Class 3A story lines

1. Fresh field

Half of the teams return to the state tournament for the first time in many years. Holy Angels last reached the final eight in 2004. Not since 1985 has Bemidji made it. That's nothing compared to Mahtomedi and Princeton, which can count the decades since their last state tournaments. For Mahtomedi, that was 1961. John F. Kennedy was the U.S. president. "Even guys who played for Mahtomedi back in the day have said 'good job,' " senior forward Devin Melzer said. For Princeton, try 1932. Yep, 87 years. The country was mired in the Great Depression.

2. Players to watch

Top players in Class 3A offer a variety of statistic delights and other accolades. Holy Angels senior guard Charles Johnson leads the metro area with 4.5 steals per game. Austin's Ngor and Dongrin Deng are identical twins. They score a combined 15.4 points per game. DeLaSalle senior guard Tyrell Terry, a three-year starter, is both a Bob McDonald Award and Mr. Basketball finalist. He averages 22.1 points, 7.7 assists and 2.8 steals per game. Four Princeton players surpassed 1,000 career points: James Flicek, Reilly O'Neil, Jon Stimmler and Adam Williams. Waseca's Malik Willingham became the program's all-time leading scorer at 1,961 points.

3. Defense wins titles?

Of course it does. But several teams are capable of testing that axiom. Six of the tournament qualifiers rank among the top eight in Class 3A scoring. Princeton (84.8 points per game) is first, followed by Waseca (83.8), DeLaSalle (78.4) and Mahtomedi (78.3). Holy Angels ranks seventh (75.6) with Austin (72.6) one spot behind. DAVID LA VAQUE