B-B-E is top seed in state boys' basketball tournament
The coaches have selected the top seeds in all four classes for the first time -- Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa in Class A, Perham in Class AA, Minneapolis Washburn in Class AAA, and Hopkins in Class AAAA - for the 2012 State Boys' Basketball Tournament.
The tournament starts Wednesday, March 21. Quarterfinal games will be played at Target Center on Wednesday, March 21, and at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis on both Wednesday and Thursday, March 21 and 23. Semifinals will be played at Target Center on Thursday March 22 and Friday March 23. The championship games of all four classes will be played at Target Center on Saturday March 24. Third-place games will be played on Saturday at Concordia University in St. Paul.
Perham and Hopkins are also the only two schools returning to defend their 2011 titles. If Perham wins, it would be the second consecutive and overall title for the Yellowjackets. If the Hopkins Royals win, it would be their fourth consecutive and eighth overall title.
Four teams are making first appearances: Lakeview Christian Academy of Duluth, Browerville, and Prairie Seeds Academy of Brooklyn Park in Class A, and St. Croix Lutheran of West St. Paul in Class AA.
This is the 16th year of the four-class format, and the ninth with all games being played in Minneapolis. The 2012 tournament is the 100th state tournament. The first was conducted in 1913 at Carleton College in Northfield.
It's the first year that the top four teams in all four classes were seeded and their opponents determined by blind draw. Over the past four years, only Class AAA and Class AAAA seeded their top teams. The head coaches of the 16 schools logged onto a special page of the League Web site and each coach ranked the other teams 1 through 7. The highest and lowest rankings for each team were discarded, leaving five rankings for each team. From those rankings, the top four seeds were selected. In conference calls with all eight head coaches of each class, League Associate Director Kevin Merkle announced the top four seeds. A coaches association representative then conducted a blind draw of the four remaining teams to establish the opponents for the seeded teams.
Detailed statistics provided by qualified teams are available on the League's Web site -- www.MSHSL.org -- as a Media Guide link under Tournaments, then Winter, then Boys' Basketball.
Class A Preview
(Section 7) Lakeview Christian Academy, Duluth (25-5) vs. (Section 6 & No. 1 Seed) Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (30-0): The Lions of Lakeview Christian Academy are making their debut tournament appearance. They enter competition scoring an average of 93 points per game, led by junior Anders Broman's 1,293 points this season -- 44.6 points per game on 60.9 percent field goal shooting. Senior Luke Borchardt is the team's top rebounder with 9.2 per game. The Lions enter the tournament unranked in the final Minnesota Basketball News (MBN) poll. Undefeated and top-seeded Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa wrapped up the season ranked No. 1 in the final MBN poll. The Jaguars are making their second overall and consecutive appearance, in pursuit of a title after 2011's runner-up finish. Senior Connor Goodwin averages a double-double in points (17.5 per game) and rebounds (10.3 per game). Three other players average double-digit scoring: sophomore Billy Borgerding (12.1 points per game); senior Kirby Montbriand (13.1); and sophomore Brian Goodwin (15.2).
(Section 2) Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin (24-5) vs. (Section 3 & No. 4 Seed) Browerville (27-2): The unranked Wolverines of Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin are making their first tournament appearance under this name. Butterfield appeared previously in 1978; Mountain Lake competed in the tournament 13 times, winning the championship in 1939. Mountain Lake was the runner-up to Fosston in the championship game of the inaugural state tournament in 1913. The Wolverines are led by the tandem of senior Beau Herrig and sophomore Carter Kirk. Herrig averages 18.4 points and 12.1 rebounds per game and Kirk averages 17.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Browerville, ranked No. 5 in the final MBN poll, is making its first ever appearance in the state tournament. The Tigers are seeded No. 4. Senior Seth Christensen averages 19.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Three of his teammates posted double-figure scoring averages on the season: junior Mitch Heid (13.8 points per game), senior Seth Kellen (11.1) and junior Kyle Petermeier (10.5). Browerville's team includes students from St. John Vianney Academy.
(Section 8) Fosston (24-4) vs. (Section 4 & No. 2 Seed) Southwest Minnesota Christian, Edgerton (26-1): Champion of the first state tournament in 1913, Fosston is making its second consecutive and ninth overall appearance. The Greyhounds were unranked in the final MBN poll. Fosston did not provide team or individual statistics. Southwest Minnesota Christian is competing in its seventh tournament and first since 2002, which capped off a string of four consecutive Class A titles -- in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002. The Eagles were ranked No. 2 in the final poll and seeded No. 2. Senior Zach Huisken, who became the school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder this season, leads the team with 18.9 points and 12.6 rebounds per game. Senior Andrew Top adds 14.0 points and 7.0 boards per game, and junior Dominic Nibbelink contributes 11.2 points and 5.0 assists per game.
