The Timberwolves Shootout Features Top Talent

The Timberwolves Shootout will features some of the top Minnesota talent and teams. Out-state teams Linn-Mar from Iowa and Illinois' North Lawndale College Prep will compete against local squads Henry Sibley and Minnetonka. GoldenSports.Net will cover the games and have recaps of all the contests and the latest recruiting info. The following is a preview of the six Timberwolves Shootout games.

Game # 1 (10:00am) = Orono vs. Grand Rapids

The Spartans, who are off to a 4-3 start, are one of the youngest teams in the state. They have seven juniors and two sophomores among their top nine. Orono is led by junior guard Jordan Smith, one of the state's top players in the Class of 2011. Smith has started the past three seasons for the Spartans and has shined as a member of the 43 Hoops 16-and-under team. He is averaging 20.0 points per game after scoring 22.0 points as a sophomore. Junior Jeremy Berg is adding 10.0 points per game and sophomore Brady Wohler is averaging 9.1 points. His father, Barry, is the Spartans' head coach and one of the state's best three-sport athletes.

Grand Rapids is ranked sixth in Class AAA and is currently 6-1 this season. The Thunderhawks finished 25-4 last year, losing to eventual state champion Minneapolis Washburn in the first round of the Class AAA state tournament, their fifth trip in eight years. They are led by 5-foot-9 point guard Michael Johnson, who signed with the University of Mary and Erick Stark.

Game # 2 (12:00pm) = Staples-Motley vs. MN Transitions

Staples-Motley is off to a 5-1 mark this season with their lone defeat on a last second shot in an 85-84 loss to Columbia Heights in the Minnesota Breakdown Tip-Off Classic. The Cardinals are an experienced team with nine returning seniors. Six-foot-one guard Jordan Riewer, who signed with Jamestown College, was the Mid-State Conference MVP last season. Six-foot-3 Derek Wolhowe and Jon Bristow, a 6-foot-4 center, are strong inside players who play bigger than their listed size.

Minnesota Transitions are off to a 6-1 start after a loss to Crosby-Ironton in the championship game of the Crosby-Ironton Tournament 60-56. The Wolves are ranked #3 (10.8) in Class AAAA and are hoping to advance to their third straight state tournament. They lost to Ellsworth in the 2008 state title game and were knocked out in the first round last year. They are led by Boston College signee Kevin Noreen, who is closing on becoming the state's all-time leading scorer. He is averaging 33.0 points, 17.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 4.3 blocked shots per game. Younger brother, Kevin, is averaging 17.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 7.1 assists per contest. They are getting plenty of support from Kansas City transfer Rodney Owens (12.0 points) and Deangelo Potter, a transfer from Brooklyn Center (11.2).

Game # 3 (2:00pm) = Crosby-Ironton vs. Plainview-Elgin-Millville Crosby-Ironton is off to an 8-0 start after winning their own holiday tournament. They are ranked #1 in Class AA after finishing 26-4 last season, losing to eventual state champion Pelican Rapids in the Section 8 finals. The Rangers are led by 6-foot-3 senior Mark Hoge, who is averaging 17.6 points, 8/0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. He is the lone starter over six-foot. The Rangers return three other seniors who are averaging double figure for the second straight season in Sam Baker (11.8 points), Brock Tesdahl (11.5) and Matt Hudrlik (10.8).

Plainview-Elgin-Millville is 7-2 after finishing fourth Rotary/US Bank Holiday Classic boys basketball tournament in Rochester. This dropped the Bulldogs from #1 to #7 in Class AA. They finished third in the Class AA Tournament last year, defeating Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted 70-52 in the third place game. The Bulldogs are led by junior Cole Olstad and senior Clay Olstad, who signed with Concordia St. Paul.

Game # 4 (4:00pm) = North Lawndale College Prep (IL) vs. Henry-Sibley North Lawndale College Prep is 8-3 after going 2-2 in the recent Basketball Challenge in Arizona. The Phoenix was 30-5 last season and finished third in the Class AAA state tournament. Jermaine Winfield, a 6-foot-4 senior, has bounced back from being shot in the leg last December. He averaged 12.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last year. Paul Bunch is a 7-foot center who has made big strides as a senior.

