Hard to believe, but Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa coach Dave Montbriand says he hasn’t said one word about the Jaguars’ game with Apple Valley.
“I wanted us to focus on Sartell, because what good would it be to talk about them (the Apple Valley Eagles) if we lost to Sartell?” said Montbriand, calling the Sabres one of the top five teams on their schedule. “Our guys are pretty self-motivated.
“They’re all seniors. They motivate each other. They’ve been in a lot of big games. That big stage (Saturday at St. Cloud State) isn’t something they haven’t experienced before.”
B-B-E, No. 1 in the state in Class A, plays Apple Valley, No. 1 in the state in Class 4A, at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Halenbeck Hall.
While the head coach was keeping the hype machine turned low, B-B-E’s players say they’ve heard a lot about the opportunity to play Apple Valley.
“People have been asking us about Apple Valley all season,” Jaguars senior forward Billy Borgerding said. “I’ve just been telling them: ‘One game at a time, one game at a time.'”
The one game is now.
B-B-E beat Sartell 60-48 Friday at St. Cloud Apollo. While Sartell was a good opponent, Apple Valley is bigger, stronger, more experienced and more talented.
The Eagles are led by Tyus Jones, the two-time state Associated Press player of the year headed to Duke. Apple Valley has one loss, falling 80-70 to Chicago Whitney Young in a game that was televised nationally on cable.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever scouted anybody we’re playing on TV,” said Montbriand, who has watched the game “four or five” times. “I feel like I know their players.”
Whitney Young features Jahlil Okafor, widely regarded as the top recruit in the nation. He and Jones were a package deal, both announcing their intent to attend Duke at the same time.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Brian Goodwin, B-B-E’s senior guard and the Jaguars’ best player. He was B-B-E’s starting point guard in 2012 when the Jaguars won the state Class A title.
His brother, Trevor, one of the stars of that team, starts these days for Wisconsin-River Falls. Brian Goodwin said he’s officially undecided about his college intentions, but the WIAC is a possible destination for him to continue his basketball career.
“We were just focused on Sartell today,” Goodwin said. “We weren’t thinking about (the Eagles).”
The focusing starts now.
Montbriand said he’s excited about playing at Halenbeck Hall, which should be large enough to hold the crowd. He said B-B-E games usually are filled up by time of the B-squad game at 6 p.m. and that people sometimes stay away, knowing they can’t get a good seat.
That shouldn’t be an issue Saturday.
It’s also a homecoming for Apple Valley head coach Zach Goring, who played four years at St. Cloud State. He’s looking forward to it, too. He said he doesn’t mind being the big favorite against B-B-E. That happens all time for the Eagles, who are loaded with talent.
“We’re going to have to bring our ‘A’ game,” said Montbriand, who noted that he is honored to have his program considered for the marquee matchup of the two-day, 14-team tournament.
Look forward to it.