Posted On: 04/9/21 12:25 PM

Prep Hoops gives you the ultimate primer for Championship Saturday.  What must Alexandria do to pull off the upset?  The AAAA guard battle, Hayfield’s quest, and round three of Warriors/Jays.  Let’s go! 

The State Finals will be played tomorrow at the Target Center. Four games, Four championships. Here are some items to keep an eye on entering the day.

 

Chet Holmgren Chet Holmgren 7'0" | C Minnehaha Academy | 2021 State #1 Nation MN – The Ultimate Difference Maker

Yesterday in the Pioneer Press Minnehaha Academy Head Coach Lance Johnson said that Chet is worth 40 points a game saved defensively. My math brain immediately went to work:

  • The Redhawks give up 52.6 points a game so that’s 92.6 points a game without Chet, right? No. Well, if the Redhawks had to play with four guys maybe, sure. But with Chet out they still have another player to step in.
  • But 40 points? Could be. Consider this. Yesterday Alexandria had 64 possessions. Based on the the amount of threes they take a game on average, Alexandria has about a maximum output of 150 points if every possession went perfect. When you consider that 150 points is possible as a ceiling, you can easily see Chet’s shot blocking, shot contesting, and the simple fear of going near him with the ball pulling 40 points off a team’s total on his own.
  • What I found interesting is that last year Minnehaha Academy gave up 57 points a game, they gave up 57 a game when Chet was in 8th grade playing some deeper bench minutes, and in the pre Jalen/Chet era, the Redhawks were still a good defensive team allowing just 56.7, 57.6, and 58.8 points a game (state title season of 2012-13).

Simply put Minnehaha Academy has always been fairly strong defensively under Lance Johnson as head coach. But with Chet Holmgren Chet Holmgren 7'0" | C Minnehaha Academy | 2021 State #1 Nation MN as a senior, they are nearly impossible to score on.

About the only way to beat the Redhawks is making sure every transition chance is a score at the rim, every time Chet is off the floor or he’s at the arc chasing somebody your team must score at the cup, and of course a team must hit jumpers. Totino-Grace did these things and was down just one point at halftime, this is how Wayzata was down two scores at halftime, and it’s how Byron and Hibbing made things a tad bit interesting in the second halves of their games vs Minnehaha Academy.

 

Alexandria – Proving People Wrong? Maybe. Can They Hit Jumpers to Pull the Shocker?

Colton Roderick Colton Roderick 6'5" | SF Alexandria | 2021 State MN

Let’s touch on the second item first. The Cardinals beat Richfield with a balanced effort yesterday. Kobe Jenson Kobe Jenson 6'6" | PF Life Christian/Alexandria Area | 2021 MN and Carter Steffensmeier both scored in double figures with a number of shots right at the rim. They will not get as many attempts at the rim versus Minnehaha Academy but when they do Kobe and Carter MUST finish everything in space to pull the upset.

Also, teams that can pull Chet away from the rim ( Carter Bjerke Carter Bjerke 6'8" | PF Wayzata | 2022 State MN of Minnehaha Academy, Devin Burger Devin Burger 6'6" | SF Totino-Grace | 2021 State MN of Totino-Grace, Ahjany Lee Ahjany Lee 6'9" | PF Byron | 2022 State #124 Nation MN of Byron) have been able to get some high percentage shots at the cup. You may see a lot more Kobe Jenson Kobe Jenson 6'6" | PF Life Christian/Alexandria Area | 2021 MN setting screens at the arc and likely more five guard/wing looks from Alex than we saw versus Richfield.

Who can knock out threes for Alex? They have to hit threes and good thing for Alexandria they have weapons that can shoot. Colton Roderick Colton Roderick 6'5" | SF Alexandria | 2021 State MN , Erik Hedstrom Erik Hedstrom 6'5" | SF Alexandria | 2022 State MN , and Myles Sansted (yesterday’s hero, Myles does average nine plus points a game) are all quality three point shooters. And Kris Hoskins – a Gopher football recruit – has the speed to push the ball ahead of the transitioning defense.

