With some boys basketball games in the books and girls basketball games beginning, the season is fully underway. Here’s a look at the top five Minnesota girls and boys basketball teams in the area in the early going.
1. Battle Lake (2-0)
Last week: won at Hancock 82-33; won at Ashby 100-39
Next up: at Rothsay, Friday, 7:30 p.m.; at Wheaton-Herman-Norcross, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
Battle Lake had four guys in double digits in scoring in their opening win of the season with Tony Ukkelberg with 26, Andrew VanErp with 16, Petric VanErp with 14 and Nick Trosdahl with 10.
Those four will lead Battle Lake all season. They are incredibly athletic and can jump out of the building. In their second win of the season, Petric VanErp dropped 27, Ukkelberg had 20 and Trosdahl had 18.
Wheaton-Herman-Norcross will be a good test to see just how big of a hold the Battlers have on Section 6A.
2. Moorhead (5-0)
Last week: won at Brainerd 62-54; won at home over Alexandria 69-47; won at Buffalo 74-53; won at Anoka-Ramsey over Elk River 62-60; won at Fergus Falls 84-59
Next up: host Rogers, Friday, 7:30 p.m.; at St. Michael-Albertville, Tuesday, 7:15 p.m.
Matt Bye (left) and Nick Wiesmann (ball) have helped the Spuds to a 5-0 start. Photo by Dave Wallis/Forum
It’s been an exciting time to be a Spud to open this basketball season. Moorhead opened with a come-from-behind win over Brainerd, rolled Alexandria, Buffalo and Fergus Falls and used a buzzer beater to beat Elk River.
The scoring has come from all over the place between Shane Steckler , who had seven 3-pointers in the first half and tied the school record with eight against Buffalo, Matt Bye, who hit the buzzer beater against Elk River and Cody Dorow, who has scored 29, 26, 23, 16 and 22 for the Spuds.
A huge addition in the starting lineup has been Leif Engen, who is turning into a double-double machine, down low next to big man Nick Wiesmann.
Last season, it took the Spuds 12 games to get five wins and they finished 4-3 in Section 8AAAA. Spuds are 5-0 and 3-0 in section.
3. Detroit Lakes (2-0)
Last week: won at home over Hawley 84-83; won at home over Staples-Motley 93-57
Next up: host Crosby-Ironton, Friday, 7:15 p.m.; host Wadena-Deer Creek, Tuesday, 7:15 p.m.
DL’s Ryan Cihak (31) was the hero in the Lakers 84-83 win over Hawley to open the season. He hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds to go. Photo by Brian Basham/DL Newspapers
DL won the opener against Hawley that featured 20 seniors. The Lakers trailed 72-55 wtih 7:48 to go, but came back and won.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that was to 2A Hawley, which is a class below 3A DL. Hawley has a lot of weapons, but they also lost to DL’s 8AAA rival Fergus Falls 82-77.
DL has weapons of its own. Christian Hedstrom had 23, Ryan Cihak had 18, Corbin Duncan had 15 and Sam Champa had 10 against Hawley. Lakers have size, seen in the fact they held 6-foot-4, 220-pound North Dakota State tight end commit Ben Ellefson to just 13 points.
Hedstrom had 18, Ben Hokanson had 18 and Cihak had 10 in the Game 2 win for the Lakers.
4. Wheaton-Herman-Norcross (2-0)
Last week: won at home over Ashby 66-55; won at Rothsay 58-44
Next up: host Park Christian, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; host Battle Lake, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
W-H-N lost four of its 26 games last season, two of which came to Battle Lake in terrible fashion 71-32 and 74-45.
That will be the problem for the Warriors. Can Carson Maudal, Jacob Pederson, Bailey Anderson and company compete with Battle Lake? Will find that out Tuesday.
5. Hawley (1-2)
Last week: lost 84-83 at Detroit Lakes; lost at home against Fergus Falls 82-77; won at Breckenridge 68-57
Next up: at Ada-Borup, Friday, 7:30 p.m.; at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Hawley suffered two tough losses against Class 3A teams to start the season, but came back to beat section rival Breckenridge. Photo by Brian Basham/DL Newspapers
Not quite ready to give up on Hawley just yet. There’s a good chance this No. 5 spot switches between Barnesville, W-H-N, Hawley, Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, Fergus Falls and maybe even Breckenridge.
