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SBLive's Minnesota boys basketball Power 25 (Feb. 6)

Orono leads into the top 15 while Alexandria falls in the rankings

National high school top stars, best boys basketball performances of the week (Jan. 30-Feb. 5)

Eden Prairie girls basketball gets hot in second half, defeats Minnetonka

Chaska girls basketball runs around Benilde-St. Margaret's

1. Park Center (17-0)

Last week’s ranking: 1

This week’s games: Feb. 7 at Rogers (5-13), Feb. 9 at No. 6 Totino-Grace (11-5)

Ranking rationale: The undefeated season was kept alive without any strife last week. The Pirates beat up on a trio of teams by a combined 94 points. Their toughest opponent on paper was Blaien (10-7), which Park Center beat 97-70 Jan. 31 in Blaine. The Pirates led 51-36 at halftime. CJ O’Hara dropped 39 points. Two nights later, Park Center won 88-69 at Spring Lake Park (5-12). 

The Panthers were in striking distance down just 43-36 at halftime, but the Pirates woke up to pull away in the second half. O’Hara led four teammates in double figures with 19. Park Center took no prisoners in a 92-44 home win on Feb. 3 vs. St. Louis Park (2-16). 

Park Center has a few more ranked games, but the toughest remaining might be coming up vs. Totino-Grace with first place in the Northwest Suburban Conference on the line.

2. Lakeville North (15-2)

Last week’s ranking: 2

This week’s games: Feb. 7 at No. 9 Lakeville South (12-5), Feb. 10 vs. No. 21 Farmington (9-8)

Ranking rationale: A 3-0 week keeps Lakeville North comfortably at No. 2 once again. The Panthers first won 71-55 Jan. 31 at Rosemount (6-11). The Panthers led by 11 at halftime and were paced overall by 19 points from Nolan Winter. On Feb. 3, Lakeville North took care of a Prior Lake team that’s on the brink of the top 25, 79-60. 

It was just 33-26 at halftime before the home team pulled away. Winter scored 24. On Feb. 4, the Panthers dispatched section rival Rochester Century (10-8) 76-58. Jack Robison and Hudson Vaith led with 17 in a game they were in control from the start and up 11 at the half.

3. Wayzata (14-3)

Last week’s ranking: 4

This week’s games: Feb. 7 vs. St. Michael-Albertville (8-9), Feb. 10 at No. 10 Hopkins (13-6)

Ranking rationale: The Trojans are showing no signs of stopping. They increased their win streak to 14 after thumping current No. 11 East Ridge (12-5) 88-68 on Jan. 31 and current No. 13 Buffalo (15-3) 77-49 on Feb. 3, both at home. 

Hayden Tibbits poured in 31 and Spencer Hall added 25 against East Ridge, a team that also came into the game with confidence. Wayzata caught Buffalo on the second end of a back-to-back, but it likely didn’t matter. The Trojans suffocated the Bison and led by 15 at the half. 

Tibbits scored 21 and Jackson McAndrew 14 in a game where their services weren’t needed in the closing minutes. They went 6-0 through their first round through the Lake Conference. We’ll see if they can double up each team that’s seeking revenge.

Photo by Earl Ebensteiner

Photo by Earl Ebensteiner

4. Minnetonka (14-3)

Last week’s ranking: 5

This week’s games: Feb. 7 vs. No. 13 Buffalo (14-3), Feb. 8 vs. Cretin-Derham Hall (9-8), Feb. 11 at No. 14 Shakopee (10-6)

Ranking rationale: After a 1-2 start to the season with a loss at Chaska (6-11) they’d like back, the Skippers are rolling. They’ve won 13 of the last 14 with the lone loss coming to a team that’s won 14 in a row, No. 3 Wayzata (14-3). Minnetonka went 3-0 last week at home. 

It thumped St. Michael-Albertville (8-9) 79-63 on Jan. 31, beat a reeling Eden Prairie (8-8) team that was No. 22 at the time, 92-72 on Feb. 3, and took down previous No. 3 Eastview (13-4) 98-84. 

