If you didn’t get a chance to catch some prep hoops action in the area this season, you missed out. Talent was on full display in the area, as all four teams enjoyed some success this season.
There were state tournaments, 1,000-point scorers, and many other memorable moments this season in the sport of boys basketball.
Below is a look at the 2017-18 Herald Journal All-Area Boys Basketball First Team.
BADEN NOENNIG (MAYER LUTHERAN)
There might not be a more difficult guard in the area than Mayer Lutheran’s Baden Noennig. Just a junior, at 6-foot-6, Noennig is a nightmare matchup for opposing teams. He can battle inside and finish at the rim, or he can take his defender out on the perimeter to drive by him or knock down a 3-pointer. Whatever it is, Noennig can hurt you in so many ways.
He helped the Crusaders to a third-place finish at the Class A state tournament this season, and will be back once again next season.
Noennig was an All-Conference selection for the MN River Conference, and was named to the Class A All-Tournament team.
Noennig averaged 17.4 points per game, as well 7.5 rebounds and three assists. He also recorded his 1,000th career point this season.
“Baden is an all-around player who we could count on game after game to do what was needed for the team,” Mayer Lutheran coach Pat Buchanan said. “Baden started to truly understand mid-season about his gift that allows him to dominate a game.”
GARRETT TJERNAGEL (MAYER LUTHERAN)
Nobody stepped up their game like senior Garrett Tjernagel did this season in the postseason. After a relatively slow start to the season for Tjernagel, he brought his best against some of the state’s best, helping lead Mayer Lutheran to their first state tournament appearance since 2000.
Through the Section 2A tournament, Tjernagel played his best ball of the season, averaging 19.5 points per game. That’s almost eight more points per game than he averaged in the regular season.
On the season, Tjernagel averaged 11.9 points per game, and shot 57 percent from the field. He also averaged 7.2 rebounds per game.
“Garrett’s athleticism and leadership helped push the team through a long season,” Buchanan said. “He improved in his ability to provide us with high-percent shots, scoring in the paint, and became more consistent as the season progressed.”
WILSON KUHN (WATERTOWN-MAYER)
With senior Riley Alger missing most of the season, Wilson Kuhn stepped up and delivered big time. The senior averaged 11.2 points per game, and shot 32 percent from 3-point range on the season.
Kuhn, who led the team in scoring this season, has the ability to get hot at any minute. Against Rockford in the first round of the Section 5AA tournament, Kuhn caught fire. He scored 22 second-half points, including knocking down five 3-pointers to nearly bring the Royals all the way back for the upset win.
“(He’s a) lights out shooter, and fantastic teammate,” Watertown-Mayer coach Kent Janikula said. “(He) came off of bench for awhile during the season and was always positive. We went as he went. As a scorer, he became more efficient off the dribble as the year went on.”
MICHAEL ZIERMANN (LP/HT)
Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity’s Michael Ziermann is another talented junior who will be back after a very strong season. On the year, he averaged 15.8 point per game while he recording his 1,000th career point.
Ziermann is a three-year starter who continues to improve his game on both ends of the floor, while also being a leader for his team.
“Michael Ziermann was an all-around performer for the Bulldogs,” LP/HT coach Nat Boyer said. “Michael took his game to another level this year by becoming more of an all-around player. He showed good growth. When you have a player who can be a triple-threat offensively, it gives your team a lot of different options.”
ZACH UTER (HLWW)
It would be hard to find a better leader on the floor than Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted’s Zach Uter. The senior came up with big plays time and time again this season for the Lakers.
What makes Uter such a tough player to defend is his ability to play inside and out. He’s got the strength and toughness to play inside, but can also knock down the jumper and play on the perimeter.
Uter averaged just 10.3 points per game this season, but turned it up even more in conference play. Uter was third in the Central MN Conference in scoring, at 13.4 points per game, and fourth in 3-point shooting percent at 42 percent.
“Zach was a great leader for us all year,” HLWW coach James Carr said. “As the year progressed, he stepped up in every facet of the game. You can see this in CMC game stats. He was a really tough match-up because of his skill set. Being such a good shooter, with the abilities to attack the rim and play down low, opposing teams had to decide to go big or small against him, and either way, Zach found a way to be successful.”