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SBLive's Minnesota high school boys basketball Power 25 (Feb. 27)

Despite a loss, Park Center remains on top, and Buffalo continues to rise

Photos: Buffalo boys basketball defeats Hopkins

Minnesota high school sports scores

National high school top stars, best girls basketball performances of the week (Feb. 20-26)

1. Park Center (22-1)

Last week’s ranking: 1

This week’s games: Feb. 28 at Osseo (13-11), March 3 at No. 20 Maple Grove (17-6)

Ranking rationale: Well, who saw that loss coming? It would’ve been an extraordinary feat for Park Center to go 25-0 in the regular season, but few could have seen the Pirates’ perfect record taken down in this fashion. Elk River (11-11), a team Park Center throttled by 48 on the road on Jan. 24, stunned Park Center on its home floor, 73-70 on Feb. 24. 

It’s not enough to drop the Pirates in the rankings as they still have the best resume by leaps and bounds, but this makes them look more mortal with the playoffs coming in less than two weeks. 

This came two days after Park Center all but locked up the Northwest Suburban Conference championship with a win in its only meeting against No. 12 Andover (17-6), which has two NSC losses. Park Center owns seven wins over currently ranked squads.

2. Lakeville North (22-2)

Last week’s ranking: 2

This week’s games: Feb. 28 at No. 18 Shakopee (14-10), March 3 at Prior Lake (12-12)

Ranking rationale: The Panthers cruised to a 2-0 week. Lakeville North extended its win streak to 15 with a 63-39 win Feb. 21 vs. previous No. 19 Eagan (14-10) and Feb. 23 80-48 vs. Apple Valley (3-21). 

Eagan’s held its own in the rugged South Suburban Conference and was within five at halftime. North held its opponent to 16 second half points to pull away. Nolan Winter, one of 10 Minnesota Mr. Basketball finalists, scored a game-high 21 points and again with 24 vs. Apple Valley. 

North has clinched at least a share of the conference title and will have it outright with a win in its last two games or an Eastview loss in one of its last three.

3. Wayzata (19-4)

Last week’s ranking: 4

This week’s games: Feb. 28 at No. 9 DeLaSalle (21-4), March 3 at No. 10 Buffalo (20-5)

Ranking rationale: After their 17-game win streak was snapped last week, the Trojans bounced back with a 2-0 week. It started with an 89-65 romp Feb. 21 at No. 5 Minnetonka (18-6). 

Top-10 Minnesota Mr. Basketball finalist Hayden Tibbits scored a game-high 26 points. A Feb. 23 game vs. White Bear Lake was canceled due to snow, so Wayzata was well-rested when it met one of the top teams in Class 2A, Minneapolis North. 

The Trojans came away with a 102-67 road win against the Polars. Wayzata hung 61 in the first half and was led for the day by Tibbits’ 28 and 23 for Jackson McAndrew. Wayzata is rolling again heading into a big matchup against one of the hottest teams in 3A, DeLaSalle, and 4A, Buffalo.

Photo by Earl Ebensteiner

Photo by Earl Ebensteiner

4. Totino-Grace (16-7)

Last week’s ranking: 3

This week’s games: Feb. 28 vs. Centennial (5-18), March 1 vs. No. 5 Minnetonka (18-6), March 3 at No. 12 Andover (17-6)

Ranking rationale: The Class 3A Eagles have still yet to lose to a team in their class or lower this season, but their latest blunder was perhaps the least excusable of them all. Osseo (13-11) has been up and down all season. It lost at T-G in the first meeting in January 94-73 but was on the uptick on Feb. 21 when it pulled off the 51-43 upset. 

The Eagles led 27-20 at halftime but the offense ran dry as Patrick Bath’s 13 points led the team on the day. Minnesota Mr. Basketball top 10 finalist Taison Chaitman was held to eight. Credit to T-G, it’s never lost two in a row all season. 

The Eagles took out their frustration three nights later in an 84-47 home win vs. Spring Lake Park (7-17). T-G needs to win at least one of two ranked games coming up or it risks falling out of the top five.

5. Minnetonka (18-6)

Last week’s ranking: 5

This week’s games: March 1 at No. 4 Totino-Grace (16-7), March 3 at Eden Prairie (10-12)

Ranking rationale: There was a lot of tumult in the top 10 this week, so Minnetonka hangs onto its spot despite a nasty loss. 

