Reporting Jeff Wald
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It feels like March Madness just got started, but it’s wrapping up on the high school level this week with the State Boys Basketball Tournament.
Action starts Wednesday at Target Center and Williams Arena. We’ve already had thrilling tournaments in boys hockey, wrestling and girls basketball, and this year’s basketball tournament should be one of the most competitive in history. There will be at least two new state champions this year as Hopkins, the defending 4A champion, lost to Edina in its section final.
Plainview-Elgin-Millville, the defending 2A state champion, also lost its Section 1AA final to Byron.
Target Center will be the site of the Class 4A quarterfinals Wednesday, and it features some of the best talent the state has to offer. Here’s a quick glance
Apple Valley (28-1) vs. Brainerd (28-1)
No. 1-ranked Apple Valley is making its sixth state tournament appearance in school history, and the Eagles might be the favorite thanks to a point guard that every major college in the country is hoping to land. Tyus Jones, a junior, is arguably the most coveted high school player in Minnesota. He’s led the Eagles to 27 straight wins, including a 94-64 win over Rosemount in the Section 3AAAA title game. He’s averaging more than 20 points per game on the season, but manages the game and sets up his teammates like few others can. Dustin Fronk also averages 16 points per game for the Eagles. The Warriors, winners of 14 straight, are led by Jack Sauer’s 17.2 points per game.
Park Center (26-3) vs. Lakeville North (23-6)
Two fantastic players and one of the top seniors in the state face off Wednesday as Park Center faces Lakeville North in another 4A quarterfinal. Quinton Hooker, a Division I recruit, averages 23 points per game to lead the Pirates, who won the Northwest Suburban Conference. Devin Buckley adds 15.6 points per game and Treyton Daniels scores more than 13 per game. The Panthers, which took second in the South Suburban Conference to Apple Valley, are led by J.P. Macura’s 25.6 points per game. Grant Erickson and Zach Creighton also average double figures for Lakeville North. Stay in your seat for this one, it promises to be high-scoring and entertaining.
The other quarterfinals feature Edina (22-7) against Andover (10-19) and Woodbury (25-4) against Eden Prairie (21-8).
If the expected results hold true, Apple Valley would face Park Center Saturday night in the state championship. It would be a rematch from December, where Park Center won 72-70.
DeLaSalle (27-1) vs. Sartell-St. Stephen (17-12)
The Class AAA tournament might feature the best team in the tournament regardless of class, and DeLaSalle will open the tournament Wednesday morning against Sartell-St. Stephen. Reid Travis is another highly-coveted junior among top college programs. He’s pretty much a lock for a double-double with almost 10 rebounds per game and more than 27 points. Luke Scott also scores more than 15 per game. Sartell is led by Patrick Fischer’s 14.5 points per game.
In the other quarterfinals at Williams Arena, Delano (26-3) faces St. Paul Johnson (21-7), Austin (28-0) faces Blake (22-7) and Marshall (27-2) plays Grand Rapids (20-9). This tournament is DeLaSalle’s to lose.
Minnehaha Academy (23-6) vs. Perham (23-7)
There will be a new champion in Class AA this year, and the top seed Minnehaha Academy opens action Thursday night against Perham at Target Center. The Redhawks have three players who average double figures on the season and are led by Kaharri Carter’s 13.2 points per game. They enter the state tournament having won 12 of their past 13 games.
The other Class AA quarterfinals include Byron (25-4) against Annandale (20-9), Litchfield (24-5) against Redwood Valley (24-5) and Hayfield (22-7) against Esko. Look for Minnehaha Academy and Litchfield to meet for the state championship if the seeding process holds.
Lakeview Christian Academy (20-10) vs. Rushford-Peterson (26-3)
One of the most prolific scorers in state history will be on display Thursday at Williams Arena as Lakeview Christian Academy faces Rushford-Peterson. Anders Broman has more than 5,000 career points, the only boys player in state history to do so. He’s averaging a whopping 42 points per game on the season. Bjorn Broman also averages more than 21 points for the Lions.
The top seed in the bracket, Maranatha Christian Academy (29-1), faces Mountain Lake (24-5) in its quarterfinal. Maranatha is led by Isaiah Hanson’s 17.5 points per game. Jeremiah Hanson adds 13.6 and Garrison Gillard scores nearly 15 points per game on the season. They’re a high-scoring offense that usually takes its first open shot, and they’re fun to watch.
In the other quarterfinals, Upsala (30-0) faces Battle Lake (22-5) and Southwest Minnesota Christian (27-1) will battle Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (27-2). It’s a deep field, so it looks to be an exciting tournament.
If you’re a high school basketball fan, I encourage you to get out to the games to see Tyus Jones and Reid Travis. They are two of the top recruits in the country, and they won’t disappoint. Opportunities to watch kids this talented don’t come around in Minnesota all that often, and it’s worth the price of admission.
Tune into WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally at about 10:20 p.m. Friday as Mike Max, Frank Vascellaro and John Lauritsen will have all the March Madness covered.