Posted On: 09/6/18 3:48 PM
The Class AAA field looks similar to what it’s looked like for a better part of the last decade: DeLaSalle and a list of hopeful challengers. Last year, that challenge was met by Columbia Heights thanks in large part to outstanding backcourt play. Winning regularly and contending requires elite backcourt play. Here are some teams that have it going into the year:
DeLaSalle: The Islanders have the best point guard in Class AAA in Tyrell Terry, who’s heading into his third year as a starter. As a junior, he averaged 17 points and better than five assists and could see both numbers rise. He’s joined by sophomore Cade Haskins who averaged 12 points per game in an abbreviated freshman stint with Minneapolis Washburn last winter.
Waseca: The Bluejays won 26 games last year in what was supposed to be something of a transition season. Malik Willingham was the primary reason. He’s back for a senior year and will be the best player on the court in a majority of his team’s games. He’s joined by sophomore guard Ryan DuFault, who showed he’s capable of producing in big moments — 16.7 points per game in the section tournament.
St. Thomas Academy: The Cadets are coming off two straight trips to the state tournament and while a third consecutive trip won’t be as easy, it can still be reasonably expected because of guards Jack Thompson and Noah Chamberlain. Thompson is one of the top guards in Class AAA and a multiyear starter while Chamberlain’s numbers should spike in a more prominent role.
Princeton: The Tigers won 20 games last year and are poised to enjoy more success this year thanks to a senior trio of James Flicek, Adam Williams and Jon Stimmler. The two former make up one of the best backcourt duos in the state. Flicek is a solid scorer but a superb distributor and Williams has averaged better than 15 points per game each of the last two seasons.
Mankato East: Mankato East will have to replace an uber-talented frontcourt off a state tournament appearance but the Cougars are certainly well-equipped to weather growing pains up front thanks to a very good backcourt pairing. Jax Madson heads into his second year as the starting point guard after averaging double figures as a sophomore. Joich Gong played a complementary role as a sophomore but averaged 14 points per game in the state tournament. He’s poised to take a big step up in his upperclass years.
Robbinsdale Cooper: The Hawks averaged 76 points per game last season and could see that number rise as they return a pair of dynamic guards in Jalen Miller and Jalen Justice. Justice averaged better than 17 points per game while Miller added 14 per game. Those two could push for 35-40 combined points per game this winter.