Class AA State Preview: Team Capsules

High School
Minnesota

Posted On: 03/19/18 6:06 PM

The state tournament field is set. Here’s a quick breakdown on each team in the field:

(1) Minnehaha Academy

The defending state champs, Minnehaha played a challenging schedule and racked up impressive wins over Apple Valley, Park Center, East Ridge, Orono and Caledonia among others.

The Redhawks are easily the most talented team in the field, led by super sophomore Jalen Suggs and senior big man JaVonni Bickham. There’s a lot more to them than that duo though as Terry Lockett, Kaden Johnson, Lorenzo Smith and Chet Holmgren are all capable of producing at a high level too.

With their combination of collective size and length, shooting, guard play and experience, the Redhawks will be unquestioned favorite to defend the state title.

Minnehaha will face Jordan in the first round of the state tournament Wednesday.

(2) Brooklyn Center

The Centaurs went into the year a clear top-10 team but earned a state bid with something of an upset win over Minneapolis North in the Section 5AA title game. BC went 18-8 in the regular season, beating the likes of Esko, Holy Family Catholic and Fridley while taking losses to top teams like DeLaSalle and Columbia Heights.

Sophomore guard Lu’Cye Patterson is one of the best players in the state and stuffed the box scores on a nightly basis this season, averaging 22.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5 assists. He scored 24 in the win over Minneapolis North. He does a lot of his damage at the free throw line as he takes more than 7.5 free throw attempts per game.

Junior forward Adreone Sprinkles averaged 16 points and better than five rebounds per game, providing a quality second scoring option. Qentrell Douglas provides playmaking and Rudwan Tahir is the team’s best 3-point shooter.  

Brooklyn Center will take on Breckenridge to open the state tournament Wednesday.

(3) Caledonia

Caledonia steamrolled Byron in the section 1AA final to earn a spot in the state tournament. The Warriors went 22-4 in the regular season with close losses to Minnehaha and Minneapolis North along with wins over St. Cloud Cathedral, Rushford-Peterson and Lake City.

It all starts with the King brothers, Owen, the senior point guard and Noah, a sophomore forward. Owen is one of the five Mr. Basketball finalists are a South Dakota State basketball signee who has been one of the best players in the state for a while now. Noah is one of the best pure scorers in the state, combining inside-outside skills with a hot motor. 

Caledonia’s also got a good mix of quality role players as Marten Morem gives the Warriors an interior presence and third scorer, Sam Barthell is a shot-maker from the perimeter, Eli King and Noah Kearney are snipers and Andrew Goergen is a pesky defender.

The Warriors take on Minnewaska in the first round of the state tournament Wednesday.

(4) Esko

After missing the state tournament for the first time in four years last season, the Eskomos are back. Led by 7-foot-3 senior Adam Trapp and a host of talented upperclassmen, Esko went 22-4 in the regular season and cruised through Section 7AA.

Trapp is the headliner as he’s been one of the most productive and unique players in the state for a long time now. He’s impossible to stop if he establishes deep post position and he is a one-man stop sign in the paint on the defensive end.

The Eskomos have a good group of guards though too as Quinn Fischer is one of the more underrated players in the state. The 6-foot-3 senior has taken his game to another level this season and is the team’s best shot-creator on the perimeter. Ryan Pantsar is a terrific long range shooter and junior guard Camden Berger is capable of putting up points in a hurry too.

Esko’s four losses are all to state tournament or state tournament caliber clubs as the Eskomos lost to Annandale, Columbia Heights, Brooklyn Center and Perham. They also beat St. Cloud Cathedral a month ago and picked up good wins over Virginia and Hinckley-Finlayson during the regular season.

Esko will take on fifth-seeded St. Cloud Cathedral Wednesday.

(5) St. Cloud Cathedral

The Crusaders earned a repeat trip to the state tournament, beating Eden Valley-Watkins in dramatic fashion in the Section 6AA final. St. Cloud Cathedral went 21-5 in the regular season, playing a big chunk of games without point guard Jackson Baustain-Jangula and a recovering Mitchell Plombon.

Plombon and fellow senior forward Michael Schaefer represent arguably the best one-two frontcourt punch in the state as the two combine to average roughly 40 points and 20 rebounds. Both are active and athletic inside creating scoring chances but also skilled enough to make plays with the ball on the perimeter.

The guards for Cathedral are stellar as well. Jangula controls the tempo and might be the team’s best shot-creator. He’s averaging 10 points and five assists on the season. Junior guard Nick Schaefer and sophomore guard Jacob Stoltzenberg combined to knock down more than 100 3-pointers.

Cathedral will play Esko in the first round of the state tournament Wednesday.

Minnewaska Area

Minnewaska had to grind its way to the state tournament, beating Morris/Chokio-Alberta in overtime and New Londer-Spicer by two before knocking off Pipestone by two in the section final. Armed with one of the best defenses in the state, the Lakers went 17-7 in the regular season.

The Lakers have three double-figure scorers in senior guard Jackson Johnsrud (14 ppg and 25 points in section final win over Pipestone), senior guard Matt Gruber (13 ppg) and senior forward Garrett Jensen (11.8 ppg).

Minnewaska will take on third-seeded Caledonia to open the state tournament Wednesday.

Breckenridge

The Cowboys upended undefeated Perham in the Section 8AA final to earn a second straight state tournament trip.

6-foot-8 junior Noah Christenson is the go-to guy for the Cowboys and he delivered in a big way during the section tournament, scoring 36 points in a come-from-behind win over Hawley before piling up 20 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Perham.

He’s emerged as an offensive force for Breckenridge and he keys not only a quality, efficient offense, but also a very good defense.

Senior guard Derek Dahlgren is the team’s top perimeter scorer.

Breckenridge will take on Brooklyn Center in the first round of the state tournament Wednesday.

Jordan

The Hubmen rolled through Section 2AA and beat Maple River in the Section 2AA final to earn a spot in the state tournament. Jordan went 21-5 in the regular season.

Eric Tiedman and Ryan Samuelson form one of the best one-two punches in the state as the two combine to average nearly 40 points per game. Samuelson, a sophomore guard, went for 31 in the win over Maple River while Tiedman is one of the best two-way players in the state. 

6-foot-10 center Andrew Niebuhr helps anchor what was one of the best defenses in the state.

Jordan will take on Minnehaha Academy in the first round of the state tournament.