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Posted On: 06/20/18 12:02 PM
The annual Breakdown Boys Summer State Tournament is this Sunday and the majority of the 2018-19 state title contenders will be competing in the event.
Class AAAA. The Class AAAA dozen team event is stacked. In fact this is arguably the top dozen teams in the state entering the preseason (Champlin Park is one team that would likely argue against that). Eight squads just wasn’t enough so the Breakdown expanded the field to a dozen for a one time shot. The twelve squads are broken into four pods:
Think of the nationally ranked top 150 players in this group alone (Tyler Wahl, Dain Dainja, Ben Carlson, Matthew Hurt, Zeke Nnaji, Dawson Garcia) plus guys like Kendall Brown and Trejuan Holloman who are likely to be ranked highly when national rankings over their age arrive at credible national services. Then you add the other standouts like Cole Nichoson, Jacob Beeninga, the EP Sophomores (last day using that moniker), Jaeden King, Tommy Chatman, Courtney Brown Jr, Jack Middleton, Jacob Hutson, Kerwin Walton, Blaise Beauchamp, Robert Jones, and Antwan Kimmons among others.
Prediction? Next to impossible right now. Sorting these dozen teams is going to be a nightmare when it comes to the preseason top ten (this weekend may help!). Don’t be surprised to see a lot of 1-1, 1-1, and 1-1 final pool marks (if these teams have mostly full rosters) going to tie breakers. How do we pick between a Wayzata and Lakeville North right now? Or between Eden Prairie or Park Center? How many of the rumored transfers will CDH have this weekend? Does Matthew Hurt bring his gold medal to the state tournament and lead his team over Hornets and Raptors? Who wins the Hopkins vs Prior Lake game?
We can dream about those individual pool play game match-ups surely. Cole Nicholson vs Tyler Wahl, Connor Christensen vs Jaeden King, Austin Andrews vs Dain Dainja, Drake Dobbs vs Tommy Chatman, Ben Carlson vs Matthew Hurt, Jack Middleton vs Courtney Brown Jr, Dawson Garcia vs Zeke Nnaji, Antwan Kimmons vs Blaine Beauchamp, etc.
Class AAAA is going to be a lot of fun. The big problem is, how does a guy decide what to watch when all the games are being played at the same time?
Class AAA. The DeLaSalle Islanders missed on their seventh straight state title because the amount of senior talent in Class AAA last year was so deep (and played so well together). That said, most of last year’s contenders had their line-ups either wiped out by graduation or deeply ravaged by graduation. Who didn’t? DeLaSalle. Despite last year’s loss in the state semi-finals a year ago, the Islanders are still heavy favorites to win Class AAA in 18-19. Who are the top contenders? Right now it’s tough to really say. But, this weekend most of those potential contenders are competing at the Breakdown State Tournament to give us a better idea.
St. Thomas Academy and Mankato East were top ten level teams last year, and will be this year although they will look different. STA still has Jack Thompson plus Noah Chamberlain should have a bigger role. At East they graduated a strong senior group but the backcourt duo of Joich Gong and Jax Madson is back. East vs STA is a good round one game as is Cooper and Princeton. The Hawks have a chance to have a similar run this year as to what Columbia Heights did last year (although they are not as big up front). Princeton won 20 games a year ago and brings back all of their pieces including Jon Stimmler and Adam Williams (don’t forget your shoes Jon!)
Austin and Mahtomedi were both surprise teams a year ago as each lost massive pieces from 16-17 but had fantastic seasons any way? Can they do it again? Austin lost way more than the Zephyrs did but Kris Fadness will rebuild quickly like usual. J’Vonne Hadley is a budding star for the Zephyrs. When it comes to teams that could make a run at the title game next year I look at Waseca. The Jays have an all state caliber player in Malik Willingham, a great group of sophomore talents, good coaching, and solid role players. Waseca takes on Totino-Grace who lost their top five players to graduation but return solid contributors in Riley Burger and Eric Krieger.
Class AA. When it comes to favorites they don’t come more overwhelming than Minnehaha Academy. No, the Redhawks are not playing but the majority of the preseason top ten in Class AA is likely to be at the state tournament in Hopkins. One of the state’s most efficient players is Brooklyn Center guard Lu’Cye Patterson who led his team to the state tournament a year ago doing some of everything. The Centaurs are expected to bring most of their rotation back and play St. Cloud Cathedral who losses a pair to the NSIC but has Jackson Jangula and Nick Schaefer back.
Caledonia had Owen King help them get to three state tournaments in five years but he has graduated and moved on to SDSU. Noah King and Eli King have the talent to keep the program moving forward but it’s not just Owen that graduated. Caledonia has several other players that need experience too. Caledonia’s first round opponent is Maranatha Christian Academy who has Hakim Daniels, Clarence Daniels, and a host of returning others.
Morris Area is a sleeper team for an outstate run now that Camden Arndt and Jaret Johnson are seniors but watch out for 2022 standout Jackson Loge as well. Morris Area gets the tough task of playing Minneapolis North who not only lost seniors, but a key transfer. Eli Campbell, Willie Wilson, Omar Brown, and Nasir El-Amin still make up a highly talented North Polars squad. Speaking of talent, Breck returns one of the state’s best seniors in David Roddy who pairs well with Joey Ganley. Breck takes on Perham in round one. The Yellowjackets will be a preseason top three or four team with Jenson Beachy and Josh Jeziorski returning.
Class A. You will see a lot of the same names competing for the Class A top spots in the polls this year and most of them are in this event: Springfield, Mayer Lutheran, BOLD, North Woods, Cass Lake-Bena, etc. RTR is not at Hopkins but the rest of the top contenders seem to be. Springfield has a score to settle with Mayer Lutheran but for that to happen both have to get to the title. BOLD has a score to settle with ML first and they would meet in the semis if both win. A Carter Henry vs Baden Noennig match-up would be worth the admission. The Crusaders most deal with Spring Grove first who has much more experience back led by Alex Folz and Ethan Matzke. BOLD will have more talent than any Class A team this year but their first game is a major challenge too because Mahnomen/Waubun brings back most of their players from a state tournament team.
Isaac Fink has a goal of a state gold medal for his senior year and the first step to reaching it is a good summer. Game one is against Cass-Lake Bena, a good challenge. North Woods has to state second place finishes and they are at state again this year starting with a game against Ortonville.