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Border Battle heats up!

By Mark Miller, Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook, and Breakdown Staff, 02/05/15, 1:00PM CST


Ninth annual event hits Cretin-Derham Hall this Saturday, Feb. 7

Game Previews

11 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 7


Heritage Christian Eagles

Coach: Tim Herman

Enrollment: 134

Top Players: C.J. Woda (Soph., 16.8 ppg), Nick Erlien (Sr., 7.6 ppg), Jack Vander Top (6'5, Soph., 8.0 ppg), Tanner Scott (Jr., 8.7 ppg), Ben Suits (6-5, Sr., 8.0 ppg).

2014-15 Record: 11-10 (Through games of Feb. 3)

Notes: The Eagles compete in the Minnesota Christian Athletic Association and own a 6-5 league record ... Woda has scored 20 or more points six times this season ... The Eagles won 21 games a year ago, but lost three all-league performers from that squad … since starting slowly, the Eagles have won six of their past eight games.

Coach’s Comments: “Individual improvement during the off-season and molding a TEAM attitude and environment are necessary to be successful this season.”


Columbus Catholic Dons (Marshfield)

Coach: Joe Konieczny, 10th year

Enrollment: 125

Top Players: Evan Nikolai (6-2, Jr., 14.6 ppg), Hunter Schultz (6-0, Soph., 14.7 ppg), Tyler Fuerlinger (6-0, Soph., 10.2 ppg), Brett Loveland (6-1, Jr., 6.8 ppg), Ben Behling (6-0, Sr., 5.5 ppg).

2014-15 Record: 10-5 (Through games of Feb. 2)

Notes: Columbus Catholic finished 20-6 overall and won the Eastern Division title of the Cloverbelt Conference a year ago ... The Dons lost all five starters from that squad, but Konieczny has blended some talented newcomers with some gifted returning players to make the team competitive once again in the Cloverbelt ... The Dons like to shoot the three-point shot and play aggressive defense.

Coach’s Comments: “We came into the season lacking experience and size. Ball handling, quickness and tradition are our strengths.”


12:45 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7


Waseca Bluejays

Coach: Todd Dufault

Enrollment: 500

Top Players: Nick Dufault (6-0, Jr., 20 ppg), Isaac Highum (6-2, Sr., 12.8 ppg), Shane Strich (5-11, Sr., 15.0 ppg).

2014-15 Record: 13-3 (Through games of Feb. 3)

Notes: Nick Dufault headlines a very talented backcourt for Waseca that also includes seniors Shane Strich and Isaac Highum ... The Bluejays compete in the Big South Conference and ranked among the top teams in the league … Waseca won 24 games last year, one of the top years in school history, but fell short of a state tourney berth … the Bluejays graduated four of their top eight players from that team.

Coach’s Comments: “When trying to rebuild a program, it's about consistency. We expect to contend for a conference and section championship. There is no doubt we will be a different type of team with our length and athleticism this season. With continued hard work, we expect to build on what we accomplished last season.”


West Salem Panthers

Coach: Jake Merrill, 1st year

Enrollment: 567

Top Players: Baily Williams (6-2, 22.8 ppg), Billy Tremain (5-11, Sr., 10.8 ppg), Nick LaFleur (6-0, Sr., 6.9 ppg), Trent Kastenschmidt (6-0, Sr., 6.2 ppg), Brett Thompson (6-5, Sr., 5.4 ppg).

2014-15 Record: 8-7 (Through games of Feb. 2)

Notes: Williams is one of the top seniors in Wisconsin and has signed a letter of intent to play college basketball at NCAA Division II Minnesota State -- Mankato ... Williams is a four-year starter for the Panthers ... Merrill served as an assistant at Onalaska prior to becoming the head coach at West Salem.

Coach’s Comments: “Senior leadership and experience are strengths while adjusting to a new coach along with a new offense and defense are concerns. We’ve played a very challenging schedule.”


2:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7


Minnehaha Academy Red Hawks

Coach: Lance Johnson

Enrollment: 414

Top Players: JaVonni Bickam (6-6, Frosh., 16.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg), Jalen Suggs (5-10, 7th grader, 11 ppg), Jake Richardson (Jr., 10.6 ppg), Kyle Kispert (6-0, Sr., 7.2 ppg).

