Posted On: 05/10/18 2:07 PM

To win the Battle at the Lakes a team has to navigate six games in the 64 team field in the top bracket.  What do the best 17u teams in Minnesota have to face to make a Sweet 16, Elite Eight, or championship run?  NHR breaks down the potential runs of the five highest ranking local 17u squads..

Japannah Kellogg of D1 MN

D1 Minnesota.  The top ten ranked team nationally starts their quest for 64 team Battle gold with Beyond Ball 24K, a team based out of Des Moines, Iowa.  Beyond Ball has an excellent point guard in Tyreke Locure who is one of the more exciting players in the state of Iowa’s 2019 class.  Tyrell Terry vs Locure could be a fun first round viewing.   From there the D1 Minnesota team plays the winner of SE Minnesota Lightning and Wisconsin Blizzard Ivory (Yes I am writing this as if the subject wins, that’s the point of the article). The Lightning made a Final Four run in the last Prep Hoops event in Minnesota and a game with D1 Minnesota gives a chance to guys like Jarvorius Toney and Dylan Miller of Mason City as well as southeast Minnesota kids like Sam Holtz, Ethan Matzke, Adam Leary, and Drew Leistikow.

Sweet Sixteen opponent?  Could be any.  After doing research we think it’s likely to be All Iowa Attack or Old Gold.  A match-up with All Iowa Attack would mean Issa Samake, Patrick McCaffrey, Evan Gauger, and Japannah Kellogg – four of Iowa’s top 15-20 guys – would all be on the court at the same time.  As far as the Elite Eight goes D1 Minnesota should see the best team from South Dakota (South Dakota Attack), Wisconsin Academy, or maybe Powerhouse Hoops Nebraska.  Next up would be the Final Four opponent and it’s going to be a strong one: Team Rush, Team Rose, or Young & Reckless.  If D1 Minnesota gets through that the title game should be against the Iowa Barnstormers or the bracket favorite Texas Impact 4:13

Comets K.  As good as Comets K has been this year earning the ranking of sixth in the state with wins over 44 Elite, Wear Out the Net, and others locally, plus the elite eight finish in the Jayhawk and a final four spot in the Comets Shootout, this weekend will be tough as Cade Goggleye hurt an ankle last week and Michael Ziermann will be on a school trip.  That said, this team still has talent in the backcourt (Jackson Jangula and Nick Schaefer, teammates from St. Cloud Cathedral) as well as Camden Arndt and DeVonne Harris as 6-foot-4 athletic guys up front.

Game one is against Sacred Hoops Rama, a group of players from western South Dakota.  This is not a teamto take lightly although Sacred Hoops has only played in one event and hasn’t played a team as good as Comets K.  But Sacred Hoops has all state players in Alejandro Rama and Aiden Bizardie among others.  Rama and Bizardie can match what the Comets can do in the backcourt, but Comets K’s 6-foot-4 physical players have an edge.

So Comets K gets through game one, that’s great.  But then they would face Texas Impact 4:13, a team that just finished second in the massive Texas GASO event. Translation, they are really good and if their runner-up finish doesn’t say that, the talented resume of scholarship offers to the Texas Impact players will.  Then if the Comets pull off the upset of the tournament they then would get to face Kingdom Hoops from Iowa, Fundamental U from Illinois, or the Chicago Demons.  Tough road.

deszi sims
Deszi Sims of 44 Elite

44 Elite.  This is a team we are excited to see.  Several names that Minnesota basketball fans are familiar with: Jalen Dearring, Manny Tamba, Cameron Vaughn, Adreone Sprinkles, Dezi Sims, Kato Seley, and more.  44 Elite gets a big challenge immediately with the top Young & Reckless squad that has a few D1 offered players and 8 of the top 50 kids in Illinois overall.  If 44 Elite was looking for good competition they get it right away.  If 44 Elite gets through Young & Reckless they will then likely play Heat Nelson who is coming off an event victory in the Meg Vang Invitational where they went 5-0.  That would be a local match-up of ranked teams (#7 vs #11).   If 44 Elite can get to the Sweet 16 the opponent in waiting will likely be Team Rush who is going to be one of the longer squads led by Zane Meeks.  We won’t question the 44 Elite chances of getting to the Elite Eight either because they just hit that level in the Jayhawk Invite last weekend.

SE Minnesota Lightning.  The Proving Grounds.  It was a place that the Lightning made their mark beating some good teams, showing off some strong players, and putting together a heck of a highlight reel.  Next up, the Battle at the Lakes.  Another run perhaps?  Well…. The Lightning first plays the Wisconsin Blizzard Ivory first who the Lightning actually beat in the Proving Grounds two weeks ago 60-38.  Time to prove it again I guess.  Six-foot-7 Jarvorius Toney scored 16 highlighted by a filthy putback dunk.  If the Lightning gets by the Blizzard again, then they face D1 Minnesota.  Not exactly who a team wants to see in round two, but a dream match-up for kids from Minnesota and Iowa that want to play the best players from their respective states.

Heat Nelson.  The 11th ranked team in Minnesota has 13 wins in 17 games, they’ve collected a trophy to put at the Nelson household, and they finished in the sweet 16 of the Proving Grounds.  What can they do in the Battle?  Game one is against Next Generation of Illinois who was also at the Proving Grounds and had 2020 Julian Holland put up a 30 spot in one of their early games.   Nelson has the talent to get by Next Generation but can Josh Albers, Jared Rainey, Ricky Eason, Hunter Damon, Tyler Baribeau, Carson Becicka, and company withstand the winner of Young & Reckless versus 44 Elite.  A Heat Nelson vs 44 Elite game would be great locally but Young & Reckless is very talented too.  And if Heat Nelson surprises us all and gets to the sweet 16 Team Rush is likely to be waiting.