Season Preview: Hmong College Prep Academy Basketball Teams Gearing Up For The 2018-19 Season

By Dave Bonko

 

HCPA Boys’ Basketball

This year, 20 student-athletes make up the school’s varsity and junior varsity teams. Though young, the Warriors, under first year coach Robert Eppinger, are looking to work hard and improve as the season progresses.

“We’re figuring things out right now and learning how to play basketball the right way,” stated Coach Eppinger. “We’re focusing on learning how to play defense and run offense effectively. We lost a lot of seniors from last year so this is a very young team. We only have two returning varsity players and they’re both underclassman. But as a coach who has worked with young teams, I am looking forward to the challenge.”

Coach Eppinger is looking for a number of players to lead this year’s team. “Ejiah Vang, Kyu Vang and Kenneth Smith are shaping up to be our key players. I believe they are our only returning varsity players from last year. Their abilities are very valued and unique to the team… they know how to score and rebound as well as help get others involved. Ejiah is natural scorer and great student athlete on and off the court; I believe he can further his basketball career if he continues to work hard. Once Kyu and Kenneth let the game come to them, they will both both be a great talents as well.”

Being in his first year, Coach Eppinger is still learning about the other teams that make up the Twin Cities Athletic Conference. “I’m not really sure who will be our toughest opponents as of yet but I know I’m preparing this group to play hard every night,” he stated. “I do think we will finish strong. We have a lot hard working kids but we are still learning how to play team basketball as a unit.”

HCPA Girls’ Basketball

Coached by Brian Ness, the Lady Warriors have expanded their schedule to 16 games this season to include classic opponents from the Twin Cities Athletic Conference as well as new rivals from outside the conference. The team lost their opening game Hiawatha Collegiate High School.

“That was a tough one,” stated Coach Ness. “We were tied with two seconds left when Hiawatha scored a basket. We lost 22-20. This one was doubly disappointing as Hiawatha beat us in the third-place conference tournament game last year by making a tie-breaking shot with 10 seconds left in overtime.”

Though young, Coach Ness is optimistic about the upcoming season. “HCPA’s new practice facilities will ensure accelerated growth in both skills and team capacity. Our goal is to finish above .500 this year. In our large conference, there are a few unbeatable teams so it will become all the more important to beat the teams that are at our level. Hiawatha Collegiate High School, and Eagle Ridge/International School are must win games.”

To accomplish this goal, Coach Ness is looking for strong contributions from a number of young players. “No doubt, we’re very young,” added the coach. “Sophomore Gina Lee is a second-year starter at point guard. Her ball handling skills and defense are second to none. In her first game of the season she tallied six steals. Eighth grader Magnolia Jones is playing in her second year at the varsity level. She is probably the most skilled player on the court, a great shooter and excellent ball handler. She will form the foundation of the team on which we are building our future. Sophomore Yeng Yang was last year’s most improved player. She has gone from having never played basketball in her life to a solid starter. Her defensive skills and amazing speed have allowed her to become a fast break specialist. She is also a leader on the floor, calling out plays and helping the new players get in to the right position. Sophomore Madana Vue is in her second year starting at the post position. She has grown in to a dominant presence on the inside of the lane. She also leads the team in rebounds and blocked shots.”

Looking to the future, Coach Ness would like to expand the program to include a junior varsity team. “We hope to grow our program to include a JV team in the near future… we just need to continue to encourage more girls to play basketball.”

The coach went on to define why it is important for girls to participate in athletics throughout their high school career. “Being involved in sports as well as other activities involve so much more than simply playing a game,” he added. “Sports teaches important life skills including how to overcome adversity, work as a team, manage one’s time and build a beneficial level of competitiveness in one’s character. These are all skills that will not only help a student get into college, they will help them to be successful in life. Furthermore, our players have higher GPAs and attend college at a higher rate than the school average.”

2018-2019 Hmong College Prep Academy Boys’ Basketball Schedule

Date                  Time                 Opponent                                                         Site      

12/20/2018         6:30 PM            Kaleidoscope Charter School                                 Hmong College Prep Academy

1/4/2019             6:00 PM            North Lakes Academy (4A)                                   North Lakes Academy

1/8/2019             6:00 PM            Liberty Classical Academy (4A)                             Hmong College Prep Academy

1/9/2019            7:00 PM            Minnesota Academy for the Deaf                             Minnesota Academy for the Deaf

1/14/2019          7:00 PM            Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf (1A)              Hmong College Prep Academy

1/15/2019          7:00 PM            Lakes International Language Academy                    Little Falls

1/17/2019          6:30 PM            Chesterton Academy                                            Hmong College Prep Academy

1/17/2019          6:30 PM            Chesterton Academy – Edina (4A)                           Hmong College Prep Academy

1/22/2019          6:00 PM            Avail Academy (4A)                                            Hmong College Prep Academy

1/25/2019          6:00 PM            Groves Academy (4A)                                          Groves Academy

1/29/2019          7:00 PM            Hiawatha Collegiate Academy                                Hmong College Prep Academy

1/30/2019          7:00 PM            Minneapolis Edison (4AA)                                   Hmong College Prep Academy

2/5/2019            7:00 PM            Math & Science Academy (4AA)                            Math & Science Academy

2/8/2019            6:00 PM            Shattuck-Saint Mary’s (2AA)                                 Hmong College Prep Academy

2/12/2019          7:00 PM            Academy for Sciences & Agriculture (4AA)              Hmong College Prep Academy

2/15/2019          7:00 PM            Math & Science Academy (4AA)                            Hmong College Prep Academy

2/19/2019          7:00 PM            Chesterton Academy – Edina (4A)                           Chesterton Academy

2/26/2019          7:00 PM            Hiawatha Collegiate Academy                                Hiawatha Collegiate Academy

2/28-3/2/2019     TBD     Twin Cities Athletic Conference Tournament

 

2018-2019 Hmong College Prep Academy Girls’ Basketball Schedule

Date                  Time                 Opponent                                                         Site      

12/20/2018         7:00 PM            International School of MN                                   International School of MN

12/20/2018         7:00 PM            The International School of MN/ ERA (5AA)           Eagle Ridge Academy

1/4/2019             5:30 PM            Metro Schools College Prep (4A)                           Hmong College Prep Academy

1/8/2019             7:00 PM            Math & Science Academy                                     Lighthouse Academy of Nations

1/9/2019             5:30 PM            Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf (1A)              Math & Science Academy

1/11/2019          5:30 PM            Community of Peace Academy (4A)                        Hmong College Prep Academy

1/14/2019          5:30 PM            Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf                     Hmong College Prep Academy

1/18/2019          5:30 PM            Minnesota Transitions Charter School (4A)              Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf

1/25/2019          5:30 PM            Hiawatha Collegiate                                             Hmong College Prep Academy

1/29/2019          5:30 PM            Nova Classical Academy (4AA)                             Nova Classical Academy

1/31/2019          4:30 PM            Liberty Classical Academy (4A)                             Hmong College Prep Academy

2/4/2019            5:00 PM            Lincoln Int./Higher Ground/Career Pathways              Hmong College Prep Academy

2/8/2019            7:30 PM            Math & Science Academy (4AA)                            Hmong College Prep Academy

2/12/2019          5:00 PM            Community of Peace Academy (4A)                        Community of Peace Academy

2/19/2019          5:30 PM            Minnesota Transitions Charter School (4A)              Hmong College Prep Academy