2014-15 Record: 15-6 (Through Feb. 3)

Notes: Freshman JoVonni Bickam is ranked as the No. 2 prospect in Minnesota in the class of 2018 by North Star Hoops ... The Red Hawks have won seven of their last eight games ... The Red Hawks and Breck are battling for the top spot in the Independent Metro Athletic Conference … Seventh-grade standout Jalen Suggs injured his wrist in a game against St. Thomas Academy, but could return to the Red Hawks' lineup in time for its matchup against G-E-T ... Bickam is putting up huge numbers despite consistent double- and triple-teams by opponents … the Red Hawks have won seen of their past eight games, despite missing Suggs for that stretch.


Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau Redhawks

Coach: Mark Wagner, 12th year

Enrollment: 424

Top Players: Nick Wagner (6-2, Jr., 21.8 ppg, 4.3 apg), Lucas Scherr (6-4, Jr., 14.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg), Carl Huhn (6-1, Sr., 10.9 ppg), Chris Thompson (6-2, Frosh., 8.6 ppg), Noah Hammond (6-2, Jr., 6.4 ppg).

2014-15 Record: 14-3 (Through games of Feb. 2)

Notes: The Redhawks are tied for first place in the Coulee Conference with Arcadia at 7-1 ... Junior guard Nick Wagner is a terrific perimeter shooter who can also get to the basket ... Junior Lucas Scherr is a three-year starter who plays big in the lane for the Redhawks ... Freshman Chris Thompson has been impressive in the first half of the season for G-E-T.

Coach’s Comments: “We have a very skilled offensive team and we are able to shoot, pass, dribble and play good team offense. Defensive intensity and toughness along with rebounding are our concerns.”


4:15 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7


Hopkins Royals

Coach: Ken Novak Jr. 

Enrollment: 2,045

Top Players: Amir Coffey (6-7, Jr., 30 ppg), John Warren (6-4, Sr., 18.6 ppg), Vinnie Shahid (5-10, Jr., 11.9 ppg), Xavier Johnson (5-11, Jr., 13.4 ppg), Ishmael El-Amin (6-0, Soph., 9.9 ppg).

2014-15 Record: 17-4 (Through games of Feb. 3)

Notes: Coffey is the top-ranked junior in Minnesota, but has missed all but two games this season with a torn ACL and will not play against Vincent ... The Royals are nonetheless loaded and feature and outstanding senior wing player in John Warren ... The Royals are currently 5-0 in the Lake Conference … Warren is an explosive player in the open court and a good defender … junior guards Xavier Johnson and Vinnie Shahid have stepped up their play in Coffey’s absence … the Royals have several top-10 ranked players in both their sophomore and freshman classes who likely won’t see time in the deep lineup … Hopkins lost three of its first five games without Coffey, but is 15-1 since.


Milwaukee Vincent Vikings

Coach: Marquis Hines, 3rd year

Enrollment: 1,403

Top Players: Jamel White (6-4, Soph., 7.1 ppg), Malik Brown (6-1, Sr., 17.1 ppg), Justin Brookens (5-10, Soph., 10.3 ppg), Andrew Lewis (6-2, Soph., 10.0 ppg), Jamal White (6-4, Soph., 7.8 ppg).

2014-15 Record: 2-13 (Through games of Feb. 2)

Notes: The loss of transfers Melvin Lee (to Milwaukee Riverside) and Virshon Cotton (to Milwaukee King) hurt the program as both started as freshmen a year ago ... The Vikings have lost 13 of 15 games, but have played nearly every team to a competitive contest ... Hines has some talented young players in the White twins, Lewis and Brookens ... Brown is a good long-distance shooter for the Vikings.

Coach’s Comments: “We have a guard-heavy lineup on most occasions so everyone needs to crash the boards for us. We have a very tough schedule so we are battle tested.”


6:00 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7


DeLaSalle Islanders

Coach: Dave Thorson

Enrollment: 614

Top Players: Sacar Anim (6-4, Sr., 25.8 ppg), Jarvis Johnson (6-1, Sr., 13.2 ppg), Goanar Mar (6-5, Soph., 8.7 ppg), Joshua Collins (6-4, Sr., 9.6 ppg.

