In part two of a four part boys basketball section preview, the eight Class AAA sections will be examined.
Section 4 has the top seeded and top ranked team in Class AAA the St. Paul Johnson Governors. Vern Simmons has another outstanding team whose only losses were to a Milwaukee school and Hopkins. But Johnson might have a tough time crossing the river to Minneapolis. The second seeded St. Thomas Academy Cadets have heated up at the right time with 11 straight wins and the third seed is the Governors conference rival the St. Paul Central Minutemen. This could be an interesting section.
The good news in Section 3 is that Reid Travis is healthy and the top seeded DeLaSalle Islanders look to return to state for a possible threepeat. The bad news is that there are three other teams that hope to prevent the Stanford bound Travis and the Islanders from a return trip. They are the second seeded Totino-Grace Eagles and two schools who will be Tri-Metro Conference rivals next season, the third seeded Columbia Heights Hylanders and the fourth seeded Fridley Tigers. Though DeLaSalle has won 16 in a row since Travis' return, there could be joy along Highway 65 if there's an upset.
THE REST OF THE FIELD
In Section 1, the pairings have not yet been released but it looks like the Austin Packers, last year's Class AAA runner up will be the top seed. They have won 13 straight games and have a great shot at advancing to the tournament for the 29th time.
The Marshall Tigers are the top seed in Section 2 but look out for the second seeded Mankato West Scarlets and the third seeded Willmar Cardinals.
Over in Section 5, the top seeded Big Lake Hornets are looking for their first trip to state. Also in contention are the second seeded Orono Spartans and the third seeded St. Cloud Apollo Eagles. Hornet fans will be looking forward to hopping on the Northstar Commuter Rail to Minneapolis if Big Lake comes up big.
In Section 6, the top seeded Holy Family Catholic Fire have one of the tallest and talented teams in the metro with a front line of 6'6" Joe Hanel, 6'7" Joe Conroy and 6'11" center Justin Dahl. Looking to cool the fire is the second seeded Benilde-St. Margaret's Red Knights and the third seeded Waconia Wildcats. Could the section final be referred to as "The Highway 5 Bowl" if Holy Family and Waconia meet?
Section 7 was not seeded at this writing but look out for the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks, led by junior sensation Alex Illikanen and the Cloquet Lumberjacks to occupy the top two seeds.
In Section 8, it looks like a wide open section with the Sartell-St. Stephen sabres the top seed, followed by the second seeded Alexandria Cardinals and a school that's moved up from AA to AAA the Albany Huskies. Who will come out of this section?
Next up will be the Class AA sections