High School Boys Basketball Focus: Section 1AA Proves – Post Bulletin

It’s hard to find a section that has as many teams playing basketball as Section 1AA this season.

Along with Caledonia, Plainview-Elgin-Millville, Lake City, Lewiston-Altura and La Crescent-Hokah, Section 1AA has five teams ranked in the Minnesota Basketball News top 20. Three of them (Caledonia at No. 2, Lake City at No. 5 and PEM at No. 8) are ranked in the top 10.

The individual talent is also undeniable, with Caledonia’s Eli King, Lake City’s Justin Wohlers and Lewiston-Altura’s Thomas Menk all named to Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball 2022 watch list earlier this week.

“It’s loaded,” EMP coach Jason Herber said. “This is easily the best section in the state and class AA.”

Is it time for the tournament already?

RELATED:

The third edition of the High School Boys Basketball Focus

Photos: Kasson-Mantorville, Winona boys basketball

1. Tanner Olson, LeRoy-Ostrander

Olson had an impressive stat line in the Cardinals’ 77-47 win over Glenville-Emmons.

Olson recorded a game-high 31 points and completed a rebound before the double-double for a LeRoy-Ostrander team that has won six of seven games since starting 2-2.

2. Harrison Hanna and Eli Wolf, Southland

Hanna and Wolf almost surpassed Grand Meadow on their own on Tuesday night.

Hanna had 31 points and Wolf finished with 29 as the two combined for 60 points in the Rebels’ 77-60 win.

Southland picked up five straight wins on Thursday night against Wabasha-Kellogg.

3. Matthew Gingerich, Schaeffer Academy

Gingerich was instrumental in helping the Lions clinch a four-game slide with a 66-44 win over Alden-Conger.

The senior forward recorded 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the double-double monster.

Weeks in a row, Hedin has landed on this list because he keeps getting buckets.

He has now scored 20 or more points in his last eight games after recording 21 and 23 in Winona’s last two wins over Albert Lea and Kasson-Mantorville.

He was recently named to Minnesota’s 2022 Mr. Basketball watch list and is one of the reasons Winona has high expectations coming into the divisional tournament.

5. Brady Meyers, Dover-Eyota

Meyers drilled four of the Eagles’ eight 3-pointers in their 78-71 win over Fillmore Central on Monday.

Meyers finished with a game-high 25 points to help Dover-Eyota snap a three-game losing streak. He and teammate Elvis Pina, who scored 20 points, are a strong pair for the Eagles.

The Warriors continue to distance themselves from the rest, thanks to a stellar three-day streak that saw them knock out a strong Waunakee team from Wisconsin in the prestigious Midwest Player’s Classic and beat Lewiston-Altura on Monday by more than 20 points.

Eli King, who was named a McDonald’s All-American nominee and runner-up for Mr. Basketball at Minnesota, led the way against Waunakee with 19 points in the 74-52 win. Jackson Koepke led the offense Monday with 24 points, while King added 18 and Ja’Shon Simpson – who has missed much of the season – scored 15 in the 83-57 win.

The Warriors, ranked No. 2 in Class AA by Minnesota Basketball News, will have a tough nine days with games against Chatfield, Plainview-Elgin-Millville, Rushford-Peterson and a thrilling showdown against Totino-Grace.

2. Plainview-Elgin-Millville (12-0)

The Bulldogs are off to their best start since 2009, thanks to one of the most balanced offenses in the state.

Whether it’s Kaiden Peters, Aeron Stevens or Peyton Schumacher, then add John Evers and Connor McGuire, PEM can spread the wealth. And they can play defense too, averaging a Section 1AA-best 46.8 points per game.

The Bulldogs kicked off an eight-game streak in 14 days with a 63-42 victory over a tough Rushford-Peterson team on Monday. They take on La Crescent-Hokah on Friday, before facing 9-2 New Life Academy in a showcase in Burnsville on Saturday. They then have a big showdown against Caledonia on the 25th, before taking on Lewiston-Altura on the 27th.

There’s a new #1 in Class A and spoiler: it’s the Vikings, who have won 11 in a row.

Although they haven’t played since a 58-45 win over Randolph on Jan. 13, the top ranking is well deserved for the defending Class A champions. Isaac Matti, Easton Fritcher and Ethan Pack are a trio as good as you will find it.

The Tigers have won five straight after beating Goodhue 56-44 and are yet to lose in 2022. Their only losses this season have come at Stewartville and Mayo – two games the Tigers were just games away from winning.

They beat a tough Byron team 65-64 in overtime on Monday in a game where Hunter Lorenson continued his big-game streak with 20 points. Wohlers added 17 on five 3-pointers for the Tigers, who moved up to 5th in the Class AA standings.

Few teams will want to play against LC in the playoffs.

5. Rushford-Peterson (8-3)

The Trojans suffered their first loss since Dec. 18 with the loss to PEM, but are still a perfect 6-0 in Section 1A play with solid wins over Spring Grove, Hayfield and Fillmore Central.

They have a big one coming on the 27th to Caledonia. When these two go against each other, it’s always good.

Stewartville is having a somewhat quietly solid season.

They are coming off a fine 60-52 victory over Kasson-Mantorville in which four finished in double figures – led by Ayden Hedler’s 14 points. IT also provided one of the best atmospheres of the season.

Apart from their 18-point loss to Caledonia earlier in the season, the Tigers’ other three losses have all been by seven points or less.

The Cardinals are doing their best to right the ship after COVID-19 hit them hard.

They have lost four straight to Pine Island, Rushford-Peterson, Caledonia and La Crescent-Hokah. Against the Warriors, the Cardinals saw the return of Thomas Menk, who went for 22 points. But they were without Collin Bonow, who is the gas that powers the Los Angeles engine.

Bonow is expected to return Friday night. Menk had 24 against the Lancers on Thursday.

But when they’re all together, few are as talented as the Cardinals.

The Packers enter the power rankings for the first time this season, in part because of a streak that saw them nearly defeat No. 3 ranked AAA South St. Paul (64-61), before eliminating a good team Winona 55-48 and Faribault 75-55.

The Packers are 4-0 in the 1AAA Division and have a number of talented individuals in Victor Idris, Gage Manahan, Cham Okey and Jack Lang. They seem to be finding their groove together at the right time of the season.

The Winhawks have won back-to-back games since falling to Austin, beating Kasson-Mantorville and Albert Lea this week.

The aforementioned Hedin has been terrific, providing both goals, rebounds and defense for the Winhawks. But the play of Charlie Vandeberg, Bryan Cassellius and Wesley Wollan was also important.

10. The Crescent-Hokah (8-1)

The Lancers suffered their first loss of the season Tuesday to Spring Grove 56-41 but responded with a 71-52 against an understaffed Lewiston-Altura team.

The Crescent-Hokah also beat Holmen (Wis.) 48-40 in the Midwest Player’s Classic with Carter Todd scoring 18 points to lead the way.

The Lancers — ranked No. 15 in Class AA — are a perfect 5-0 in Section 1AA.

We could probably keep this section as Highlight Reel King, but he keeps making games like this.

Check out this connection between PEM’s Schumacher and Stevens.

Gage Manahann and Victor Idris from Austin saw this and told me to hold my drink with this lovely piece.

The two met for another hoop a little later.