State Boys’ Basketball Tournament: DeLaSalle to defend title as top seed; Four teams making first appearances
The coaches have selected the top seeds in all four classes for the second time — Maranatha Christian Academy of Brooklyn Park in Class A, Minnehaha Academy of Minneapolis in Class AA, DeLaSalle of Minneapolis in Class AAA, and Apple Valley in Class AAAA.
DeLaSalle is also the only school returning to defend its 2012 title. If the Islanders win it would be their second consecutive and seventh overall title.
Four teams are making first appearances: Walker-Hackensack-Akeley in Class A, Byron in Class AA, and Sartell-St. Stephen and The Blake School of Minneapolis in Class AAA.
This is the 17th year of the four-class format and the 10th year that all games are being played in Minneapolis.
The seeding process had all 32 coaches of the section champions log onto a special page of the League Web site. Each coach then ranked the other teams in their class one through seven. The highest and lowest rankings for each team were discarded, leaving five rankings for each team. From those rankings, the top five teams were seeded. In conference calls with all eight head coaches of each class, League Associate Director Kevin Merkle announced the top five seeds. Tom Critchley, representing the boys’ basketball coaches association, then blindly drew the three remaining teams from a hat to establish the opponent for each seeded team. Numbers four and five automatically will play each other.
The 2013 State Boys’ Basketball Tournament starts Wednesday, March 20. Quarterfinal games will be played at Target Center on Wednesday, March 20, and at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis on both Wednesday and Thursday, March 20 and 21. Semifinals will be played at Target Center on Thursday March 21 and Friday March 22. The championship games of all four classes will be played at Target Center on Saturday March 23. Third-place games will be played on Saturday at Concordia University in St. Paul.
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 2) Mountain Lake Area (24-5) vs. (Section 4 & No. 1 Seed) Maranatha Christian Academy, Brooklyn Park (29-1): The Wolverines of Mountain Lake Area, which includes students from Mountain Lake Christian, are making their first appearance under this name. As Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin, the Wolverines placed fourth in the 2012 tournament. Mountain Lake competed in the tournament 13 times, winning a championship in 1939. Junior Carter Kirk, the Wolverines’ all-time leading scorer, averages 24.7 points, 13.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocked shots per game. Junior Andrew Hempeck adds 4.8 assists per game. The Wolverines closed the season unranked in the final Minnesota Basketball News (MBN) poll. Top-ranked Maranatha Christian Academy returns after a one-year hiatus to make its third overall tournament appearance. The Mustangs average 80.1 points per game behind a balanced scoring attack. Senior Isaiah Hanson averages 17.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game to lead the team in both categories. Three of his teammates average double-digit scoring: senior Garrison Gillard (14.2 points per game), sophomore Jeremiah Hanson (14.1) and sophomore Grantham Gillard (11.7). Junior Josh Goldschmidt adds 4.9 assists and 3 blocks per game for the Mustangs.
(Section 7 & No. 5 Seed) Lakeview Christian Academy, Duluth (20-10) vs. (Section 1 & No. 4 Seed) Rushford-Peterson (26-3): Lakeview Christian Academy is making its second consecutive and second overall tournament appearance. In 2012 the Lions lost in the quarterfinal round. They enter the tournament scoring an average of 88.7 points per game, led by senior Anders Broman’s 1,311 points this season — 41.7 points per game on 58.1 percent field goal shooting and 92 percent from the free-throw line. He also contributes 10.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 5.1 steals per game. Sophomore Bjorn Broman averages 21.1 points per game. The Lions enter the tournament unranked in the final MBN poll. Rushford-Peterson looks to improve on last year’s third-place finish. It is the second consecutive and 12th overall tournament appearance for the No. 7-ranked Trojans, who won a championship in 2006. Competing as Rushford, the team was the Class A champion in 1989. Sophomore Cole Kingsley gives the Trojans 10.9 points and 3.3 steals per game. Junior Austin O’Hare contributes 10.7 points per game, while junior Jorli Hauge is the team’s top rebounder with 6.0 per game.
