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Posted On: 12/20/17 11:20 AM
This week’s Notes from the North recaps the events of the last week, and looks forward to some key matchups in the coming week.
Willmar, Warriors Lead CLC
The Willmar Cardinals were expected to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack in the Central Lakes Conference this season, but early on in the season they have put the conference on notice. Tuesday night they captured their biggest win to date on the season, traveling to St. Cloud Tech and leaving with an 80-59 victory over the preseason conference favorite. The victory runs the #10 team in our Class AAA rankings to 6-0 on the season.
Noah Slagter is making his case to be the Player of the Year in the conference, on Tuesday the senior guard had a gem of a game, registering a double-double with 33 points and 14 rebounds to go along with 5 assists and 5 steals. While Slagter has been stellar this season, the contributions from other Cardinals have been a huge component of their early-season success. On Tuesday night, Drey Dirksen also posted a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Donald Jurek got into double figures with 10 points. All-in-all, Willmar had ten players score in the contest.
They will look to keep the momentum going on Friday, as they have another conference tilt, this time at home against St. Cloud Apollo.
Meanwhile, last Thursday in Brainerd, the Warriors took on one of the other preseason conference favorites, Fergus Falls, and dispatched of them by a score of 94-57. After a win last night at ROCORI, Brainerd sits with a 3-1 record overall and a 3-0 record in conference play to put them on top of the CLC standings.
Early in the season, Brainerd has been led by steady play from senior guard, Chris Karels. In the win over Fergus Falls, Karels scored 24 points, and last night at ROCORI the sharp-shooter had 22 points on 4-6 from deep. Junior forward, Joey Sauer, and senior forward, Brandon Burggraff are also averaging double-figures for the Warriors.
On Thursday, they travel to Sartell-St. Stephen as they try to stay on top of the CLC standings.
Rivalry Matchup in the Northland Conference
On Thursday, the #8 team in our Class A rankings, Cass Lake-Bena, will travel to Red Lake in what is always a key matchup when looking at the race for the conference championship. Cass Lake-Bena is currently sitting at 6-0 overall and 2-0 in conference. Red Lake is 5-3 overall with a 2-1 record in conference play.
CLB is still without junior Jared Brown, but they do not have a shortage of scoring options. Last Thursday in a win over Pine River-Backus, senior Noah Delopaz scored 23, while sophomore Jarell Jacobs and senior Arnold Kingbird scored 17 and 14, respectively.
Red Lake will look to senior guard, Kendall Whitefeather, to lead the charge. For fans who followed the great Red Lake teams of the mid to late 90’s, you’ll see one familiar name on the roster, Delwyn Holthusen. Not the athletic big-man who teamed up with Gerald Kingbird to lead the Warriors to the State Tourney in 1997, but the freshman who had 19 points against Blackduck earlier this season.
Unbeaten Teams in the Rankings
Early on in the season there are a number of northern MN teams with perfect records, however, with conference play really starting to heat up, crazy things can happen. Here is a look at some of the unbeaten northern MN teams in the NHR Top 10 rankings, and the games that they have in front of them in the next week.
Class AAA #10, Willmar – 12/21/17 vs. St. Cloud Apollo
Class AA #6, Perham – 12/21/17 vs. Barnesville
Class A #2, North Woods – Idle until the North Woods Classic Holiday Tournament (12/28/17-12/30/17)
Class A #5, Hinckley-Finlayson – 12/21/17 @ East Central
Class A #7, Nevis – Idle until 1/4/18 vs. Northland
Class A #8, Cass Lake-Bena – 12/21/17 @ Red Lake
Making Their Case
Below is a look at a northern MN team in each class that is on the outside looking in at the Top 10 rankings, and why they may have a case to jump into the Top 10 in the coming weeks.
AAAA – Brainerd: A lopsided win over a talented Class AAA Fergus Falls team is their signature win so far. Next week they take on St. Michael-Albertville and Elk River on the road, a pair of wins over AAAA teams could open some eyes.
AAA – Grand Rapids: They dropped a close contest to Cloquet a week ago, and their Independent conference status in northern MN makes it tough for them to schedule games against larger schools. However, this team is loaded with talent with seniors Nate Seelye and Blake Smith leading the way.
AA – Virginia: They are off to a perfect start on the season, and are led by one of the best players in northern MN, Ethan Youso. There is not a game on their schedule that they can’t win, and that includes a late January matchup with Grand Rapids.
A – Ada-Borup: They are 5-1 on the season, dropping a close contest to Bagley early on. They feature a very talented player as their centerpiece, 6’7” sophomore Mason Miller. They have a big conference matchup on Friday against Win-E-Mac that will take place at the University of Minnesota-Crookston. It will be an intriguing matchup between Miller and Win-E-Mac 6’8” junior, Brekken Lindberg.
Ross Reaches 1,000
Wadena-Deer Creek senior guard, Noah Ross, reached the 1,000-point plateau on Tuesday night as he scored 21 points in a 55-51 loss to Pelican Rapids. Ross is averaging north of 20 PPG on the season for the Wolverines.