Posted On: 01/19/18 12:18 PM
As most of the teams throughout Minnesota are either nearing the mid-point of their schedule or have just passed it, we’ll take a look at ten of the best players this season in northern Minnesota through the first half of the season. NOTE: for the purposes of this article, northern MN is comprised of the area north of St. Cloud.
G – Noah Kannegiesser, Hancock, Sr. – Noah barely makes the list from a geographical standpoint, as the northern most reaches of Hancock lines up with our (somewhat arbitrary) cutoff line. However, from a basketball standpoint, he is a shoe-in. The senior guard is a scoring machine, a virtual lock to go for 30+ each night. He has paced the Owls to an 8-2 record overall with a perfect mark in conference play.
G – Cal Wright, Mora, Sr. – Mora has an 8-4 record through 12 games and there is one guy who is sparking their offense consistently each night, that guy is Cal Wright. The 6’3” senior guard is averaging 31.4 PPG including four 40-point nights! He is one of the premier scorers in the area.
F – Brevyn Spann-Ford, St. Cloud Tech, Sr. – Tech has passed the midway point of their season, posting a 10-5 record going into their conference matchup with Sauk Rapids-Rice tonight. Spann-Ford is an all-around threat, when you watch this team play in person you’ll notice how vital he is in so many aspects for this team. He is a double-double machine, posting eight such games this season. He is averaging 18.1 PPG, 10.1 REB to go along with 5 AST and 3.1 steals per game.
F – Michael Schaefer, St. Cloud Cathedral, Sr. – Cathedral will be a state contender come March, and Schaefer is a big reason why. In their 10-2 start to the season, the 6’5” senior is averaging 25.3 PPG and 12.9 REB per game. The most impressive part, only one of his games this season hasn’t resulted in a double-double, and in that game, he only missed it by one rebound!
C – Adam Trapp, Esko, Sr. – The 7’2” big-man got off to a relatively slow start this season, but since the end of December he has been averaging over 20 a night. Trapp’s length and athleticism are routinely unmatched, and he has guided Esko to a 10-3 record as they have a big matchup with Perham tomorrow at home.
G – Jensen Beachy, Perham, Jr. – The Yellowjackets are one of the top teams in Class AA and possess a 13-0 record behind a very balanced attack. However, the lead dog in this pack is Beachy. The vocal leader for this team, Beachy is an integral part of their scheme on both ends of the floor while averaging 17.5 PPG.
G – Nathan Rund, Fergus Falls, Sr. – Rund has helped the Otters fight their way to a 10-5 record this season including a 5-3 mark in conference. He is one of the most complete guards that I have watched this season, combining solid handles, court vision, physicality, and scoring ability. He is a player that I believe you could plug in to most lineups in the state and he would lead and thrive.
F – Ethan Youso, Virginia, Sr. – The Blue Devils are 10-2 this season, coming off of a 3-point loss to North Woods last night. Youso is similar to Spann-Ford in many respects, both are versatile, athletic, and rangy (6’8”) forwards who can impact the game on both ends of the court in many ways (and both are on the Mr. Basketball Watch List).
F – Cody Landwehr, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Sr. – The Storm have fought their way to a 9-5 record and dropped to 3-4 in conference last night following a one-point loss to Alexandria. The 6’6” big is an anchor for this team on both ends of the floor, and is capable of handling a large scoring load as was displayed earlier this season with a 25-point performance against Brainerd. He is a sturdy, versatile player who can function in and out of the paint.
C – Justin Balcome, Alexandria, Sr. – Balcome has size, standing 6’10”, but the thing that stood out for me while watching the Northern State commit in person was his soft touch. He has a great looking stroke from mid-range and deep, and a very soft touch around the rim. Alexandria has quietly positioned themselves in third place in the Central Lakes Conference, largely due to the performance this season from Balcome.