NHR Daily: Could be a wild year in Class AAAA

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Posted On: 12/13/17 1:17 PM

Basketball in Minnesota, it’s upside down. Who is the favorite? Who is the best? Who really knows? Last night more things changed.

Beating #1 & #2. Edina is 3-0 right now and their early season schedule has included a victory over the second ranked (at the time) Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders and the number one ranked Apple Valley Eagles (currently one but soon to change).

Where did this come from? Was Edina a top ten team? The Hornets entered the season ranked 13th in the Breakdown Basketball Preview and were listed at second in their section behind Eden Prairie (we will get to EP in a second) so it’s not like this is like BC beating Duke. Edina has talent.

Anders Nelson is scoring 24 a game and his high level of production was expected. Jack Middleton, a junior, playing as well as he has also isn’t a surprise. He’s the second leading scorer for the Hornets and does a lot of other things as well. The Hornets always have workers and seniors Luke Glenna, Charlie Fischer, and Zach Kloos are supplying that role.

A key ingredient for the Hornets that we didn’t count on in August when putting the Breakdown preview together was 6-foot-8 sophomore Jacob Hutson scoring in double figures against CDH and Apple Valley. Hutson earned all 15U honors this summer with the Fury and was really impressive at the Top 250 Expo. Hutson is now giving Edina an inside element to go with Middleton on the wing and Nelson in the backcourt.

 

Beating the Best. Eden Prairie has been a top ten team all year and they backed up their spot with wins over Burnsville, Eastview, and North St. Paul. However, the Eagles knocked off the number team overall in state last night 71-48 when they put the hammer to Minnehaha Academy.

Stating that the Redhawks are just kids (several sophomores, a frosh, and an eighth grader) may work with several teams but EP is playing numerous underclassmen themselves. What likely happened last night was that the Minnehaha Academy high level schedule of two Breakdown Tip Off games in front of big crowds (vs East Ridge and vs Park Center) as well as the ESPN victory over Apple Valley had them on a big high and when they played a talented and tough EP (their fourth Class AAAA top ten opponent in a row) that was motivated, the Redhawks likely weren’t on the same level of motivation.

And that’s a bad thing when you are facing a David Flom team. The Eagles had five players in double figures last night (John Henry 17, Drake Dobbs 15, DJ Johnson and Austin Andrews 12,, Kyler Kluge 11) plus they limited Jalen Suggs to only ten points. JaVonni Bickham was tough for EP but the Eagles were able to handle limit the Redhawks guards (Suggs 10, Lorenzo Smith 4, Kaden Johnson 1) with strong defense.

The EP sophomores have been outstanding through four games with Andrews scoring 19 a contest, Dobbs leading the team with 20, Henry scoring 11 a game, and Connor Christensen scoring 19 a contest before an ankle injury.

 

Lakeville North. The Panthers started the year ranked fifth and of the top five teams only Lakeville North has went through their schedule without an L so far. Have others teams faced tougher opponents? Maybe a tad but North has played preseason 7th ranked Wayzata, preseason 9th ranked Woodbury, and preseason 11th ranked St. Cloud Tech beating all of them by double figures.

The balance of the Panthers is always there with Tyler Wahl scoring 18 a game, Tyler Lewko ten, Owen Blasziek ten, Tommy Jensen eleven, and Eli Mostaert nine a game. Add in the Cole Anderson eight plus a contest and the Panthers are hitting teams from all angles and on both ends of the floor.

 

Who is Number 1? Haha, good question. You could look at Edina and consider that they have beaten both Apple Valley and CDH which would give them the nod. That said EP just beat Minnehaha Academy who was considered the best team overall in state. And of the preseason top five only Lakeville North has handled their schedule like a top team is expected to (winning everything). They have stayed the course and should maybe be considered next in line. EP and North have manageable schedules until they face each other on the 21st.

Others? Apple Valley has lost twice so they have to slide. CDH and East Ridge both lost early and play this Friday. The winner of that game may have a claim. Hopkins losing to CDH kind of puts them behind the eight ball at the moment but they can beat right back in the conversation Friday if they can knock off Edina. Another team to consider would be top ten Rochester JM who handled games with Mayo and Lakeville South in impressive ways (that is two section opponents they just beat by the way).