The Skippers fell 89-65 Feb. 21 vs. current No. 3 Wayzata (19-4). It was only an eight-point game at halftime but they didn’t have the firepower to hang in until the end. Ibrahim El-Amin led Minnetonka with 17 points. 

The blue and white avoided losing consecutive games for the first time since December with a bounceback win Feb. 24, 76-55 at St. Michael-Albertville (8-17). Minnetonka can climb up a spot next week if it can pick up a road win at Class 3A title favorite Totino-Grace.

6. Eastview (18-6)

Last week’s ranking: 6

This week’s games: Feb. 28 at Prior Lake (12-12), March 3 at No. 18 Shakopee (14-10)

Ranking rationale: Eastview’s on its fourth winning streak of four or more games after completing a 2-0 week. The Lightning were unchallenged in their Feb. 21 69-37 intercity win vs. Apple Valley (3-21). 

Elias Batala led with 21 points. Thirty-seven was a season-low for points allowed. Next, Eastview completed the season sweep by a combined three points over previous No. 18 Lakeville South (14-10). The 63-62 road win was lifted by Jonathan Mekonnen, whose 15 points paced four Lightning in double figures. 

The Cougars have hit some hard times lately but were in the top five earlier this season and are a tough defensive team.

7. East Ridge (17-6)

Last week’s ranking: 9

This week’s games: Feb. 27 vs. Mounds View (15-8), Feb. 28 at Woodbury (4-20), March 3 at Roseville (13-10)

Ranking rationale: The Raptors keep rising. East Ridge is on the verge of locking up the Suburban East Conference title after an 85-59 win vs. Park of Cottage Grove (8-14). Alex Mattes led four East Ridge members in double figure scoring with 18. 

The Raptors have just one loss in conference play with the rest of the pack having three or more heading into the final week. The more impressive win of the 2-0 week was an 82-62 thrashing of Eden Prairie (10-12) on Feb. 21. 

Eden Prairie is not the top-10 team it was at the beginning of the season, but the Eagles did just recently thump No. 3 Wayzata (19-4). East Ridge won both halves 41-31 and had six score 11-plus points led by 18 for Cedric Tomes.

8. Benilde-St. Margaret’s (20-4)

Last week’s ranking: 7

This week’s games: Feb. 28 at Chaska (9-15), March 3 vs. New Prague (6-18)

Ranking rationale: Barring an unforeseen loss this week to a pair of sub-.500 opponents, Class 3A Benilde-St. Margaret’s has its conference title wrapped up in the Metro West filled with 4A teams. 

That doesn’t take all the sting away from its slip-up last week to another top 3A team, Orono (19-5), which climbs a couple spots up to No. 13 this week. B-SM dominated the first meeting by 19 at home but could not return the favor, falling 77-69 on Feb. 24. 

It was just a two-point game at halftime but Isaiah Hagen’s 36 points on the night were too much to overcome. It pulled Orono within a game of first place. 

The Red Knights haven’t lost consecutive games all season and weren’t close to doing so in a 74-54 revenge win Feb. 25 vs. Waconia (11-13). Jalen Wilson led all scorers with 23 points.

Photo by Jon Namyst

Photo by Jon Namyst

9. DeLaSalle (21-4)

Last week’s ranking:10

This week’s games: Feb. 28 at No. 3 Wayzata (19-4)

Ranking rationale: DeLaSalle is one more win, albeit a big one, from an undefeated February. The Islanders are playing their best basketball at the right time with a 14-game win streak, which includes a win over current No. 11 Hopkins (16-8). 

DeLaSalle is also getting rested with just one game last week and one this week leading into the playoffs. It had no trouble dispatching Fridley (6-16) 91-54 on Feb. 25. 

Minnesota Mr. Basketball top 10 finalist Nasir Whtilock led with 31 points and outdid a 30-piece from Fridley’s Diamante Hudson. That clinched a perfect 16-0 record in the Tri-Metro Conference.

10. Buffalo (20-5)

Last week’s ranking: 8

This week’s games: March 3 vs. No. 3 Wayzata (19-4)

Ranking rationale: It was a wild week for Buffalo. It started with the Bison’s biggest margin of defeat of the season, a 70-43 loss Feb. 21 at current No. 16 Edina (14-10). Minnesota Mr. Basketball top 10 finalist Nate Dahl had a co-game-high 19 points, but that was about all the offense Buffalo could muster. 

