KDHL Baseline-To-Baseline Coverage In Its 67th Year
KDHL Radio has covered the Minnesota Boys State High School Basketball Tournament since going on the airwaves in 1948 -- from the single class to the double class to today's four classes. For me, it's been a privilege to be part of the history. I've been going to the tournament since 1988. The first number of years with Mike Morrissey and Gordy Hinck, then Mike and I for several years, and now Roy Koenig joins me in covering the pinnacle of boys high school basketball in Minnesota.
On Wednesday we'll have six games, and most will have teams involved from around the KDHL listening area. I'll have the first game from Target Center beginning about 10 a.m. when the top-ranked 4A Champlin Park Rebels take their unblemished record into the tournament with a quarterfinal round game against the Fighting Saints of St. Francis (21-8). Champlin Park averages 87 points a game and gives up just 55 while St. Francis scores about 71 and yields 58.
Champlin Park learned their kindergarten lessons well. They share the ball, averaging a whopping 20 assists per game, and they have a double-digit advantage in rebounding. Senior J.T. Gibson was named the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year and is a Mr. Basketball finalist. He's the all-time leading scorer for Champlin Park. Senior Jeremy Johnson is last year's state high jump champion. Sophomore post Theo John has just under 100 blocks on the season. St. Francis also believes in a team game. Four of their players average between 10 and 15 points per game.
Roy will then have the Mankato East vs. New Prague 3A game from Williams Arena at noon. This is a No. 4 vs. No. 5 seed, with New Prague the No. 4 seed. The Wright County Conference champions are 20-8 and average 66 points while giving up 63. The Trojans have been outrebounded by their opponents on average and have three players that average double figures. Mankato East is from the Big Nine and averages 70 points per game while allowing 64. They are a plus seven per game in rebounds and average just 10 turnovers a game, even though they like to get out and go. The Cougars beat a very good Red Wing team twice this season. That's the team New Prague defeated to capture the Section 1 title.
At 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. I'll have back-to-back games featuring south suburban teams. First Apple Valley, the No. 2 seed, will play St. Michael-Albertville. The Eagles average 82 points per game while their opponents score 60. Gary Trent Jr. leads them in scoring with 21.5 points per game and 7-footer Brock Bertram averages 14 points and 10 rebounds. Apple Valley is 27-2 while St. Michael-Albertville is 24-5. The Knights average 17 assists a game and hang their hat on defense, giving up 51 while averaging 62 offensively.
The defending state champion Lakeville North Panthers defeated a very good Rochester John Marshall team in the Section 1 finals to get back to state and defend their crown. The Panthers are 18-11 and Hopkins is 23-6. This is a rematch of last year's state title game when Lakeville North beat Hopkins in a thriller 84-82. The Royals average 79 points per game and are led by former Golden Gopher and Minnesota Timberwolves player Roy Coffey's son Amir. Coffey averages 23.7 points a game and is also the leading rebounder with about seven per contest. Four other players also average in double figures. Lakeville North averages 65 points a game and gives up 59. That defensive stat is a bit misleading because they've been getting better during the course of the season. For example, they defeated the Big Nine Conference champion Rockets 62-51 in the Section 1 title game for their fourth straight Section 1 championship. Connor Flack is the only Panther averaging in double figures with 17.4 a game.
Roy will have the final two games of opening-day coverage at The Barn when Section 1 Class 2A champion Caledonia faces Annandale at 6 p.m. and Section 2 Class 2A title holder Maple River tangles with Breckenridge at 8 p.m. Caledonia is the No. 2 seed and is 26-4 while Annandale is a tough draw for the Warriors. The Cardinals made it to the championship game last season before falling to Esko 60-41. The Warriors average 74 points per game and give up 55, while Annandale (20-10) averages 65 and allows 56 points per contest. Caledonia's three leading scorers all average around 14 points a game while Annandale is led by Chase Knickerbocker's 27.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Maple River began their playoff run with wins over Kenyon-Wanamingo and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown. The No. 3 seed Eagles are 27-3 and lost twice to W-E-M before avenging that loss in the playoffs. They are relentless on the glass, outrebouding their opponents by double digits and average 65 points while giving up 51 a game. The Gopher Conference champions were led by senior Jonah Breiter. Breiter averages 17.6 points and 11 rebounds a game and is Maple River's seventh player to score more than 1,000 points in his career. Head coach Chad Ostermann is the school's all-time leading scorer and was on a state championship team for Maple River, and five of the six coaches on staff are Maple River graduates.
The Cowboys of Breckenridge are 21-7 and lassoed 66 points a game while yielding 57. Senior Nate Lorenz is the all-time leading scorer and rebounding machine in school history, and this season has averaged 17.6 points and 11 rebounds a game. It's been a long time for the Cowboys; this is their first trip to state since 1979. The head coach of that team was Steve Lipp, and his grandson Stevin Lipp is on this year's team.
Thursday and Friday, Roy and I will have the semifinal games in all the classes and then all the state title games Saturday will be on KDHL 920AM and on kdhlradio.com. You can also hear the games on your favorite mobile device by downloading the free Radio Pup app. Last season, we saw a lot of neon-colored shoes. Will that trend continue?