Bloomington Kennedy vs. Chaska

7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 17

Chaska has made its presence known to opponents in the Lake and South Suburban Conferences this season, and this week it gets an opportunity to take command of its own conference.

The No. 5-4A Hawks can take control of the Metro West Conference standings, as they face Robbinsdale Cooper (6-3, 1-0) on Tuesday, and then they'll host Bloomington Kennedy (8-3, 0-0) on Friday.

Chaska (10-2, 1-0) earned its place in the Class 4A rankings with victories over the likes of Lakeville North (63-51 on Dec. 12), No. 6-4A Shakopee (81-70 on Dec. 27) and Edina (70-66 on Dec. 28). The Hawks' only losses are to No. 4-4A Eastview (86-72 on Dec. 5) and No. 1-4A Eden Prairie (81-68 on Jan. 3).

Chaska lost its two-year centerpiece of center Cole Nicholson to graduation last spring, but 6-foot-4 junior guards Luke Strazzanti (16.2 ppg) and Zach Lea (13.3 ppg) have led the way in a replacement by committee.

That committee includes the front line of Mahad Faisal (12.1 ppg), Spencer Goetz (8.8 ppg) and 6-foot-8 sophomore Brady Nicholson (8.2 ppg).

Chaska coach Dana Kallman said Strazzanti worked hard over the summer and returned to the team a much better shooter, and that Brady Nicholson has the skills to play at a level similar to his brother Cole.

Kennedy already has won more games than it did last season with three new scoring leaders: Eric Dums (13.6 ppg), Tyvan Klinger (13.5 ppg) and Amarion Hanspard (13.4 ppg).