DeLaSalle players celebrated after their 82-64 victory over St. Paul Johnson in the Class 3A championship game on March 14, 2014. Star Tribune file photo by Aaron Lavinsky
1. LOADED IN CLASS 4A
The Class 4A state tournament field come March has a chance to be the deepest in quite a while. The top-10 preseason rankings by Minnesota Basketball News contain teams from seven of the eight sections. Sections 1, 2 and 6 each have two teams in the ratings. They are No. 8 Lakeville North and No. 9 Rochester John Marshall in Section 1, No. 4 Eden Prairie and No. 10 Shakopee in Section 2, and No. 2 Hopkins and No. 5 Wayzata in Section 6.
2. SHIFTING SECTIONS HELPS MAPLE GROVE
The biggest benefactor from the newly formed section assignments is Maple Grove in Class 4A. The No. 3-ranked Crimson, previously in Section 5, have been moved to Section 8. They lost in the Section 5 semifinals a year ago. Champlin Park, rated No. 6, is the favorite to successfully defend its Section 5 title.
3. AN ISLAND UNTO THEMSELVES
The No. 1-ranked team in Class 3A, DeLaSalle, is looking to become the first school in state history to win five consecutive championships. The Islanders joined Minneapolis Henry (2000-03) and Southwest Minnesota Christian (1999-2002) with four straight titles last season.
4. POLAR OPPOSITES 20 YEARS LATER
This season will mark the 20th year of the four-class system adopted by the Minnesota State High School League in 1996-97. Who was the initial Class 4A state champion? Minneapolis North. What’s the significance? The Polars are now the top-ranked squad in Class 1A and the favorite to win that crown.
5. ROCKETS WORTH KEEPING AN EYE ON
Who’s worth watching outside the metro? Rochester John Marshall has an excellent front court in Gopher recruit senior Michael Hurt and his up-and-coming younger brother, freshman Matthew. The Rockets also added Albert Lea transfer junior Dedoch Chan. Former Plainview-Elgin-Millville coach Kirk Thompson is their mentor.