Posted On: 02/16/18 3:27 PM
Top games of the evening? NHR gives the five games you want to see when it comes to talent and importance. And we predict the winner.
Lakeville North at Prior Lake. The Panthers recently had their 11 game win streak by Apple Valley. Now they look to start a new one against Prior Lake. The Lakers are trying to prove they are a legit top ten team and last night’s win over Edina went a long way in proving that. Next up Prior Lake is hosting the Panthers. In the previous meeting the Panthers won because they knocked down perimeter jumpers. Tommy Jensen and Owen Blascziek were able to combine for 39 points and Sam Nissen was the only Laker that stepped forward. Dawson Garcia and Robert Jones outplayed North up front limiting the Tylers (Lewko and Wahl) to a combined 13. Tonight’s game should be excellent and it seems like the Lakers are on the verge of big things but John Oxton is letting things go so quick. It will be close, and we say the Panthers by a basket.
Tartan at St. Thomas. Tartan has split with Mahtomedi and the win earlier in the week means they have split with North St. Paul. Next up STA. Can the Titans get a split out of this game? The winner stays two games back from NSP while the loser will fall three games behind. St. Thomas won the previous match-up 77-75 in overtime in a game that Antwan Kimmons scored 33 but the Cadets had more balance and won. The Cadets were able to get 25 from Sam Vascellaro and 14 from George Stewart up front and Tartan didn’t have the size to match it. Tonight will be close again but STA’s edge should be better at home.
Minnehaha Academy at Columbia Heights. For a time the Hylanders looked like the true top contender to DeLaSalle in Class A but three losses in their last four games is now starting to make people wonder. The schedule is always tough (Hopkins and DeLaSalle were among the recent losses) but the Hylanders need a win. The match-ups in this game will be fun. Terry Lockett, Lorenzo Smith, and Jalen Suggs in the backcourt against Quentin Hardrict, Deundra Roberson, and Amir Davis will be fun. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kaden Johnson spent time on Roberson as Johnson is one of the state’s better defender and Roberson is the main Hylander scorer. Inside Wendell Matthews versus JaVonni Bickham will be a great match-up of explosive finishing against skilled touch with both being able to dabble in what the other does as well. The Redhawks have won five of six and are 18-4 on the year where as the Hylanders have struggled. Minnehaha is also a lot bigger in a lot of spots, they win by five.
Lake City at Byron. Look past those five losses on the Byron schedule, most of those were against ranked schools at a higher level (East Ridge, Waseca, Holy Family). Byron is a real contender. The Bears are the only undefeated team in the Hiawatha Valley league and the only team close to them is Lake City. Byron won the previous match-up on the road 57-55. Both teams have something to prove. Byron’s five losses has them away from the rankings but they feel they are a top ten team. Lake City has a loss to avenge. Kaden Koski and Zach Bremmer inside, Marc Kjos and Nathan Heise versus Bjorn Knutson and Michael Coble at guard/wing. Should be an excellent game.
Austin at Mankato East. Austin won the first game 81-74 but tonight the game is at East. The Packers have a one game lead on the competition in the Big Nine where as East is fourth. The Packers stay ahead with the win and East falls away in the conference race. The Cougars have the motivation but the Packers are the deeper team going nine deep. Everyone on the court performed their role as you would expect, but the Packers had more depth. And Duoth Gach led the game with 20 points. Who grabs the W? I’m not partial, I was born a Packer. So Packers win. The zone wears down the Cougars late in the first half and the Pack wins by three scores again.