That was the team’s second loss in a row after falling by double digits to another top-25 team, Brainerd (20-4), last week. Things got brighter on Feb. 24 when the Bison returned home to beat current No. 11 Hopkins (16-8) 73-62. 

Dahl scored a game-high 33 and eclipsed 1,000 points for his career. Buffalo got thumped on short rest at Wayzata a few weeks ago, but the Bison will have a week to prep for the rematch with the Trojans, who have a tough one beforehand on Feb. 28 at No. 9 DeLaSalle (21-4).

Photo by Earl Ebensteiner

Photo by Earl Ebensteiner

11. Hopkins (16-8)

Last week’s ranking: 11

This week’s games: Feb. 28 vs. Minneapolis North (16-8), March 3 vs. No. 16 Edina (14-10)

Ranking rationale: Hopkins stays put in the rankings after dropping a toss-up game and thumping a sub-.500 club. First on Feb. 21, Hopkins won 86-64 at St. Michael-Albertville (8-17). STMA is not a bad team, but someone’s got to lose in a tough Lake Conference. 

Anthony Smith scored a game-high 25 points and was joined by Jayden Moore with 23. The offense dried up in a 73-62 Feb. 24 loss at current No. 10 Buffalo (20-5). JJ Semanko led the blue and white with 17 points in a game that was just a two-point Bison lead at halftime. 

The Royals aren’t as hot as they were in December, but they’re still a team many won’t want to face in the postseason.

12. Andover (17-6)

Last week’s ranking: 13

This week’s games: Feb. 27 at Centennial (5-18), Feb. 28 vs. Blaine (14-10), March 3 vs. No. 4 Totino-Grace (16-7)

Ranking rationale: Andover began to open the jar and Elk River burst it open a few days later. The Huskies were oh so close to becoming the first team to knock off No. 1 Park Center (22-1) this season in a 97-91 loss Feb. 21 in Andover. 

The Huskies were down just two at halftime in the lone meeting between Northwest Suburban Conference squads. 

Sam Musungu led Andover with 28 points and Minnesota Mr. Basketball top 10 finalist Ben Kopetzki added 24. It could’ve put Andover in first place in the conference. 

Nonetheless, it was an impressive showing that should give the Huskies hope of knocking off another top-five team in Totino-Grace in the regular season finale.

13. Orono (19-5)

Last week’s ranking: 15

This week’s games: Feb. 28 vs. St. Louis Park (2-22), March 3 vs. Chaska (9-15)

Ranking rationale: After a big loss to Metro West and Class 3A, Section 6 rival Benilde-St. Margaret’s (20-4) earlier this season, Orono got revenge against the current No. 8 team with a 77-69 Feb. 24 home win. 

Isaiah Hagen’s had plenty of big games, but perhaps none bigger than scoring a game-high 36 points to help the Spartans win after leading by just two at halftime. 

Since losing three in a row to end January, Orono’s won nine in a row. That includes another win last week, 58-54 Feb. 21 vs. Bloomington Jefferson (12-11). Hagen had 17 to lead Orono past a potential trap game loss.

14. Mahtomedi (21-3)

Last week’s ranking: 12

This week’s games: Feb. 28 at Tartan (16-8), March 3 at South St. Paul (18-6)

Ranking rationale: It’s no fault of the Zephyrs for dropping a couple spots this week, but impressive showings by No. 12 Andover (17-6) and No. 13 Orono (19-5) against top-10 competition allowed them to leap frog. Mahtomedi hasn’t had the same opportunity of late, but it’s taking care of the teams in front of it. 

On Feb. 21, the blue and gold downed Simley on the road 75-42. Will Underwood led with 25 points. The Zephyrs extended their win streak to six with an 80-50 home win Feb. 24 vs. Bemidji (13-11). Underwood again led with 24 to get over 20 points per game on the season.

15. Holy Family (22-2)

Last week’s ranking: 16

This week’s games: Feb. 28 vs. Mound Westonka (6-17), March 3 vs. Southwest Christian (7-17)

Ranking rationale: Holy Family continues to be the cream of the crop in Class 2A.

