Posted On: 10/18/18 2:00 PM
The Heart O Lakes Conference is one of the best in Northern Minnesota and figures to be one of the most competitive again this winter as three teams could find themselves regularly ranked. Here’s what you need to know:
The Yellowjackets went undefeated in the regular season last year and looked like a team capable of winning a game or two at the state tournament. That was for not as they were upset by Breckenridge in the section title again but with three starters back and several key bench players seemingly ready for bigger roles, Perham has the look of a top-five team again. Jenson Beachy is one of the school’s all-time best players and one of the best overall players in the state. Josh Jeziorski averaged 15 points and eight rebounds last year and is a mismatch nightmare. Carter Cresap doesn’t put up big points but his contributions to winning can’t be overstated. Sophomore forward Finn Diggins is a player to watch as well.
Contender: Breckenridge, Hawley
Breckenridge is good even when the Cowboys don’t necessarily have headline name players. They do this winter as Noah Christensen is one of the best players in the state. The NDSU recruit is a walking double-double and his ability to handle the ball, score inside and out and control the glass gives Breckenridge a chance to win every time out. Caden McGough and Max Johnson both return to provide some juice on the perimeter.
Hawley is a team to buy stock in heading into the winter. The Nuggets had a massive lead on Breckenridge in the section semifinals last year before losing and they not only return their top two players from last year, but arguably their best player from the year before. Noah Glad and Jaden Carlisle averaged nearly 35 points per game combined last year and both return along with Gunnar Lawson and Chase Libak. Jacob Vetter will also return after missing last year with a knee injury. He was one of the team’s best players as a sophomore and at 6-foot-5, he’s got the size and athletic tools to make a big impact even if he isn’t all the way back from an explosive standpoint.
Should Compete: Pelican Rapids, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton
Pelican Rapids will have to replace a few of its top players after winning 16 games a season ago. Hayden Christenson and McHale Korf are both back after playing regular minutes last year. Korf had a lot of good moments as just a freshman. He’s definitely a name to keep an eye on going forward.
DGF looks primed for a bounceback season after playing a lot of youngsters last winter. Aiden Leach and Drew Coalwell were solid starters as sophomore and Tanner Tahran and Nathan Leitner both return as solid rotation guys. The Rebels started the year 8-9 before losing their final 10 games of the year. Expect them to push for .500 or better season.
Rebuilding: Barnesville, Frazee
Barnesville won nine games last year and lose a handful of solid seniors. Adam Tonsfeldt looked like a real player as just a freshman a year ago. He’s a guy to watch this winter and going forward. Sam Askegaard returns in the backcourt as well. Hunter Zenzen had good moments as a sophomore too; he’ll provide frontcourt production.
Frazee didn’t win a conference game last year and struggled to remain competitive in most of its losses. The Hornets only had two seniors and played a lot of underclassmen, so there’s a chance some of those young guys develop.
18-19 Conference Predictions
Heart O Lakes All Conference
Noah Christiansen, Sr., Breckenridge (POY)
Jenson Beachy, Sr., Perham
Jayden Carlisle, Sr., Hawley
Josh Jeziorski, Sr., Perham
Noah Glad, Sr., Hawley
Carter Cresap, Sr., Perham
Aiden Leach, Jr., DGF
Finn Diggins, Soph, Perham
McHale Korf, Soph., Pelican Rapids
Adam Tonsfeldt, Soph., Barnesville