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Prep Blog: State Boys Basketball Preview

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(credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

(credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Jeff Wald Jeff Wald
Jeff Wald started as a Web Producer at WCCO-TV in April of 2011....
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – March Madness is in full swing on the Minnesota high school scene, but there hasn’t been a ton of madness lately that makes us all enjoy the crazy sports month.

Xcel Energy Center hosted the State Boys Hockey Tournament last week and as most predicted, the No. 1 seeds in both classes came away as state champions on Saturday. Edina got two goals each from Miguel Fidler, Max Johnson and Kieffer Bellows in an 8-2 victory over Lakeville North to win the AA title.

East Grand Forks got seven goals from different players in a 7-3 win over Hermantown to claim the Class A title. The Hawks have now been in three consecutive state championship games and lost all three.

This week, Target Center and Williams Arena take center stage as 32 teams from four classes try to do whatever it takes to play for a state championship in boys basketball. The state tournament will have one noticeable absence in Apple Valley, ranked No. 1 in the state for most of the season. The Eagles were upset in their section title game by Cretin-Derham Hall in double overtime. It was their only loss of the season to a Minnesota team.

But the show must go on and there will be plenty of great games as the week unfolds. Here’s a look at each of four classes.

Class AAAA: Hopkins Favored In Top Heavy Bracket

With Apple Valley losing, the field for the Class 4A State Tournament opened up considerably. The quarterfinals are Wednesday at Target Center, and Hopkins (28-1) is the early favorite with another loaded group. The Royals feature five players in Jake Wright, Kamali Chambers, Amir Coffey, John Warren and Stephon Sharp who all average double figures.

Lakeville North (24-5) is back at the state tournament and is led by one of the top scorers in the Twin Cities in J.P. Macura, a Xavier signee. The Panthers are the No. 2 seed and if those seeds hold, they would face Hopkins in a fantastic match-up for a state title. Cretin-Derham Hall (23-6) is the No. 3 seed after upsetting No. 1-ranked Apple Valley, and the Raiders are led by sharp-shooter Sam Neumann’s 19.6 points per game.

Osseo (22-7) rounds out the top four seeds and is led by Mr. Basketball finalist Wheeler Baker as well as Ian Theisen, one of the top post players in the Twin Cities.

Quarterfinal match-ups
Hopkins vs. Tartan, 10 a.m.
Osseo vs. Shakopee, 12 p.m.
Lakeville North vs. Buffalo, 2 p.m.
Cretin-Derham Hall vs. St. Francis, 4 p.m.

Class AAA: DeLaSalle Is Team To Beat

One of the best teams in Minnesota highlights the Class 3A State Tournament as DeLaSalle is in a class by itself. The Islanders (23-3) are led by legendary coach Dave Thorson and haven’t lost since New Year’s Eve. That’s 19 straight games heading into Wednesday’s state quarterfinals, where they’ll get a big test in St. Paul Central. DeLaSalle is led by Mr. Basketball finalist and Stanford signee Reid Travis. The Islanders feature several others who have Division I potential in Jarvis Johnson and Sacar Anim.

Rounding out the top four seeds are Austin (26-3), Holy Family Catholic (27-2) and Orono (21-8). If the seeds hold, DeLaSalle and Austin would have a rematch of last year for the state title, which the Islanders won 50-33.

Quarterfinal Match-Ups
DeLaSalle vs. St. Paul Central, 10 a.m.
Orono vs. Marshall, 12 p.m.
Austin vs. Alexandria, 2 p.m.
Holy Family Catholic vs. Cloquet, 4 p.m.

Class AA: Annandale Favored In Competitive Bracket

There will be a new champion in Class AA this year as Minnehaha Academy, last year’s winner, didn’t make it through the section tournament. Annandale (23-6), which is on a 12-game win streak, got the No. 1 seed for the tournament. The Cardinals are led by Chase Knickerbocker’s 17.2 points per game and Matt Miller’s 15.8 points per game.

Rounding out the top four teams are Esko (26-3), Fairmont (24-4) and Caledonia (27-2). If the seeds hold, Annandale would meet Esko for the state championship on Saturday.

Quarterfinal Match-Ups
Annandale vs. New-London Spicer, 6 p.m.
Caledonia vs. St. Paul Academy, 8 p.m.
Esko vs. East Grand Forks, 6 p.m.
Fairmont vs. St. Peter, 8 p.m.

Class A: Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Leads Strong Field

Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa failed to make the Class A State Tournament last year, but the Jaguars enter this year’s tournament as the favorite and a No. 1 seed. The Jaguars (28-1)have just one loss on the season, and it was to Apple Valley in the Granite City Classic. Since, they’ve won 21 straight games and breezed through the section playoffs to get to state. Their led by Brian Goodwin’s 22.9 points per game.

Rounding out the top four seeds are Maranatha Christian Academy (25-3), Rushford Peterson (29-1) and Canby (25-4). If the seeds hold in the bracket, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa would meet Maranatha for the state championship.

Quarterfinal Match-Ups
Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa vs. Park Christian, 11 a.m. (Thursday)
Canby vs. Fond du Lac Ojibwe, 1 p.m. (Thursday)
Maranatha Christian Academy vs. Red Lake, 3 p.m. (Thursday)
Rushford Peterson vs. Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, 5 p.m. (Thursday)

Between all four classes, it should be an entertaining weekend of basketball both at Target Center and Williams Arena with some of the state’s top basketball talent on display.

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