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Posted On: 12/24/18 7:41 PM
**Photo courtesy of SW News Media**
Every week NHR brings you one interesting team from each class and runs down their upcoming schedules including matchups and players to watch. Here are the most interesting teams for holiday tournament week!
Class A: Randolph – The Rockets are 6-0 atop section 1 and have a couple nice tests over the holiday break. They travel to Spring Grove and Rushford-Peterson on back-to-back days. Can Randolph keep a goose egg in the loss column? Carsyn Gunderson is scoring around 20 a game and will have something to say about it. Matchup to watch: Carsyn Gunderson vs Alex Folz. A backcourt contest of dynamic playmakers here. Folz is a sparky point guard who can give fits on defense, will be be able to stop Gunderson on the perimeter? Should be a fun one between section opponents.
Class AA: Caledonia – The southeast MN powerhouse is headed to the Rochester Rotary tournament once again and they’ll face a couple teams exceeding expectations this season. The Warriors are 5-2 and they face St. Croix Prep in game one at the Civic Center. I love this matchup of backcourts that make things happen from all areas of the floor and we’ll get a clean look at the SCP guys (McCarrell, Metcalf) against some of the top guard prospects in the state (King brothers). If Caledonia wins, they’ll likely take on Northfield, a AAAA team who has had a strong start to the Big Nine slate. Caledonia’s got workers in the forward spots that will be good opponents for the Northfield wings like Mason Zick. That could be an entertaining winner’s bracket game. Matchup to watch: Daniel McCarrell vs Eli King. McCarrell has shot the lights out this season and is becoming a premier small-school junior player in the metro. Youngster Eli King has the length to bother him and Eli also has some flashes of perimeter dominance so a nice little one-on-one game could emerge in that first round.
Class AAA: Hermantown – Don’t look now but Hermantown is 7-1 and rolling. They have a great opportunity to boost their resume with a trip to the Southwest Minnesota State tournament. They’ll face Marshall and Minnewaska, two strong western MN programs that are state contenders in their respective classes. If Hermantown is to become a real piece of the AAA conversation and be expected to cruise through a less-than-tough section 7, these would be big wins to prove it. Matchup to watch: Connor Bich vs Matt Onken. Bich has been very good this year scoring the ball as a true stretch 5. Matt Onken gives up four inches to him but is one of the best post defenders in the state. The chess match between the two will be fun to follow.
Class AAAA: Minnetonka – The Skippers are pretty much crushing expectations so far this year having plenty of new role players step up and make positive contributions. Cam Steele has been the top option but guys like Lyric Radford and AJ Tolliver are adding good things to the mix with their perimeter play. Tonka gets Minneapolis Roosevelt and Lakeville South in St. Cloud at the Granite City Classic. The Skippers score a ton of points and they push transition hard, plus they have size; they’ll probably take care of Roosevelt and then have a fun game against South. The Cougar sophomores might just have enough firepower to make it a high-scoring affair. Matchup to watch: Cam Steele vs Riley Mahlman. Steele is the faceup power forward poster boy in the best way. He’s 6-8 with incredible touch and a quick release plus he can score in a lot of aspects in the paint. Mahlman is a Division 1 football player at 6-9 and has strength with the best of them. It’ll be a fun back and forth between two big difference makers who both have more years to improve.