(Section 4) Prairie Seeds Academy, Brooklyn Park (23-2) vs. (Section 1 & No. 3 Seed) Rushford-Peterson (24-5): Prairie Seeds Academy is making its debut appearance at the state tournament. The Lycans were not ranked in the final MBN poll. The school did not provide team or individual statistics. The Trojans of Rushford-Peterson return after a one-year hiatus to make their 11th overall tournament appearance. Ranked No. 8 by MBN and seeded No. 3, Rushford-Peterson won their only other title in 2006. Competing as Rushford, the team was Class A champion in 1989. Senior Nick Thompson averages 22.0 points per game and hits 49.7 percent of his shots from three-point range. Senior Trent Vix adds 15.6 points and dishes 5.8 assists per game.
Class A Quarterfinal Schedule -- Thursday, March 22
11:00 a.m. -- Lakeview Christian Academy vs. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa
at Williams Arena, U of M
1:00 p.m. -- Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin vs. Browerville at Williams Arena, U of M
3:00 p.m. -- Fosston vs. Southwest Minnesota Christian at Williams Arena, U of M
5:00 p.m. -- Prairie Seeds Academy vs. Rushford-Peterson at Williams Arena, U of M
Class AA Preview
(Section 3) Worthington (21-6) vs. (Section 8 & No. 1 Seed) Perham (27-2): Unranked Worthington is making its third appearance, but first since 1998. Senior Mitchael Weg, who is the school's all-time leader in rebounds, averages 24.2 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. Junior Morgan Traylor adds an average of 12.3 rebounds per game. The Perham Yellowjackets return to defend their 2011 title. They are making their second consecutive and overall appearance and were the No. 4 team in the final MBN poll. Perham did not provide team or individual statistics.
(Section 5) Watertown-Mayer (28-2) vs. (Section 6 & No. 4 Seed) Litchfield (24-4): No. 6-ranked Watertown-Mayer returns to tournament play for the first time since 1999, making its third tournament appearance. Senior Nate Kratch, who has more than 1,300 career points and 1,100 career rebounds, is the team's leading scorer. He averages 19.3 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 6.1 blocks per game. The Dragons of Litchfield return for their fifth tournament appearance, but first since 2003. They were ranked No. 10 in this year's final MBN poll and are in the hunt for their fourth title. They won previously in 2000, 2002, and 2003. Junior Zach Whitchurch and senior Mitch Wollin average 11.9 and 11.1 points per game, respectively. Junior Zach Kinny snares an average of 6.2 rebounds per game.
(Section 1) Plainview-Elgin-Millville (24-6) vs. (Section 2 & No. 2 Seed) St. Peter (28-1): After a one-year hiatus, Plainview-Elgin-Millville returns to tournament action in its fourth appearance under this name. Plainview made two additional appearances; the first in the inaugural 1913 tournament and again in 2004. The Bulldogs were not ranked in the final MBN poll. Senior Cory Speer is the leading scorer for P-E-M, averaging 15.5 points per game. Speer will also play football at the University of South Dakota-Sioux Falls next year. Sam Ruth, another senior, leads the Bulldogs with 6.7 rebounds per game. St. Peter, which was the No. 2 team in this year's final MBN poll, is making its fourth tournament appearance. The Saints made their last appearance in 1995. St. Peter did not provide team or individual statistics.
(Section 4) St. Croix Lutheran, West St. Paul (24-6) vs. (Section 7 & No. 3 Seed) Braham (29-1): The unranked Crusaders of St. Croix Lutheran are making their debut tournament appearance. They did not provide team or individual statistics. The Braham Bombers return after a one-year hiatus to make their seventh appearance. They were the top team in this year's final MBN poll and are on the trail of their fourth title. They won previously in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Senior Tyler Vaughan, who has more than 3,000 career points, is the top scorer for the Bombers with 25.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Cameron Braund, another senior, adds 13.1 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
Class AA Quarterfinal Schedule -- Wednesday, March 21
6:00 p.m. -- Worthington vs. Perham at Target Center
8:00 p.m. -- Watertown-Mayer vs. Litchfield at Target Center
6:00 p.m. -- Plainview-Elgin-Millville vs. St. Peter at Williams Arena, U of M
8:00 p.m. -- St. Croix Lutheran vs. Braham at Williams Arena, U of M
Class AAA Preview
(Section 5) Rocori, Cold Spring (18-11) vs. (Section 6 & No. 1 Seed) Minneapolis Washburn (27-2): Rocori is making its 13th trip to the tournament, last appearing in 2007. The Spartans were not ranked in the final MBN poll. Junior Jonah Eisenschenk leads Rocori with 16.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Senior Nathan Meyer adds 13.0 points per game. Head Coach Bob Brink, who has coached the Spartans for 51 years, will retire at the end of this season. The Millers of Minneapolis Washburn, who were ranked No. 2 in this year's final poll, are returning for their eighth appearance. They made their last in 2009. Seniors Dwight Anderson and Charles Smith are the top scorers for the Millers; they average 14.3 and 13.9 points per game, respectively. Jerry Pratt, another senior, grabs an average of 5.5 rebounds per game. Minneapolis Washburn won previous championships in 1955, 1994, and 2009.
