Season Opener: Games of the night

High School
Minnesota

Posted On: 11/29/18 10:43 AM

It’s opening night of the high school basketball season and you know you want to get out and see games.  So where should you go?  Here are some hints for Thursday night!

Southeast:  Spring Grove at Leroy-Ostrander.  Who knows who will be standing on the sidelines for the Cards (hit up the good ole Austin Daily Herald if you want to know more about that drama) but the talent on the floor is going to be strong.  L-O went 19-8 last year and they return guard Trey Hungerholt and junior wing Riley Olson, a 6-3 player that put up 13.5/7 last year.  Perfect match-up for 11th ranked Spring Grove with Alex Folz going against Hungerholt and Ethan Matzke battling Olson.  

Southwest: Waseca at Waconia.  This is kind of pushing it with “southwest” but there aren’t many games in that part of the state tonight so we point out the Jays heading north to the extended west metro to face Waconia.  In what is likely the game of the night, the 11th ranked Wildcats welcome Malik Willingham and the fourth ranked Jays.  With Malik the Jays have one of the state’s elite players plus Matt Olsem is a worker senior forward.  Add them in with the three sophomores (Andrew Morgan, Kyreese Willingham, Ryan Dufault) and that is why they are ranked so highly.  But Waconia has one of the state’s better coaches in Pat Hayes and he will have a match-up for each of the Jays.  PJ Hayes can bring the points, Connor Schwob is coming off a great summer as a 6-foot-5 frontcourt player plus seniors Ryan Biehn and Sam Nelson will make this a fun game. 

Metro 1:  Orono at Minneapolis Roosevelt.  The Spartan/Teddies kick-off game was fun last year introducing us to Deszi Sims.  The explosive guard from Roosevelt (Sims) is now a known name coming off a 26 point per game junior season.  The new names this year is all of the Orono bench support last year stepping into play a bigger role.  Guys like Mitch Hirschberg, Blake O’Connor, and Simon Rice.  A Simon Rice versus Luke Barnes match-up should be good up front and let’s not forget Muja Burton, a freshman that worked his way into the Roosevelt rotation last year.  He should pair nicely with Sims.  

Metro 2: Lakeville South at Roseville.  A Henry Sibley reunion as South athletic director pairs a couple of his former assistants Joe Janquart of South against Kevin McKenzie at Roseville.  At South the talented but often unreliable senior group of 2018 is gone.  In their place is a young core of players that should have people talking about the Cougars as serious state tournament contenders for years to come.  Sophomore pair Riley Mahlman and Reid Patterson will mix with junior Joe Bachinski to form a tough team.  The Cougars better be ready for a defensive swarm from a long list of Roseville guards and wings that include Camryn Walker, Mario Dukes, Yohanes Gebeyehu, and Keshawn Payne (and not Daevonte Munson, he has moved on. I may have messed that up a good ten times in the past half year). 

Northeast.  Hermantown at Esko.  If anybody can lend a private jet send it to Winsted at 4pm so I can catch this game tonight.  Would love to see this because the Hawks of Hermantown are coming off a state tournament berth and they return two of their best three players.  One would be DWU committed Connor Bich, a 6-foot-7 face-up player with range, and the other is the Lake Shore Dynamo Peter Soumis, a series playmaker.  At Esko life is different.  A new coach, no 7-foot-2 player to shoot over, but Camden Berger does return which is big for the Eskomos.  Berger is a smart playmaker plus juniors Trevor Spindler and Payton Wefel will handle their roles well. 

Northwest.  STMA at Brainerd.  It would be a lie if we said that we weren’t somewhat cheering for Charlie Schoeck in his debut as Brainerd Head Coach.  Charlie did an awesome job covering basketball in northern Minnesota for Prep Hoops last year and now his new hoops task in life is to take the Warriors program into a new era.  Six-foot-5 forward Joey Sauer is the perfect player to do that with.  The task tonight of Sauer, and 6-foot-6 junior Owen Davis, will be tough as they have to deal with STMA big man Austin Jentzen, a top 35-40 level player in the state.  Austin, senior Judson Chea, and junior Kale Hoselton are a tough trio that will make them the opening night favorite.