St. Paul on Dec 22nd should be for the 6 seed with both having to replace most of their lineups.  Stillwater remains in rebuild mode.

Sleeper: White Bear Lake.  They have a very good duo of Sam Schwartz and Jeremy Beckler that needs to be dealt with.  Not a team you want to see in the 4 vs 5 game.

Section Winner: East Ridge.  This is the start of what could be a big run for the Raptors.  Their size and experience prevails here in a tough section.

2018-19 Section 3AAAA Preview

This is the 22nd preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  Continuing our look at the class AAAA sections, we move on to section 3.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 3AAAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: Apple Valley

Tournament Schedule:
Quarterfinals: Tuesday, March 5th
Semifinals: Friday, March 8th at Farmington
Finals: Thursday, March 14th at Farmington

Predicted Seeding
  1. Eastview
  2. Hastings 
  3. Park
  4. Henry Sibley 
  5. Apple Valley 
  6. Burnsville
  7. Eagan
  8. Rosemount
If you thought last year was down in this section, now Apple Valley loses everybody.  That leaves the section wide open for the taking.  Most teams here would be happy to end up with a winning record. Eastview is the default favorite but struggled last year despite their big front line.  Hastings has plenty of size too.  Nobody else projects to be in the top half of their league.  Park gets the next nod with the talented duo of Gorres and Block returning.  The top 3 play a round-robin during the 1st 2 weeks of the season so expect the seeding to shake out very early.  Apple Valley, Sibley and Burnsville will battle for the final home game.  Rosemount and Eagan still are rebuilding.

Sleeper: Burnsville.  Its a new system for a new coach but Rob Mestas was very successful in a tough job at Roosevelt.  Would not shock me to see them use the difficult South Suburban schedule as a springboard to tournament success.

Section Winner: Eastview. Too much from Steven Crowl and Tate Machacek on the front line to pick against them.

2018-19 Section 2AAAA Preview

This is the 21st preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  Continuing our look at the class AAAA sections we stay in the south metro with section 2AAAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 2AAAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: Eden Prairie

Tournament Schedule:
Quarterfinals: Wednesday, March 6th
Semifinals: Saturday, March 9th at High Seed
Finals: Friday, March 15th at High Seed

Predicted Seeding
  1. Eden Prairie
  2. Prior Lake
  3. Chaska
  4. Shakopee 
  5. Edina
  6. Chanhassen
  7. Minnetonka
  8. Bloomington Jefferson 
Its another deep year in section 2 and another possibility of 3 conference champs.  Eden Prairie with a ton back has to remain the favorite.  Prior Lake with their gigantic lineup also is a contender not just to win here but make noise at state as well.  Chaska and Shakopee stick out as the best of the rest.  Chaska gets the nod to due experience and not having a new coach.  Edina and Chanhassen can definitely compete with those teams.  Nice inside out duos for both of them.  Minnetonka and Bloomington Jefferson both have a ton to replace but are better than most 7 and 8 seeds.

Sleeper: Chanhassen.  They have a talented duo in F Regan Tollefson and G Carson Hollowaty.  Plus they're always solid defensively.

Section Winner: Eden Prairie. Too much firepower and experience but a matchup with Prior Lake would be very interesting.  Prior Lake's size is a problem, but its perimeter oriented enough that it negates the offensive advantage.  Plus its not a good matchup for chasing around Eden Prairie on the other end.

2018-19 Section 1AAAA Preview

This is the 20th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  Now we begin our look at all of the class AAAA sections going in numerical order.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 1AAAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: Lakeville North

Tournament Schedule:
Quarterfinals: Wednesday, March 6th
Semifinals: Saturday, March 9th at Rochester Civic Arena
Finals: Friday, March 16th at Rochester Civic Auditorium

Predicted Seeding
  1. Lakeville North
  2. Rochester John Marshall
  3. New Prague
  4. Rochester Mayo
  5. Lakeville South  
  6. Farmington
  7. Owatonna
  8. Rochester Century
At the top of the section you could see 3 conference champions.  Lakeville North with Tyler Wahl will be a big factor in the South Suburban.  Matt Hurt and Rochester John Marshall will be big contenders in the Big 9.  New Prague should be right there in the Wright County East.  The Trojans return 4 of their top 5 for new coach Dan Peterka.  That includes a big and talented front line of Tyler Kemp and Nathan Brusseau.  Rochester Mayo returns their top 3 scorers including Gabe and Mason Madsen  who combined for over 35 PPG.  Farmington with the loss of Adam Weed due a knee injury gets flip-flopped with Lakeville South here but with Miles Mendes they don't drop further.  Owatonna has to replace 2 top scorers but are probably better than an average 7 seed.  Century remains at the bottom.

Sleeper: Farmington.  The Tigers were better than expected last year and they proved they could play with anybody.  Thanks to a nasty 1-3-1 zone, I could see them pulling a suprise.

Section Winner: Lakeville North. The Panthers have been the roadblock for Rochester John Marshall for the last 6 years in this section.  So I stay with them as the pick.  Matt Hurt still gets his but Tyler Wahl gets more help.

