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13 players who could be difference-makers in the Section 1 boys basketball tournaments

The boys basketball postseason begins this week and here are 13 area players who could make a difference during the Section 1 tournaments

Lewiston-Altura, St. Charles Boys Basketball
Lewiston-Altura’s Thomas Menk (23) goes up for a shot during a boys basketball game against St. Charles on Dec. 14, 2021, at Lewiston-Altura High School. Menk is averaging more than 23 points a game this season and has helped Lewiston-Altura post an 18-8 record and a No. 5 seed in the upcoming Section 1AA tournament.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo
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The regular season is over and area teams are now looking to push through section play and earn a state tournament berth in boys basketball.

Play in Section 1A and 1AA begins in full swing today. The Section 1AAA and 1AAAA tournaments, which feature eight teams each, begin next week.

RELATED: Section 1A & 1AA boys basketball schedule

A lot of the highly seeded teams have a strong 1-2 tandem — or more — of players who should help them make a strong run. Here are 13 players to keep tabs on during section play, and in a number of cases their key sidekicks as well. Each is listed in alphabetical order.

Section 1A

Buay Koak, Lyle/Pacelli: The 6-foot-4 junior guard is among the top scorers in the area, netting 22.9 points per game. He also averages three assists, three blocks and two steals while helping L/P post a 23-4 record and No. 6 seed in the section. Point guard Jake Truckenmiller has averaged 16.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.9 steals in his first season as a starter.

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Paul Kortsch, Kenyon-Wanamingo: The senior center has taken a big step this season and at 6-foot-10 he gives the Knights a dominating presence on the inside. He has continued to improve as the season has gone on and is averaging a double-double with just more than 12 points and 11 rebounds a game. He also averages 3.5 blocks for 20-5 K-W, the No. 4 seed. Laden Nerison, a 6-4 senior guard, is also a force as he averages 19 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.5 steals per outing.

Isaac Matti, Hayfield: The 6-1 junior guard has helped the Vikings, the defending Class A state champions, earn the top seed in the section, a No. 1 state ranking and a 25-2 record. Matti has averaged 21.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game while hitting 75 3-pointers. The Vikings have a "big three" with junior guard Ethan Pack and senior forward Easton Fritcher. Pack is averaging 16.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists and is among the state leaders with 87 3-pointers. Fritcher averages 14.0 points and 8.8 rebounds.

Justin Ruberg, Rushford-Peterson: The 6-3 senior forward has been an inside force for the Trojans the past two seasons. He has used his physical play to muscle his way to 17.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Senior guard Malachi Bunke is a solid second option with 12.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists averages. The Trojans (20-4) are the No. 2 seed in the section and beat Hayfield 51-47 during the regular season.

Duane Wojcik/Will Opshal, Goodhue: Both players are 6-4 and have different roles, but they are a solid 1-2 punch for the 20-6 Wildcats, the No. 3 section seed. Wojcik is a physical senior forward who averages 15.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Opsahl is a junior point guard with a smooth-shooting stroke who averages 14.4 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds per outing.

Section 1AA

Eli King, Caledonia: The 6-3 senior guard is one of the most athletic players in the state. Headed to Iowa State University to play basketball, King has helped guide Caledonia to a 24-1 record, the top seed in the section and the top ranking in all of Class AA. He averages 19 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and four steals a game. Jackson Koepke, a 6-4 senior guard, is also a force for the Warriors, averaging 17 points and five rebounds per contest.

Thomas Menk, Lewiston-Altura: The 6-5 senior forward is a dual scoring threat who averages 23.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. He has helped the Cardinals post an 18-8 record and a No. 5 seed in the section. Like King, he has been named one of the semifinalists for the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association McDonald Award. Collin Bonow has chipped in with 16.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 4.0 steals per game.

Kaiden Peters/Aeron Stevens, Plainview-Elgin-Millville: The pair have formed a dynamic 1-2 scoring punch to help the Bulldogs post a 25-1 record and a No. 2 section seed. P-E-M's lone setback was 71-43 to Caledonia. Peters has averaged 17.1 points per game and Stevens scores at a 16.8 clip. P-E-M has won 11 straight entering section play.

Justin Wohlers, Lake City: The 6-6 senior guard helped the Tigers tie for the Hiawatha Valley League crown, the seventh straight year Lake City has either won or shared the league title. Wohlers is an inside-outside threat who has averaged 18.7 points and about eight rebounds per game for the Tigers, 20-4 are the No. 3 section seed. Sophomore guard Hunter Lorenson is a strong second scoring option, averaging 15.7 points per outing.

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Section 1AAA

Jasper Hedin, Winona: The Winhawks should be the No. 1 seed in Section 1AAA and Hedin is a big reason why. He is a 6-5 senior guard who is a lethal scoring force. He is being recruited by Division I teams and averages more than 20 points per game and has the ability score both on the inside and the perimeter.

Camden Holecek, Kasson-Mantorville: The 6-3 senior guard has developed a strong inside-outside game to improve his scoring average six points per outing. That has increased his scoring to 18.2 points per game this season. He is also averaging 4.0 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.2 assists while helping the KoMets post a 16-9 record.

Section 1AAAA

Evan Dushek/Brayden Williams, Owatonna: The two seniors are both dynamic scorers for the Big Nine Conference champion Huskies. Dushek is a 6-7 forward who averages 21 points, 11.5 rebounds and two blocks per game. Williams, a 6-2 guard who will play at Bemidji State, averages 21.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 4.0 steals. With two other players averaging in double figures for scoring, Owatonna (22-2, 20-0 Big Nine) is the likely top seed in the section.

Nolan Winter, Lakeville North: Lakeville North is back in Section 1 again after spending the last two seasons in Section 3. The Panthers are 18-6, likely to be the No. 2 seed, and should be a force again. If North makes a strong run, Winter will have a big impact. The 6-10 junior forward is a force on the inside. He averages nearly a double-double and garners 18.1 points per game.

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Guy N. Limbeck is a Rochester native who has been working at a daily newspaper since 1981. He has worked at the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Guy at 507-285-7724 or glimbeck@postbulletin.com.
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