by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
The Zimmerman Thunder will face a similar, and more heralded, squad in their state tournament opener on Wednesday evening.
Waterville-Elysian-Morristown, ranked No. 7 with a 28-2 record and an average margin of 30 points, awaits unranked Zimmerman (22-8) at Williams Arena at 8 p.m., in what should be what hoops coaches like to call “a track meet.”
“WEM is a lot like us,” observed Zimmerman coach Ben Kvidt. “They play fast, play great defense, and love to out hustle their opponents.”
Kvidt said the Buccaneer point guard is one of the best he’s seen getting at to the basket off the dribble, and making plays either by shooting or passing.
“They also have some guys that can flat-out shoot. Numbers 4 and 5 (Tate Harmon and Conrad Masberg) both can fill it up,” said Kvidt.
“What makes them so good is that they force teams to help on the point guard driving, and then they kick it out and hit the three-point shots. Then you add in their defense and they end up being a very good team.”
Harmon with 16.3 points per game leads W-E-M, which is making its second state appearance (the other in 2002).
The Thunder earned their school’s first state tournament berth in any sport by cruising to the Section 5AA title, capped by a 70-57 win over Watertown-Mayer on Saturday evening.
The Thunder are led in scoring by senior guards Brandon Giese with 18.7 points per game and Blake Ehley with 12.2 while a bevy of sophomores and juniors are adding another 41 points per game for this deep, speedy team.
STATE CLASS AA SCHEDULE
Rochester Lourdes (22-7) vs. Long Prairie-Grey Eagle (25-4), 6 p.m., at Target Center
Redwood Valley (21-7) vs. Minnehaha Academy (17-13), 8 p.m., at Target Center
Virginia (26-4) vs. Perham (28-1), 6 p.m., at Williams Arena
Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (28-2) vs. Zimmerman (22-8), 8 p.m., at Williams Arena
Upper backet winners, 6 p.m., at Target Center
Lower bracket winners, 8 p.m., at Target Center
Third-place, noon. at Concordia-St. Paul
Championship 2 p.m., at Target Center