The Elks couldn’t generate much momentum last season in Ryan Servaty’s first season as head coach, finishing the regular season with a record of 6-20 before losing 84-57 to Buffalo in the Section 8-4A quarterfinal on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Elk River had four losing streaks of three consecutive losses or more, including a seven-game losing streak that lasted from Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, to Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. The Elks haven’t had a winning season since 2016-17 when Elk River finished the regular season with a record of 15-11. The Elks made the Section 8-4A semifinal four years ago, losing to 2017 Class 4A semifinalist Maple Grove 71-59 on Saturday, March 11, 2017, at St. Cloud State University.
Head coach: Ryan Servaty (second season)
Key players returning for 2020-21: Junior center Brandon Melchior finished second for Elk River in scoring with 233 points in 26 games, averaging 9 points per game. Also returning for their junior seasons will be guards Parker Behne and Liam Carr. Behne finished fifth on the Elks scoring list with 191 points, while Carr finished sixth with 133 points in 19 games, averaging 7 points per game.
Key departures: Two of Elk River’s top scorers graduated. Senior guard Payton Mielke was Elk River’s leading scorer last season, scoring 258 points in 25 games, averaging 10.3 points per game. Senior guard Braydon O’Connor finished third on the Elks in scoring with 228 points in 24 games, averaging 9.5 points per game.
Key games: Season opener against Osseo on Thursday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. at Osseo High School; home opener vs. Park Center on Wednesday, Jan. 20, at 7 p.m. at Elk River High School; home-and-home vs. Rogers on Friday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. at Elk River High School and Tuesday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. at Rogers High School; senior night and regular-season finale vs. Maple Grove on Thursday, March 11, at 7 p.m. at Elk River High School
The Rogers boys basketball team will look to get back to an over .500 record during the 2020-21 season. In 2019-20, the Royals finished the regular season 10-16 before losing 75-73 to St. Michael-Albertville in the Section 8-4A quarterfinal on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at Rogers High School. The Royals haven’t had a winning season since 2017-18 when Rogers finished 18-8 before losing to Buffalo 64-58 in the Section 8-4A quarterfinal on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at Rogers High School.
Head coach: Joe Belka (18th season, head coach since 2003-04).
Key players returning in 2020-21: Junior guard Peyton Belka finished fifth on the Royals in points with 128 points in 24 games, averaging 5.3 points per game with 5 three-pointers. Also returning for Rogers in this season will be senior forward Michael Olowo. Olowo finished sixth in scoring for the Royals last season with 107 points in 19 games, averaging 5.6 points per game with 2 three-pointers.
Key departures: The Royals’ graduated their top three scorers from 2019-20. Senior forward Thomas Glad led Rogers with 329 points in 26 games played, averaging 12.7 points per game. Glad and senior guard Sam Simpson tied for the Royals lead in three-pointers. Both seniors scored 24 three-pointers last season. Simpson scored 309 points in 26 games, averaging 11.9 points per season. Senior guard Jake Hemann finished third on the Royals in points with 170 points in 24 games, averaging 7.1 per game with 6 three-pointers. Hemann led the Royals with 33 assists.
Key games: season opener vs. Champlin Park on Thursday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m. at Rogers High School; home-and-home vs. Elk River on Friday, Jan 22, at 7 p.m. at Elk River High School and Monday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. at Rogers High School; senior day vs. Blaine on Saturday, March 6, at 2 p.m. at Rogers High School; regular-season finale vs. Centennial on Thursday, March 11, at 7 p.m. at Centennial High School
The Sting are looking to repeat as Minnesota Classic Athletic Association regular-season champions in 2020-21 after winning the conference title in 2019-20 with a record of 13-1 against MCAA opponents and an overall record of 14-12. Spectrum lost 82-64 to Mora in the Section 6-2A round of 16 on Thursday, March 5, 2020, at Mora High School.
Head coach Justin Femrite said there will be multiple players who will carry the offense after senior guard and leading scorer Max Lawrence graduated.
“Our juniors led by our junior captains, most certainly Titus Skistad, has the most experience,” Femrite said. “[So will] Carter Femrite [and} Landon Siegel will all contribute big for us this season.”
Spectrum will open the season with a home-and-home series against North Lakes Academy, with the Sting hosting the Huskies on Thursday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m. at Spectrum High School Commons and North Lakes Academy hosting Spectrum on Saturday, Jan. 16, at North Lakes Academy. The Sting’s senior night will be against Kimball Area on Friday, March 12, at 7 p.m. at Spectrum High School Commons.
Justin Femrite said it will be different not having many fans in the stands this winter due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minnesota State High School League announced on Wednesday, Jan. 6, that a maximum of 150 fans can attend indoor events and a maximum of 250 fans can attend outdoor events.
“The energy that they bring and how they help us,” he said. “We’ll get used to it, just like we’re getting used to the masks this week. Every day is easier. Every game will be easier as we get into it, but [losing the energy] will be the biggest thing.”
While a Class 3A state boys basketball tournament for 2021 has not yet been scheduled, if there is one, Zimmerman will look to make it for the first time since 2011.
The Thunder haven’t made the state tournament since the 2010-11 season, when Zimmerman defeated Watertown-Meyer 70-57 in the Section 5-2A championship game on Friday, March 18, 2011, at St. Cloud State University. In 2019-20, Zimmerman finished the regular season with a record of 8-17 and lost 72-49 to Delano in the Section 5-3A quarterfinal on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at Delano High School.
Head Coach: Nathan Christensen (fifth season, head coach since 2016-17)
Key players returning for in 2020-21: senior guard Nolan Spence and senior forward Luke Wilson,
Key departures: Senior guards Carter Mceachern and Trevor Wellman graduated.
Key games: Season opener vs. Mora on Friday, Jan. 15, at 7:15 p.m. at Mora High School; home opener vs. Albany on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 7:15 p.m. at Zimmerman Middle and High School; senior night vs. Saint Francis on Friday, March 26, at 7:15 p.m. at Zimmerman Middle and High School