The benefit of the doubt right now is going to Hawley. The Nuggets blew a 17-point lead in the second half to Detroit Lakes in the opener. The Nuggets had a 14-point deficit they closed to two in the second half against Fergus Falls, but could get no closer. Those losses are frustrating, but forgivable, considering both teams play in the class above Hawley.
The Nuggets got first-year coach Nathan Stoa his first win over Breckenridge in a game in which they trailed by 17 thanks to a career-high 29 points from Aaron Regnier.
Nuggets got 31 points from Ben Ellefson in the loss to Fergus Falls and 25 points from Dillon Omberg in the loss against Detroit Lakes. They certainly got weapons.
1. Hawley (1-0)
Last week: win at home over Lake Park-Audubon 59-14
Next up: host Breckenridge, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; host Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
Karyssa Hovelson (center) gives Hawley size alongside Mira Ellefson. Photo by Michael Vosburg/Forum
Mira Ellefson and Olivia Olson nearly outscored the entire Lake Park-Audubon team with 13 points each in the season opener for the Nuggets. Nuggets outrebounded LP-A 30-17 and forced 36 turnovers.
There’s a whole lot of seniors on this Nuggets team. They got size, they can shoot, they can create their own shot and all coach Bill Gottenborg’s teams know defense.
Don’t see Hawley losing the No. 1 spot anytime soon.
2. Ada-Borup (1-0)
Last week: win at home over Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 64-44
Next up: at Hillsboro-Central Valley, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; at Norman County East-Ulen-Hitterdal, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
Haley Poehler (ball) had eight points in Ada-Borup’s season opener. Photo by Michael Vosburg/Forum
If Hawley were to trip up, Ada-Borup will be waiting to move into that No. 1 spot.
As they normally do, Ada-Borup’s scoring came from all over the place in their season opener. Lexi Nelson had 15 points, Lexi Merkens had 13 points, Miki Lee had 12 points and Morgan Miller and Haley Poehler each had eight points.
This is what the Cougars do. They get up big, give younger players playing time and the train rolls on. That was a Class 2A D-G-F team that Class 1A Ada-Borup just rolled by 20.
3. Pelican Rapids
Last week: no games
Next up: Tip-off Class, Saturday, at Hokpins vs. Dover-Eyota, 6 p.m.; at Perham, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
Mackenzie Korf (ball) will make her return this season after tearing her ACL in February. Photo by Chris Murphy/Forum
No games yet for Pelican Rapids. The Vikings wait for Mackenzie Korf’s first game since tearing her ACL on Feb. 22.
Last week: no games
Next up: at Pillager, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; host Menahga, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
No games yet for Verndale, as the Pirates return senior Elyssa Kern, juniors Jordyn Glenz, Sarah Moenkedick and Keila Schmitz, along with sophomore Shania Glenz.
They were young last season and went 25-4. This season, the Pirates are experienced and are built for an even bigger push in two years.
5. Detroit Lakes
Last week: no games
Next up: at Alexandria, Friday, 7:30 p.m.; at Wadena-Deer Creek, Tuesday, 7:15 p.m.
DL has plenty of returning weapons in search of their first section title since 2009. Photo by Brian Basham/DL Newpspapers
New York Mills drops out of the top five after a big loss to Perham. Could be a lot of rotating at the No. 5 spot in the girls’ rankings, but DL could provide some stability.
The Lakers have three returning starters, including Shay Nielsen, who averaged 17 points and nine rebounds last season. She’s headed to the University of Minnesota for shot put next season, so there’s plenty of strength in the middle. She also had 470 points last season to set the school record for points in a season.
When defenses collapse on Nielsen, the Lakers have seniors Kyley Foster and Hailey Jorgenson and junior Kyra Vagle for her to dish the ball to for jumpers.
DL has their returning points leader in Nielsen, assist/steals leader in Foster and 3-point specialist in Jorgenson, who hit 33.9 percent of her 3-pointers, back from a team that won 20 games.
Chris Murphy can be reached at 701-241-5548 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SeeMurphsTweets for Minnesota prep updates and smart alecky remarks about sports, movies, music and life in general.