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Preview: Boys basketball takes on CDH Raiders

December 1, 2017

Zeke+Nnaji%2C+junior%2C+goes+up+for+a+contested+lay-up+against+Wayzata+in+the+Sections+finals.+Hopkins+lost+this+game.+The+Royals+lost+66-51+and+ended+their+season.
Zeke Nnaji, junior, goes up for a contested lay-up against Wayzata in the Sections finals. Hopkins lost this game. The Royals lost 66-51 and ended their season.

Zeke Nnaji, junior, goes up for a contested lay-up against Wayzata in the Sections finals. Hopkins lost this game. The Royals lost 66-51 and ended their season.

Bea Frank

Bea Frank

Zeke Nnaji, junior, goes up for a contested lay-up against Wayzata in the Sections finals. Hopkins lost this game. The Royals lost 66-51 and ended their season.

The boys’ basketball season kicks off on Sat., Dec. 2 as they host the Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders.

At the end of last season, the Royals were ranked seventh while the Raiders were ranked tenth in the state of Minnesota. However, coming into the season, the Raiders jumped to second and the Royals moved up to fourth, according to MN Boys Basketball Hub.

This season, the Royals aren’t coming in as one of the best teams in Minnesota. They failed to make the state tournament for the first time since 2013 and will need to prove that they deserve a spot back there.

The Royals are coming into the season after graduating some key seniors, and will need new guys to step up. That’s where Joe Hedstrom and Anthony Davis, seniors, Zeke Nnaji, junior, and Blaise Beauchamp, sophomore, will come in. All four of these players had a significant role on the team last year, but will need to continue to step it up this season.

Ken Novak Jr., head coach, said the team has been working on developing brain patterns so they know what to do without thinking about it. They’ve also been focusing on defense and how they can play strong throughout the whole season and not just key games.

Novak isn’t too worried about the first game of the season, win or lose.

“I don’t make too big of deal out of it either way,” Novak said. “We play 26 regular season games and we don’t want to get too hung up on the first few games and the problem is we’re playing some really good teams. Sometimes you get caught up in trying to win those games instead of trying to do things you need to do the rest of the year.”

This matchup will bring a test to the big guys of both teams, Hedstrom is a Wisconsin Badger commit and the Raiders Daniel Oturu, senior, is a Minnesota Golden Gopher commit. Both players will want to show why they are the better play at their respective position. According to 247sports, Oturu is ranked second and Hedstrom is ranked eighth in the state of Minnesota.

Novak isn’t thinking much about this game too much and is more worried about his team in the long run

“It’s got less to do with them (Raiders) and him (Oturu) and more to do to develop habits.” Novak said.

After the Royals season opener, they have a small break in action until Dec. 7, when they play the Sauk Rapids-Rice Storm.

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