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Posted On: 10/29/18 5:12 PM
What needs to be watched for in Class AAAA this winter? We go section by section and pick out the main storyline.
Section 1AAAA. Can JM stop the Lakeville North run?
Rochester John Marshall’s Matthew Hurt is about to be the greatest big school high school scorer in state history statistically and potentially the best overall. He’s also one of the most intelligent team players I’ve ever seen. Last year Hurt turned an inexperienced team into a 26-3 squad. Can he do the same this year? North is a senior dominated club with a top 150 level player in Tyler Wahl, a massive and physical frontline, and a solid secondary scorer in Tommy Jensen. Can Hurt not only have a massive season but also help get his teammates to be in position to defeat North? That’s what we are watching for.
Section 2AAAA. Deepest section in the state?
With Eden Prairie being a top three level team with their deep junior class they are the favorite. Drake Dobbs, John Henry, Austin Andrews, Ariel Bland, and Connor Christensen make for the most talented single class unit in the state. Then you have Prior Lake with D1 tandem Dawson Garcia and Robert Jones plus experienced guards looking like a top five squad. There is Shakopee looking to take the next step, Chaska as a top ten squad led by Cole Nicholson, and then there is Edina with Jack Middleton and Jacob Hutson leading the way.
Section 3AAAA. How much revenge will come versus Apple Valley?
First off who knows what will happen with the Eagles. If you are one of the other schools in the section, how did you do versus the Eagle JV last year? Apple Valley played all seniors the second half of the year so we know nothing about them. Eastview should be the favorite with their big frontline and returning players plus Park of Cottage Grove has the talent as long as it’s healthy. Hastings has a shot as well here, and everyone will want to play Apple Valley without a Jones in their line-up.
Section 4AAAA. Can East Ridge live up to the lofty ranking?
The Raptors will be the preseason number one. They have a Mr Basketball candidate in Courtney Brown Jr with nationally ranked players in Ben Carlson and Kendall Brown. Their talent is special, but also very big, tough, and they have some solid guards as well. They will be preseason number one but the one thing about it is they haven’t made state yet.
Section 5AAAA. Does Park Center get past the Osseo hex?
PC has lost to Osseo seven of the last nine games including three losses in the last three section playoffs. Osseo lost the majority of their line-up and what PC has should be able to defeat them as they are more talented and experienced. But then you have Champlin Park who is a ten player deep team who has nearly as good of chance as PC does to make state. Tommy Chatman Jr and Dain Dainja have the talent to take this team to the final four in state, at least.
Section 6AAAA. Three Straight for Wayzata?
Wayzata hadn’t gone to state for many many years and Hopkins was a constant. All of a sudden, seniors Dane Zimmer and Zeke Nnaji are those guys that need to get the blue and gold taste out of their mouths as Wayzata has knocked them out in March the last two years. New transfers Andy Stafford and Jalen Dearring weren’t able to beat the Trojans last year either so they also have something to prove. The Royals are one of the most talented teams in the state but they have to defeat Wayzata, in March.
Section 7AAAA. The year of the Bluejackets?
Oh 7AAAA, it’s been a while since you won a game at state. And I feel like everybody has had their shot to do so. Who is next up? I would say Cambridge. Henry Abraham leading the way with returning talent should give them the edge. Like many others in these storylines they have roadblocks they haven’t crossed and for them it was last year’s ugly losses to Forest Lake and Blaine.
Section 8AAAA. Does Buffalo take the next step or does Maple Grove keep rolling?
Buffalo’s junior class has been playing basketball together for many years and winning games for many, many years. They are now upperclassmen hoping to knock off the Crimson of MG. Maple Grove has been to state the last three straight seasons including last year when they had no varsity experience to speak of. Now they do with Jared Rainey and Nate Adams leading the way.