We’ve already previewed Sections 1, 2, 3, 6 and 8 and we’ve already chosen Plainview-EM, Norwood Young America, New London-Spicer, Sauk Centre and Roseau as the champs of those sections. All will face challenges, but we see no reason to…
We’ve already previewed Sections 1, 2, 3, 6 and 8 and we’ve already chosen Plainview-EM, Norwood Young America, New London-Spicer, Sauk Centre and Roseau as the champs of those sections. All will face challenges, but we see no reason to change our minds on any of these.
In Section 1AA, Hayfield remains a threat. But PEM manhandled them 60-37! But that was in the 1st game of the year! Maybe Rochester Lourdes is a bigger threat. They lost to PEM just 69-68, also early on. Our pick: PEM 55 Hayfield 54.
In 2AA, St. Peter and New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva have to be regarded as threats to NYA after St. Pete won 52-50 at NYA then promptly lost to NRHEG 70-61. NRHEG had lally-gagged through much of the season but appears to be getting serious as the playoffs approach. Our pick: NYA 58 NRHEG 56.
In 3AA, we picked New London-Spicer and we’ll keep our chips on their square. Pipestone made itself co-favorite by starting at 19-0 but now that they’ve lost NLS regains sole possession of the favorite role. Our pick: NLS 46 Pipestone 41.
In 6AA, Rush City (20-0), with four terrific sophomores, has emerged as a new challenger to Sauk Centre. Our pick: Sauk Centre 63 Rush City 54.
Finally, in 8AA, Roseau is the one team in all of AA with the least likelihood of being upset. Our pick: Roseau 75 Staples-Motley 58.
St. Croix Lutheran has been chasing Minnehaha for as long as anybody can remember. If they’re going to catch them, this will have to be the year. Minnehaha’s young roster has struggled against a few opponents this year along the way to a 20-4 record. The next 2 years, state championships are not out of the question. Both are very deep teams. Some section champions will not be as good as the runner-up here. Our pick: Minnehaha 59 St. Croix Lutheran 53.
By far the toughest AA section with 7 teams in the top 25. Watertown-Mayer remains the favorite, but Eden Valley-Watkins beat them 67-62 and that was no fluke. EV is a deep and skilled and young group. They’re 21-3 right now versus Watertown’s 23-3. Watertown is led by 3 great players—Monika Czinano in the post, and Claire Killian and Kristin Klitzke on the perimeter. EVW will have a big advantage at the 4th and 5th spots and off the bench.
But, both will also be challenged in the semi-finals by teams like Annandale, Providence, Holy Family or Southwest Christian (the one in Chaska, not the one in Edgerton). Still, our pick: Watertown-Mayer 65 Eden Valley-Watkins 59.
It should come down to Esko and Pequot Lakes again though Duluth Marshall is one of the state’s great stories this year. Last year, Pequot got the upset. The Patriots have two outstanding inside players in Corinne Ruud and Olivia Lane, but the loss of all-state point guard Haley Wieboldt is a big one. Esko, by comparison, didn’t lose anybody. They’re led by 6 seniors including 5-3 point guard Ava Gonsorowski. Esko won at Pequot 54-46 and that would seem to be that.
But, don’t forget Marshall. They were 0-88 in the Lake Superior Conference over the past 11 years. Now they’re 5-1 (16-6 overall) with only a 10-point loss to Class AAA Hermantown in the conference. Still, our pick: Esko 55 Pequot Lakes 53.
Seeds and State
1) Roseau, 2) Norwood Young America, 3) Sauk Centre 4) Watertown-Mayer, 5) New London-Spicer. Not seeded—Esko, Minnehaha, PEM. Surprisingly, Watertown-Mayer has not been at state since 2010. The other 7 have all been there in 2015 or 2016. Possible state tournament matchups:
Roseau vs. Esko
Watertown-Mayer vs. New London-Spicer
Norwood Young America vs. Minnehaha
Sauk Centre vs. Plainview-Elgin-Millville