Minnesota Timberwolves Shootout Preview

The Minnesota Timberwolves Shootout features six games as many of the top teams in Minnesota will play on the Target Center court Saturday. The Minnesota teams finished just 2-4 last year after going 4-2 and 4-1 the previous two seasons. Sixteen future NBA players and over 140 major Division I players have played in the Shootout.

10:00 a.m. -- St. Paul Central vs. Long Beach (CA) Poly (Girls)
12:00 p.m. -- Princeton vs. Mobile (AL) Leflore
2:00 p.m. -- Cass Lake-Bena vs. Memphis (TN) White Station
4:00 p.m. – Minnetonka (MN) Hopkins vs. Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha
6:00 p.m. -- Minnetonka vs. North Hollywood (CA) Campbell Hall
8:00 p.m. -- Benilde-St. Margaret's vs. Madison (WI) Memorial

Long Beach Poly opened the season ranked #1 in the USA Today preseason girl's basketball poll and finished as the No. 2-ranked team in the final 2006-07 USA Today Super 25 girls rankings. They won their second consecutive CIF-Division I California championship, beating Berkeley 58-52 in final and A.B. Miller (Fontana) 67-54 in Southern California final. Its only loss came at the hands of No. 1 Collins Hill High School of Suwanee, Georgia, the champion of the 2006 T-Mobile Invitational. Poly will contend for the No. 1 ranking in the nation again this year, and will be led by 6-1 All-American guard Jasmine Dixon, who was named California Interscholastic Federation Division 1 Player of the Year as a junior and signed with Rutgers. This year's team was also bolstered by the addition of 6-2 transfer Monique Oliver, considered one of the top juniors in the country. The Jackrabbits are coached by Carl Buggs, the 2006-07 California state coach of the year. The largest high school in California, Poly has long been distinguished in both academics and athletics. In 2005, Sports Illustrated named Long Beach Poly the "Sports School of the Century."

The Jackrabbits have played in several of the country's top tournament such as the Nike Northwest Invitational, Dec. 6-8 in Beaverton, Ore.; the Nike Tournament of Champions, Dec. 18-21 in Phoenix; the T-Mobile Invitational, Dec. 28-29 in Albuquerque along with the Gatorade Timberwolves Shootout.

Senior guard April Cook signed with Washington State. The Jackrabbits defeated Dayton (OH) Chaminade-Julienne 67-61 and Hampton 68-37 to win the T-Mobile Invitational this past weekend. Dixon has 19 points and ten rebounds in the semifinals and 22 points in just 21 minutes in the championship game. Oliver had 16 points and eleven rebounds in both the semifinals and finals.

St. Paul Central won the 2007 girl's state title as they went undefeated 32-0 and finished #18 in USA Today's final poll. They won their first Minnesota state title since 1979, beating Minneapolis South 81-63 in final and Edina 79-41 in semifinals. They are 7-1 this season with a 60-56 loss to Centennial. The Minutemen have four double figure scorers in Kiara Buford (15.3 points per game), Theairra Taylor (13.5), Megan Howard (13.1) and Georgie Jones (11.1). Buford signed with Minnesota and Jones inked with Marquette.

Princeton is led by Wisconsin signee Jared Berggren, a 6-foot-10 center. Berggren is determined as perhaps the top player in the state in the Class of 2008. Berggren shined in last Saturday's St. Thomas Jamboree, scoring 20 points and limiting Iowa signee Andrew Brommer to just four points. He is averaging 24.4 points per game this season as the Tigers are off to a 7-2 start.

Berggren led the Tigers to a 17-9 mark and averaged 21.2 points, 11.9 rebounds and 5.6 blocked shots per game as a junior. Berggren scored in double figures in 25 of 26 games last season. He scored 20 or more points in 17 games, including a season-high 36 points versus Zimmerman. Berggren scored 20 or more points in his last six games of the year. He had 19 double-digit rebounding games, including the final seven contests of the year. Unfortunately, his season was cut short when they were upset by Big Lake, 71-61, in the first round of the playoffs.

