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Posted On: 03/26/18 1:19 PM
The high school basketball season has now come to a close, but not without excitement, and most of it came on a dazzling day of championship hopes and hoops at the Target Center on March 24. Here’s who made their mark in big ways on the big stage:
Cade Goggleye, Junior, North Woods – I love how he’s become so confident in his ballhandling and connecting that to his elevation for tough shots. Cade is at least 6-foot-1 now and has length. Down the stretch teams are expected to put the ball in their playmaker’s hands and Goggleye is undisputedly that guy for the Grizzlies. A lights out shooter who has matured physically to make angled finishes at the cup.
Westin Kirk, Senior, RTR – Westin is the physically imposing 6-foot-2 Class A big man who just has a knack for scoring in the paint despite hands, arms and whatever else getting in his way. The whole RTR squad is very capable of going through contact and Westin poured in double figures on his way to helping the Knights claim the Class A championship.
Garrett Kern, Senior, RTR – What a way for Garrett to go out, hitting timely deep threes to push RTR back into the lead for good in the state title game. Having your dad coach the team has it’s ups and its downs, but you have to believe Coach Kern and Garrett shared some special moments throughout their careers together and Saturday’s might just be toward the top of the list.
Jalen Suggs, Sophomore, Minnehaha Academy – Suggs made his impact felt greatly in the Redhawks’ win over Caledonia, sealing back-to-back titles for the young core that has become so well-known across Minnesota. Jalen simply took over key stretches of the game on his way to 27 points and eight assists, keeping the pace exactly how he desired and using an array of dribble moves and his explosiveness to the rim as counters to the excellent defensive reputation of Caledonia. He’s still got two more years, folks.
JaVonni Bickham, Senior, Minnehaha Academy – The Denver bound forward was just too much on the offensive glass for the mismatched Caledonia Warriors to keep up with, scoring his 17 with inside moves and takes off the bounce. He’s become a more versatile player when put on the perimeter and obviously has the strength to battle down low as well.
Prince Aligbe, 8th grade, Minnehaha Academy – Anytime you can snag 15 rebounds in a state championship game, that becomes worth talking about. Aligbe is a youngster but athletically he has no shortages to compete with guys up to four years older. He had a breakaway two-hand slam to go with his monster glass-cleaning performance and will be a prospect to watch for years to come with his skill development.
Owen King, Senior, Caledonia – It’s always a pleasure watching Owen do his thing so calmly on the court. His 22 points came on a handful of three-point makes and as usual he didn’t have to force much offensively. He’ll go down as one of the better non-metro high schoolers in Minnesota history.
Marten Morem, Senior, Caledonia – It’s a name we knew, but Marten surprised a lot of people with his hyperactive production down low all tournament long this week. After a 25 point performance in the semifinal, the Gustavus commit added 17 points on 7-12 shooting as a great complement to King’s perimeter game. Not many are as good of finishers as he is.
Wendell Matthews, Senior, Columbia Heights – Matthews upped his ante this week and looks even taller and bigger than he already was at 6-foot-6. An impressive low post game on both ends from him in the Hylanders’ championship loss to Delano on Saturday. He altered several shots and stuffed a 21-point, 11-rebound line into the stat sheet. D1 jucos should be hopping.
Quentin Hardrict, Senior, Columbia Heights – The waterbug point guard has become a favorite among hoops junkies and he showed flashes of high-level vision leading to easy assists along with some insane high-off-the-glass finishes gliding through the trees. Another guy that jucos should keep talking to after a very good senior season.
Keegan O’Neill, Senior, Delano – Possibly the breakout performance of the day, Keegan hounded the basket for 30 points on 11-16 shooting and 8-9 free throws. Usually he’s a recipient of Cal Wishart’s drives and dropoffs, but O’Neill also took the ball into his own hands, used shot fakes to get space in the paint and hit multiple midrange jumpers for his career day and a state championship. His mailbox and phone will be blowing up these next couple weeks!
Calvin Wishart, Senior, Delano – Wishart was absolutely gameplanned for, but he didn’t hold back from doing what he does best. His rebounding rate was still very productive, snagging nine for the game, and he earned a tough 19 points by drawing attention and keeping his teammates open in good spaces to score. Calvin’s offensive abilities at the point guard position are tough to match and he’s become one of the most prolific bucket-getters in Minnesota.
Spencer Rolland, Senior, Apple Valley – Fresh off an afternoon in a suit receiving his AAA Award, Spencer switched uniforms and gave the Apple Valley Eagles great defensive minutes in the lane. He took two charges late game that gave back momentum and scored a couple key buckets during the home stretch of back and forth offense in the AAAA title game.
Tre Jones, Senior, Apple Valley – Tre finished his amazing high school career with this resume: four state appearances, three state championship game appearances, two state titles, Tribune Metro Player of the Year, the Mr. Basketball award favorite and endless other accolades. He’s become a fixture in Minnesota hoops lore and went out with an incredible 33/6/5 game on the Target Center floor. What I admire most about Tre is his willingness to be a leader but also a teammate; he has been with these guys for so many years now that they’ve developed a special bond, and with Tre at the core, this Apple Valley success run was that much more fun to keep up with.
Daniel Oturu, Senior, Cretin-Derham Hall – Averaging around a 20/10/6 blocks for a state tournament is no small feat. Daniel is a dominant inside force who will be a great addition to the Golden Gophers with his skillset and measurables. I have to think that winning a state championship on a buzzer-beating dunk ranks pretty high up on the “Moments You Dream About But Never Expect To Happen” scale. Congrats to Daniel on an illustrious career.
Jacob Prince, Senior, Cretin-Derham Hall – People forget that Jacob was playing real heavy minutes as a sophomore for a very talented CDH team two years ago and he held more than his own that year. Fast forward two seasons and Prince is one of the five best defenders in Minnesota and gave a fantastic performance of 16 points on 7-8 shooting and added two steals. His quiet demeanor on the court has kept him hidden from the spotlight a lot, but his athleticism as a great defensive player is transferring over to Division I football.
Ryan Larson, Senior, Cretin-Derham Hall – Ryan is honestly one of the most exciting players in all of Minnesota, and one of the smartest, too. The alley-oop to Oturu seemed like such instinct! He’s a wonderful passer, phenomenal break-you-down ballhandler and reliable scorer. His name will be buzzing around D1s this week and beyond. An 11/5/7 in 36 tough minutes for the senior.