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Posted On: 10/24/18 11:00 AM
The Tomahawk Conference is one of the top small-school leagues in the state and should be very strong particularly at the top again this winter. Springfield heads into the year as perhaps the favorite to win the Class A State title while Cedar Mountain and the New Ulm schools return talent to push for 20 wins each.
The Tigers enter the 2018-19 season as arguably the best team in Class A despite missing the state tournament last season. Isaac Fink might be the best individual player in Class A and he’s got plenty of help namely from junior guard Decker Scheffler and junior forward Mitchell Buerkle. The way the Tigers space the floor, move the ball and push the tempo means they’ll overwhelm a lot of opponents along the way.
Contenders: Minnesota Valley Lutheran, Cedar Mountain/Comfrey, New Ulm Cathedral
The teams that finished second, third and fourth likely won’t change as each squad has a good core of returning talent back in the fold. Minnesota Valley Lutheran has the best player in the conference after Fink in senior guard Jake Kettner. Kettner averaged 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists last year and could put up similarly gaudy numbers this season. The Chargers have a solid cast of guys coming back beyond Kettner too though as Matthew Munsen and Jace Morotz are both back as well.
Cedar Mountain/Comfrey looked like a potential state tournament contender at this time a year ago but the Cougars couldn’t quite capture the same kind of magic or consistency they had the previous year. They still went 18-9 and finished third in the conference and with Eli Samuelson and Lucas Pendleton back as multi-year starters, they’ll be among the best teams again. Lucas Emineth gives them a third double-figure scorer.
New Ulm Cathedral quietly went 14-2 in conference last year, finishing second while winning 22 games overall. With four of their top six guys back, the Greyhounds have a chance to find similar success this winter. Jon Zinniel, Alex Hillesheim and James Gillis all return after averaging double figures in scoring last season.
Should Compete: Sleepy Eye, Gibbon-Fairfaix-Winthrop
Sleepy Eye went 12-16 last season, while winning seven games in conference. Nathan Walter is the only returning starter back while Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop returns Damian Hopp who showed promise in his freshman season.
Rebuilding: Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart, Wabasso, Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s
Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart won seven games last year but will need to replace Trent Weispfenning who was one of the league’s top scorers.
Wabasso won just four games a year ago and will have to replace its top two scorers while Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s went winless. The Knights do return Nick Labat and Carter Currans, so they should be improved.
18-19 Conference Predictions
All Tomahawk Conference
Isaac Fink, Sr., Springfield (POY)
Jake Kettner, Sr., MVL
Decker Scheffler, Jr., Springfield
Jon Zinniel, Jr., New Ulm Cathedral
Lewis Pendleton, Sr., CMC
Eli Samuelson, Sr., CMC
Mitchell Buerkle, Jr., Springfield
Jace Morotz, Sr., MVL
Alex Hillesheim, Jr., New Ulm Cathedral
Lucas Emineth, Sr., CMC
James Gillis, Sr., New Ulm Cathedral
Nathan Walter, Sr., Sleepy Eye
Nick Labat, Jr., Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s
Carter Currens, Sr., Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s
Damian Hopp, Soph., GFW