(Section 4) St. Paul Johnson (20-8) vs. (Section 1 & No. 4 Seed) Austin (23-5): The No. 9-ranked Governors of St. Paul Johnson are making their fourth consecutive and 10th overall appearance. They bowed out in the 2011 quarterfinals and won one previous title in 2010. Senior Marcus Marshall is the top scorer for Johnson with 20.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Junior Quashingm Smith-Pugh adds another 5.8 rebounds per game. The Packers of Austin are making their 27th appearance in the tournament, but first since 1982. They won previous championships in 1935, 1946, and 1958, and were ranked No. 5 in this year's final MBN poll. Austin did not provide team or individual statistics.
(Section 8) Detroit Lakes (22-7) vs. (Section 3 & No. 2 Seed) DeLaSalle, Minneapolis (23-6): The Lakers of Detroit Lakes return for the second time, but first tournament appearance since 1918. The Lakers finished the season unranked in the final MBN poll. Senior Joe Mollberg, who has more than 1,400 career points, averages17.6 points per game. Senior Brian Labat adds 12.3 points per game and also corrals a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game. Mollberg and Labat will both attend the University of North Dakota on football scholarships next year. The No. 3-ranked Islanders of DeLaSalle are making their 17th appearance; their last in 2010. They are in the hunt for their sixth title, having won previously in 1985, 1988, 1998, 1999, and 2006. DeLaSalle did not provide team or individual statistics.
(Section 2) Mankato East (25-4) vs. (Section 7 & No. 3 Seed) Grand Rapids (24-5): Mankato East, which was ranked No. 8 in the final MBN poll, returns for its seventh appearance. The Cougars made their last showing in 2005. This year's squad averaged a school record 74.8 points per game and shoots 48.0 percent from the field. Senior Brody Ziegler averages 16.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. The unranked Thunderhawks of Grand Rapids return for their fifth consecutive and 11th overall appearance. They lost in the 2011 quarterfinals. Senior Austin Pohlen is the team's leading scorer, averaging 20.6 points per game. Ninth-grader Alex Illikainen leads Grand Rapids with 10.6 rebounds per game. Illikainen also adds 17.0 points per game.
The Class AAA Quarterfinals Schedule -- Wednesday, March 21
10:00 a.m. -- Rocori vs. Minneapolis Washburn at Williams Arena, U of M
12:00 p.m. -- St. Paul Johnson vs. Austin at Williams Arena, U of M
2:00 p.m. -- Detroit Lakes vs. DeLaSalle at Williams Arena, U of M
4:00 p.m. -- Mankato East vs. Grand Rapids at Williams Arena, U of M
Class AAAA Preview
(Section 4) Woodbury (24-5) vs. (Section 6 & No. 1 Seed) Hopkins (28-1): The Royals of Woodbury return to tournament action for the first time since 2007, making their sixth overall appearance. Woodbury won a championship in 1983. A trio of scorers leads the Royals' offense: junior Renard Suggs averages 13.4 points and 3.5 assists per game; senior Connor Mckeen adds 13.0 points on 53 percent field goal shooting; and senior Rickey Suggs contributes 12.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Woodbury closed the season ranked No. 10 in the final MBN poll. Mckeen will play football at Minnesota State Mankato next year. Three-time defending champion Hopkins enters competition ranked No. 1 by MBN. In addition to the past three years, Hopkins also won titles in 1953, 2002, 2005 and 2006. It is the Royals' fourth consecutive and 19th overall appearance. Hopkins senior Zachary Stahl averages 19.0 points per game on 62.6 percent field goal shooting and leads the team in rebounds, grabbing 9.1 per game. Seniors Siyani Chambers and Demitrius Martin account for 15.9 and 14.1 points per game, respectively.
