Plenty of talented teams in the hunt for AA boys' title

BISMARCK – Buckle up! The Division AA (formerly known as Class A) state basketball tournament gets underway on Thursday, March 7 at the Bismarck Event Center with quarterfinals. The tournament will feature 11 games over three days. Two loser-out and two semifinal games are on Friday, March 8 with the fifth place, third place and championship games on Saturday, March 9. As custom, the field includes four teams from the Western Dakota Association and four from the Eastern Dakota Conference.

Beasts of the East: Top-seed and EDC regular season champion Fargo Davies won the East Region Tournament title to gain the region’s top seed for the AA state tournament. The Eagles defeated No. 3 Fargo North in the championship. No. 2 West Fargo Sheyenne and No. 6 West Fargo also qualified.

Best from the West: Top-seed Minot High earned its third West Region Tournament title in four seasons to earn the region’s top seed for the AA state tournament. The Magi defeated No. 2 Bismarck High in the championship. The teams had splits two regular season contests. No. 3 Bismarck Century and No. 6 Bismarck Legacy also qualified.

The Contenders: Fargo North is the defending champion and a No. 2 seed…Minot High is the WDA regular season and West Region Tournament winner and has the best record (23-1) among the tournament field…Fargo Davies is the EDC regular season and East Region Tournament champion…Bismarck High won 14-straight games before its loss in the region final and handed Minot its only defeat…WF Sheyenne has one of the most talented offensive teams in the field and is capable of stringing three wins in a row. The squad has wins over three of the contenders (Davies, North, BHS).

Team records: (1W) Minot High, 23-1; (1E) Fargo Davies, 20-4; (2W) Bismarck High, 18-6; (2E) Fargo North, 16-8; (3W) Bismarck Century, 18-6; (3W) WF Sheyenne, 17-7; (4W) Bismarck Legacy, 12-12; (4E) West Fargo, 10-4

TV/Web coverage: WDAY-TV is televising and live video web streaming tournament games (check the NDHSAA website for more viewing details)…Tournament games will be carried either through streaming of live TV by WDAY.

Free throws: The WDA and EDC split its 24 games against each other in regular season play…Last season’s championship game had Fargo North defeating G.F. Red River; it was the first time since 2012 that two EDC teams played for the title…There are five players in the tournament that average 20 or more points per game (Mason Klabo, Fargo Davies; Jeremiah Sem, Fargo North; Parker Falcon; Legacy; Tony Leal, West Fargo; Tommy Ahneman, WF Sheyenne

By the numbers

3: Number of state basketball championships won by West Fargo in the Capital City

5: Consecutive state tournament appearances by Bismarck High; most of any current WDA team

6: The sixth seed in both the East Region (West Fargo) and the West Regions (Bismarck Legacy) qualified for the tournament.

6’9’’: Height of WF Sheyenne junior standout Tommy Ahneman

12: Number of state championships won, collectively, by the head coaches in the tournament field (6: Dean Winczewski; 2: Darrin Mattern; 1: Jason Horner; 1: Bart Manson; 1: Travis Hoeg; 1: Adam Palczewski

13: Current win streak by Fargo Davies

18: State championships by Minot High, most of any team in the field

28.3: Points per game average by Fargo Davies junior Mason Klabo

80.7: Points per game by West Fargo Sheyenne

516: Career coaching wins for Minot High’s Dean Winczewski

Note: Complete team stats and other items can be found on the AA state website which has a link on the Home Page

Photo: Aric Winczewski, Minot High