The Fire’s only losses were to ranked 3A/4A competition and it has nice wins over 4A teams like Chanhassen (12-12) and White Bear Lake (15-7). On Feb. 21, Holy Family went on the road and demolished Maranatha Christian Academy (22-3), 93-60. MCA is ranked No. 3 in Minnesota Basketball News’ 2A top 20. 

The Fire’s win streak extended to 11 with a 70-61 win Feb. 24 at Delano (17-7). Minnesota Mr. Basketball top 10 finalist Boden Kapke led all scorers with 26. Two more layup wins this week and Holy Family will complete an unbeaten run through the Wright County Conference.

16. Edina (14-10)

Last week’s ranking: 21

This week’s games: Feb. 28 vs.No. 25 Duluth East (19-5), March 3 at No. 11 Hopkins (16-8)

Ranking rationale: Edina is the biggest riser this week after an impressive 2-0 week. The Hornets defended home court on Feb. 21 with a 70-43 win over previous No. 8 Buffalo (20-5). 

Josiah Coleman led with 19 points, the same number of points Buffalo had the entire second half. Edina’s defense can be tough. On Feb. 24, the Hornets completed the sweep of border rival Eden Prairie (10-12) with a 61-43 road win. 

It was only 28-25 at halftime before Edina put the clamps on again to hold its opponent to a season low. Daniel Molhoek led with 16 points. The Hornets have played one of the toughest schedules around, so don’t let their record fool you.

17. Brainerd (20-4)

Last week’s ranking: 14

This week’s games: Feb. 28 vs. St. Cloud Tech (13-9), March 3 at No. 23 Alexandria (18-4)

Ranking rationale: Brainerd went 2-1 last week with the blemish coming Feb. 24 at Moorhead (16-7), a team that I’ve come close to ranking on several different occasions. 

That snapped a 10-game win streak that included a 77-66 Feb. 21 win at Sartell-St. Stephen (6-17). John Pecarich sank five threes for a game-high 33 points. The Warriors later bounced back from the loss to the Spuds with an 83-77 win vs. St. Michael-Albertville (8-17). Nick Evanson led with 25 to go with 22 for Pecarich. 

The Moorhead and STMA games were both non-conference. Brainerd is unbeaten in the Central Lakes Conference and clinch the solo title with a win this week and/or an Alexandria loss.

18. Shakopee (14-10)

Last week’s ranking: 17

This week’s games: Feb. 28 vs. No. 2 Lakeville North (22-2), March 3 vs. No. 6 Eastview (18-6)

Ranking rationale: It’s tough to stack up 2-0 weeks in the South Suburban Conference. Shakopee did it a couple weeks ago but settled for 1-1 last week. 

The Sabers got off on the right foot with a 69-55 win Feb. 21 at Burnsville (9-14). Jalen Langsy’s 13 points led a balanced effort with eight teammates finding the score sheet. 

On Feb. 24, Shakopee fell victim to a hungry Farmington (14-10) team that climbed to No. 22 this week. Langsy’s 25 weren’t enough to mount a comeback against a 15-point halftime deficit. 

The Sabers can hang onto their top-20 ranking, if not move up, with a split against top-six competition to close the regular season this week.

19. Lakeville South (14-10)

Last week’s ranking: 18

This week’s games: Feb. 28 vs. No. 23 Farmington (14-10), March 3 vs. No. 21 Eagan (14-10)

Ranking rationale: It’s stunning how many 14-10 teams there are in the South Suburban Conference: No. 18 Shakopee, Lakeville South, No. 21 Eagan (14-10) and No. 23 Farmington (14-10) have all beat up on each other.

It’s tricky to untangle this bunch, so I’ve let the conference standings do the work. South was swept by Shakopee, which is 11-5 in the SSC and in third place. 

Next is South at 9-7 followed by Eagan and Farmington at 8-8. The Cougars nearly made a jump this week but couldn’t quite pull off the upset of No. 6 Eastview (18-6) in a 63-62 home loss on Feb. 24. 

Keaton Ressler and Ryan Johnson led South with 15 points. It was a 1-1 week for South with a 59-56 win Feb. 21 at Prior Lake (12-12). Johnson and DaMarcus Banks led with 17.

