If you didn’t get a chance to catch some prep hoops action in the area this season, you missed out. The talent was on full display, as all four teams enjoyed some success.
There were 1,000-point scorers, and many other memorable moments this season in the sport of boys’ basketball.
ALL-AREA BOYS BASKETBALL FIRST TEAM
Sam Ragner (Watertown-Mayer)
A lot was asked of Watertown-Mayer’s Sam Ragner. In his senior year, Ragner was asked to take a step back in the scoring part of the offense and focus on running it instead. He did just that for the Royals while still being able to score in clutch situations for W-M.
“While Sam’s scoring numbers may not have been as good as they were his junior year, he did an awful lot for us this season,” W-M coach Kent Janikula said. “When our returning point guard transferred before the season, we thought we would have a bit of a point guard by committee approach. By the end of the year, it was Sam who was handling the ball for us with great consistency. He sacrificed some of his scoring to be more of a playmaker for us.”
Ragner still averaged 9.6 points per game for the Royals. He also averaged 3.7 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game. He simply did whatever it took to win.
“Sam is such a competitor,” Janikula said. “In some of our most important games, he played at his best. Sam was vital to our team’s success this season. Sam gave our team energy.”
Teigan Martin (Mayer Lutheran)
In a season filled with injuries and uncertainties, sophomore Teigan Martin was a cornerstone for the Crusaders all season long. Whether offensively or defensively, Martin led the charge for Mayer Lutheran throughout the entire season.
“He led a team full of key injuries this season,” Mayer Lutheran coach Pat Buchanan said. “He helped us become a good defensive team. The growth that Teigan has had throughout this year is the best I’ve seen from a sophomore.”
Martin finished the year averaging a team-high 18.4 points per game. His biggest game of the season came when he scored a career-high 36 points in a huge win over conference rival, Jordan.
“As a sophomore, Teigan led our team in points, rebounds, and blocks,” Buchanan said. “Teigan more than doubled his average in scoring from last year. He was dominating in the paint.”
Sean Buchanan (Mayer Lutheran)
Playing the final season of your high school career with a completely different team can be a tough task. Mayer Lutheran’s Sean Buchanan handled it just fine as he helped lead the Crusaders through a tough season.
“Sean has been a great addition to the team,” Mayer Lutheran coach Pat Buchanan said. “His ability to guard the opposing team’s best perimeter player frees up others to focus on different jobs. While handling the ball for us for most of the year, Sean made it easier for us to bring the ball up the floor and to jump-start our offense.”
Buchanan did a little bit of everything for the Crusaders as one of the few seniors. He averaged 9.1 points per game to go along with 4.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.6 steals per game.
“We became a more balanced team with Sean,” Buchanan said. “His leadership was essential to the growth of all our seniors and sophomores. We finished the season where we were, in part, due to his presence on the team.”
Evan Lee (LP/HT)
One of the most electric players in the area this season was Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity’s Evan Lee. Whether getting his teammates involved or being aggressive on his own, Lee had a big senior season to lead the way for the Bulldogs.
“Evan was a true leader on and off the court for us this year,” LP/HT coach Andrew Dahl said. “The guys really looked to him to carry us in big games and take charge when we faced adversity or uphill battles on the scoreboard. He’s an outstanding dribbler in both handling pressure and getting us into our sets, but excelled in an open and full court.”
Lee averaged 12.4 points per game this season for LP/HT but was playing his best down the stretch. He led the Bulldogs to a 16-11 record this season and will leave a big hole for LP/HT to fill next season.
“He was great at setting up teammates for open looks and getting everyone involved offensively,” Dahl said. “It was fun to see him get on a roll when he was being aggressive. He had an excellent career at LP/HT, and was a pleasure to coach in my two years here. He leaves big shoes to fill next year.”
Noah Bush (HLWW)
Defense was a key part of the success for the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Lakers all season long. Junior Noah Bush was a big reason for that.
Bush averaged 2.4 steals a game and was crucial to the Lakers’ defense all season long. As a team, HLWW allowed just 50.8 points per game to their opponents.
“Noah is awesome defensively,” HLWW coach James Carr said. “He can play the passing lanes, he has quick hands, and his ability to pick up the opposing teams’ point guard full court made it hard for teams to run their half-court offense.”
Bush also did it on the other end of the floor for the Lakers. He averaged 8.5 points and 204 assists per game. He also averaged 5.6 rebounds per game, a stat not lost on his coach.
“On offense, he can make big shots at big moments of the game,” Carr said. “What sometimes goes overlooked is his ability to rebound the basketball. He was one of our best defensive rebounders. This allowed him to get us into transition right away and push the tempo.”