(Section 6) Battle Lake (22-5) vs. (Section 5 & No. 2 Seed) Upsala (30-0): Unranked Battle Lake arrives at the tournament for the first time since 2005, making its second appearance. Accurate field-goal shooting fuels the Battlers, who average 51.1 percent from the floor. Sophomore Petric VanErp makes 56.1 percent of his shots, junior Tyler Ukkelberg hits 53.6 percent, and junior Dan Marson makes 50 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. The undefeated Cardinals of Upsala, ranked No. 4 in the final MBN poll, return to tournament action after a one-year break for a second overall appearance. Junior Christian Pekarek, Upsala’s all-time leading scorer with 1,333 points, averages 23.6 points per game. Senior Avery Smieja leads the team in rebounding with 9.1 boards, along with 10.9 points per game.
(Section 8) Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (27-2) vs. (Section 3 & No. 3 Seed) Southwest Minnesota Christian, Edgerton (27-1): Walker-Hackensack-Akeley is making its debut appearance. Junior Chris Duff is the leading scorer for the Wolves, averaging 21.0 points per game. Senior Anthony Fisher adds 17.3 points and a team-high 12.2 rebounds per game. Walker-Hackensack-Akeley was unranked in the final MBN poll. Southwest Minnesota Christian is competing in its second consecutive and eighth overall tournament, claiming the runner-up spot in 2012. The Eagles won a string of four consecutive Class A titles — in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002. Ranked No. 3 in the final poll, Southwest Minnesota Christian shoots 51.4 percent from the field on the year. The team did not provide individual statistics.
Class A Quarterfinal Schedule — Thursday, March 21
11:00 a.m. — Mountain Lake Area vs. Maranatha Christian Academy at Williams Arena, U of M
1:00 p.m. — Lakeview Christian Academy vs. Rushford-Peterson at Williams Arena, U of M
3:00 p.m. — Battle Lake vs. Upsala at Williams Arena, U of M
5:00 p.m. — Walker-Hackensack-Akeley vs. Southwest Minnesota Christian at Williams Arena, U of M
Class AA Preview
(Section 8) Perham (23-7) vs. (Section 4 & No. 1 Seed) Maranatha Christian Academy, Brooklyn Center (23-6): Unranked Perham is making its third consecutive and overall appearance. The Yellowjackets, who placed third last year, earned a championship in 2011. This year’s team averages 59.5 points and 28.0 rebounds per game. Perham did not provide individual statistics. The No. 6-ranked Redhawks of Minnehaha Academy return to tournament action after a one-year hiatus. This is their fourth appearance overall. Senior Kahari Carter, who is the son of former University of Minnesota player Randy Carter, leads the Redhawks with 13.8 points per game. Senior Marcellous Hazzard corrals a team-high 7.5 rebounds per game and also scores 12.2 points per game.
(Section 5 & No. 5 Seed) Annandale (20-9) vs. (Section 1 & No. 4 Seed) Byron (25-4): Unranked Annandale returns to tournament play for the first time since 2004, making its second tournament appearance. Senior Brett Ahsenmacher and junior Matt Miller average 18.4 and 16.1 points per game, respectively, for Annandale. Miller also grabs a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game. The Byron Bears, who were the No. 6 team in the final MBN poll, are making their first tournament appearance. Senior Jack Nelson leads the Bears in both points (12.8) and rebounds (5.1) per game. Junior Buster Meyer scores an additional 11.8 points per game for Byron.
(Section 3) Redwood Valley, Redwood Falls (24-4) vs. (Section 6 & No. 2 Seed) Litchfield (24-5): After a one-year hiatus, Redwood Valley returns to tournament action in its seventh appearance. The Cardinals were not ranked in the final MBN poll. Senior Alec Koster leads the offensive charge for the Cardinals; he averages 20.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. RJ Juell, another senior, tallies 3.8 rebounds per game. The Dragons of Litchfield return for their second consecutive and sixth overall tournament appearance. They were ranked No. 10 in this year’s final MBN poll and are looking to improve on last year’s runner-up showing. If the Dragons win it would be their fourth title; they won previously in 2000, 2002, and 2003. Seniors Zach Whitechurch and Zach Kinny both reached 1,000 career points this season.
