I’m not giving up hope yet. Deep down I really believe that the Class B boys state tournament will happen.
It has to happen. In the chance that it doesn’t take place, it’s never too early to start talking about the 2020-21 season.
With that, let’s predict what teams will win their respective regions next season.
Calvin Kraft brings back 12 student-athletes and this past season he had nine underclassmen on the roster. Five players stand 6-foot-3 or taller and incoming sophomores Carson Bartholomay (6-foot-5) and Caden Amerman (6-foot-3) should see their duties increased next year.
The Eagles also have a talented group of guards coming back that includes incoming senior Dawson Lemna and incoming junior Alijah Dixon.
After suffering a heartbreaking loss in the quarterfinals this past season as the No. 2-seed, the Eagles will be eager to get back to work. Its been 24 years since Enderlin made the state tournament but with the pieces they have coming back that drought could very easily end next season.
In the last handful of seasons the Spoilers have been able to maintain their success no matter how many seniors they lose. Since the 2013-14 season, Grafton has collected 14 wins or more each year and that trend shouldn’t end in 2020-21.
The Spoilers knocked off No. 3-seed Thompson in the Region 2 quarterfinals before losing to the eventual champions in Hillsboro-Central Valley.
Incoming seniors Stevan Garza and Justin Garza are two top guards in the 2021 recruiting class and I expect even bigger things out of them next season. Grafton also brings back a 3-point threat in incoming senior Brandon Albrecht.
The Spoilers also have an incoming sophomore forward in Maxwell Dumas and it’ll be interesting to see how his game continues to evolve.
Grafton loses just one senior in Liam Perez as seven juniors return. Hatton-Northwood (seven seniors), H-CV (seven seniors) and Thompson (five seniors) lose some very important pieces so I expect Region 2 to be down a little bit next year. That leaves the door open for Grafton to get back to the state tournament.
Region 3 is going to be tough again next season. A handful of teams lose a couple of key players but those teams also bring back important pieces. As wide open as it may be I think Oakes is the early favorite.
The Tornadoes return incoming seniors Steele Hansen and Garret Meehl along with 6-foot-3 incoming senior Ashton Biesterfeld who can stretch the floor. Hansen is a scorer and is very active on defense while Meehl has the green light from anywhere beyond the arc. Both student-athletes earned All-District honors.
Dalton Schmit had a strong second half of the 2019-20 season and Oakes will need him to carry that over into his senior season.
Oakes won’t have Alex Nelson or Carter Deering but its depth is strong enough to win Region 3 in 2020-21.
If the 2019-20 Class B state tournament does happen, the Indians are one of the favorites to bring home the title. If the tournament doesn’t happen, FW-M is the favorite to win region 4 next season.
The Indians lose two starters in Douglas Yankton (second-team all-state) and Jerry Lenoir but bring back about 66 percent of their scoring. Big man Bronson Walter (6-foot-10) will be back for his senior season and incoming junior guard Jayden Yankton will look to improve on his solid sophomore season.
Jayden Yankton averaged 12.5 points per game and shot 41 percent from beyond the arc. Walter has been a problem for many teams for the past few seasons and averaged 13.8 points per game, 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.
With three starters back including incoming senior JaeShaun Shaw, the Indians are going to be tough yet again in Region 4.
Two years ago the Troopers finished 3-17 but increased that win total by eight games this past season. Region 5 has been dominated by Shiloh Christian the last few seasons but if Garrison can build off a solid season along with a hard working offseason I could see them reaching the region title game and even advancing to the 2020-21 state tournament.
The Troopers do, however, lose a talented guard in Dawson Wimer and 5-foot-6 guard Clay Bendickson but 11 of their 13 student-athletes return for the 2020-21 season. One of the top recruits in the 2023 returns in incoming sophomore Connor Kerzmann.
The 6-foot-0 guard is deadly from deep. Garrison also brings back a leader in Ty Wolken as Justin Folk’s team will have eight seniors next season.
Garrison may have lost 12 games this past season but half of them were by 10 points or less. I can see the Troopers making a big jump in the win column next season.
The Raiders have two District 11 All-Tournament student-athletes coming back. The Region 6 squad will lose senior Wyatt Schatz but incoming seniors Payton Martin and Hunter Fletschock return.
Martin (6-foot-2 guard) and Fletschock (6-foot-5 forward) are a solid one-two punch for Doug Martin’s team. The Raiders scored like some of the best Class B teams did this past season as they averaged 63.4 points per game and scored 70-plus points in nine games.
D-A lost to Rugby twice last season by an average of 40 points. But with the Panthers losing five seniors including first-team all-state player in Jaden Hamilton I think that the Raiders can come out on top of Region 6 next season.
The Raiders made it to the Region 6 semifinals and lost to Our Redeemer’s but defeated Nedrose 67-55 for third-place. I also like the height that D-A’s lineup offers. They have four players 6-foot-2 or taller as Fletschock and incoming senior Matthew Jund (6-foot-4) are the tallest players on the roster.
With Payton Martin and Fletschock coming back along with incoming senior Josh Marquart and seven other players I think the Raiders can compete for a region title in 2020-21.
Its been an impressive run by Beulah the last seven seasons. Just once have the Miners not reached 20 or more wins in that stretch. It was another 20-plus win season for Jeremy Brandt and his crew and in 2020-21 it’ll be business as usual for the Region 7 squad.
The Miners will miss 6-foot-6 center Jonah Larson but incoming junior Trey Brandt still has the keys to the car and will take another step forward next season in his already tremendous high school career. Trey Brandt is the top player in the 2022 recruiting class and will find himself on the first-team all-state list next season.
As much as losing Larson hurts Beulah, the Miners welcome back incoming junior Trapper Skalsky and incoming senior Dawson Zuroff who combined for 22 points in the Region 7 championship game. To replace Larson’s height, incoming senior Carson Weigum will see an increased role.
Beulah will have a heavy upperclassmen type team in 2020-21 as 10 student-athletes will either be seniors or juniors. I like the Miners chances next season to win Region 7 and make it back to the state tournament for the fourth straight season.
A final possession turnover stopped Powers Lake from reaching the Region 8 title game in back-to-back seasons. The Ranchers lost to Lewis & Clark, North Shore in the semifinals this past season and finished with a 19-5 record.
The Ranchers will be without big men Isaac Nordloef and Wyatt Puckett but nine student-athletes return from their 2019-20 roster. That includes scorers Carter Rystedt (sr.), Tyson Enget (so.) and Noah Fredrickson (sr.).
Enget, a top player in the 2023 class, finished with a team-high 15 points in the Ranchers 66-43 third-place victory over White Shield.
With two post players heading out, head coach Jordan Carlson will have to give expanded roles to incoming senior forwards Tucker Kearsley and Noah Schroeder. The Ranchers may need to get some more scoring out of its bench players but I think with what this team returns a Region 8 title in 2020-21 is possible.