Woodbury boys basketball: State tournament previewWoodbury looks to end Hopkins' run in high school league's 100th state basketball tournament.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
This year, the Minnesota High School League is celebrating the 100th state basketball tournament, marking the first boys event in 1913.
In the centennial tournament, the coaches voted on the top seeds in all four classes for the first time — Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa in Class A, Perham in Class AA, Minneapolis Washburn in Class AAA, and Hopkins in Class AAAA. The top four seeds’ opponents were determined by blind draw. Over the past four years, only Class AAA and Class AAAA seeded their top teams.
Perham and Hopkins are the only two schools returning to defend their 2011 titles. If Perham wins, it would be the second consecutive and overall title for the Yellowjackets. If the Hopkins wins, it would be their fourth consecutive and eighth overall title.
Four teams are making first appearances: Lakeview Christian Academy of Duluth, Browerville and Prairie Seeds Academy of Brooklyn Park in Class A, and St. Croix Lutheran of West St. Paul in Class AA.
This is the 16th year of the four-class format, and the ninth with all games being played in Minneapolis.
The 100th boys’ basketball tournament milestone is being celebrated at both the girls’ and boys’ tournaments this year. In addition to special recognition of past achievements, a number of special on-court presentations are planned. The center-spreads of both tournament programs include timelines listing significant events, as well as listings of the top coaches, players and teams, plus the best shots, finishes and games. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the celebration is a collection of state tournament memorabilia titled “A Century of Memories” will be on display. School personnel from around the state have lent trophies, uniforms, balls and the like that will be displayed at Target Center adjacent to the skyway entrance to the building. Among the items on display will be the very first trophy awarded to Fosston in
1913. The display will be available for viewing throughout the boys’ tournament.
CLASS AAAA PREVIEW
(Section 4) Woodbury (24-5) vs. (Section 6 & No. 1 Seed) Hopkins (28-1): The Royals of Woodbury return to tournament action for the first time since 2007, making their sixth overall appearance. Woodbury won a championship in 1983. A trio of scorers leads the Royals’ offense: junior
Renard Suggs averages 13.4 points and 3.5 assists per game; senior Connor McKeen adds 13.0 points on 53 percent field goal shooting; and senior Rickey Suggs contributes 12.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Woodbury closed the season ranked No. 10 in the final MBN poll. McKeen will play football at Minnesota State Mankato next year. Three-time defending champion Hopkins enters competition ranked No. 1 by MBN. In addition to the past three years, Hopkins also won titles in 1953, 2002, 2005 and
2006. It is Hopkins’ fourth consecutive and 19th overall appearance. Hopkins senior Zachary Stahl averaged 19.0 points per game on 62.6 percent field goal shooting and led the team in rebounds,grabbing 9.1 per game, but is ineligible. Seniors Siyani Chambers and Demitrius Martin account for 15.9 and 14.1 points per game, respectively.
(Section 7) Duluth East (20-8) vs. (Section 5 & No. 4 Seed) Osseo (27-2): Ranked No. 6 in the final MBN poll, Duluth East is making its second consecutive and 13th overall tournament appearance. The Greyhounds look to improve on last year’s performance, when they were ousted in the quarterfinal round. Senior Johnny Woodard surpassed 2,000 career points this year and averages 23.3 points per game. Junior Akolda Manyang contributed 17.6 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.7 blocked shots per game.
The Orioles of Osseo, who finished third in 2011, return for a second consecutive and seventh overall appearance. Osseo won one previous championship in 2001. The team finished the season ranked No. 4 by MBN and enters tournament play as the No. 4 seed. Osseo did not provide team or individual statistics.
(Section 8) Moorhead (18-9) vs. (Section 1 & No. 2 Seed) Lakeville North (28-1): Unranked Moorhead returns to tournament play for the first time since 2002. It is the 23rd appearance for the Spuds, who won championships in 1928 and 1929. Moorhead’s leading scorer is junior Aaron Lien, averaging 22.3 points per game. Junior Austin Nelson adds 11.7 points per game, while senior Matt Ellingson contributes 10.7 points and 4.9 assists per game. The Panthers of Lakeville North are making their second overall appearance and first since 2006. Lakeville North gets balanced scoring from three seniors: Tyler Flack averages 13.7 points per game; Brett Rasmussen adds 12.8; and Ryan Saarela hits 56.3 percent of his field goals for 12.2 points, plus 8.3 rebounds per game. The No. 2-seeded Panthers
were ranked No. 2 in the final MBN poll. Flack will play at the University of North Dakota next year.
(Section 2) Eden Prairie (22-7) vs. (Section 3 & No. 3 Seed) Eastview, Apple Valley (28-1): After a runner-up finish in 2011, Eden Prairie returns for its third consecutive and eighth overall tournament appearance. The Eagles closed the season ranked No. 8 in the final MBN poll. Senior Sander Mohn and sophomore Andre Wallace pace the Eden Prairie offense, averaging 14.2 and 14.1 points per game, respectively. Eastview was ranked No. 3 by MBN and enters the tournament as the No. 3 seed.
This is the third appearance for the Lightning, who last competed in 2010. With 23.8 points per game, senior Joey King leads the Lightning in scoring. Senior Darin Haugh, who shoots 51.9 percent from behind the arc, adds 11.6 points and 3.3 steals per game. Junior Ben Oberfeld is the team’s top rebounder with 7.9 boards per game.
CLASS AAAA SCHEDULE
Wednesday, March 21 at Target Center
10:00 a.m. — Woodbury vs. Hopkins
12:00 p.m. — Duluth East vs. Osseo
2:00 p.m. — Moorhead vs. Lakeville North
4:00 p.m. — Eden Prairie vs. Eastview