2018-19 Section 6AAA Preview

This is the 19th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  The penultimate week of the season preview series begins with a glance at the final metro area section in class AAA, section 6.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 6AAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: De La Salle

Tournament Schedule:
Quarterfinals: Tuesday, March 5th
Semifinals: Saturday, March 9th
Finals: Thursday, March 14th at Chanhassen

Predicted Seeding
  1. De La Salle
  2. Robbinsdale Cooper
  3. Minneapolis Roosevelt  
  4. Minneapolis Henry   
  5. Waconia
  6. Benilde-St. Margaret's 
  7. Orono 
  8. Mound-Westonka
While the section isn't ridiculously loaded like past years, its still no picnic.  De La Salle remains the favorite behind their dynamic perimeter duo of Tyrell Terry and Jamison Battle.  I see Cooper and Roosevelt battling for the next 2 slots.  Dynamic perimeter play for both of those teams as well with Jalen Justice and Jalen Miller for Cooper and Deszi Sims for Roosevelt.  Then the battle for the last home game.  Henry gets the nod with a solid group returning.  Waconia with leading scorer SG PJ Hayes coming back will also contend there.  But they have to replace 2 top guys in PG Charlie Gove and F Nick Fulford.  Benilde-St. Margaret's could also make a run for that spot with Dylan Drees and Walker Johnson.  Despite losing F Jarvis Omersa and most of the rotation, I won't discount Barry Wohler's ability to have Orono make a run.  Blake O'Connor leads the returnees for the Spartans.  Mound-Westonka has to replace their leading scorer as they continue to build.

Sleeper: Orono.  In a section that is very perimeter oriented shooting will be at a premium.  Orono always seems to have shooters.  Plus you have coach Wohler with time to prepare a team that is better than most 7 seeds.  That gives them as good a chance as anybody to surprise.

Section Winner: De La Salle.  The Islanders will be on a mission to get the AAA title back.  The road still isn't easy but its not nearly as tough in past years and they still have 2 of the top players in the section.

2018-19 Section 4AAA Preview

This is the 18th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  To end week 4 of this 6 week series, I take a look at section 4AAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 4AAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: Columbia Heights (state runner-up)

Tournament Schedule:
Quarterfinals: Wednesday, March 6th
Semifinals: Saturday, March 9th at St. Paul Washington
Finals: Thursday, March 14th at St. Paul Washington
 
Predicted Seeding
  1. Mahtomedi 
  2. St. Paul Johnson 
  3. Fridley
  4. St. Anthony 
  5. Columbia Heights 
  6. Totino-Grace 
  7. St. Paul Como Park
  8. Hill-Murray
Mahtomedi with most of their roster coming back and a solid Johnson squad are the 2 clear top teams here.  Then a big drop as the rest of the section has a ton to replace.  Fridley and St. Anthony should battle for the next 2 slots.  How Totino-Grace gets seeded by the coaches in this section is always entertaining if not often very suspect.  Como Park and Hill-Murray have very long seasons ahead.

Sleeper: Totino-Grace.  There is young talent for the Eagles that will be battle tested by the tough NW Suburban schedule.

Section Winner: Mahtomedi.  The Zephyrs vs the hectic trapping of Johnson and being played in Johnson's backyard makes this an interesting matchup.  Mahtomedi runs great stuff and if they don't turn it over they have to be the favorite.  But Johnson can find ways to get to you.

2018-19 Section 3AAA Preview

This is the 17th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  As week 4 of the 6 week preview series moves along, I start my look at the local AAA sections with section 3AAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 3AAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: St. Thomas Academy

Tournament Schedule:
Quarterfinals: Tuesday, March 5th
Semifinals: Friday, March 8th at Bloomington Jefferson
Finals: Thursday, March 14th at Bloomington Jefferson

Predicted Seeding
  1. St. Thomas Academy
  2. St. Croix Lutheran
  3. St. Paul Harding
  4. Holy Angels 
  5. South St. Paul
  6. St. Paul Highland Park
  7. Bloomington Kennedy
  8. Richfield
The defending champs St. Thomas Academy are still the heavy favorite here.  St. Croix Lutheran loses plenty but also has talent coming back.  Harding's run in the St. Paul City keeps them above the rest.  Holy Angels takes the 4 spot with their new talent.  Once again the bottom of the section will represent some of the worst of AAA.  South St. Paul is my pick to stay 5th with their young guys.  Highland Park will be another team reliant on sophomores.  Kennedy and Richfield will again struggle.

Staying with southeast AAA schools from the metro east, a note on Simley.  Down in section 1AAA, they could battle for a 1st round home game.  I'll say they get it and advance thanks to Isaiah Robinson.  But they'll go out in the semis.

Sleeper: Holy Angels.  With the Charles and Emmitt Johnson, that gives the Stars quality guard play which enough to beat many teams in this down section.

Section Winner: St. Thomas Academy.  The Cadets and Jack Thompson make another trip to state out of a weak section.