TOP 10 metro BOYS’ BASKETBALL teams
1. Apple Valley
Three solid Division I prospects in three grades— 7-0 senior center Brock Bertram, 6-6 junior shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. and 6-2 sophomore point guard Tre Jones — manning three key positions. The Eagles have their sights set on the Class 4A title for the third time in four years.
A healthy Amir Coffey returns to join forces with three starters from the state tournament team of a year ago. The Royals will be explosive with many interchangeable parts. A veteran lineup paired with the third winningest coach, Ken Novak Jr., has no intention of finishing second.
3. Maple Grove
The Crimson probably have more pressure on them than any other team in the state. A talented group, in its prime, that has yet to reach the section championship game. Anything less than a trip to the Target Center will a major disappointment for the program.
4. Eden Prairie
The Eagles are reloading under coach David Flom. They have won at least 22 games in each of the past seven seasons. Expect more of the same this year behind four outstanding guards, who all can knock down the three-pointer and will get after you defensively.
This year mark a season the Trojans have been looking forward to for some time, coming off a 21-victory in season without a senior on their roster. “We return an experienced group who have played a lot of minutes together,” Wayzata coach Bryan Schnettler said.
6. Champlin Park
Coach Mark Tuchscherer must replace six talented graduates from the state tournament runner-up team of a year ago. The Rebels feature two Division I prospects in juniors Theo John (6-9 center) and McKinley Wright (6-1 guard). Don’t expect much of a drop-off.
The Titans have reached the state tournament just once (2014) in the past 10 years. Coach Mark Klingsporn’s squad is once again one of the best in the state. This season’s young group can’t be overlooked, but might be a year away from rejoining elite company.
8. DeLaSalle (Class 3A)
The Islanders aren’t as talented on the offensive end of the floor as their previous four state championship teams. The reason they remain a top-10 team in the metro is the way coach Dave Thorson’s squad plays defense. This year will be no different.
9. Lakeville North
If the Panthers can add toughness to their repertoire, they could be making their fifth consecutive state tournament appearance in March. Coach John Oxton’s squad will be long and athletic, with good shooters and plenty of depth.
The Sabers feel they are better than the school’s previous two teams, each of which won 24 games. They finished third in the state tournament on both occasions. Coach Bruce Kugath has won over 500 games and knows how to get opponents to play his style of game.