The STMA game wasn’t even as close as the score may indicate. Minnetonka led by 25 at the break and was able to get reserves in. Andy Stefonowicz led with 20 points. Eastview hadn’t given up more than 77 in a game all season. Stefonowicz was stellar with 35 on the night as Minnetonka pulled away from a 44-37 halftime advantage.

5. Eastview (13-4)

Last week’s ranking: 3

This week’s games: Feb. 7 vs. No. 20 Eagan (11-7), Feb. 9 at Burnsville (8-9)

Ranking rationale: Going 2-1 last week against three ranked teams is pretty solid. Unfortunately for the Lightning, one of those losses was to a neighbor in the rankings, so it leads to a drop to No. 5. 

Eastview ground out a 76-75 win at No. 21 Farmington (9-8) on Jan. 31. The Lightning overcame a 40-32 halftime deficit and Jonathan Mekonnen scored 29 on the night. On Feb. 3, Eastview won its fifth game in a row with a 79-65 home win vs. current No. 14 Shakopee (10-6). No comeback was needed this time as Eastview kept adding to a seven-point halftime lead and received 23 points from Mekonnen. 

The Lightning scored more points in the next game than in any during the win streak, but current No. 3 Minnetonka (14-3) had more firepower to win 98-84 Feb. 4 in Minnetonka. Mekonnen and Dylan Omweno each scored 20, but a 35-point night on the other side by Andy Stefonowicz made the difference.

6. Totino-Grace (12-5)

Last week’s ranking: 9

This week’s games: Feb. 7 at Robbinsdale Armstrong (7-11), Feb. 9 at No. 1 Park Center (17-0), Feb. 11 at Elk River (7-9)

Ranking rationale: The Eagles went 3-0 last week with a couple blowouts preceding a nailbiter of a win over a ranked team. Their only losses this season came to either the top two teams in the rankings or two a trio of talented outstate teams. On Jan. 30, Totino-Grace hosted Champlin Park (5-10) and rolled 97-69. 

The Eagles have scored 80-plus in five of the last six games and did so Feb. 1 in a 96-45 win at Coon Rapids (5-13). Twelve players scored with 19 by Dothan Ijadimbola’s 19 leading the way. On Feb. 4, T-G hosted a talented Hopkins team hungry for a win after a few losses in recent weeks. 

The Eagles held on for an 86-84 non-conference win. While they don’t have a bad loss on the resume, this was big as it was their second ranked win of the season. Totino-Grace is still in the hunt for at least a share of the Northwest Suburban Conference title if it can pull off the upset of Park Center this week to salvage a 1-1 split vs. the Pirates.

Photo by Earl Ebensteiner

Photo by Earl Ebensteiner

7. Mahtomedi (15-2)

Last week’s ranking: 7

This week’s games: Feb. 7 at St. Thomas Academy (13-5), Feb. 9 vs. Hill-Murray (1-16)

Ranking rationale: Although the competition hasn’t been too stiff, Mahtomedi’s 10-game winning streak is still impressive. The Zephyrs haven’t lost since Dec. 30, and even that was a respectable 77-68 neutral floor loss to a Minnetonka team that’s since soared to No. 3. The last nine wins have all come by 13 or more points. 

Last week was a 2-0 week for Mahtomedi with an 84-51 victory vs. Tartan (12-5) and 83-62 win vs. Two Rivers (7-10). Will Underwood led with 27 points vs. Tartan in a game the Zephyrs led by 19 at halftime. 

Underwood had 26 the next game to join 29 by Owen Carlson. Mahtomedi pulled away from a 41-31 halftime lead. The Zephyrs are 10-0 in the Metro East and can all but clinch the title by completing the sweep of St. Thomas Academy (9-1 in conference) this week.

8. Benilde-St. Margaret’s (14-3)

Last week’s ranking: 11

This week’s games: Feb. 7 at New Prague (4-14), Feb. 9 vs. Bloomington Jefferson (8-8), Feb. 11 at Hermantown (14-4)

Ranking rationale: The Red Knights went 2-0 last week to re-enter the top 10. On Jan. 30, Benilde-St. Margaret’s dismantled current No. 15 Orono (12-5) 78-59 at home. B-SM led 34-26 at halftime. 

