Minnehaha Academy: Think about this: The Redhawks won this event against some of the top Class AA teams in the state, and they did it while playing only two kids that will be upperclassmen this year. TWO. One of those upperclassmen is senior Benny Larry who continues to release jumpers with a scorching hot result. Also like what Jake Richardson (a scholarship football talent) did as a working role player. Now, the young guys. There are so many of them and such talent available to Coach Johnson. The 2020 backcourt of Jalen Suggs and Terry Lockett has people over on Minnehaha dreaming of the future. Both of them are ultra skilled and play well beyond their years. The scoring talent of Suggs is widely known but Lockett joins him also as a deadly shooter and Lockett’s handles at the lead guard spot led him to wherever he wanted around Maple Grove. Finally, JaVonni Bickham was a bull against every team he played against. Nobody could stop him from scoring after a dribble and at one point his dribble separation move scared a guy to the floor for a butt bruise. Not to mention, they are expected to have Freddy Reeves in the junior class (he played with Howard Pulley this summer) and there are several other young kids to talk about as they develop.
Braham. It was for the most part a solid weekend for Braham but they left the Bracket Buster with a sour taste in their mouth dropping the title game to Minnehaha by 15 points. The win over a full Caledonia squad as really good and beating a short handed SPA team was expected. What you have to say about the Bombers is that they have more scoring options than just about any Class AA team. The question is making everything fit. Connor Tschumper does all the grinding work and Ryan Larson has the handles and creative ability to distribute. With Alec Olson, Chris Olson, and John Larson all being good scoring threats that need looks (Ryan too) they need to find the right mix and then they could be unstoppable. Olson is the most talented of the scorers as Chris has the combination of quick release, dribble separation, and quick lift that makes him a standout.
Caledonia. I said Caledonia was full rostered but that is a bit off. They were without Colton Lampert who is a key scoring piece for their program. But they still had Owen King, one of the top players in the 2018 class, and up and coming Gavin Schroeder who is a true under the radar type player that grabbed attention this weekend. Schroeder is a long 6-foot-5 who moves well and finishes in the paint at a high rate. With King able to swerve around the best Class AA teams in Minnesota this weekend (sometimes going by or around all five opponents) you know he will have a great year. King led the Warriors to a pair of wins in this event. Add in Lampert and Schroeder and you have a team that that can make yet another Class AA run.
St. Croix Lutheran. The Crusaders will be fine, but they were dealt a tough blow at this event dropping games by one basket to Minnehaha Academy and Perham. They of course beat Holy Family but losing a pair of close games is a reminder that they have a bit more work to do to match last year’s success. I like what Trenton Krueger did at this event. He was facing up to hit made range jumpers, had a couple really strong two hand dunks, and most importantly I thought Trenton competed at a high level. With Ade Lamu, Aage Rovney, and Venkat Valluri all returning from big rolls another 2-3 loss season is possible. But the losses this weekend may have been a bit of a wake-up.
Perham. The Yellowjackets pretty much performed as expected. They lost to the event champions, beat a short handed SPA team, and beat a Holy Family team that doesn’t have as much talent as Perham does. The youthful talent of Jaden Beachy along with veterans like Aaron Solberg, Zach Tellinghuisen, and Jaden Anderson should allow them to bounce back from last year’s losing record season.
St. Paul Academy. SPA was without Kent Hanson and a couple others the double figure losses at a solid event like this showed that while Dalante Peyton is very good, he’s just one guy and that one guy needs his running mate for this team to return to state. Depth needs to be developed for SPA if they want to reach their goals.
Crosby-Ironton. The Rangers have an excellent junior class but when that class is missing their 6-foot-6 big man Noah Gindorff and is replacing two very good seniors (Tesdahl, Hudrlik) there is going to need to be some depth developed. This was a great event for the C-I crew to see who can do what and get their guys experience.
Holy Family Catholic. Holy Family moves down to the Class AA level and their response after dropping three games this weekend must have been “why couldn’t they do this when Justin Dahl was here?” Tough weekend for the Fire on the court and now they are on the news for other reasons as well.