Berggren averaged 10.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots per game as a sophomore. He shot 55.0 percent from the field and 55.1 percent from the line as Princeton finished 15-13.

Ryan Fay, a 6-foot-2 senior, is contributing 14.0 points per contest.

Mobile (AL) Leflore defeated Minnetonka 72-66 in last year's Timerwolves' Shootout and finished 32-3 last year to win the Class 6A title. The Rattlers won the White Division championship of the Iolani Classic as they finished 4-0 and defeated national powers Jacksonville (FL) Arlington Country Day, Los Angles (CA) Westchester, Rockville (MD) Montrose Christian. They lost to Milwaukee (WI) Vincent 69-66 in the WBY Shootout this past weekend to fall to 15-1, snapping their 22-game winning streak. LeFlore is currently ranked 14th nationally by USA Today.

Six-foot-11 center DeMarcus Cousins, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the White Division, is ranked as the #2 junior by Hoopmasters.com. He is averaging 18.0 points per game. Six-foot-5 Nick Williams, who signed with Marquette, is averaging 22.5 points per game.

Cass Lake-Bena is off to a 4-1 start this season, losing to Class AA #1 Crosby-Ironton in the finals of the Crosby-Ironton Invitational. They are ranked #1 in the state in Class A after finishing 30-2 last season and 14-0 in the Northland Conference, losing to Ellsworth 74-73 in the Class A championship game. The Panthers' only other loss was to St. Paul Johnson, a Class AAAA team 73-71 in their third game of the season.

The Panthers lost Brady Fairbanks, who is a freshman at Bemidji State. Fairbanks was named Second Team All-State after averaging 30 points and 10 rebounds per game. Cass Lake-Bena has finished 84-11 the past three years and, 58-4 over the last two seasons. The Panthers are a high-powered offensive team that scored more than 100 points in its first four games of the season and return twins Joel and Nathan Salscheider.

Memphis (TN) White Station is off to a 9-6 start. They are led by six-foot sophomore point guard Joe Jackson, who is averaging 25.9 points per game, up from 12.3 points as a freshman, and junior Ferrakohn Hall, who transferred from Memphis University School. The Spartans have good size with 6-foot-7 senior forward Marquette Murrell and 6-foot-6 senior forward Danny Harris.

Hopkins won the Class AAAA (biggest schools) title in 2005 and 2006 and was the favorite to win it all last year before it was upset by crosstown rival Minnetonka 55-53 in the second round of the section playoffs as they finished 26-2 last season. The Royals had not been challenged during the regular season as their closest game against a Minnesota opponent was an 11-point win. Their only other loss was to Campbell Hall 71-61 in last year's Timberwolves Shootout.

Hopkins features plenty of young talent after the graduation of guards Blake Hoffarber (25.2 points per game), who is at Minnesota, and Tyler Nicolai (12.4), who is at Division III St. Thomas, and center Chris Pfeifer, who is at Division II Concordia St. Paul. Novak is expected to see improved play from his big man this season.

The Royals are off to a 7-0 start after winning the Joe Hutton Classic at Hamline University and outscoring their opposition by 20.4 points per game. Hopkins returns two players who were starters as sophomores last season.

Raymond Cowles, a 6-foot-4 forward, is averaging 15.5 points per game and was named the Joe Hutton Classic MVP. Cowles has received scholarship offers from Northern Iowa, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, George Mason, Loyola (IL) and North Dakota State and has been working hard to improve his all-around game.

Mike Broghammer, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward, has offers from Iowa, North Dakota State, Colorado State and Wisconsin-Green Bay. Broghammer is averaging 11.8 points per game, up from 8.2 last season.

The Royals have plenty of other young players on their roster.

Trent Lockett, a 6-foot-5, 195-pound junior guard/forward who committed to Arizona State, is averaging 15.0 points per game.

Anthony Di Loreto, a 7-foot, 215-pound senior center, who signed with Cal Poly, is averaging 6.3 points per game.

Junior guard Marcus Williams, who is an outstanding football prospect, is averaging 11.8 points per game. Moses Sundufu and sophomore D.J. Peterson add offensive firepower off the bench. Sundufu is averaging 13.0 points and Peterson is adding 6.0 points.

Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha is off to a 7-2 start. The Stags have a storied program with former NBA players Adrian Dantley, Keith Bogans, Joe Forte and Danny Ferry having played for the team. Legendary coach Morgan Wootten had more than 1,200 wins as head basketball coach at DeMatha. The Stags are led by guard 6-foot-5 junior Naji Hibbert and 6-foot-2 sophomore Josh Selby. Forward Kenny Tate, a standout wide receiver, will miss the game to play in the U.S. Army All-Star Game Saturday.

Minnetonka upset two-time defending champion Hopkins in the second round of the section playoffs and finished 18-10 last season as they advanced to the finals of Section 2, Class AAAA. The Skippers are off to an 8-0 start this season and won the recent Hastings Tournament for the second straight season. They are outscoring their opponents by 23.5 points per game.

Anthony Tucker, who is one of the top players in the state for the Class of 2008 and was named second-team All-State by the St. Paul Pioneer Press, signed with Iowa. Tucker is averaging 21.4 points per game, up 3.8 points from last year.

The Skippers also return fellow three-year players C.J. Erickson and Andy Burns. Erickson, a 6-foot-6 forward, is averaging 11.0 points per game and signed with Evansville. Burns is averaging 7.3 points per game at the point guard spot.

Seniors Andrew Latzke, a 6-foot-7 forward who averaged 9.0 points, Tyler Schilling, a 6-foot-4 guard who is averaging 11.7 points, and sophomore Cole Stefan (7.4 points) round out the top six. Schilling signed with Division II St. Michael's. The Skippers added De LaSalle transfer Cedric McBounds, who averaged 14.7 points last year, but is down to 8.9 points this year.

North Hollywood (CA) Campbell Hall is 11-4 after a tough non-conference schedule. They defeated Hopkins in last year's Timberwolves Shootout, the Royals' only regular-season loss. The Vikings finished 33-1 last season, winning the California Division IV Championship, winning by an average of 34 points per game. They also won the 2005 Division IV state championship with an undefeated 32-0 record. The Vikings got revenge for their only loss last season to St. Andrew's Prep 79-77 in the Bay Ball Classic in Delaware by beating them 81-50 in the Mission Prep Christmas classic. Jrue Holiday, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, who signed with UCLA, is averaging 26.5 points per game. He is taking more of a scoring load with the graduation of brother Justin Holiday, who is at Washington. Dallas Rutherford is averaging 15.0 points per game.

St. Louis Park (MN) Benilde St. Margaret is led by seniors Armond Battle, a 6-foot-6 forward who signed with Tulsa, and Jordan Taylor, who is headed to Wisconsin.

Battle and Taylor are considered among the top players in the state in the Class of 2008. The duo helped lead the Red Knights to the Class AAA state championship game this past season. They led the Red Knights to a 27-5 record and a 20-0 mark in the North Suburban Conference as Battle averaged 20.1 points per game and Taylor added 19.5 points. They won 14 straight games before falling to St. Thomas Academy in the title game.

The Red Knights are off to a 3-1 start this season as Battle is averaging 24.3 points and Taylor is averaging 18.5 points per game.

Madison (WI) Memorial is 6-1 this season with their lone loss to Beloit 57-55. They played in the Timberwolves Shootout two years ago and have a 94-8 record the last four years and won four consecutive Big 8 Conference Championships, the first team to do so in the conference's 85-year history. They won the Wisconsin state tile in 2005, were runner-ups in 2004 and 2006 and advanced to the quarterfinals last season. The Spartans lost Keaton Nankivil, who is a freshman at Wisconsin, but return plenty of talent. They are led by 6-foot-6 junior Jeronne Maymon, who is averaging 21.2 points per game. Maymon was the MVP of the Sabes Invitational in May as a member of the Madison Spartans AAU team. Older brother Devonte, a 6-foot-2 guard, is averaging 11.9 points and 6-foot-3 sophomore Vander Blue is contributing 12.7 points.

Madison Memorial will play Minneapolis DeLaSalle Friday night before playing in the Timberwolves Shootout the next day.

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