Christian Wiggins led with 24 points and Abu Keita had 22. That was Orono’s third loss in a row at the time, but the Spartans went on to beat previous No. 12 Alexandria (12-3) later in the week. On Feb. 2, the Red Knights eeked out an 84-82 home win vs. Chaska (6-11). 

The Hawks have been pesky all season and have a win over current No. 3 Minnetonka (14-3), so there’s no shame in needing to pull out a close one. It keeps B-SM tied atop the Metro West Conference at 5-1 with the tiebreaker on Chanhassen with another matchup remaining.

9. Lakeville South (12-5)

Last week’s ranking: 6

This week’s games: Feb. 7 vs. No. 2 Lakeville North (15-2), Feb. 9 vs. Chanhassen (9-8), Feb. 10 at Apple Valley (2-15)

Ranking rationale: It was a puzzling 1-1 week for Lakeville South. The Cougars started off strong with a 65-45 home win Jan. 31 vs. current No. 20 Eagan (11-7). The Cougars dominated all 36 minutes and received balanced scoring led by 16 points from Lauson Schmidt. 

It was their sixth win in seven games. On Feb. 3, South hit a bump in the road with a 53-49 loss at Burnsville (8-9). The Blaze have been playing better ball with four wins in their last five, but this is one the Cougars likely ought to have. South led this slugfest 17-16 at halftime but could not hold on. 

Jackson Ressler led with 13 points. Among Twin Cities metro teams in Class 4A, South is third in fewest points allowed per game (54.4), but more offense will be needed to make a postseason run. The Cougars can climb back up in the rankings if they can knock off their crosstown rival this week.

10. Hopkins (13-6)

Last week’s ranking: 8

This week’s games: Feb. 7 vs. Eden Prairie (8-8), Feb. 10 vs. No. 3 Wayzata (14-3)

Ranking rationale: The Royals have still yet to a lose to a non-ranked opponent, but they’ve been having trouble beating these teams as of late. Hopkins went 1-2 last week against three top-25 foes. It started Jan. 31 with a 60-57 loss to current No. 13 Buffalo (15-3). 

Anthony Smith’s 20 points weren’t enough for Hopkins to stave off the upstart squad. The Royals ended a two-game skid with an 80-69 win at previous No. 23 Edina (9-8) on Feb. 3. Edina led 41-36 at halftime before Hopkins took control late. Smith led again with 27. 

Playing on short rest the next day against current No. 6 Totino-Grace (12-5), which had two days off to prepare for the non-conference matchup, the Royals nearly beat the Eagles in their home nest, falling 86-84. Smith poured in 31 and Jayden Moore had 34 in a gallant effort.

11. East Ridge (12-5)

Last week’s ranking: 13

This week’s games: Feb. 7 vs. Minneapolis North (10-6), Feb. 10 vs. No. 23 White Bear Lake (11-4)

Ranking rationale: Despite a 1-1 week, East Ridge moves up a couple spots due to teams above them faltering and the one loss being fairly excusable. The Raptors would’ve liked to hang closer than 20 points with current No. 3 Wayzata (14-3), but the Trojans have won 14 a row and are tough in their own house. 

After the 88-68 loss on Jan. 31, which snapped East Ridge’s eight-game win streak, a new streak begins with a 66-43 win at Irondale (8-10). Irondale has played a lot of ranked teams close and beat current No. 25 Stillwater (11-7). 

East Ridge actually trailed 29-26 at the break but utterly dominated the second half to feel good heading into a pair of tough games this week. Alex Mattes scored a season high 30 points on 9-for-12 shooting and 9-for-9 from the free throw line. He had 22 at Wayzata.

