State primer: Lakeville North to face talented Maple Grove team

Nathan Reuvers scored 21 points to lead Lakeville North to its fifth consecutive section title. Photo: Sue Nelson

After slowing down a Division-I duo in the section championship, the Lakeville North boys’ basketball team will need to do the same to win its state quarterfinal game vs Maple Grove on Wednesday at noon at Target Center.

The No. 4-seeded Crimson are led by junior point guard Brad Davison and senior center Reed Nikko; Nikko signed to play for Missouri in November, and Davison has offers from multiple Division-I programs such as Nebraska and Davidson, the former home of Golden State’s Steph Curry.

Nikko, a traditional post player, is a strong presence underneath the basket, standing 6-foot-10. He averaged over three blocks per game in the regular season. Lakeville North will need to limit his touches near the basket to slow down the Maple Grove offense.

Nikko had to overcome tragedy not long ago. His father died from a heart attack during Nikko’s sophomore year of high school, and the story of how he overcame losing his father is worth the read.

Film of Nikko can be seen here.

Although the Panthers will need to limit Nikko to come out with a victory on Wednesday, Davison is Crimson’s main offensive threat.

Davison, a 6-foot-3 point guard, averaged about 20 points per game in the regular season. He put up 30 points in the section final against Elk River. He was also named to the Star Tribune’s All Metro team in 2016.

The Panthers know the key to stopping Maple Grove will be to stop Davison.

“We have to slow him down,” said Nathan Reuvers, a junior forward. “He has taken a lot of shots and scored a lot.” 

Other players to watch include senior guard Taron Pickford, who scored 16 points in the section championship, and junior guard Jack Hutchinson, who has an offer from Montana State.

Hutchinson and Reuvers will play on the same AAU team in the spring, which is where Reuvers began to spark interest from Division-I programs last season. Reuvers, who has 15 Division-I offers, led Lakeville North to victory over Rochester John Marshall in the section championship, scoring 21 points and hitting a clutch three-pointer late in the game.

Reuvers’ play led Greg Gard, the Wisconsin head men’s basketball coach, to offer him shortly after the game.

Like Davison, Reuvers also scored about 20 points per game in the regular season.

Reuvers may need a similar performance if the Panthers hope to defeat the Crimson, but they’ve shown their offense doesn’t have to run through the 6-foot-10 forward for Lakeville North to win.

The main strength of the Panthers is their depth on both offense and defense. Concordia-St. Paul commit Carter Brooks, who averaged 12.5 points in the regular season, scored the game-winning basket in the section championship. Add in Cal Pesola who can be dangerous at the three-point line and other offensive weapons such as David Lindstrand, Ethan Igbanugo and Drew Stewart, and Maple Grove cannot focus on one player to stop the Lakeville North offense.

Maple Grove’s biggest struggle may be sticking with the Panthers for the entire game. Lakeville North has its deepest team since its second place team in 2011, featuring a full-court press defense. Keep an eye on Nick Fossey; although he may not fill up the stat sheet, Fossey is a solid player on the Panthers’ defense.

And as always, expect Lakeville North to be well-prepared. John Oxton, who many in the basketball community regard as one of the best in the state, knows how to coach against just about every type of defender. Oxton has coached the Panthers to five consecutive state trips, and it is a safe bet he will put his players in a position to succeed.

It is just a matter of whether or not they execute.

Lakeville North knows how to win at the state tournament, holding a slight edge over the Crimson, who have not played at state since 2011.

But, in a matchup of the No.4 vs. No. 5 seeds, expect a close score in a game that could go either way.

“Maple Grove will be a tough team, but we have a good shot of making a run and making it to the state title game,” Reuvers said. 

Follow me on Twitter: @NickKellyLNHS for updates from the Target Center. Look for my story on and in the Pioneer Press

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