2011-12 MCAA Preview

This is the fourth preview in my 2011-2012 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Minnesota Christian Athletic Association (MCAA).  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Its a year of change in the MCAA.  Providence Academy leaves for the Tri-Metro and is replaced by PACT (thanks to MCAA Bylaws change last year).  That makes sense since PACT played everybody in the MCAA anyway (except Trinity).  The league also goes to north and south divisions.  Teams will play home and home in the division and 1 game against the other division for 13 league games.  A major departure from the 1 game round-robin schedule of years past.  But it looks like some form of the annual conference tournament will maintained.  Though this year it looks like it will be at Trinity instead of championships at Heritage.

The North half looks to be the far stronger half with powerhouse Maranatha at the top.  Heritage, West Lutheran and PACT return most of their rosters and Legacy returns arguably the best big man in the league with a handful of other returnees.  The South half figures to be very close with Trinity and LP/HT at the top.  New Life and Southwest Christian after that but dangerous.  Overall, I see the league rebounding from a down year last year.

Bethany Academy Eagles (2010-11 season 11-13, 1-8 Conference, 10th)
Leading scorer Max Mattila returns with 13.7 PPG.   The next 4 scorers including guard Tony Ervin (12.8 PPG) are all gone.  Look for bigger roles from soph Sam Hagen and senior Jordan Nieuwsma.

Heritage Christian Academy Eagles (2010-11 season 19-9, 7-2 Conference, 2nd)
Leading scorer Nick Parkhurst and his 17 points a night graduated but the Eagles return the other 5 major players in their rotation and 4 of them are juniors.  Zach Weld and Brad Basco (post) both averaged double figures last year and Evan Parkhurst will likely fill Nick's role.  Senior Theo Liedall also averaged over 8 points a game.  

Legacy Christian Academy (2010-11 season 11-16, 5-4 Conference, 4th)
Legacy will have to replace inside presence Matt Clausen and guard Grant Anderson who combined for well over 20 a night.  6'6 Senior center Ben Freeby returns and averaged 14 a night.  He can also block shots.  Guards Ryan Kopka, Nate Hinrichs and reserves Nate Johnson and Luke Yaeger all return as well.

Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity Bulldogs (2010-11 season 14-14, 5-4 Conference, 5th)
The Bulldogs have a big hole to fill inside as versatile big David Anderson and his 16.9 points a game were a team high last year and he's graduated.  The next 4 scorers are back though.  Senior guard Jared Kadrie is the top returnee at 15.7 points a night.  Soph Nick Machemehl averaged over 8 a night last season.  The lineup is small but the Bulldogs should still be very respectable.

Maranatha Christian Academy Mustangs (2010-11 season 26-3, 9-0 Conference, 1st)
It was a deep lineup last year for the Mustangs with 6 players averaging double-figures.  3 of those players return including soph guard Josh Goldschmidt, senior shooter Jamey Hammond and forward Isaiah Hanson.  Point guard Darian Pittman was the catalyst, he transferred to Bloomington Kennedy and leading scorer SaVaughn Jordan graduated as their post presence.  Another Hanson is in line as I expect frosh Jeremiah Hanson to contribute as some point during the season.  Rumor says junior wing Garrison Guillard is coming over from St. Louis Park which would add more firepower.  He saw lots of time last season as a sophomore.

New Life Academy Eagles (2010-11 season 10-16, 3-6 Conference, 7th)
Forward Alex Heiser was the leading scorer last year at 14 a game and he returns.  They do lose their next 2 scorer in Cody Linton and inside body Sam Berg.  Sophs Kyle Linton and John Horner saw plenty of minutes last season.

PACT Charter Panthers (2010-11 season 8-16, 0-10 vs MCAA teams, N/A)
The Panthers played everybody in the league last season except Trinity and went winless in all 10 games (9 on the road though) by at least 26 points each time.  It was a very young roster with only 2 seniors.  The top 5 scorers all return including junior guard Drew Zieroth who averaged 18 a night last season (only double figure scorer).  Junior Austin Sheeley and soph Daniel Nelson are forwards with experience along with senior guard Austin Coons and soph guard Danny Mooers. 

Southwest Christian Stars (2010-11 season 10-18, 2-7 Conference, 8th)
Leading scorer Josh Kennedy lit up the scoreboard for 24 a night last season but has graduated.  The next 4 scorers all return though.  Brian Horner averaged double figures from a guard slot.  10 players saw action in at least 10 games and only 2 of those are gone.  So there is experience.

Trinity Tri-Hawks (2010-11 season 16-12, 6-3 Conference, 3rd)
With Pittman's transfer, the league's top player and point guard resides at Trinity.  That's Tony Kuplic and his 28.2 PPG last year.  Guard Dan Stanton and forward Aaron Gregg both averaged double figures and need to be replaced.  Guards Josh Koletar and Jim Brickweg look to pick up the slack.  Junior guard Caleb Dahl also returns.

West Lutheran Warriors (2010-11 season 20-8, 5-4 Conference, 6th)
The Warriors were middle of the MCAA pack last year, lose only 2 seniors and return their top 9 scorers.   That includes double-figure scorers Justin Anderson (11.8 PPG) and junior Dustin Barth (10.8 PPG).  Look for a very balanced attack.

Predicted Order of Finish

North Division
  1. Maranatha
  2. Heritage
  3. West Lutheran  
  4. Legacy
  5. PACT
South Division
  1. Trinity
  2. Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity
  3. New Life
  4. SW Christian
  5. Bethany

Conference MVP: Tony Kuplic - Trinity

Underclassmen to watch:  
Josh Goldschmidt, Jeremiah Hanson- Maranatha
Daniel Nelson, Danny Mooers - PACT
Paul Draeger, Andrew Stavig - West Lutheran
Sam Hagen - Bethany
Nick Machemehl - Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity
Johnny McClure - Trinity

Games that will determine the conference title
  • Heritage at Trinity - Jan 3rd
  • Maranatha at Heritage - Jan 6th
  • Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity at Trinity - Jan 10th
  • Heritage at Maranatha - Feb 7th
  • Trinity at Lester Prairie/Holy  Trinity - Feb 9th
  • Maranatha at West Lutheran - Feb 9th
  • Conference Tournament - Feb 25th at Trinity
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Maranatha at Duluth East - Dec 3rd
  • Lakeview Christian at Legacy Christian - Dec 10th
  • Dawson-Boyd vs Maranatha - Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Minnetonka at Maranatha - Dec 15th
  • Heritage at Lakeview Christian - Dec 17th
  • New Life at Lakeview Christian - Jan 7th
  • Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau vs Maranatha - Feb 4th (Border Battle at Sun Prairie, WI)

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