Mounds View has already won more games than it did all of last season. And, if things fall their way on Tuesday night, the Mustangs (11-0, 5-0) could enter the heart of January alone atop the Suburban East Conference standings.
Mounds View currently shares the league lead with No. 3-4A Cretin-Derham Hall and No. 8-4A East Ridge. That's an eye-opening start for a team that won just nine games last season, and a meager 25 of 82 games over the previous three seasons combined.
That recent record of success will get put to the test on Tuesday, when the Mustangs host the Raptors (8-4, 5-0).
East Ridge and Cretin-Derham Hall remain the conference favorites. While neither team has the same unblemished record of Mounds View, both have played significantly tougher schedules than the Mustangs.
The Raptors, for example, have faced five teams ranked in the top 10 this season and just four teams with sub-.500 records. After a 5-1 start to the season, East Ridge lost to No. 1-4A Eden Prairie (80-63 on Dec. 21), No. 4-4A Eastview (66-63 on Dec. 27) and No. 1-3A Minnehaha Academy (67-56 on Dec. 28) before igniting the four-game winning streak its on now.
"There are so many good teams in our state, and we want to play the best to see where we stand so we can go back to practice and continue to improve and hopefully earn the opportunity to play them again later in the season," said first-year East Ridge coach Josh Peltier.
Mounds View will face perhaps the best individual player it has come up against yet in East Ridge senior Ben Carlson, a 6-foot-10 all-around athlete headed to Wisconsin.
Carlson, who averaging 24.3 points and 11 rebounds per game, has taken on an increased role in the absence of Courtney Brown, who graduated, and Kendall Brown, who transferred. Sophomore Kendall Blue (14.0 points, 5.6 rebounds per game) and 6-foot-6 senior Brody Kriesel (10.0 points, 5.2 rebounds per game) provide support.