(Section 7) Esko (26-4) vs. (Section 2 & No. 3 Seed) Hayfield (22-7): The Esko Eskomos return for their third appearance, but first since 2003. This year’s team averages 72.0 points and 35.6 rebounds per game. The Eskomos also shoot 47.1 percent from field goal range. Esko did not provide individual statistics. The Hayfield Viking are making their fourth appearance, but first since 2001. Junior Cole Kruger and senior Brady Kramer average 19.0 and 12.8 points per game, respectively. Kruger and Kramer have also each scored more than 1,000 career points. Junior Jeremy Stuart leads the Vikings with 6.3 rebounds per game. Neither team was ranked in the final MBN poll.
Class AA Quarterfinal Schedule — Wednesday, March 20
6:00 p.m. — Perham vs. Minnehaha Academy at Target Center
8:00 p.m. — Annandale vs. Byron at Target Center
6:00 p.m. — Redwood Valley vs. Litchfield at Williams Arena, U of M
8:00 p.m. — Esko vs. Hayfield at Williams Arena, U of M
Class AAA Preview
(Section 8) Sartell-St. Stephen (17-12) vs. (Section 3 & No. 1 Seed) DeLaSalle, Minneapolis (27-1): The Sartell-St. Stephen Sabres, who were not ranked in the final MBN poll, are making their debut appearance. Junior Tom Bearson leads Sartell-St. Stephen with 13.4 points per game. Senior Tim Immelman adds a team-high 5.7 rebounds per game. The top-ranked defending champions from DeLaSalle are making their second consecutive and 18th overall appearance. They are in the hunt for their seventh title. In addition to last year, they also won in 1985, 1988, 1998, 1999, and 2006. Junior Reid Travis paces the Islanders with 24.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. He also makes 72 percent of his free throw attempts. Senior Luke Scott averages 13.9 points per game for DeLaSalle.
(Section 5 & No. 5 Seed) St. Paul Johnson (21-7) vs. (Section 5 & No. 4 Seed) Delano (26-3): The No. 8-ranked Governors of St. Paul Johnson are making their fifth consecutive and 11th overall appearance. They placed third in 2012 and won one previous championship in 2010. This year’s squad averages 81.4 points and 35.3 rebounds per game. St. Paul Johnson did not provide individual statistics. The Delano Tigers return for their second tournament appearance but first since 1993. They were ranked No. 4 in this year’s final MBN poll. Senior Zach Checkal and junior Toby Hanson score an average of 16.5 and 16.4 points per game, respectively.
(Section 6) The Blake School, Minneapolis (22-7) vs. (Section 1 & No. 2 Seed) Austin (28-0): The Bears of The Blake School are making their first tournament appearance and they finished the season ranked No. 7 in the final MBN poll. Senior Blaine Crawford, who will play basketball at the University of Chicago next season, leads the Bears with 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Junior JR Bascom adds 15.1 and 5.9 rebounds per game. Senior Kebu Johnson, who averages 14.7 points per game, will attend the University of Sioux Falls on a basketball scholarship next year. The Packers of Austin are making their second consecutive and 27th overall appearance. They lost in the quarterfinals in 2012 but won previous championships in 1935, 1946, and 1958. Austin was ranked No. 2 in this year’s final MBN poll. As a team, the Packers average 62.9 points and 29.4 rebounds per game. Austin did not provide individual statistics.
(Section 7) Grand Rapids (20-9) vs. (Section 2 & No. 3 Seed) Marshall (27-2): The unranked Thunderhawks of Grand Rapids return for their sixth consecutive and 12th overall appearance. They placed fourth in 2012. Sophomore Alex Illikainen leads Grand Rapids with 27.0 points and 15.2 rebounds per game. He also surpassed both 1,000 career points and rebounds this year. Senior Justin Gill is the second-leading scorer for the Thunderhawks; he averages 7.8 points per game. Marshall, which was ranked No. 3 in the final MBN poll, returns for its ninth appearance. The Tigers made their last showing in 2011. Junior Riley Sharbono leads the Tigers with 13.3 points per game and senior Derek Buysse adds 11.6 points per game. Buysse also grabs a team-high 5.5 rebounds per game. Senior Austin Saugstad was named the 2013 male Triple A award-winner at Marshall High School.