The Warriors started the season ranked #3 in Class AAAA and are 4-4, losing to three then-undefeated teams. Jordan Jackson, who averaged 16.3 points per game at St. Paul Como Park, has provided backcourt offense with his 17.1 points per game. He shined at the recent Best Buy Holiday Classic, where he finished as the second leading scorer and had a tournament-high 30 points in the third place game. His offensive spark has been important with the graduation losses of Wisconsin signee Mike Bruesewitz (17.4 points per game), Valparaiso signee Chris Halvorsen (14.9) and Division II Concordia St. Paul signee Maurice Hernandez (14.2). Lafayette signee Jake Kreuser, a 7-foot center and forward Mike Rostampour, a 6-foot-8 forward make up one of the state's top inside duos. Kreuser, who scored a career-high 21 points against then-#1 Hopkins, is averaging 11.2 points per game and Rostampour is adding 13.4 points. They are the only returnees among the top seven scorers from last year, but senior outside shooter Jimmy Ryan (5.9) and sophomore Dontae Gray (8.9) has added some scoring punch. The Warriors finished 27-3 last season, but were upset by Bloomington Jefferson 60-56 in the first round.

Game # 5 (6:00pm) = Linn-Mar (IA) vs. Minnetonka Linn-Mar is off to a 6-1 start this season and are ranked third in Class AAAA. The Lions lost in the state championship game last year to undefeated Ames and #1 player in the country, Harrison Barnes. It was the sixth straight season that the Lions have made it to state and placed fourth or better. They won the state title in 2004 and 2007. Marcus Paige, a sophomore point guard, has already received scholarship offers from Minnesota, Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa. He is averaging 15.6 points per game. Paige has carried more of the scoring load this season as the Lions will be without graduated seniors Zach Bohannon (Air Force) and Nate Hutcheson (Western Michigan). Matt Bohannon, younger brother of Zach and Jason, who is at Wisconsin, has emerged for Linn-Mar this year.

The Skippers are off to a 5-4 start, which is a bit misleading. Their four losses were to ranked teams and they were without three starters for their first five games, losing three contests. The Skipper, who had to replace Kyle Risinger (13.3) and Taylor Nelson (12.7), welcome back one of the state's top shooters in Cole Stefan, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, who is averaging 20.0 points per game. Junior Nick Latzke (20.9) is an outstanding outside threat who attended the Nike Jamboree this past summer. Chad Howard is a gritty point guard who is adding 13.4 points per game. Leonard Glass (11.5) is an inside banger and Tor Anderson (13.0) returns to action after being limited for JV play after transferring from Prior Lake last year. The Skippers have excellent depth and will be a team to watch with all their players back.

Game # 6 (8:00pm) = Champlin Park vs. Hopkins Champlin Park is an experienced team with their top seven scorers being seniors, The Rebels are off to a 5-2 start. Kyle Zimmerman is leading the team in scoring and rebounding with 15.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, He is one of four double figure scorers. Josh Pella is a well-rounded player who is averaging 12.6 points per game. Brandon Davis is adding 11.6 points and Jasper Duberry chips in with 11.1 points.

The Royals won the Class AAAA state title last year as they finished 31-0, They are off to a 7-1 start, losing to #1 Class AAA St. Paul Johnson 86-78 in the Best Buy Holiday Classic title game, snapping their 38-game winning streak. Hopkins, which also won the 2005 and 2006 titles, had a starting lineup dominated by Division I-caliber players in Royce White, who signed with Minnesota, Trent Lockett (Arizona State), Mike Broghammer (Notre Dame) and Raymond Cowels (Santa Clara). Point guard Marcus Williams signed with North Dakota State and plans to play both football and basketball in college. Some observers questioned how well the Royals would fare with all the losses, but the cupboard was far from bare as their younger players got plenty of chances to play together since Hopkins won by an average of over 25 points per game last year. Junior Joe Coleman, whose brother Dan played at Minnesota and was recently offered a scholarship by the Gophers, scored 43 points in the season opening win over Minneapolis Henry and is averaging 26.5 points per game. He finished as the leading scorer in the recent Best Buy Holiday Classic. Junior Marvin Singleton is a strong inside player, who is averaging 19.9 points. Versatile senior D.J. Peterson is the third double figure scorer with 10.8 points per game. Sophomore point guard Siyani Chambers (7.4) is an excellent floor general. Ninth grader Riley Dearring and Zach Stahl are emerging talents for the Royals. This year's Hopkins team is not a deep as the 2008-09 edition, but they seemed poised to try for a second straight state title.

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