Photo by SportsEngine
We task our reporters with identifying several intriguing games throughout the state to assemble our Top Games of the Week. The matchups are presented in no particular order, and when there are additional games we want to highlight, we’ll include them with brief notes.
It's no surprise that both Wayzata, the Class 4A state tournament runner-up last season, and Shakopee, a 25-win team that reached the Class 4A, Section 2 championship game in 2022, have experienced a few growing pains this season.
Wayzata lost all but one of its starters from the group that played Park Center in the state championship game and opened this season with three consecutive losses against ranked opponents. The Trojans (4-3, 0-0) have turned it around with four consecutive victories over unranked opponents.
Shakopee (4-2, 1-0) lost all of its starting lineup from last season but nevertheless opened with four consecutive victories and rose to third in the Class 4A rankings released by Minnesota Basketball News before losing both games to Edina and Eden Prairie at the Eden Prairie holiday tournament.
So there will be plenty of incentive for both teams on Wednesday night in Shakopee. For Wayzata, it will be to keep the momentum rolling. For Shakopee, to rebound from a disappointing weekend.
Senior guard Hayden Tibbits, the lone returning starter from 2021-21, leads Wayzata with 15.7 points per game. He's getting support from the Trojans' wing-heavy lineup of junior Jackson McAndrew (12.5 ppg) and seniors Jake Schmitt (12.0 ppg) and Spencer Hall (9.4 ppg). All three saw a good amount of time off the bench a year ago.
Wayzata will need to prove it can beat the ranked teams and this stretch of schedule will test the Trojans, who face No. 3-3A Benilde-St. Margaret's, St. Michael-Albertville and No. 5-4A Hopkins after Wednesday's game.
At Shakopee, junior guards Jalen Langsy (19.6 ppg) and Isaac Snell (13.2 ppg) and senior guard Termaine Fulton Jr. (15.0 ppg) have taken over where multi-year starters Nick Katona and Cade McGraw left off. But the Sabers' 12-point loss to No. 8-4A Eden Prairie over the weekend in a rematch of last spring's Class 4A, Section 2 championship is a disappointment the group will have to shake off before it starts the grind of the South Suburban Conference schedule.
Who wears the No. 4 ranking better? Class 2A Maranatha Christian Academy or Class 1A New Life Academy?
We'll find out on Tuesday night in a clash of two of the Skyline Conference's best teams.
Maranatha's Mustangs (4-1, 1-0) have a small lineup with a lot of scoring options. Trell McCrimmon, a 5-foot-10 junior, leads a group of five double-figure scorers at 17 points per game. Nick Anderson, who at 6-foot-6 stands heads and shoulders over his teammates, averages 15, while juniors Drew Balentine (14 ppg) and Greysyn Rennie (10 ppg) and senior JaRory Purnell (11 ppg) provide a balanced attack for the Mustangs.
New Life Academy (8-0, 2-0) counters with a bigger lineup with no fewer scoring options. Seniors Erick Reader (6-foot-8, 16.5 ppg, 15.0 rpg), Colton Hendricks (6-foot-7, 12.4 ppg) and Austin Woolf (6-foot-4, 8.8 ppg) and junior Colter Stone (6-foot-4, 10.5 ppg) make the Eagles a potential nightmare matchup for Maranatha. Senior Max Briggs (14.4 ppg, 10.4 assists) holds the New Life group together.
The Eagles have scored 216 points more than their opponents in eight games this season and their smallest margin of victory before last week's six-point victory over No. 1-1A Cherry was 19 points.
The teams shared the Skyline Conference championship a year ago, when both teams finished 14-1 in league play and split the season series. Maranatha went on to the Class 2A, Section 5 championship, where the Mustangs lost to Minneapolis North. New Life Academy finished the season with 28 victories and beat Cherry in the Class 1A state tournament third-place game.
When was the last time two Minneapolis City Conference teams boasted a combined record of 13-4 and one of those teams was not Minneapolis North?
It feels like you might have to go back to the 20th century to find such an instance, but that's what Minneapolis Edison (6-2, 1-0) and Minneapolis Southwest (7-2, 1-0) have accomplished in this young season.
Both teams are led by high-scoring guards, 6-foot-2 senior Micah Young (24.4 ppg) at Edison and junior Liam Farniok (25.2 ppg) at Southwest. Both teams have had winning streaks of at least five games. And both are in need of a reboot after recent losses.
Edison's five-game win streak came to an end last Friday with a 78-62 loss to St. Anthony. Southwest opened the season with six consecutive victories before losing at Andover and at Forest Lake in its most recent three-game stretch.
Edison won 13 of 25 games last season with Young leading the way and the Tommies appear on their way to improving on that this season. Deidrick Taylor, a 5-foot-8 junior, is averaging 14 points a game after averaging 10 as a sophomore, while sophomore Legend Wright averages 10.4 points.
Nevis vs. Cherry, 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 7. In a rematch of a 2022 Class 1A state tournament quarterfinal won by Cherry, both teams enter this week on a downward trend. Nevis (4-2, 1-0) has lost two in a row; No. 1-1A Cherry (4-3) has lost two of three.
Lakeville South at Lakeville North, 7:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 6. Losses to Andover and Edina in the first four games knocked South (6-2, 1-0) out of the Class 4A rankings. But the Cougars have won four in a row and a victory at No. 2-4A Lakeville North (6-1, 1-0) would likely lift Lakeville South back into the top 10. Of course, the Panthers' duo of Nolan Winter (19.7 ppg, 13.6 rpg) and Jack Robison (17.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg) will have a lot to say about the outcome of this game.
Mankato East vs. Rochester John Marshall, 7:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 6. No. 7-3A Mankato East (5-2, 3-1) beat Red Wing last week after losses to Rochester Mayo and Benilde-St. Margaret's. John Marshall (4-1, 2-1) has won four in a row.
The MN Basketball Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.