This is the 12th preview in my 2015-16 season preview series. For the first time ever, I present to you a look at the Eastern Minnesota Athletic Conference (EMAC). I only saw half of the league last year and information on these tiny schools is hard to find, so the results should be quite interesting. For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.
Academy for Sciences & Agriculture Eagles (2014-15 season 7-18, 2-10 Conference, 11th) AFSA is based out of Vadnais Heights. They once played home games at Bethel before building their new building. Leading scorer Thomas Ewalt graduated with 15+ PPG. Nick Germscheid also needs to be replaced. Freshman Sam Andrews will be a top option. Soph James Wilfong will be another one of their scoring options.
Calvin Christian Cougars (2014-15 season 9-15, 5-7 Conference, 8th) The Cougars are based out of Fridley but they will play home games at the Mounds View Community Center. Nick Bonnema appears to be the biggest loss to the lineup. Nathan Mateer and Brad Mateer should be 2 primary options this season.
Charter Stars (2014-15 season 9-12, 7-5 Conference, Tie 6th) Youll also hear this St. Paul team called Great River. Charter Stars is the technical name for the co-op between Great River and Twin Cities Academy. In years past, theyve had home games at the old St. Paul Washington high school (Wellstone now, not the old Arlington). Last year they played at Metro Deafs upstairs gym. They are a traditionally strong program by league standards. Romello Wilson gives them a returning scoring option.
Christian Life Academy Hawks (2014-15 season 13-12, 8-4 Conference, 5th) The Hawks are based out of Farmington. Coach Kyle Kurz has to replace his top 2 scorers in Kieran Kolb and do everything forward Caleb Wochnick (34 and 22 in the EMAC title game vs Hope last year). Soph guard Caleb Kurz and Jackson Griffith provide the scoring punch. Daniel Olson and Luke Swelland will also see rotation time.
Community of Peace Tigers (2014-15 season 12-14, 11-1 Conference, 1st) CPA is nestled on the east side of St. Paul. The defending regular season champs have plenty returning to defend that crown. The perimeter trio of senior Marquez Perry, Edward Milton and Ontario Chapman returns to the starting lineup. Perry is a high scoring guard who put up almost 23 a night last year. Milton is the leadership and Chapman is a quality 3rd option. Forward David Provenczano will be missed. Steven Parker and Tyler Parker will serve front court roles.
Hmong Academy Warriors (2014-15 season 0-14, 0-12 Conference, 13th) This St. Paul school once had what was the shortest road trip in the state with Metro Deaf school right next door (even closer than the Osseo at Maple Grove at Osseo Jr High across the parking lot matchup last year). No seniors and only 2 juniors last year for a group that hasnt had much success. Hard to see them moving up.
Hope Academy Lions (2014-15 season 19-8, 10-2 Conference, Tied 2nd) Plenty of hope this season in south Minneapolis for the defending EMAC tourney champs. They played a run and gun, lots of 3s, 5 in and 5 out rotation style with a super young team last season. They lose only 1 senior from that rotation. Junior lefty Johnny Erickson put up 23.9 PPG game from a guard spot. Tobias Griffin was the only junior. He almost reached 20 PPG. Hes a big body lefty forward who can handle, shoot and post. Juniors Nate Elifson and Dashon Holcomb both averaged 10+ per night and combined for 90 3s
International School of Minnesota Huskies (2014-15 season 7-11, 7-5 Conference, Tie 6th) This Eden Prairie school is a high academic co-op with Eagle Ridge Academy. They have been a traditional powerhouse in the league. Rich Berkley and Jason Sheppard give coach Shun Tillman a couple of nice scoring options.
Liberty Classical Academy Lions (2014-15 season 6-13, 3-9 Conference, 10th) Liberty Classical starts their 2nd year in White Bear Lake after moving from Maplewood. The Lions were super young last year with only 2 juniors and no seniors. That should mean 2 years of an upward trend. Senior Jacob Grill will lead a still young lineup. Junior Nathaniel Bliss and soph Peter Klarr are 2 more options for scoring.
Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf Trojans (2014-15 season 14-7, 10-2 Conference, Tie 2nd) Not to be confused with now former EMAC member Metro Deaf School, MSAD is based out of Faribault. While they do lose a couple of pieces, most of the roster returns. That should be enough to keep the Trojans in the 2nd tier.
North Lakes Academy Huskies (2014-15 season 1-24, 1-11 Conference, 12th) North Lakes is at the other end of the EMAC geographical spectrum in Forest Lake. They went from 1st 2 years to 1 win with a young roster last season. Such is life at a small school. The top 2 scorers were 2 of the 3 graduated seniors. Senior Noah Nei appears to be the top option. Cole Yeager and David Christopherson are 2 others who saw time as underclassmen last year.
Nova Classical Academy Knights (2014-15 season 15-6, 10-2 Conference, Tie 2nd) Nova is another small St. Paul school in the league. They were in the drivers seat for the conference title until losing to Community of Peace and Hope in the final week. Athletic guard Bakari Jackson graduated after averaging almost 17 a night. In an unexpected twist, soph Cole Bothun transferred out and one of the Tritabaugh twins inside will not play this season either. Jeremiah Rodgers and Dominic Bumgarner will have to handle the load.
Shattuck St. Marys Sabers (2014-15 season 5-8, 4-8 Conference, 9th) Yes, this is the same school that is the hockey powerhouse down in Faribault. Their MSHSL teams play in the EMAC. The Sabers lose their top 3 scorers, 2 of who were 11 PPG scorers. They do have 3 senior pieces coming back in Shane Hoben, Wesley Sun and Kevin Du. Junior Parker Reddig should also see plenty of time.
Predicted Order of Finish
- Hope Academy
- Community of Peace
- International School
- Nova Classical
- Charter Stars
- Christian Life
- Shattuck-St. Marys
- Calvin Christian
- North Lakes
- Hmong Academy
The schedule is like the old MCAA schedules where you play everybody just once. Then the league does a 2 day end of season tourney with each group of 4 teams getting 2 games. MSAD doesnt play due to the section 1A playoffs. That impacts Christian Life too as they moved to section 1A this year from section 4A. The kids and fans treat the conference title game like its the section championship. Its a different and really fun atmosphere. At the top, Hope Academy has so much coming back that they have to be the favorite. Especially when they get the other 3 top teams at home. Community of Peace will also make a strong run for the top spot. MSAD and International School are the clear next tier and could bite the top 2. I think these are the 4 teams in the championship bracket in February. ISM gets the brutal draw having the other 3 all on the road in the regular season. The next bracket for 5th I see Charter Stars, Nova, Christian Life and Shattuck-St. Marys. All have pieces coming back and in league play should be respectable. Nova gets all 3 of those teams at home. The bottom 5 drop off. Liberty has the best chance with a bunch of guys coming back but the gap was pretty big.
Conference MVP: Marquez Perry - Community of Peace
Conference Games to Watch
- Community of Peace at Hope Academy - Jan 15th
- EMAC Tournament - Feb 20th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
- CHOF at Community of Peace - Dec 10th