Raymond Cowels leads Hopkins
Minnetonka (MN) Hopkins and Minnetonka (MN) High are two of the top teams in the state of Minnesota and big crosstown rivals. Their first meeting of the year tonight is not only a sellout, but there is talk that there will even be scalpers outside the building, taking advantage of the high demand for tickets. The two teams combined could have as many 10 Division I players on the court tonight.
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.
This season, despite losing 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, and starting four juniors, the Royals are off to a 20-0 start. They are averaging 85.9 points per game and are allowing just 61.3 points as they are outscoring their opponents by 24.6 points. The Royals defeated No. 4-ranked Wayzata 84-54 and their closest game in the state was a 12-point win. They defeated Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha by seven points in the Timberwolves Shootout 73-66.
The Royals have excellent balance as they are led by three juniors scoring in double figures. Raymond Cowels, who has offers from Northwestern, Northern Iowa, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, George Mason, Loyola (IL) and North Dakota State, is averaging a team-best 16.4 points. Trent Lockett, who has committed to Arizona State, is averaging 15.0. Mike Broghamme, who has offers from North Dakota State, Iowa, Wisconsin Green Bay and Colorado State, is averaging 11.8 points.
Anthony Di Loreto, a 7-foot, 215-pound senior center, who signed with Cal Poly, is averaging 8.2 points per game.
Junior guard Marcus Williams, who is an outstanding football prospect, is averaging 6.3 points per game. Moses Sundufu and sophomore D.J. Peterson add offensive firepower off the bench. Sundufu is averaging 10.3 points and Peterson is adding 5.0 points.
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 a 17-2 start (17-0 against Minnesota) this season and won the recent Hastings Tournament for the second straight season. They are outscoring their opponents by 18.2 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 20.5 points per game, up 2.4 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 11.9 points per game and signed with Evansville. Burns is averaging 8.7 points per game at the point guard spot.
Seniors Andrew Latzke, a 6-foot-7 forward who averaged 7.9 points, Tyler Schilling, a 6-foot-4 guard who is averaging 10.5 points, and sophomore Cole Stefan (8.2 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 8.8 points this year.
Defensive standout Ut Udo is averaging 5.2 points off the bench. He is getting local Division II and III interest. Two-sport junior standouts Taylor Nelson, the son of Minnetonka football coach Dave Nelson and a standout tight end, is averaging 4.1 points per game and defensive back Kyle Risinger is averaging 3.5 points.