(Section 7) Duluth East (20-8) vs. (Section 5 & No. 4 Seed) Osseo (27-2): Ranked No. 6 in the final MBN poll, Duluth East is making its second consecutive and 13th overall tournament appearance. The Greyhounds look to improve on last year's performance, when they were ousted in the quarterfinal round. Senior Johnny Woodard surpassed 2,000 career points this year and averages 23.3 points per game. Junior Akolda Manyang contributed 17.6 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.7 blocked shots per game. The Orioles of Osseo, who finished third in 2011, return for a second consecutive and seventh overall appearance. Osseo won one previous championship in 2001. The team finished the season ranked No. 4 by MBN and enters tournament play as the No. 4 seed. Osseo did not provide team or individual statistics.
(Section 8) Moorhead (18-9) vs. (Section 1 & No. 2 Seed) Lakeville North (28-1): Unranked Moorhead returns to tournament play for the first time since 2002. It is the 23rd appearance for the Spuds, who won championships in 1928 and 1929. Moorhead's leading scorer is junior Aaron Lien, averaging 22.3 points per game. Junior Austin Nelson adds 11.7 points per game, while senior Matt Ellingson contributes 10.7 points and 4.9 assists per game. The Panthers of Lakeville North are making their second overall appearance and first since 2006. Lakeville North gets balanced scoring from three seniors: Tyler Flack averages 13.7 points per game; Brett Rasmussen adds 12.8; and Ryan Saarela hits 56.3 percent of his field goals for 12.2 points, plus 8.3 rebounds per game. The No. 2-seeded Panthers were ranked No. 2 in the final MBN poll. Flack will play at the University of North Dakota next year.
(Section 2) Eden Prairie (22-7) vs. (Section 3 & No. 3 Seed) Eastview, Apple Valley (28-1): After a runner-up finish in 2011, Eden Prairie returns for its third consecutive and eighth overall tournament appearance. The Eagles closed the season ranked No. 8 in the final MBN poll. Senior Sander Mohn and sophomore Andre Wallace pace the Eden Prairie offense, averaging 14.2 and 14.1 points per game, respectively. Eastview was ranked No. 3 by MBN and enters the tournament as the No. 3 seed. This is the third appearance for the Lightning, who last competed in 2010. With 23.8 points per game, senior Joey King leads the Lightning in scoring. Senior Darin Haugh, who shoots 51.9 percent from behind the arc, adds 11.6 points and 3.3 steals per game. Junior Ben Oberfeld is the team's top rebounder with 7.9 boards per game.
The Class AAAA Quarterfinals Schedule -- Wednesday, March 21
10:00 a.m. -- Woodbury vs. Hopkins at Target Center
12:00 p.m. -- Duluth East vs. Osseo at Target Center
2:00 p.m. -- Moorhead vs. Lakeville North at Target Center
4:00 p.m. -- Eden Prairie vs. Eastview at Target Center
Celebrating 100 Years of Basketball Tournaments
To mark the 100th boys' basketball tournament next week, the milestone is being celebrated at both the girls' and boys' tournaments this year. In addition to special recognition of past achievements, a number of special on-court presentations are planned. The center-spreads of both tournament programs include timelines listing significant events, as well as listings of the top coaches, players and teams, plus the best shots, finishes and games.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the celebration is a collection of state tournament memorabilia that will be on display. Titled "A Century of Memories," the display is sponsored by Wells Fargo, the League's premier corporate partner. School personnel from around the state have lent trophies, uniforms, balls and the like that will be displayed at Target Center adjacent to the skyway entrance to the building. Among the items on display will be the very first trophy awarded to Fosston in 1913.
The display will be available for viewing throughout the boys' tournament.
Television and Webcast Coverage
All semifinal and championship games will be televised live by KSTC-TV Channel 45, and also streamed live and free on the Web at Prep45.com. GrandStadium is also recording all quarterfinal and third-place games for delayed viewing at Prep45.com. Live statistics of all games will also be displayed on the League website (www.MSHSL.org).
Tickets will be available at Target Center and Williams Arena. Quarterfinal tickets cost $14.00 for adults and $9.00 for students. Quarterfinal wristbands, which are good at both venues on Wednesday only, are $19.00 for adults and $12.00 for students. Semifinal and championship tickets will be available at Target Center and are $14.00 for adults and $9.00 for students per session. Third-place tickets will be available at Concordia University and are $10.00 for adults and $7.00 for students.
A visit to any participating Wells Fargo metro location can yield you a $2 discount coupon for students 13 and younger.
Construction Warning: I-35W / 4th Street SE Ramp Closure
The ramp from 4th Street SE to northbound 1-35W will be closed through Thursday, March 22. During the closure, posted detours will direct motorists north to New Brighton Boulevard in order to access northbound 1-35W. For real-time traveler information anywhere in Minnesota, please visit www.511mn.org or dial 5-1-1.