Class AA State Preview: Bombers open against St. Croix Lutheran

Braham will be part of the big 100th anniversary of the State boys basketball tourney this weekend. The Class AA field is a mixed bag with three programs earning State titles over the past 10 years aiming to add another trophy to the case.

The Bombers (29-1) earned the No. 3 seed and will take on St. Croix Lutheran (24-6) in the 8 p.m. game on Wednesday, March 21 at Williams Arena. The Crusaders are making their debut in the State hoops title, but this group is coming off a great autumn when they won the Class AAA football championship.

6’3” junior Cody Sticha leads the balanced attack for SCL with 13.1 ppg and is second on the team with 175 rebounds. Junior guard Jackson Goplen has 106 assists and averages 12.5 ppg. Senior Matt Olson, the quarterback on the Crusader football team, also averages 12.5 ppg and pulled down 175 boards. 6’ senior Wesley Tucker has 237 rebounds coming in and adds 9.6 ppg. Then there’s senior guard Mark Lawrence who averages 10.7 ppg and leads the Crusaders with 66 ‘3s.’

Also in their half of the brackets are No. 2 St. Peter (28-1) vs. Plainview-Elgin-Millville (24-6), playing at 6 p.m. at Williams. St. Peter, back in the tourney for the first time since 1995, is the tallest team in the field with 6’7” junior Peter Kruize (10.0 ppg/162 reb.), 6’5” senior Joey Bartlett (21.1 ppg/208 reb./59 3s), 6’5” Ben Rosburg (15.4 ppg/162 reb.) and 6’3” senior Chad Poppen (11.9 ppg/57 3s). P-E-M is led by senior Cory Speer (15.5 ppg/159 asst.), 6’4” senior Sam Ruth (14.5 ppg/193 reb.), and 6’4” senior Chase Montgomery (9.1 ppg).

In the top brackets at the Target Center Wednesday night, defending “AA” champ and No. 1 seed Perham (27-2) plays Worthington (21-6), and No. 4 Litchfield (24-4) goes against Watertown-Mayer (28-2). Perham is the defending “AA” champ, led this season by 6’7” senior Mark Schumacher (12.0 ppg/142 reb.) and senior Jordan Bruhn (12.5 ppg/165 asst.). Balanced Litchfield won State titles in 2002, 2002 and 2003 and is led by 6’3” senior Mitch Wollin (11.1 ppg/150 reb.), junior Zach Whitchurch (11.9 ppg/73 3s) and junior Zach Kinney (9.9 ppg/190 asst.).

The Class AA semifinals will be 6 & 8 p.m. at the Target Center on Friday, March 23, with the championship game at 2 p.m. on Saturday.