2014-15 Record: 15-2 (Through Feb. 3)

Notes: DeLaSalle, located in Minneapolis, has won the last three Class AAA state titles in Minnesota ... Jarvis Johnson is headed to Minnesota on a scholarship, but has missed the last couple of games with an injury ... Anim is one of the top contenders for Mr. Basketball and picked up a scholarship offer from Marquette this week ... Sophomore Goanar Mar is one of the top class of 2017 prospects in Minnesota ... The Islanders are currently ranked No. 1 among 3A schools in the state by Minnesota Basketball News … Joshua Collins is another of the Islanders’ college recruits, as he has committed to North Dakota, while Jeffrey Daubanton is headed to Briar Cliff … DeLaSalle has won 14 straight games since starting the season 1-2 with losses to Apple Valley and North Scott (IA) … the Islanders play seven games against non-Minnesota teams this winter.


Kimberly Papermakers

Coach: Lucky Wurtz, 7th year

Enrollment: 1,457

Top Players: Ben Boots (6-2, Sr., 16.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg), Austin Weyenberg (6-3, Sr., 8.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg), Jake Johnson (6-3, Sr., 7.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg), Colin Tessner (6-0, Sr., 6.5 ppg), Jordan Janssen (6-3, Jr., 6.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg), Will Chevalier (6-7, Soph., 3.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg).

2014-15 Record: 13-1 (Through games of Feb. 2)

Notes: Perhaps the biggest surprise thus far in the high school basketball season in the state of Wisconsin ... Most expected the Papermakers to have a very competitive team, but few expected Wurtz to lead the team to a 13-1 record playing in one of the top leagues in the state ... Boots is receiving Division II interest from Hillsdale College in Michigan ... Kimberly is a physically and mentally strong team that features good overall size and tremendous toughness.

Coach’s Comments: “Leadership, team unity and attitude are strengths. Height against really big teams is a concern for our team this season.”


7:45 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7


Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders

Coach: Jerry Kline Jr.

Enrollment: 1,273

Top Players: Donnell Gresham (6-2, Sr., 12.9 ppg), Sam Neumann (6-5, Sr., 20.1 ppg), Joe Rosga (6-2, Sr., 19.7 ppg), Daniel Oturu (6-5, Frosh. 5.1 ppg), Jordan Ammons (6-4, Jr., 8.9 ppg).

2014-15 Record: 17-3 (Through games of Feb. 3)

Notes: Gresham has signed to play at NCAA Division I Northeastern ... Neumann has signed to play at DI Montana State and became the Raiders’ all-time leading scorer early this season ... Rosga is also considered a scholarship player, but has not decided where he will play next season ... Oturu is one of the top freshmen in Minnesota ... Cretin-Derham Hall is the alma mater of current Minnesota Twins manager and former Milwaukee Brewer great Paul Molitor ... The Raiders compete in the Suburban East Conference and are alone in first place in the league … Cretin-Derham Hall was the No. 1 ranked team in Class AAAA in the Breakdown’s preseason poll.

Coach’s Comments: “We expect to be very competitive and contend for a state championship. We will play an up tempo style and will need to shoot the ball well as well as rebound. Aggressive non-conference schedule should prepare us well for post season.”


Stevens Point Panthers

Coach: Scott Anderson, 6th year

Enrollment: 2,139

Top Players: Trev Anderson (6-2, Jr., 23.6 ppg, 5.4 apg), Sam Hauser (6-6, Jr., 18.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Joey Hauser (6-7, Frosh., 10.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg), Andrew Ruzek (6-6, Sr., 3.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg), Jamison Kryshak (5-11, Jr., 4.6 ppg), Jake Hoffmeister (6-0, Jr., 3.1 ppg).

2014-15 Record: 17-0 (Through games of Feb. 2)

Notes: The Panthers are ranked No. 1 among Division 1 schools in Wisconsin behind the stellar play of the state’s top two juniors -- Trev Anderson and Sam Hauser ... Anderson has scholarship offers from Drake, Lehigh and South Dakota State while Hauser has offers from Creighton, Marquette and Northern Iowa ... Both players are three-year starters and clutch players for Stevens Point, which also features the state’s top-ranked freshman in 6-foot-7 forward Joey Hauser, the younger brother of Sam ... Stevens Point has won 23 games in a row over three seasons in the Wisconsin Valley Conference.

Coach’s Comments: “Overall skill level, offensive firepower, size, competitiveness and rebounding are strengths. Defensive development is our top concern.”




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