Posted On: 10/31/18 2:42 PM
Class A has hit an odd time where the elite players are mostly from the same area of the state and half of the top teams are from there as well. The Class A storylines are today.
Section 1A. Can Spring Grove finally get to the state tournament?
There are two ways to look at this season: A) Spring Grove was 24-6 last year and returns Ethan Matzke, Alex Folz, and Noah Elton among a rotation that losses only two guys or B) they have never been to the state tournament, Rushford-Peterson is at the event all the time, and the Trojans crushed Spring Grove 66-30 in last year’s section final. It’s foolish to pick Spring Grove to knock off the Trojans but if there was a year it could happen this is it. Then again, we said that a couple years ago as well.
Section 2A. Are the talented 2A teams wearing each other out?
Last year when section champion Mayer Lutheran was having to play ranked Cleveland in their second section game (73-65), top five ranked BOLD in the sub section final (57-56), and top ranked (part of the year) Springfield in the section final (78-75) what was two year runner up North Woods doing? Beating Nashwauk-Keewatin 84-40, beating Lakeview Christian 99-55, and beating Ely 70-38 in the section final, three teams that are no place close to being ranked. The point being here, teams like BOLD, Mayer Lutheran, Springfield, Minnesota Valley Lutheran, New Ulm Cathedral, these are five of the top 15 or 20 teams in the state and they are going to heavy battle by the second section playoff game and most others in the state can’t say the same. Should something be done? I don’t know about that but’s definitely worth mentioning.
Section 3A. RTR as Repeat Champs? They aren’t even the section favorite.
The section favorite is Minneota, a team that pushed RTR to the final second losing by two points in the section title game of 3A. The Vikings return most of their team where as 1-loss state champ RTR has a lot of holes to fill because of graduation. With Cooper Hansen, Carter Hansen, and Brett Kelley returning RTR is still a top team in Minnesota, but with Thomas Hennen, Logan Sussner, and Jacob Hennen back Minneota is preseason number 3 in the state!
Section 4A. Cinderella story or just a bad story?
Look the Cinderella stories of Mounds Park and Heritage Christian making March runs was quite fun and a great story. These are teams that were fun to get behind and they both could make a run this year. But when only six of 19 teams in the section have a winning record (and were beat at times handily but losing record squads in the playoffs) something is really off. 4A was hurt by several teams moving up to Class AA basketball during the section realignment and what’s left are teams that aren’t anywhere close to being a top ten, top 20, or top 30 team in the state right now. There are so many schools in 4A that only have a boys team (and no girls team) so schools like Mayer Lutheran and Lester Prairie aren’t in 4A like their girls programs are, and are forced to join the 2A battle royal. Mayer Lutheran in this section would be the favorite and would surely balance out the state tournament, and the section.
Section 5A. Watch out for Cromwell!
Cromwell was 23-7 last season playing the senior dominated Hinckley-Finlaysion in the final, and now the Cardinals are ready for their biggest basketball season in over 20 years. With all their key pieces returning including 20 point per game level scorer Micah Pocernich plus Marcus Pocernich, Drew Libbon, Cameron Cahoon, Jaden Gronner the expectations in Cromwell are big. Cromwell got by Nevis last year when the Tigers were much more experienced last year but lost badly in the final vs the Jags. This year the pressure is on Cromwell to fulfill their dreams.
Section 6A. Surprise has worn out, here come the expectations
Mahnomen/Waubun joined together at the last minute in the 17-18 season and after a big rough patch of figuring things out the rival schools gelled and made their run to the state tournament. The Thunderbirds bring back seven of the eight guys from their rotation led by Parker Syverson, Buster Walker, Trenton Spalla, and Logan Pazdernik. They, and others, will form a senior dominant team ready for another state run. Ortonville and Henning are top contenders.
Section 7A. Second, Second, First?
The best non 2A player in Class A? That’s Cade Goggleye. A shooter who is already in the Minnesota record books after a 62 point game as a junior, what Cade and his returning teammates want is to play in the state title game, and win the championship this team. As far as the section goes nobody really competed with North Woods at all and the teams with the best records lost their top guys. Cade has Trevor Morrison and a few others returning so state is likely in their future. How far can the Grizzlies push this year though? Other teams like Springfield, Minneota, BOLD, and Cromwell have less players to replace, but they don’t have the state experience North Woods does.
Section 8A. West > East
For the longest time the 8A representative has been Red Lake and Cass Lake-Bena. The Panthers had years or runs before Red Lake found their grove which was taken back by Cass Lake-Bena last year. The east side of the section has dominated but this year Ada-Borup may have what it takes to end the east run. The Cougars went 23-5 a year ago and the top players Mason Miller, Jared Brainerd, and Tommy Stewart all return. Miller, a junior big, has a chance to be an All State player at the Class A level.