Apple Valley, DeLaSalle - and their stars - set to square off Saturday

  • Article by: JASON GONZALEZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 6, 2013 - 8:01 PM

DeLaSalle and Apple Valley get a chance today to settle a question many have posed: Which is the state’s best team?

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Apple Valley point guard Tyus Jones (21)

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune file

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It’s the high school boys’ basketball matchup everyone longed for last March when Apple Valley and DeLaSalle celebrated their respective state championships.

Onlookers wanted more and wondered what it would look like if the best of Class 4A and Class 3A faced off. Was Apple Valley, with Tyus Jones, really the best team in the state?

Thanks to the Breakdown Tip Off Classic, fans will find out on Saturday night. Jones, who recently committed to Duke, leads a strong and youthful cast against an Islanders lineup stocked with Division I-caliber athletes.

“I think it’s the right thing for Minnesota basketball,” DeLaSalle coach Dave Thorson said about the matchup. “I think one of the reasons we chose to play Apple Valley and Osseo [this year] is because we thought they are the best in 4A. We thought by playing both teams we’d have the opportunity to [claim rights as Minnesota’s top team].”

There’s a catch, though. DeLaSalle five-star power forward Reid Travis won’t play in the game, scheduled for 8:30 p.m. at Hopkins High School. He’s still nursing a stress fracture in his left foot that has had him sidelined since September.

Without Travis, who recently committed to Stanford, the matchup loses some of its luster. But even without their big man, some still see the Islanders as the favorite. They’ve won back-to-back Class 3A championships and feature Jarvis Johnson, Geno Crandall, Sacar Anim and Division II recruit James Lawson.

Jones played summer basketball with several of DeLaSalle’s standouts and is familiar with their tendencies.

The nation’s top-rated point guard, known for his ability to shine in pressure situations, can make another big statement with a victory on Saturday in front of what is expected to be a capacity crowd at the Lindbergh Center.

“I know the kids have been looking forward to playing DeLaSalle. They’ve been chatting about it all summer,” Apple Valley coach Zach Goring said. “It’s going to be a fun game. I know a lot of people have wanted to see DeLaSalle play Apple Valley, and now we’ll get to see how it plays out.”

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  • Apple Valley’s Tyus Jones is rated as the top point guard in this season’s recruiting class. He recently committed to Duke.

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