Best Buy Holiday Classic Preview
Missouri St. signee Marcus Marshall leads Johnson
Missouri St. signee Marcus Marshall leads Johnson

Posted Dec 29, 2011

The Best Buy Holiday Classic has become one of the state’s top holiday tournaments. Teams hoping to win a state title would be wise to win this tournament. The past two champions went on to win the state title and 2009 Best Buy Holiday Classic runner-up also snared the state crown. This year’s field features seven in-state teams and one team from Nevada.

Wednesday’s Schedule
4:00 St. Paul Johnson vs. Durango, NV
5:30 Chanhassen vs. Minneapolis Henry
7:00 Duluth East vs. Hopkins
8:30 Henry Sibley vs. Minnetonka

St. Paul Johnson (2-2) won the inaugural 2009 Best Buy Holiday Classic and went on to win the Class AAA state title that year. The Governors lost in the Best Buy Holiday Classic semifinals, missing a chance at rematch with Hopkins. They were upset by New Prague in the first round of the playoffs and have had to replace St. Paul Pioneer Press Player of the Year Estan Tyler, who is now at UMKC and Roosevelt Scott (Central Florida Community College). Missouri State signee Marcus Marshall is one of the state’s top guards and is averaging 20.2 points per game. Wayland Johnson II adds 14.0 points and Jalen Albritton scores 10.8 points per game.

Durango (4-3) is making the 1,660 mile trek to the Twin Cities. Many of the Trailblazer players were hoping to see snow for the first time, but with the mild weather, the Las Vegas school will settle for three games against Minnesota competition. The Trailblazers are a guard-dominated team, led by 6-foot-7 senior Joe Tuss, who is averaging a team-high 17.6 points per game. Tuss, who recently made an official visit to Air Force, is a good outside shooter. Juniors Tre'Von Wells and Tyler Jones are adding 14 and 11.5 points per game, respectively. Tyler Watts adds 10 points per contest off the bench. Sophomore Paris Estrada is a talented playmaker. The alma mater of NASCAR’s Kurt and Kyle Busch won the 1995 and 1996 Nevada state titles.

Chanhassen (5-2) has shown improvement each season. The Storm was 4-23 in its first year in existence in 2009-10 and improved to 13-13 last season. Senior Kevin Jensen is one of the metro’s top scorers, averaging 22.3 points per game. He has scored more than 20 points six times, including two games of 30 or more points. Senior forward Cole Otto is adding 11.6 points per game.

Patrick Henry (2-3) have three losses to Class 4A ranked teams. The Patriots are led by junior guard Darius Hill, who is one of the state’s top scorers. He is averaging 24.0 points per game and has scored more than 30 points in two of his five contests. Tim Gill is a talented big man who is capable of big numbers any game. He is averaging 15.0 points. Wunell Beard, a 5-foot-6 junior guard, has excellent quickness and is adding 10.5 points per game.

Duluth East (1-4) is a high scoring team that has had to play without their top player, senior Johnny Woodward, who is sidelined with a shoulder injury. Point guard Taylor Stafford showed that he can put the ball in the basket when he scored 30 points in the Breakdown Tip-Off Classic. He had 28 in a recent loss to Grand Rapids. Six-foot junior guards Shaq Coleman and Reid Ladd are double figure scorers for the Greyhounds. Their record is a bit deceiving as three of their losses were to top five ranked teams.

Hopkins (6-1) won the 2010 Best Buy Holiday Classic after finishing second in 2009. The Royals have won three straight Class 4A titles and is going for an unprecedented fourth crown. They have had to replace nearly 40 points per game with the graduation losses of Mr. Basketball Joe Coleman, who is at Minnesota and Northern Iowa freshman Marvin Singleton this season. However, they still have plenty of offensive firepower. Senior Zach Stahl scored 19 points in his first game back after missing the first six games of the season. Senior shooter Demitrius Martin has more than doubled his scoring from last season as he is contributing 15.6 points per game. Point guard Siyani Chambers, who is headed to Harvard, is adding 14.0 points. Andre McDonald, who is the state’s top wide receiver, has shown off his skills on the hardwood by averaging 10.4 points. He is an outstanding athlete and leaper. Nicholas Jorgenson, who is a good outside threat, adds 10.3 points per game.

Henry Sibley (3-3) is a team that relies on three-point shooting. Junior Adam Huessner is off to a strong start, averaging 17.7. Zach Haas, another good outside threat, is adding 11.2 points per game and three-sport athlete Dante Grant adds 10.5 points. Developing center Alex Stafford has scored in double figures in his past three games for the Warriors.

Minnetonka (6-1) is arguably the state’s most improved team this season. The Skippers were just 4-23 last year and lost their last 15 games of the season, but added three transfers who are starting this year. The Skippers are getting excellent scoring balance with four players averaging double figures. Patrick Henry transfer Latrell Love has scored in double figures in six of seven games and leads the team with 17.4 points per game. Junior Riley Dearring, who played at Minneapolis DeLaSalle last season, is scoring 15.7 points per contest. Senior guards Tommy McDermott and Joe Risinger add 15.3 and 11.4 points per game, respectively.

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