This is the fifth preview in my 2015-16 season preview series. Week 1 of the 6 week series concludes with a look at the Minnesota Christian Athletic Association (MCAA). For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.
Bethany Academy Eagles (2014-15 season 4-24, 0-13 Conference, 5th South) Four starters and 7 members of the rotation return for the Eagles. The junior tandem of Sam Peterson and Sam LeVoir should lead the way. Seniors AJ Lechtenberg and Ben Wedel also return to the starting lineup. As of this writing, Bethany is still looking for a new head coach.
Heritage Christian Academy Eagles (2014-15 season 16-12, 7-6 Conference, 3rd North) Coach Tim Herman returns 3 of his top 4 starters. That includes 17 PPG and 8 RPG from junior wing CJ Woda. He figures to be one of the top players in the league. Junior Jack VanderTop was good for 8.9 PPG and 6.8 RPG from the middle last year. Senior Tanner Scott returns at a guard spot. Soph Ben Allen provides shooting from a guard spot.
Legacy Christian Academy Lions (2014-15 season 18-11, 9-4 Conference, 2nd North) Legacy has to replace 18.4 and 8.4 from shooting guard Nate Bertsch and 11.5 PPG from guard Caleb Johnson. The next 6 members of their rotation are back. Juniors Lucas Nelson and Cole Bertsch return to the starting lineup on the perimeter with Michael Stelly in the middle. Jack Yaeger, Josh Niessen and Jack Bertsch provide depth.
Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity Bulldogs (2014-15 season 8-20, 4-9 Conference, 4th South) Former player Ben Machemehl takes over the program. He has lots to replace. The shooting of Josh Volness, inside play of Jordan Radtke and perimeter guys Jazz Baird all need to be replaced. It was a senior laden roster so experience will be an issue.
Maranatha Christian Academy Mustangs (2014-15 season 29-3, 13-0 Conference, 1st North) The end of the Hanson era is here as its the 1st time in 9 seasons of previews (and many years before that), that it won't be a Hanson leading the way. I see it as the end of their MCAA domination (for now) as well. With Damario Armstrong's transfer to Osseo, the entire rotation is gone. Sophomore Wendell Smith takes over inside . Elisha Coleman will play a wing. Frosh Julian Cavin looks to see plenty of minutes. Dyante Jordan, DeAngelo Purnell, Holden Baker and Tristan Rohwer are others who should see time for an inexperienced and small lineup.
New Life Academy Eagles (2014-15 season 16-12, 9-4 Conference, 2nd South) Star forward Conrad Engstrom and 20 PPG have graduated. 7.4 PPG and 8 RPG from Luke Berger and Jake Wynia also depart the front line. Guard Sam Horner also needs to be replaced. Energy guy Ebenezer Ketema returns to a wing spot. He's the top returning scorer at 7.6 PPG. Simon Killeen returns after putting up 5.5 PPG. Brad Goulet also returns to the rotation.
PACT Charter Panthers (2014-15 season 15-11, 4-9 Conference, 4th North) Leading scorer Drew Johnson returns. The other double figure scorer Derek Stone graduated. Senior Zach Hagen and Soph Cade Johnson return to the rotation. Depth is a concern.
Southwest Christian Stars (2014-15 season 18-7, 10-3 Conference, 1st South) The high powered backcourt of Jack Jenson (20 PPG, top returning scorer in the MCAA) and junior Trey Sandness (12.2 PPG) returns for coach Kit Avery. Guards Kyle Meinke and Colin Provart also return to the starting lineup. Drew Schwarz will need to be replaced in the middle. Juniors Brady Bengston and Spencer Weiss also return to the rotation. The Stars will play small so rebounding is a concern but they will be able to put up points.
Trinity Tri-Hawks (2014-15 season 11-16, 7-6 Conference, 3rd South) Forward Jon Lotti departs after averaging 18.5 PPG. Eddie Maruggi returns at a wing after putting up 15.8 PPG. He averaged 18 PPG the year before that and I expect him to go for 20 something a night this season. Everybody else returns. Guard Josiah Summer is also a double figure returning scorer (10 PPG). Eamon Naughton and Luke Lodeon are just 2 other members coming back.
West Lutheran Warriors (2014-15 season 9-17, 2-11 Conference, 5th North) The top 2 scorers Zach Dwyer (18 PPG) and Tyler Kimmons (7.8 PPG) have graduated. Junior Ben Biese looks to take over as the top scoring option. Garrett Anderson, James Ripley, Isaac Groom and Andrew Tolkinen are seniors who return to the rotation and provide experience. Junior Griffin Ewing will join them.
Predicted Order of Finish
- West Lutheran
- SW Christian
- New Life
- Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity
Heritage, SW Christian and Trinity are all poised for very nice seasons with the best players in the league returning. Heritage has to go to both SW Christian and Trinity for the single cross-division game in the regular season. Maranatha has some nice young pieces with but no experience. Combine that with what Heritage and Legacy have coming back and I don't see them any higher than 3rd. They'll be mid-level with Legacy (most likely to move up), New Life and West Lutheran. PACT, LP/HT and Bethany I think will struggle.
Conference MVP: CJ Woda - Heritage
Underclassmen to watch:
- Ben Allen - Heritage
- Wendell Smith, Julian Cavin - Maranatha
- Cade Johnson - PACT
- Charlie Druffner - Trinity
Conference Games to Watch
- SW Christian at Trinity - Dec 8th
- Heritage at Legacy - Dec 18th
- Legacy at Trinity - Jan 5th
- Heritage at SW Christian - Jan 14th
- SW Christian at Legacy - Jan 19th
- Heritage at Trinity - Jan 19th
- Trinity at SW Christian - Jan 28th
- Legacy at Heritage - Feb 2nd
- MCAA Tournament - Feb 11 and 13th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
- SW Christian at MN Transitions - Dec 15th
- Trinity at MN Transitions - Feb 4th
- Minneapolis Roosevelt at Heritage - Feb 16th