Has Alexandria been slept on? Yes and No. This “slept on” term comes from the fact that many of us didn’t believe they should of been the one seed. The Cards defended that one seed by defeating Richfield, something most of us didn’t think they would do. So in that regard, they proved many of us wrong.

BUT, let’s also be clear. It’s not like Alexandria was running through a gauntlet to get to the section final. They beat Monticello (8-14) in the state first round, surprising Sauk Rapids-Rice (11-7) in the section final, and St Cloud Apollo (8-12) in the section quarters. Meanwhile, the Redhawks had to battle through ranked teams from DeLaSalle (15-6), Byron (17-3), and Totino-Grace (16-5) plus Mahtomedi (13-5) in the section semis.

So did Alexandria “prove the doubters” wrong? I will give the answer a yes, to a degree. What matters is, can they pull a massive upset tomorrow?

 

Cretin-Derham Hall – Will Wayzata’s Guards Be Tre Holloman Tre Holloman 6'2" | PG Cretin-Derham Hall | 2022 State #70 Nation MN ’s Toughest Test This Year?

Holloman

Wayzata picked Shakopee apart and it started with their guard play. The Trojan defense was outstanding and the initial deliveries as well as creations of Eddie Beeninga Eddie Beeninga 6'1" | PG Wayzata | 2021 State MN and Kody Williams Kody Williams 6'0" | PG Wayzata | 2021 State MN were a big part of their success. Both Williams and Beeninga are excellent defenders so we ask the question, will the Wayzata senior pair be Holloman’s toughest test this year?

Taking a run through the CDH schedule you see some quality lead guard names:

There are some tough names but there is no backcourt pair – that CDH has faced – that can do what Eddie Beeninga Eddie Beeninga 6'1" | PG Wayzata | 2021 State MN and Kody Williams Kody Williams 6'0" | PG Wayzata | 2021 State MN (throw Drew Berkland Drew Berkland 5'11" | PG Wayzata | 2022 State MN and Trey Lance in there too) can do on both ends of the floor. The match-up of nationally ranked Tre Holloman Tre Holloman 6'2" | PG Cretin-Derham Hall | 2022 State #70 Nation MN versus the Wayzata senior duo should be outstanding to watch.

 

CDH – The Others

You have got to hand it to the Raider staff and the senior group of Cretin-Derham Hall, the support around Tre Holloman Tre Holloman 6'2" | PG Cretin-Derham Hall | 2022 State #70 Nation MN has improved tremendously. Here are those seniors:

Peter Howard – The low post threat of the Raiders. At 6-foot-8 Howard scores four times a game, sets good ball screens, and walls up in the post blocking a shot or two a game and contesting more.

Marselio Mendez – the Raiders second leading scorer, the guy that has hit the most threes, the secondary ball handler, and an all around steady player.

Daniel Montalbano – When it comes to battling to spots Montalbano is completely trusted. Daniel is a strong rebounder at 6-foot-4 (5-6 a game) and a high percentage finisher (60 percent).

Jack Plum – I love the energy that Jack Plum brings from all angles. Plum is a quality defender that gets to his spots, he’s the Raiders leading rebounder, and third leading scorer.

Jack Tauer Jack Tauer 6'3" | SG Cretin-Derham Hall | 2021 State MN – The best position defender on the team, Tauer draws the top assignments and is always working to the right position on the floor. His 39.4 percent three-point shooting this year (takes 2-3 a game) leads the team.

This group held Maple Grove to 25 percent shooting when Holloman was out in foul trouble. When Tre had to sit for seven minutes Maple Grove had even more trouble scoring. These five seniors have grown tremendously and are a big reason CDH is playing for the title.

 

Waseca vs Caledonia – Part 3

Willingham

Waseca and Caledonia are senior dominated teams with line-ups that have met a few times before. Last year Caledonia won 81-73. The summer before Caledonia beat Waseca in the Breakdown Summer Tournament Class AA championship (that surely matters when comparing these teams, both squads had nearly everybody there).