Class AAA Quarterfinals Schedule — Wednesday, March 20
10:00 a.m. — Sartell-St. Stephen vs. DeLaSalle at Williams Arena, U of M
12:00 p.m. — St. Paul Johnson vs. Delano at Williams Arena, U of M
2:00 p.m. — The Blake School vs. Austin at Williams Arena, U of M
4:00 p.m. — Grand Rapids vs. Marshall at Williams Arena, U of M
Class AAAA Preview
(Section 8) Brainerd (28-1) vs. (Section 3 & No. 1 Seed) Apple Valley (28-1): Brainerd returns to tournament action for the first time since 1991. It is the 10th overall appearance for the Warriors who claimed a state title in 1954. Brainerd averages 73.2 points per game and shoots 46.0 percent from the field. The Warriors closed the season ranked No. 7 in the final MBN poll. The top-ranked Eagles of Apple Valley are making their sixth overall appearance and first since 2009. Neither team provided individual statistics.
(Section 2 & No. 5 Seed) Eden Prairie (21-8) vs. (Section 4 & No. 4 Seed) Woodbury (25-4):
Unranked Eden Prairie is making its fourth consecutive and ninth overall tournament appearance. The Eagles look to improve on last year’s fourth-place finish. The duo of junior Andre Wallace and senior Grant Shaeffer lead Eden Prairie in scoring, averaging 16.1 and 12.6 points per game, respectively. Senior Jack Cottrell is the leading rebounder for the Eagles with 6.0 boards per game. Woodbury is making its second consecutive and seventh overall appearance, after being ousted in the quarterfinal round in 2012. The Royals won their only other championship in 1983. Senior Renard Suggs leads the team with 19.4 points per game. Three other Woodbury players also average double-figure scoring: junior Matt Ambriz with 13.1 points per game, senior Diallo Powell with 12.6, and senior Mario Franco with 10.5. Franco is also the Royals’ top rebounder with 6.2 per game. Woodbury closed the season ranked No. 3 in the final MBN poll.
(Section 1) Lakeville North (23-6) vs. (Section 5 & No. 2 Seed) Park Center, Brooklyn Park (26-3): Lakeville North, the runner-up in 2012, returns in pursuit of a championship title. It is the second consecutive and third overall appearance for the Panthers who finished the season unranked in the final MBN poll. Junior JP Macura leads the team with an average of 24.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Senior Grant Erickson adds 13.2 points and 6.5 assists per game. The No. 5-ranked Pirates of Park Center return to tournament action for the first time since 1997. It is the team’s third overall appearance. Park Center did not provide team or individual statistics.
(Section 7) Andover (10-19) vs. (Section 6 & No. 3 Seed) Edina (22-7): Unranked Andover returns for a fourth tournament appearance, its first since 2007. Junior Connor Wilkie leads the Huskies with 18.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Junior Kyle Kettler contributes 13.6 points per game. The Hornets of Edina enter tournament play for the first time since 1991. It marks the seventh overall appearance for the team that claimed three consecutive championships in 1966, 1967 and 1968. Senior Graham Woodward is Edina’s all-time leading scorer, leading this year’s squad with an average 26.3 points per game. Senior Reggie Lynch holds the school record for blocked shots, averaging 6.0 per game, along with 8.4 rebounds and 14.1 points per game.
Class AAAA Quarterfinals Schedule — Wednesday, March 20
10:00 a.m. — Brainerd vs. Apple Valley at Target Center
12:00 p.m. — Eden Prairie vs. Woodbury at Target Center
2:00 p.m. — Lakeville North vs. Park Center at Target Center
4:00 p.m. — Andover vs. Edina at Target Center
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. 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.