Tonka Basketball - Tesdahl

Lake Conference’s newest coach, Bryce Tesdahl of Minnetonka, with veteran leader Ken Novak Jr. of Hopkins in the foreground Jan. 28, 2020.

2019-20 Record: 6-21 (5th Metro West, lost in 2AAAA quarterfinals)

Head Coach: Corey Christopherson

What to know: Christopherson, a former assistant in Eden Prairie and Austin, was hired to replace Nate Pelowski, who stepped down after coaching the Storm for the first 11 seasons of existence.

Key returners: Senior captains Ben Giles (11ppg/3.5rpg/2.5apg), Adam Strobel (8ppg/5rpg) and Mike Shea (5ppg/4rpg/1bpg). "They bring great leadership, experience and skill to our program. These three will be instrumental in the success we have this season," Christopherson said.

Season outlook: "We have a great mix of upperclassmen and talented underclassmen in our program. Our senior leadership (Giles, Strobel, Shea, Austin Boll, Alec Ungar) will be relied upon a lot, especially early in the season as we adjust to a new style of play. Even with the learning curve, we feel we have the talent within the program to be competitive night in and night out," the head coach said.

Excitement from first week of practice: "We have such high-quality kids; they want to be coached, they are willing to work. Even with all the obstacles in the way this season, the boys in our program have been positive in their thoughts and energy. It been exciting and just a joy to coach these guys and we as a coaching staff can’t wait to get in the gym each day," Christopherson said.

2019-20 Record: 24-4 (1st Metro West, lost in 2AAAA semifinals)

Head Coach: Dana Kallman

What to know: Chaska has won three of the last four conference titles, sporting a 13-1 league record in 2016-17, 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Key returners: Senior forward Spencer Goetz (8ppg, 7rpg), senior guard Luke Strazzanti (14ppg/FG 49%/3pt 43%), senior guard Jack Frick (8ppg/3pt 40%).

Schedule highlights: Chaska has stacked its non-conference schedule with Hopkins, Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, Edina, Wayzata, and Minnehaha Academy and the top-ranked player in the country in Chet Holmgren. "We have put together a very competitive non-conference schedule that will allow us to see how we stack up against some of the very best teams in the state of Minnesota. Games against these teams should challenge our guys and also prepare us for post season play," the coach said.

Excitement from first week of practice: "After the first few days of practice our staff is excited to see that our seniors have stepped up as leaders and are setting an example for our younger guys. It is also great to see, that given the circumstances, our players have found different ways to keep themselves in shape," Kallman said.

2019-20 Record: 11-17 (5th Wright County East, lost in 5AA quarterfinals)

Head Coach: Matt Thuli

What to know: The Wright County Conference will shake-up after this season with Orono, Waconia and New Prague exiting. Jordan is a new member in the WCC East.

Key returners: Senior guard Noah Seck (9.4ppg), senior post Jake Kirsch (5.5ppg), senior guard Gavin Lund (2.8ppg), sophomore post Boden Kapke (7.4ppg), senior guard Jacob Warmka (2.0ppg).

Season outlook: "We will have more size this year, which will allow us to change a few things we do on offense and defense. We should have good depth and several players can contribute and play multiple positions. This will provide us with several options on the defensive end and will help us play a more aggressive style on offense and defense," Thuli said. "The conference should be pretty open and every game will be a test. With the shortened season, 14 of our 18 games will be in conference."

Excitement from first week of practice: "I am very pleased with the tempo and intensity we have practiced with. COVID has brought us some changes, but our players are excited and grateful to have an opportunity to play. I am very happy with the way they have embraced the changes and have not let them become a distraction or a deterrent. Like all the other teams and coaches, we are ready to play games and get back to competing," the coach said.

2019-20 Record: 12-15 (6th Lake, lost in 2AAAA quarterfinals)

Head Coach: Bryce Tesdahl

What to know: Ibrahim El-Amin, son of Minneapolis North state champion and Connecticut Huskies national champion Khalid El-Amin, has transferred in from Burnsville. El-Amin averaged 18 points per game as a freshman for the Blaze. "He will be a great player for us!" Tesdahl said.

Key returners: Junior guard Cohen Kellogg (3.6ppg/1.6apg), sophomore guard Jalen Cain (7.4ppg/2.2rpg/1.4apg).

Excitement from first week of practice: "It has been great to be back on the floor with our student athletes and coaching staff to start 2021. The opportunity to practice and play provides some normalcy, which these kids have not had since last February/early March. Sometimes we take opportunities for granted, but I don’t believe that will be the case this season. Every opportunity to compete is a special opportunity," Tesdahl said.

Lake Conference outlook: "Top to bottom, it will be one of the best across the state again this season. The conference is full of great coaches, players, and programs. We will have to outwork and be ready to play on a nightly basis to put ourselves in a position to succeed. We will have a mix of freshmen-seniors to step up and fill major roles on both ends of the floor," the coach said.

2019-20 Record: 14-14 (4th Minnesota River, lost in 5AA quarterfinals)

Head Coach: Tommy Hutton

What to know: Hutton, a longtime assistant at Chanhassen High School, is in his first high school head coaching job. Kit Avery led Southwest Christian from 2012 to 2020. It is the final season in the Minnesota River Conference for the Stars.

Key returners: Senior Tyson Sandness (13.8ppg/4.3rpg), all-conference; junior Brayden Zimmerman (8.7ppg/5.3rpg); junior Nick Burke (top JV scorer, transfer from Prior Lake); senior Nick Morland (7.3ppg), all-conference, steals team leader; senior Issac Harrison (5.7ppg); senior Lucas Anderson (4.6ppg); junior Jake Berg (2.0ppg).

Season outlook: "We are playing in our last year of the Minnesota River Conference. Our focus and goal is to be near the top of our conference and potentially vie for a conference championship this year. It will all depend on how quickly the players and coaches can get on the same page. A first-year coach and an entirely new system and style will prove as the biggest challenge at the start of the season. If we can get player buy-in early and start fast, we should be able to reach our goals. We are looking to create a new identity built on defense and speed. We want to be disruptive and take advantage of our opponent's mistakes. We are trying to keep it simple and coach to elevate the Basketball IQ of all our players. To put a good product on the floor and build our program into one our players, our school, and the community will be very proud to support and watch," Hutton said.

Excitement from first week of practice: "I love this team and couldn't be happier with the passion, speed, and energy the players have shown so far. I am receiving tremendous support from the AD and school officials. I have taken over at SWC at a very good time with so many good players returning as well as a very good incoming group of freshmen. I feel our boys are excited for this coaching change and the new opportunities it offers them. We have a lot to put in place in a very short period of time, but the boys seem responsive and are ramping-up for their first game," Hutton said.

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