Posted On: 11/16/18 9:30 AM
The Northland Conference has been strong at the top in recent years as Cass Lake-Bena and Nevis have been among the best teams in the state at the Class A level. Those teams should be strong again this winter, but there could be more competition as several teams return a bulk of their cores.
Nevis went to state two years ago and could be eyeing a return as the Tigers return a number of talented rotation guys. Michael Landquist is one of the top players in the conference and has a lot of starting experience. Derek Lindow and Luke DeWulf are also back, which means the Tigers will have no shortage of firepower.
Should Contend: Cass Lake-Bena, Pine River-Backus
Cass Lake-Bena won 30 games last year and won a game in the state tournament. The Panthers will undergo wholesale changes as a big core is gone to graduation. Jarell Jacobs gives them a potential player-of-the-year guy and Ethan Brown returns after playing a key role as well. The Panthers are consistently strong so a complete dropoff feels unlikely. Expect 20-plus wins again.
Pine River-Backus won 15 games last season and returns a number of key guys including double-figure scorers Brady Raph and Torry Hirschey. Raph put up better than 14 per game as a sophomore and could be a player-of-the-year candidate.
Should Compete: Blackduck, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley,
Walker graduates their leading scorer but returns four key rotation guys including Cole Rasmussen and Gavin Deskeere. The Wolves won 17 games last year and should be in that kind of range again this winter.
Blackduck won 10 games last year and could be even better this winter as Dylan Moen was one of the top players in the conference as a sophomore. Kobe Arp is a strong big man and Mark Kingbird gives the team a third double-figure scorer back in the fold.
Rebuilding: Laporte, Northome-Kelliher, Red Lake
Laporte won five games last year but junior guard Nick Bialke could be a guy to watch.
Northome-Kelliher won 10 games last winter but graduates a bulk of its senior class so it enters the year with a lot of questions.
Red Lake put up a bunch of points last year but struggled defensively. With Kendall Whitefeather gone, the Warriors could have a hard time putting up the kind of points they’ve put up in recent seasons. Justin Barrett is a guy to watch though as he’ll step into the go-to guy role.
2018-19 Conference Predictions
- Cass Lake-Bena
- Pine River-Backus
- Red Lake
Northland All Conference
Michael Landquist, Sr., Nevis (POY)
Jarrel Jacobs, Jr., Cass Lake-Bena
Brady Raph, Jr., Pine River-Backus
Dylan Moen, Sr., Blackduck
Torry Hirschey, Sr., Pine River-Backus
Derek Lindow, Soph, Nevis
Kobe Arp, Sr., Blackduck
Luke DeWulf, Sr., Nevis
Ethan Brown, Sr., Cass Lake-Bena
Cole Rasmussen, Jr., Walker-Hackensack-Akeley
Justin Barrett, Sr., Red Lake