12. DeLaSalle (15-4)

Last week’s ranking: 14

This week’s games: Feb. 7 at Holy Angels (5-12), Feb. 9 vs. Bloomington Kennedy (5-12)

Ranking rationale: The Islanders have hit their stride. They rolled to wins seven and eight in a row last week at home, beating Robbinsdale Cooper (11-6) 80-53 on Jan. 31 and St. Anthony Village (12-6) 89-53. 

Nasir Whitlock led with 28 points vs. Cooper and St. Anthony. It was home sweet home after 18 days since DeLaSalle’s last game on Harriet Island. There’s a good chance the Islanders could be on a 14-game win streak and in the top 10 going into their regular season finale at No. 3 Wayzata (14-3).

13. Buffalo (15-3)

Last week’s ranking: 15

This week’s games: Feb. 7 at No. 4 Minnetonka (14-3), Feb. 10 vs. Eden Prairie (8-8)

Ranking rationale: It was a successful week for Buffalo despite ending on a sour note. The Bison picked up their biggest win of the season, downing then-No. 8 Hopkins (13-6) 60-57 Jan. 31 on the road. Hopkins averages 79.4 points per game and has scored 64 or more in every other game this season. 

Leading scorer Nate Dahl was limited to nine points but Grady Guida picked up the slack with 16. Dahl made amends with 31 in a win two days later at Minneapolis Southwest (12-6). Playing the end of a back-to-back and three games in four days, all on the road, proved disastrous on Feb. 3. Red-hot No. 3 Wayzata (14-3) won its 14th in a row in a 77-49 win. 

The Bison are already up to three wins in the first go-round through the round robin Lake Conference schedule after just two Lake wins last season.

14. Shakopee (10-6)

Last week’s ranking: 16

This week’s games: Feb. 7 at Rosemount (6-11), Feb. 9 vs. No. 20 Eagan (11-7)

Ranking rationale: The Sabers went 1-1 last week, but they’ve yet to suffer a bad loss all season. Shakopee began with a 74-49 win vs. Apple Valley (2-15) on Jan. 31. 

Jalen Langsy led the team with 17 points in a game they had in control the whole way. Shakopee had a chance to stay in the South Suburban Conference title race a few nights later, but it couldn’t upset previous No. 3 Eastview (13-4), falling 79-65 on the road. It was only a 37-30 halftime deficit. Langsy again led with 17 points.

15. Orono (11-5)

Last week’s ranking: 20

This week’s games: Feb. 7 at Chaska (6-11), Feb. 9 vs. Hermantown (14-4), Feb. 10 vs. Chanhassen (9-8)

Ranking rationale: Orono continues to be one of the tougher teams to pin down this season. The Spartans got of to a 7-1 start to the season with quality wins vs. current No. 10 Hopkins (13-6) and one of the top teams in Class 2A, Minnehaha Academy (12-6). Orono didn’t lose a game to a Minnesota team until Jan. 17. 

It responded with three straight wins, only to lose three in a row. The losing streak continued last week with a 78-59 loss to conference rival and current No. 8 Benilde-St. Margaret’s (14-3). There’s not a ton of shame in that as Orono didn’t get a practice day to prep for the Monday road game against the red-hot Red Knights. It was 34-26 at halftime. Nolan Groves led with 15 points. 

The Spartans bounced back with an 85-38 win Feb. 2 at St. Louis Park (2-16) and a big win at previous No. 12 Alexandria (12-3). Orono fought back from a 48-40 deficit to stun the Cardinals. Leading scorer Isaiah Hagen poured in 32 points after 22 at SLP. FIve spots seems like a big jump this week, but Orono’s got the resume to warrant it.

16. Alexandria (12-3)

Last week’s ranking: 12

This week’s games: Feb. 9 vs. St. Cloud Tech (10-8), Feb. 10 vs. Bemidji (11-7)

Ranking rationale: Alexandria has yet to lose to a team currently outside the top 25, but the Cardinals have just one ranked win vs. current No. 17 Holy Family (16-2). The Cardinals have taken care of inferior competition, as they did Jan. 31 in an 80-39 vs. Sauk Rapids-Rice (7-10) and 67-33 Feb. 3 at Willmar (6-12). 

