Posted On: 11/30/17 2:31 PM
Games to Watch This Week
Red Lake vs. Fosston (12/2/17) – This is a non-conference matchup of two teams with high hopes for the upcoming season. Red Lake made a trip to the State Tournament last season, and has their sights set on another run to Minneapolis. They lost a few key players from last season, but will be led this season by explosive senior guard, Kendall Whitefeather. Fosston is led by dynamic 6’6” junior small-forward, Karsten Broadley. Broadley is one of the most heavily recruited kids in northern MN, and this will be a good early-season test for the junior who averaged nearly 15 PPG last season.
Virginia vs. Deer River (12/1/17) – Virginia is the prohibitive favorite in the Iron Range Conference this season, led by a pair of 6’8” senior bigs in Ethan Youso (18.7 PPG, 9.3 REB) and Bryce Kennedy (10.4 PTS, 8.4 REB). Early in the season is a great time for a hopeful contender to upset the favorite, and that is precisely what Deer River will be looking to do. Senior PG Garrett Schjenken (8.6 PPG, 4 AST, and 4 REB) and juniors Kyle Shevich (8.5 PPG, 3 REB) and Noah Williams (9.4 PPG, 7 REB) look to do the heavy lifting for Deer River.
Brainerd vs. Sauk Rapids-Rice (12/1/17) – Both of these teams are looking to take a step up from last season and compete for the Central Lakes Conference crown, and this early season conference matchup will have an impact on that outcome. Brainerd is deep this season, led by seniors Chris Karels (9 PPG, 4 REB, 2 STL), Brandon Burggraff (8 PPG, 6 REB), Taylor Shelito (8 PPG, 2 REB), and junior Joey Sauer (10 PPG, 5 REB, 3 STL). Sauk Rapids will look to 6’6” senior, Cody Landwehr, and 6’5” senior, Deng Deang. This will be a heated conference battle in Sauk Rapids on Friday night.
Players to Watch This Week
Jon Jacobson, Crosby-Ironton – After a run that took the Rangers to the State Title game last season, they will be looking to replace the likes of Trey Jacobs, Noah Gindorff, and Jack Silgen. The leading candidate to take their place is 6’6” junior, Jon Jacobson. They get their season started on Friday the 1st against a Pine River-Backus team led by Nick Ackerman (13.3 PPG, 6.9 REB), Torry Hirschey (10.1 PPG) and Brady Raph (8.7 PPG).
Brevyn Spann-Ford, St. Cloud Tech – The Tigers are the favorite in the Central Lakes Conference this season, and Brevyn Spann-Ford may be the most dynamic player in the conference. Last season, he averaged 13.9 PPG, 7.4 REB, 2.5 STL, 4.5 assists. They kick off their season on 11/30 against Buffalo.
Jared Brown, Cass Lake-Bena – The Panthers are in a conference (Northland) that sent two teams to state last season in Nevis and Red Lake. Cass Lake-Bena is not a stranger to Minneapolis themselves, and they are looking to get back this year. They have a number of capable scorers returning, but keep an eye on the junior, Jared Brown, who averaged around 12 PPG last season.
Storyline to Watch This Week
Football Season Hangovers – A number of Northern Minnesota teams made deep runs in the State Football Tournament this season. Pierz won the Class AAA state title on 11/25 and Nevis made it to State Title game in Nine-Man the day before, leaving those two teams with only one week of practice leading up to their first game of the season.
Stephen-Argyle, Ada-Borup, Moose Lake-Willow River, Pequot Lakes, Cloquet, and Brainerd were other northern Minnesota teams that made it to the State Semis, meaning that dual-sport players came straight from a football game one weekend to basketball practice that following Monday.
For the smaller class teams, it poses more of a dilemma, as the number of multiple-sport athletes is higher. Among the multi-sport athletes that will figure heavily into the equation on the hardwood this winter are Michael Landquist of Nevis, Zachary Fincher of Stephen-Argyle, Mason Miller of Ada-Borup, Nathan Traut and Zach Sjoblad of Pequot Lakes, Ben Staehling and Owen Davis of Brainerd, among many others.
It is always interesting to see how this transition impacts teams early on in the season, and we’ll get a chance to see the effects within the next few days.