Who were last year’s section champions? Lakeville North won Section 1AAAA (84-59 over John Marshall), Austin won 1AAA (57-54 over Northfield), Lake City won 1AA (70-42 over St. Charles), Spring Grove won 1A (72-54 over Randolph).
Of those section champions, who went furthest at state? All of the Section One champions had strong state runs as Lakeville North placed second while Austin, Lake City and Spring Grove all took third place.
Coming and going: There has been some shuffling in all four classes of Section One for the 2019-20 season. The biggest move of a section power has Lakeville North shifting from Section 1AAAA to Section 3AAAA. Lakeville North has won the past seven Section 1AAAA titles, beating John Marshall in the title game in the previous seven seasons. With Lakeville North's departure, Northfield moves up a class from AAA and will now be in the eight-team Section 1AAAA field. Northfield departs Section 1AAA and two new teams move in as Byron (up from 1AA) and Faribault join to make it an eight-team section. As Byron leaves Class AA, Goodhue moves up a class to join the 16-team Section 1AA field. With Goodhue's departure, Section 1A will now consist of 19 teams.
Section races: Lakeville North's departure should make Section 1AAAA an open race. Mayo, led by senior twins Gabe and Mason Madsen, should be a contender to compete for a section title along with Century and Lakeville South. Austin has won the last three Section 1AAA titles. The Packers lost some elite players from a year ago, but figure to be the team to beat in the section again this season. Section 1AA has been a back-and-forth battle between Lake City and Caledonia in recent years. The teams have combined for six straight section titles with Caledonia claiming four titles (2014-16, 20180 and Lake City winning two (2019, 2017). Lake City and Caledonia both have a lot of stellar players back, and are again the teams to beat in Section 1AA, but the section is loaded. Stewartville is an up and coming team in Section 1AA while St. Charles and La Crescent should also be strong. Section 1A should be a competitive race. Hayfield returns four starters and could be the team to beat. Others in the mix figure to be Rushford-Peterson, Blooming Prairie and possibly Grand Meadow.
Life after Hurt: John Marshall has played in the past seven Section 1AAAA title games. In six of those seasons, Matthew Hurt was on the roster. The standout was the state's Mr. Basketball last season when he averaged 37.0 points a game. He is now playing at Duke. The Rockets will have to try and claw their way back to the section finals without Hurt.
"It certainly will be different," JM coach Jim Daily said. "We won't be able to rely on one scorer, like we did with Matthew. We won't have that luxury that we did last year. We're going to have rely on scoring by committee, and that's not a bad thing."
Who’s are the best players in southeastern Minnesota?: There are a lot of standout players in the area, including four seniors who have already signed to play Division I college basketball. The Madsen twins of Mayo -- 6-5 guard Gabe (23.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists a game last year) and 6-3 guard Mason (22.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.9 apg) -- are both going to Cincinnati. Lake City 6-5 senior guard Nate Heise (21.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 4.5 apg) is bound for Northern Iowa while Caledonia 6-2 guard Noah King (19.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.1 apg) is headed to South Dakota State, where he will join his older brother Owen.
Other players to watch in Rochester: Century is led by dynamic senior guard Jack Fisher (22.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.0 apg); 6-6 forward Colin Meade (17.5 ppg) of Lourdes is bound to play college ball at St. John's and 6-8 Lincoln Meister (11.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg) should be the go-to player at John Marshall.
Other top area players: There are at least two underclassmen who figure to be future Division I players in Stewartville 6-8 junior Will Tschetter (22.7 ppg, 7.7 rpb, 3.2 apg) and Caledonia sophomore guard Eli King (13.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.1 apg). Lake City 6-4 senior guard/forward Reid Gastner (14.5 ppg, 6.6 rpb, 4.5 apg) is bound for Division II Minnesota State, Moorhead while 6-8 Dover-Eyota forward Brady Williams (19.0 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 4.7 apg) is headed for D-II Minnesota State, Mankato. Others to watch include Austin 6-3 guard Agwa Nywesh (16.5 ppg, 4.3 rpb, 3.1 apg), Hayfield 6-7 senior center Lyke Dudycha (11.7 ppg, 9.8 rpb), P-E-M junior guard Blake Herber (15.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.6 apg), St. Charles junior Cooper Vaughn (17.0 ppg), La Crescent senior Luke Schwartzhoff (16.3 ppg, 7.6 rpb) and Kasson-Mantorville junior guard Jace Bigelow (14.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg).
"There's some really great talent in our area right now," Lake City coach Greg Berge said. "It's going to be a fun season."
-- Guy N. Limbeck