Sherman column: Lake boys basketball race appears to be wide-open

If this was an average year, we’d all be asking, “Who will finish second in Lake Conference boys basketball?”
This year’s question is, “Who will finish first?”
Hopkins has dominated Lake boys basketball for the past 12 years, even though a couple of other teams, most notably Minnetonka in 2008, have shared the title with the Royals.
Coach Kenny Novak Jr. has been brilliant since coming to Hopkins in the early 1990s. He has more than 700 career wins along with six state championships.
But wait, wasn’t this supposed to be the year that Novak’s reign ended?
Some experts predicted it, but now they are eating their words. Novak’s crew is 12-2 in pre-conference play, so you certainly can’t count him out.
“Hopkins can beat anybody on any given night,” said Wayzata head coach Phil Ward.
Edina coach Pat Dorsey said that “parity” is the word for Lake boys basketball this season.
Every team has been successful in pre-conference play. Just look at the records – Minnetonka 14-1, Hopkins 12-2, Eden Prairie 12-3, Wayzata 11-4 and Edina 11-5. Remarkable, but certainly not unprecedented. These are all great programs year in and year out.
In analyzing the competition, Novak said, “Eden Prairie might have the best pair of guards in the state with Grant Shaffer and Andre Wallace. Edina has Graham Woodward, and he’s the toughest match-up in the conference. Phil Ward has a nice club at Wayzata. What do they have? Eleven wins in a row?”
Novak paused to collect his thoughts.
“You look at Minnetonka,” he said. “They’re the conference favorite.”
At least the Skippers would be if it weren’t for Hopkins. Some people, who felt the Royals might be down this season, have been forced to reconsider based on the team’s 12-2 record.
The pieces just seem to fit right for the Royals – Kamali Chambers, Jamal Davis, Jake Wright and right on down the line.
I’m not looking for Hopkins to go undefeated in the Lake Conference this season, but I’ll warn you. Don’t be surprised if the Royals are playing for the title the last night of the conference schedule.
Buth returns
Former Edina High basketball great Greg Buth will return to the Edina Community Center gym Feb. 15 for a special presentation.
Buth, who went on to play four years at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. recently had his Edina scoring record broken by Graham Woodward. Buth has graciously agreed to present the ball from the record-breaking game to Woodward.
Like Buth, Woodward is headed to the Division I ranks next season. He will don a Penn State Uniform and be seen frequently on the Big Ten Network.
Swim status
Two Edina High swimmers won gold medals during the state Class AA True Team meet Jan. 26 at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
Erick Huft, the Hornets’ multi-event speedster, won the 200- and 500-yard freestyle titles. His time in the 200 was 1:42.89 and his 500 time was 4:39.78. Yes, that’s right. He broke 4:40!
Edina’s Jackson Lindell added a first place in the the 200-yard individual medley in 1:56.14.
It was a good day for the Hornets and for the Lake Conference. Eden Prairie finished first with 2,313 points, Minnetonka was second with 2,159.5 and Edina was fourth with 1,690.5. Wayzata, another Lake power, was sixth with 1,496 points.

Contact John Sherman at john.sherman@ecm-inc.com

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