ALL-AREA BOYS BASKETBALL SECOND TEAM
On every good team, there is a good role player who knows his job and does it well. Those guys might not be the most talented players or flashiest guys, but they get the job done and are a critical part of their team’s success. They’re “glue guys”, and some of the most important parts of their teams.
Below is a look at the 2017-2018 Herald Journal All-Area Boys Basketball Second Team.
Zach Jackson (LP/HT)
A slow start to the season didn’t stop Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity’s Zach Jackson from helping lead the Bulldogs. After opening the season trying to overcome the ankle injury he suffered in football, Jackson returned to form down the stretch to be one of the top scorers for the Bulldogs.
“Zach was voted as a captain as a junior, which says a lot about his leadership and the respect he has from the team,” LP/HT coach Andrew Dahl said. “He was our leading scorer this year by a few points as we were a pretty balanced scoring team overall. I appreciated that Zach didn’t try to do too much and took what the defense gave him. He is probably our top offensive threat as he has a nice game at all three levels.”
Jackson averaged 12.2 points per game this season for the Bulldogs. He also averaged 6.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.
“Zach is a very well-rounded player,” Dahl said. “A couple of his top games came in big games for us.”
Carson Woolhouse (HLWW)
For the Lakers to get where they wanted to go this season, they would need someone to step up and be a scorer. That’s exactly what Carson Woolhouse did for Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted.
The junior guard took a big step forward this season, averaging 8.9 points per game. He also averaged 2.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.3 steals per game.
“Carson makes things happen on both ends of the floor,” HLWW coach James Carr said. “He is an extremely exciting player. He uses an array of dribble moves, ball fakes, hesitations, and driving angles to get to the rim. He anticipates well. This allows him to make some amazing passes in the halfcourt. He worked very hard on his defense this season, and at times he was asked to take on the opposing team’s best scorer. He was also one of our team leaders in charges taken. He loves big moments, and is always looking to help his team win.”
Spencer Lade (HLWW)
Every team needs a versatile player. HLWW’s Spencer Lade was that to the Lakers this season. Lade did a little bit of everything for the Lakers this season. He can score in a hurry, but also grind things out defensively, as well.
“He is one of the most versatile players you will find,” Carr said. “Defensively. he lined up against the opposing team’s best guard or best forward. He has the speed, quickness, and length to guard any position on the court. He rebounded well all season, and his passing led to some high assist nights. He was great at putting pressure on the rim and getting to the free-throw line.”
While Lade’s averages might not blow you away, there’s no doubt he was a crucial piece to the puzzle for the Lakers this season.
“There were games this year where Spencer’s impact on the game might not have come across on the stat sheet,” Carr said. “It was clear to those on the court and in the stands.”
Alex Heimerl (LP/HT)
LP/HT’s Alex Heimerl was a senior who was not ready to let his career come to an end this season. As each game passed, Heimerl only got better as he helped lead the Bulldogs to another exciting season in his senior year.
“Alex had a nice season for us, leading us in rebounds and blocked shots in addition to averaging more than 11 points per game,” Dahl said. “Using his size and athletic frame, he provided a versatile threat offensively as he was able to score inside and step out and hit 3-pointers. He also did a nice job battling opposing post players on the defensive side of the ball.
Heimerl got better and better as the season went on as he became a go-to scorer for the Bulldogs. He finished the season averaging 11.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. That production will need to be replaced as Heimerl graduating leaves a big hole for the Bulldogs to fill.
“Alex grew as a player and a person in my two years coaching him and has a bright future ahead,” Dahl said. “His production, which included a big 25-point performance at home against Spectrum, will be missed next year.”
Cale Wabbe (Watertown-Mayer)
While the Watertown-Mayer boys basketball team was looking to take a big step forward as a team this season, senior Cale Wabbe did so with his own game, as well. Wabbe, one of the most improved scorers in the area, averaged 9.5 points per game and was one of the top 3-point shooters for the Royals.
“The improvement that Cale has made over the last few seasons speaks volumes to the type of kid he is,” W-M coach Kent Janikula said. “Cale has always been an outstanding shooter, but this season he was a complete player on both ends of the floor. He has a tremendous basketball IQ and is such a smart player.”
Wabbe was also asked to be a facilitator for the Royals this season. He averaged 1.4 assists, 1.0 steals, and 2.0 rebounds per game.
“Early in the season, when Ragner was out with an injury, Cale stepped up big time in providing us with a scoring boost on the perimeter,” Janikula said. “As the season went on, he was a consistent threat from the perimeter on our team, which, at times, struggled to hit outside shots. Cale was so valuable for us this season. He is one of the most unselfish players you will ever find. He was an absolute treat to coach.”