Tom's Pick: Crusaders, Thunder clash for 1st in conference

Tom's Pick: Crusaders, Thunder clash for 1st in conference


Tom's Pick: Crusaders, Thunder clash for 1st in conference


The Zimmerman Thunder are the last team in the Minnesota State High School League directory, which lists schools in alphabetical order.

They’ve done a whole better than that in boys basketball, earning a state Class 2A tournament berth in 2012 while winning the first Granite Ridge Conference championship.

The Thunder went 8-18 last season, but come to St. Cloud at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to play the St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders in an interesting GRC matchup.

Zimmerman is 5-1 in the GRC and tied for second with Albany, right behind Cathedral, which went into Friday night’s matchup with Little Falls with a 5-0 conference and 13-3 overall mark.

Cathedral is ranked fourth in the state in Class 2A and would like something that Zimmerman has one of – a Granite Ridge championship.

The conference had its first boys basketball season in 2011-12. Zimmerman went 11-1 and Cathedral was second at 10-2. Both Crusaders losses were to the Thunder.

In 2012-13, Little Falls won the title at 14-2 and Cathedral was second at 13-3. The Crusaders won both meetings with the Thunder.

Zimmerman’s a newer school, part of the Elk River school district. It opened in 2003. Cathedral first played the Thunder during the 2006-07 season. Since then, Zimmerman leads the series 5-4.

Of note for Cathedral was a 92-70 loss to the Thunder in the Section 5-2A semifinals in March, 2011 at St. Michael.

Cathedral is smaller, athletic and loves to play the entire floor. The full-court press is a staple.

It’s not unusual for the Crusaders to have no one taller on the floor than the slim, 6-foot-3 Brindley Theisen, Cathedral’s leading scorer. He is primarily an outside player.

Senior guards Brady Schmit and Steven Neutzling are also having excellent seasons.

Whoever wins must face a rematch Feb. 11 at Zimmerman.

The teams won’t meet after that.

Zimmerman moved up to Section 5-3A this season, where it must deal with defending section champion Delano, Big Lake, Orono and St. Cloud Apollo, among others.

Cathedral’s North Section 5-2A includes Braham and Annandale, the defending section champion. The Cardinals are ranked 10th in the state.

It should be a good game.


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