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Posted On: 11/9/18 5:30 PM
The Three Rivers Conference is one of the best small-school leagues in the state and was well-represented in the state tournament a year ago as Caledonia and Rushford-Peterson both emerged from their respective sections. With a lot of young talent in place all throughout the conference, things should be interesting again this winter as perennially strong programs will be strong again and up-and-coming teams look to continue ascension.
Noah King is one of the best players in the state regardless of class and he’s been a key cog in the team’s success for three years already. He’s just now entering his upperclass years and with more responsibility, he could put up 25-plus points a night. Eli King emerged as a really good looking player last year after serving as an off-the-bench sniper as a seventh-grader. He’s just a freshman but like his brothers, he’s got an advanced game and looks like one of the top players in the 2022 class. Riley Gavin also returns in the frontcourt and Caledonia always has talent in the pipe. The Warriors may not put up 28 wins like they did a year ago, but they’ll get at least 20 and contend for a conference and section crown.
Contenders: St. Charles, Rushford-Peterson, La Crescent, Dover-Eyota
St. Charles loses two all-conference guards but returns one of the league’s best frontcourt players in Drew Leistikow. The 6-foot-3 senior put up 17 points and nine rebounds last year and could add to that this year after showing off improved handles and skill over the summer. Sam Holtz is back to man the point guard spot. Sawyer Hander and Hunter Oviatt are also back and watch out for sophomore guards Drew Maloney and Kooper Vaughn.
Rushford-Peterson won 11 games in conference and went to the state tournament last season. The Trojans graduate a good chunk of their rotation, but a drop off isn’t likely coming. Landon Skalet is one of the best guards in the league and averaged better than 11 points per game last year while Luke O’Hare should be primed to take a big jump after playing a big role as just a freshman.
La Crescent was the surprise team of the conference last year, winning 13 games in league after winning just one game the previous season. The Lancers could be even better this season as Luke Schwartzhoff (13 points per game), Zach Todd (12 ppg) and Thomas Kiesau (7.5 ppg) are all back. Throw in several key rotation guys and the Lancers look like a team that could win 15-20 games and host a section game.
Dover-Eyota won 15 games last season and should certainly compete again this winter. Brady Williams is a potential player-of-the-year candidate after averaging nearly 20 per game as a sophomore. Jack Studer and Blake Blattner both return as well, giving the Eagles a potent trio.
Should Compete: Plainview-Elgin-Millville, Kingsland, Lewiston-Altura
PEM won 19 games last year and always seems to run back competitive clubs. That should be the case again this year as the Bulldogs return several key guys including senior forward Griffin Doughty who averaged 16 points per game as a junior. Blaker Herber was in the rotation as a freshman and will have to take on a bigger role this winter after the team graduated its starting backcourt.
Lewiston-Altura won six conference games last season and while the Cardinals lose their leading scorer, they return all-conference caliber guys in Marcus Weaver and Ben Oevering.
Kingsland won 17 games overall and eight in conference. Those numbers could be similar this year as the Knights return key players in Wyatt Pruter (15 ppg) and Reid Kruegel.
Rebuilding: Wabasha-Kellogg, Chatfield, Southland, Winona Cotter, Fillmore Central
The Cardinals enjoyed a strong year in 2017-18 but graduate their three leading scorers including Zach Kjeseth and Jaxon Mickow who combined to averaged 36 points per game.
Chatfield won four games a year ago but could take a step forward as Reid Johnson, Josef Fahrenholtz and Landon Bance all return after starting a year ago.
Fillmore Central returns Josh Peters (11 ppg) but graduated its next three leading scorers after finishing last in the conference in scoring.
Southland took a bit of a step back last year and it could be tough for the Rebels again this winter as Jared Landherr, one of the best players in the league, is gone to graduation. Lee Wilson is back after averaging nearly 10 points per game.
Winona Cotter/Hope Lutheran won eight games overall and two in conference. Josiah Sandcork is gone to graduation but Laken Macal is back after averaging double-figures in scoring a year ago.
18-19 Conference Predictions
Three Rivers All Conference
Noah King, Jr., Caledonia (POY)
Brady Williams, Jr., Dover-Eyota
Drew Leistikow, Sr., St. Charles
Landon Skalet, Sr., R-P
Luke Schwartzoff, Jr., La Crescent
Eli King, Fr., Caledonia
Zach Todd, Jr., La Crescent
Wyatt Pruter, Sr., Kingsland
Griffin Doughty, Sr., PEM
Luke O’Hare, Soph., R-P
Josh Peters, Sr., Fillmore Central
Riley Gavin, Sr., Caledonia
Sam Holtz, Sr., St. Charles
Thomas Kiesau, Sr., La Crescent
Reid Johnson, Soph., Chatfield