Matthew Hurt in action last season against Northfield. Photo: Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
1. READY FOR STATE FANFARE
One of Minnesota’s marquee seniors, regarded among the nation’s best, has rarely had the chance to play on the metro area high school stage. Rochester John Marshall senior Matthew Hurt, ranked No. 7 in the nation by Rivals.com and his teammates have fallen short of the state tournament and its television exposure for six consecutive years, each time losing to Lakeville North in the Class 4A, Section 1 championship. Is this the year for the 6-9 Hurt, younger brother of Gophers junior forward Michael, and the Rockets to play at Target Center in March? Hurt, who has yet to announce his college selection, and the Rockets will play at the Lindbergh Center at Hopkins High School on Saturday against defending state champion Cretin-Derham Hall at 2:15 p.m.
2. NEW SCHOOL ON THE BLOCK
East Ridge, founded in 2009, has made its presence felt at the state level on the football field. The Woodbury school is now ready to do likewise on the basketball court. The Raptors return four starters, including two of the best in their respective classes in 6-10 junior forward Ben Carlson and 6-7 sophomore guard Kendall Brown, from their team that finished 21-5 a year ago. Add coach Bryce Tesdahl, the grandson of legendary Chisholm mentor Bob McDonald, and late March basketball appears on the brink of becoming commonplace.
3. TEAMS SOON TO BE ON THE MOVE
This will be the final year for some schools to make one final run at conference titles. Three from the Mississippi 8 will be on the move next year. Rogers is headed to the Northwest Suburban while Buffalo and St. Michael-Albertville will join the Lake. Others on the move will be Richfield (Metro West to Tri-Metro) and Irondale (Northwest Suburban to Suburban East). Throw in the new Skyline Conference — Concordia Academy, Cristo Rey Jesuit, Maranatha, New Life Academy, Nova Classical, St. Agnes, St. Croix Prep and Trinity — and a lot of change is in store.