20. Maple Grove (17-6)

Last week’s ranking: 20

This week’s games: Feb. 27 at Robbinsdale Armstrong (8-15), Feb. 28 at Rogers (8-16), March 3 vs. No. 1 Park Center (22-1)

Ranking rationale: The Crimson held serve in the only game last week, winning 78-55 Feb. 21 at home vs. Anoka (11-11). Maple Grove controlled throughout, leading by 21 at halftime. 

That kind of defense is common for the crimson and gold, in fact, it was five points above their season average. The offense has come and gone, but this effort was Maple Grove’s third-highest output of 2022-23. 

The Crimson have a good chance of extending their win streak to five leading up to the regular season finale against top-ranked Park Center.

21. Eagan (14-10)

Last week’s ranking: 19

This week’s games: Feb. 28 at Rosemount (8-16), March 3 at No. 22 Farmington (14-10)

Ranking rationale: The Wildcats had their three-game win streak snapped with a couple losses last week. 

They were downed 63-39 Feb. 21 at No. 2 Lakeville North (22-2) and 64-61 Feb. 24 vs. Prior Lake (12-12). Eagan was primed for the upset of North down just 28-23 at halftime before fading. Emmanuel Schmitter led the team with 15 points.

He led again with 19 against the Lakers, who came back from a six-point halftime deficit. Eagan gets the nod in the rankings over Farmington due to a head-to-head win.

22. Farmington (14-10)

Last week’s ranking: 23

This week’s games: Feb. 28 at No. 19 Lakeville South (14-10), March 3 vs. No. 21 Eagan (14-10)

Ranking rationale: The Tigers have won three in a row for the first time since mid-January. In a season full of close losses, each win has come by eight or more points. 

Last week started with a 52-36 win Feb. 21 at Rosemount (8-16). It tied Farmington’s fewest points allowed this season as well as tied Rosemount’s fewest points scored. 

Brandon Hrncir stepped up in the absence of top scorer Baiden Bean to lead with 20 points. Bean returned to score 13 in a Feb. 24 win, 77-69, vs. previous No. 17 Shakopee (14-10). Hrncir led with 18 to go with 14 for Tyler Beckwith in a game they led by 15 at the break.

23. Alexandria (18-4)

Last week’s ranking: 22

This week’s games: Feb. 27 vs. Sartell-St. Stephen (6-17), Feb. 28 at Moorhead (16-7), March 3 vs. No. 17 Brainerd (20-4)

Ranking rationale: A top-20 win for Farmington pushed the Tigers past Alexandria, which went 2-0 but did not play tough competition. The Cardinals won at home 67-54 Feb. 21 vs. Fergus Falls (6-17) and 75-60 Feb. 24 at Monticello (1-24). 

Bralyn Steffensmeier led with 22 points vs. Monticello. Alexandria is on a six-game win streak with tough games against Moorhead, as well as against likely Central Lakes Conference champion Brainerd. The Cardinals could climb back into the top 20 with a 3-0 week.

24. St. Thomas Academy (19-5)

Last week’s ranking: 24

This week’s games: Feb. 28 at Hill-Murray (1-22), March 3 vs. Hastings (7-18)

Ranking rationale: The Cadets know how to win close games. The last four of their current 14-game win streak have come by single digits. 

St. Thomas Academy’s lone game last week was a 68-65 victory at a South St. Paul (18-6) team that would have been consideration to be ranked had it won. 

Luke Dobbs led all scorers with 21 points in a game STA led by two at halftime.The win helped keep the Cadets in lock step with one loss in the Metro East Conference race with No. 14 Mahtomedi (21-3), a team it split with.

25. Duluth East (19-5)

Last week’s ranking: 25

This week’s games: Feb. 28 at No. 16 Edina (14-10), March 2 at Hermantown (18-6)

Ranking rationale: The Greyhounds dominated in their lone game last week, winning their home finale 70-34 vs. Centennial (5-18). It was the fourth time they’ve held an opponent under 40. 

Duluth East can climb up further if it can sweep a pair of tough road games this week. I’d also like to note that there are more teams I’d argue are deserving a top-25 spot. Firstly, the team of the week, Elk River (12-11), which downed No. 1 Park Center (22-1) and followed it up with a win at Moorhead (16-7), another team that would likely be in the top 30 if the rankings extended as far. 

White Bear Lake (15-7) is another team I’ve pondered. The Bears are in second place in the Suburban East Conference and are winners of four straight.