Playing a rested Orono (11-5) team the next day did not end well. The Cards got off to a good start up 48-40 at halftime, but they ran out of gas to drop to a foe that moved up to No. 15 this week. Fortunately for Alexandria, this was a non-conference loss as its a game back in the Central Lakes race.

17. Andover (13-5)

Last week’s ranking: 18

This week’s games: Feb. 8 vs. Anoka (8-8), Feb. 10 vs. Champlin Park (5-10)

Ranking rationale: The argument could be made that Andover deserves to be ranked higher. That will likely be the case if the Huskies can take care of business this week at home. They earned their second win over a current top-25 team with an 83-69 win Feb. 1 at previous No. 10 Maple Grove (13-4) to remain in second place and a game back in the Northwest Suburban Conference standings. 

Andover made mince meat out of a Maple Grove defense averaging 51.6 points per game allowed that hadn’t allowed more than 66 all season. Sam Musungu scored a game high 25 and Ben Kopetzki added 21. 

That capped a 2-0 week that began with a 97-82 home win vs. Rogers (5-13). Perhaps looking ahead to its revenge game at the Crimson, the Huskies only led 39-38 at halftime before pulling away against the Royals. Kopetzki had 29, Chase Pemberton had 25 and Musungu had 21.

18. Holy Family (16-2)

Last week’s ranking: 17

This week’s games: Feb. 7 at Southwest Christian (6-12), Feb. 10 vs. Hutchinson (5-12)

Ranking rationale: The Fire have a good chance at not losing a game the rest of the regular season and beyond. However, it may be tough to move up much in the rankings with no top-25 teams remaining on the schedule and five of eight coming against sub-.500 squads. 

The Fire went 2-0 last week at home with a 66-43 blowout of a good Class 3A Delano (13-6) squad and an 80-37 rout of Mayer Lutheran (0-17). It wasn’t always easy against Delano as the Fire had to fight back from a 28-21 halftime deficit. 

Boden Kapke led with 21 points in that one and 26 against Mayer Lutheran. Holy Family leads its class at 80.9 points per game.

19. Maple Grove (13-4)

Last week’s ranking: 10

This week’s games: Feb. 7 at Centennial (3-14), Feb. 9 at Blaine (10-7)

Ranking rationale: The Crimson lost consecutive games for the first time this season. One was a close one and the other was to a ranked team, but an 0-2 week makes for a decent drop in the rankings. 

On Jan. 30, Maple Grove lost at home to Osseo (9-9) 58-54. The Crimson couldn’t hang on to a 26-21 halftime lead. Henry Stang led with 15 points. Maple Grove allows a Class 4A low 51.9 points per game even despite its worst showing of the season, an 83-69 loss at home Feb. 1 vs. current No. 17 Andover (11-5). 

The Huskies had this one in the bag from the start and led 49-27 at the half. Lincoln Palbecki led Maple Grove with 16. The Crimson have a good record, but they’re 1-3 vs. current top-25 squads.

20. Eagan (11-7)

Last week’s ranking: 25

This week’s games: Feb. 7 at No. 5 Eastview (13-4), Feb. 9 at No. 14 Shakopee (10-6)
Ranking rationale: The Wildcats have won four of their last five and have not lost to a sub-.500 team this season. 

They went 1-1 last week with a 65-45 setback at previous No. 6 Lakeville South (12-5) on Jan. 31 and a 60-59 win vs. No. 21 Farmington (9-8) on Feb. 3. Oscar Khazon led with 12 points vs. South. 

Emmanuel Schmitter scored 25 as Eagan erased a one-point halftime deficit. The Wildcats would do well to split a pair of daunting road games this week.

21. Farmington (9-8)

Last week’s ranking: 21

This week’s games: Feb. 7 vs. Burnsville (8-9), Feb. 10 at No. 2 Lakeville North (15-2)

Ranking rationale: My heart goes out to the Tigers. They’re a talented team capable of playing with anyone in the state, save for perhaps No. 1 Park Center (17-0). But lately, they can’t find a way to beat anybody. 

