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Posted On: 09/7/18 3:19 PM
There doesn’t appear to be a clear-cut best team in Class AAAA heading into the season. There are more teams that can consider themselves state tournament contenders than in year’s past and because of that, there will be an incredible amount of competition. Quality guard play will be of the utmost importance. Here are some teams in good hands in that arena:
Park Center: The big name for the Pirates is junior center Dain Dainja, but for the Pirates to continue winning 20-plus games and potentially get over the hump and get to the state tournament, their backcourt will have to provide consistent positive play. Tommy Chatman and Khari Broadway form a big, athletic and aggressive pair and both are capable of taking over a game on both ends of the floor. Both averaged better than 11 points per game a year ago.
Wayzata: The Warriors have a plethora of talented, dynamic guards at its disposal heading into the 18-19 season and it’s two starters, Jacob Beeninga and Luke Paulson, may make up the best duo in the state. Beeninga is a scoring machine, combining deep range with a seemingly endless bag of tricks in the mid range and at the rim while Paulson is a sniper who excels at changing speeds and using ball screens.
Rochester Mayo: Rochester Mayo won 13 games a season ago and should improve on that mark this winter thanks to the Madsen brothers. Gabe Madsen averaged more than 19 points per game while brother Mason put up 17 per contest. With those two entering their upperclass years, the Spartans should push for 15-plus wins and a top-four finish in the Big 9.
Tartan: Tartan wins 20-plus games every year. That trend should continue this winter if the Titans’ backcourt plays like it’s capable. Antwan Kimmons is one of the top guards in the state and averaged 20 points, six rebounds and five assists as a junior. He’s joined by junior guard Joseph Kearney who averaged eight points as a sophomore.
Centennial: The Cougars went just 5-22 last year but lost 13 games by eight points or less and nine by five points or less. They were in a lot of close games and with Ricky Eason and Carter Anderson back, a lot of those close games should be converted into wins this time around. Anderson averaged 17 points per game as a sophomore while Eason averaged about 13.
Cretin-Derham Hall: The Raiders will have to overcome the graduation of a DI point guard (and a pair of DI forwards) but should be in excellent hands thanks to arrival of freshman point guard Tre Holloman. Holloman started as an eighth-grader for Minneapolis North and had a terrific summer. He’s joined by sharpshooting wing Jaeden King (better than 40 percent from 3-point range over two years), who enters his third year as a starter.
Lakeville North: This one depends on if you classify Tyler Wahl as a guard or not but he’s a do-it-all guy for the Panthers and led the team in assists last year so we’ll go with it. He and senior guard Tommy Jensen form probably the best backcourt duo in the state. Wahl averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds and five assists last year while Jensen put up 11 points per game in his first year on varsity. Both guys had terrific summers with their respective AAU teams as well.