Class AAAA State: First Look

While favorites were knocked out left and right at the other levels, the class AAAA state tournament still has several top-ranked teams remaining with Hopkins, Osseo, Eden Prairie, Lakeville South, Duluth East, Owatonna and Cretin-Derham Hall included in the field (along with Maple Grove). Today we take our first of many looks at next week's state tournament.
Hopkins (28-1) vs. Owatonna (24-4)
When: Wednesday at 10:00 am

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Where: Target Center
Who: Hopkins is led by Minnesota-signed Joe Coleman (21.7 points per game), Northern Iowa-signed Marvin Singleton (17.0), Rivals 2012 top 100 guard Siyani Chambers (11.5), and Zach Stahl (11.7). Owatonna is led by combo guard Vaughan Thada, talented sixth man Drew Osmundsun and post Mike Sebring.
What: Both teams played Prior Lake early in the season. Hopkins beat the Lakers 85-48, Owatonna beat them 61-50.
Cretin-Derham Hall (22-7) vs. Duluth East (22-6)
When: Wednesday at 12:00 pm
Where: Target Center
Who: The Raiders have a good combination of size (C.J. Neumann-11.6), athletic scoring (Raijon Kelly-15.3), shooting (Taylor Montero-13.0) and intelligent guard play (Cortez Tillman-9.7) - and all of them are experienced through multiple years of varsity basketball. Duluth East is led by one of the best scoring tandems in state as Johnny Woodard and Taylor Stafford average around 50 points-per-game combined.
What: White Bear Lake lost to both teams: Duluth East by 81-56 and Cretin-Derham Hall by 57-56 and 74-43. Forest Lake beat CDH once (80-62), lost to them the second time (87-80) and then lost to Duluth East (86-64). North St. Paul lost to both teams: to Duluth East by 24 and to CDH by 18 points.
Eden Prairie (25-4) vs. Lakeville South (21-8)
When: Wednesday at 2:00 pm
Where: Target Center
Who: Both teams are quite tough, starting at point where Riley West (10.9) leads for South and Jack Klukas (8.0) handles for EP. On the wing, both teams have leading scoring, scholarship-level seniors in Alex Richter (22.2 for South) and Dylan Stewart (16.9 for EP). In the middle, the squads have notable talents in Cougar Spencer Pankonin (7.2) and Conner Nord (9.3) as well as tough players Mitchell Leidner (6.1 for South) and Sander Mohn (7.9). Two talented "X-factors" are four man Jon Christensen (13.5) of South and shooter Grayson Levine (12.9) for the Eagles.
What: These veteran teams did not play this year but they are quite familiar with one another. All the regulars in the line-ups of the Cougars and Eagles played against each other last year when EP won 60-58 and 91-66. Hopkins is another comparison as EP beat the Royals 75-71 and then lost the rematch 73-60. Lakeville South gave the Royals a serious run early in the season before falling 93-89.
Osseo (27-2) vs. Maple Gove (18-10)
When: Wednesday at 4:00 pm
Where: Target Center
Who: Osseo is led by top NSIC target Terez Van Pelt (16.4) and North Dakota State-signed football player Joey Sonnenfeld (17.0). Guard D.J. Hebert (8.6) and freshman big Ian Theisen (8.2) are also huge pieces for the team. Maple Grove has four guys scoring in double figures: Brycen Wojta (15.2), James Morris (12.0), Matt Humphries (11.4), and Alex Naasz (10.2).
What: Osseo and Maple Grove are both in the Northwest Suburban Conference. The teams played twice this season with Osseo winning both games (58-53 and 67-51).