Farmington’s currently in the grips of a five-game losing streak by a combined 12 points. Each game was to a team that’s been in or now in the top 25. Eventually, the Tigers will have to pull out some of these games, but I’m not quite ready to drop them out completely. Last week started with a 76-75 home loss on Jan. 31 to then-No. 3 Eastview (13-4). Baiden Bean scored 24 on the night for Farmington, which led 40-32 at halftime. 

Another halftime lead, this time 31-30, slipped away in a 60-59 loss at current No. 20 Eagan (11-7) on Feb. 3. The Tigers have a good chance to bounce back at home in their next game and could flip the momentum by going on the road and pulling off a huge upset.

22. Brainerd (13-3)

Last week’s ranking: 24

This week’s games: Feb. 7 at St. Cloud Apollo (2-16), Feb. 9 vs. Sauk Rapids-Rice (7-10)

Ranking rationale: After their first top-25 win of the season Jan. 26 vs. current No. 16 Alexandria (12-3), the Warriors have not had a let down. They’re on a four-game win streak and went 2-0 at home last week with a couple blowouts. 

Brainerd wiped out Willmar (6-12) 100-70 on Jan. 31 with Eli Hoelz leading with 24 points. In the first of back-to-back games with St. Cloud Apollo, the Warriors handled business with a 98-63 victory on Feb. 3. 

John Pecharich was the lead scorer with 28. The Warriors are undefeated in the Central Lakes Conference with a return trip to Alexandria likely to determine the champion.

23. White Bear Lake (11-4)

Last week’s ranking: Unranked

This week’s games: Feb. 10 at No. 11 East Ridge (12-5), Feb. 11 at No. 24 Edina (9-8)

Ranking rationale: White Bear Lake has not lost to a team that wasn’t in the top 25 at game time. The Bears bounced back from a loss to No. 17 Holy Family (16-2) a couple weeks ago by helping to nearly knock previous No. 19 Stillwater (11-7) out of the top 25. WBL won its only game last week, beating the Ponies 67-50 Feb. 2 at home. 

Jack Janicki led with 22 points and Jack Misgin and Wyatt Hawks each added 17. The Bears now do not own a win over teams in the top 25, but they’ve handled the teams they should.

24. Edina (9-8)

Last week’s ranking: 23

This week’s games: Feb. 7 at Woodbury (4-14), Feb. 10 vs. St. Michael-Albertville (8-9), Feb. 11 vs. No. 23 White Bear Lake (11-4)

Ranking rationale: Yet another 1-1 week equates to just a one-spot drop for the Hornets. Edina began with a 73-66 home win Jan. 31 against a reeling Eden Prairie (8-8) team that fell outside the top 25 for the first time all season. 

It was 40 all at halftime before Edina pulled away. Daniel Molhoek’s 24 points matched Luke Rapp on the opposition. On Feb. 3, Edina was unable to match its season-long three-game win streak with an 80-69 home loss to then-No. 8 Hopkins (13-6). 

Edina led 41-36 at the break. Molhoek led with 15. Edina likely needs a 2-1 week to stay in the top 25, but it could make a move upward if it can defeat the team above it.

25. Stillwater (11-7)

Last week’s ranking: 19

This week’s games: Feb. 10 vs. Forest Lake (7-11)

Ranking rationale: The Ponies’ first losing streak of the season has them on the cusp of falling outside the top 25. They’re on a two-game skid after going 0-2 last week with a 66-63 result Jan. 30 at Forest Lake and 67-50 Feb. 2 at current No. 23 White Bear Lake (11-4). 

I’m sure Stillwater loves the chance at quick revenge with plenty of time to rest and practice in advance of the Forest Lake rematch. Stillwater led by two at halftime and received another stellar game from top scorer Max Shikenjanski, but his 27 wasn’t enough to stave off the Rangers. 

He was held to 17 in a loss to a hard-charging WBL team. Stillwater beat WBL the first time around and also is one of just two teams to beat No. 7 Mahtomedi (15-2), so the resume is still solid.