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Shakopee-Wayzata battle pits old college teammates on opposing sidelines

By RON HAGGSTROM, Star Tribune , 04/06/21, 5:30PM CDT


The Sabers’ Jake Dahmann used to coach for the Trojans’ Bryan Schnettler, too. Their teams play for a spot in the Class 4A championship game on Saturday. Also, how to buy tickets for tournament games.

Shakopee coach Jake Dammann (left) and Bryan Schnettler of Wazata were college teammates and later coached together. Their teams play Thursday in a Class 4A semifinal. Photos: Earl Ebensteiner (Dammann) and Mark Hvidsten (Schnettler), SportsEngine

Jake Dammann knows Bryan Schnettler all too well. He used to try and shut him down defensively when they were college teammates at St. Thomas.

Dammann now has the inevitable task of having his Shakopee players trying to do likewise against Schnettler’s high-powered and talented Wayzata squad in the Class 4A boys’ basketball state tournament semifinals Thursday at Target Center.

“I used to guard him in open gym,” Dammann said. “He was a senior when I was a freshman. I just tried to be a little pest against him.”

The third-year Shakopee coach hopes his team reciprocates.

“We are a very strong defensive team,” Dammann said. “We have kids that like to get after it. They believe they can guard anybody in the state.”

The Sabers (17-5) only allow 51.1 points per game, the fourth lowest average in Class 4A. Wayzata (17-2) has not been held below 63 points.

The victor will play the winner of Cretin-Derham Hall (17-5) and Maple Grove (13-9) in the finals Saturday at 8 p.m.

“It’s too bad that isn’t for the state championship,” Dammann said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Dammann is all too familiar with this Wayzata group. Before Shakopee hired him, he served as an assistant coach under Schnettler at Wayzata.

“There are a lot of familiar faces in their junior and senior classes,” Dammann said. “There aren’t too many secrets.”

Dammann has compiled a 62-16 record in his first three seasons at the helm of the Sabers. He was with Schnettler the four previous years in Wayzata.

“His attention to detail for both practices and games is impressive,” Dammann said. “Bryan has an educational way of teaching the game. He is well connected with his players.”

Shakopee won the first meeting between the two 82-63 back in early December of 2020. That was when the Trojans struggled through an 11-17 season.

“Two of their best players (Division I recruit Camden Heide and point guard Eddie Beeninga) were injured and didn’t play,” Dammann said. “It’s not going to be like that this time around.”

The Trojans are now on a 12-game winning streak. No matter what happens Thursday, the bond between Dammann and Schnettler — as players and coaches — will remain.

“We can always speak freely to each other,” Dammann said. “We have a great friendship, and that’s an added bonus.”

Tickets on sale again

After starting its winter state tournaments with fans limited to those affiliated with competing schools, the Minnesota State High School League is back to selling limited tickets to the public for the basketball state tournaments at Target Center.

Looser fan restrictions that went into effect April 1 means Target Center can have as many as 3,000 spectators for events. Throughout games during the regular season and as recently as last week’s state quarterfinal games, a 250-person limit was in place.

The high school league is posting ticket availability on its website.

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