Can the Warriors pull off a third victory? They’ve had Waseca’s number but Caledonia won’t have an Eli King Eli King 6'3" | PG Caledonia | 2022 State #135 Nation MN or a Noah King Noah King 6'3" | PG Caledonia | 2020 State #478 Nation MN . Here are the match-ups computed on a three point scale.

Ryan Dufault Ryan Dufault 6'0" | PG Waseca | 2021 State MN vs Andrew Kunelius Andrew Kunelius 6'0" | SG Caledonia | 2021 MN – Ryan is headed to UST, Andrew is going to UW-Superior. Dufault is one of the elite guards in the state, Kunelius has a 3-4 inch size edge. Because Ryan is so good I go Waseca Plus Two

Zach Hoen Zach Hoen 6'2" | SG Waseca | 2021 State MN vs Jackson Koepke Jackson Koepke 6'2" | SG Caledonia | 2022 State MN – Hoen is solid on defense, hits a few threes, plays his role. Koepke is more of a playmaker, a titch bigger as well. Its close but Caledonia Plus One

Kyreese Willingham Kyreese Willingham 6'5" | SF Waseca | 2021 State MN vs Austin Klug Austin Klug 6'4" | SG Caledonia | 2021 State MN . Versatile talents! Kyreese will lock a guy down, block shots, board, handle, hit threes, score at the rim. Klug will handle the ball, knock down shots, down some things physically. Good battle, Willingham is the more talented player but Austin is so valuable. I’ll go Waseca Plus One

Matt Seberson Matt Seberson 6'5" | PF Waseca | 2021 State MN vs Casey Schultz Casey Schultz 6'3" | SF Caledonia | 2021 MN . Seberson is a college track & field athlete, Casey future UND football player. Both play the worker roles with Seberson guarding the other top big at times to take some pressure off Morgan, Schultz doing inside out work. I say Caledonia Plus One.

Andrew Morgan Andrew Morgan 6'9" | C Waseca | 2021 State #178 Nation MN vs Sam Privet Sam Privet 6'9" | PF Caledonia | 2021 State MN . A top 200 national recruit (Morgan) and a Northern Michigan signed player (Privet). Morgan will have to step away from the rim at times to guard Privet but Andrew does so much more finishing around the paint, rebounding, shot contesting, and he’s every bit the shooter Privet is. Sam does enough to make it, Waseca Plus Two

Bench – Both teams have good benches that they use differently. Waseca has tough guys coming off their bench that battle. Caledonia will depend a bit more on their bench for playmaking. I like what Ja’Shon Simpson does, he gives us Caledonia Plus One

With both teams having good coaches that’s even. Waseca has an experience edge with all their seniors so we add one, Waseca Plus One

So in total that’s a three point edge on this tally for the Jays so I see them winning by six or seven points. It will be a good game.

 

Fulfilling Potential – The Hayfield Vikings

Slaathaug

Hayfield has a proud basketball tradition of basketball. I grew up watching Jeff Rysavy in the post in the early 90s. David Johnson was one of the more talented names I first evaluated when I started covering high school basketball. Cole Kruger, Mason Tapp, and Tanner Kramer are recent talents I recall watching that were gifted players.

But this was the year I felt Hayfield had the best all around chance to bring home their first state title. The Vikings have been at state before (four previous times) but we had Hayfield ranked second in Class A coming into the year because of their all around talent and returning experience.

Three returning starters from a 24-6 team, returning role players, and talent coming up from a JV that went 22-4 last year. Even more, Hayfield has another star in Ethan Slaathaug Ethan Slaathaug 6'3" | SG Hayfield | 2021 State MN . He’s the most talented player in the Class A State Tournament and his do everything ability has us thinking Class A Player of the Year potentially.

So what stands in the way? A 6-foot-7 junior named Matt Thompson Matt Thompson 6'6" | C Hancock | 2022 State MN , his 25 points and 13 rebounds a game, and the talent around him that’s won 13 of their last 14. And its not just any 13 wins, it’s victories over West Central Area, Parkers Prairie, Mahnomen/Waubun, Nevis (preseason number one), and Sleepy Eye-St. Mary’s.

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