A Final Look at the Sections, Part 3
There are a number of competitive sections in AAA. And, in several cases, the teams who’ve been rated the most highly throughout most of the year aren’t the ones playing the best ball the past week or 2. Section 1AAA…
There are a number of competitive sections in AAA. And, in several cases, the teams who’ve been rated the most highly throughout most of the year aren’t the ones playing the best ball the past week or 2.
Well, let’s just go ahead and get the toughest section out of the way, shall we? Winona started the season as the favorite and, hey, they’re 20-4 with a 7-game winning streak. And, they’re tied with Rochester Mayo in the loss column at the head of the Big 9. Northfield lost not only to Winona but also to Austin in the past 2 weeks, so they’re out of the Big 9 race. They could still be a factor in Section 1AAA, but they’re no longer the favorite.
Then there’s Kasson-Mantorville, always a threat as long as Kristin Scott is around. They’ve completed the regular season at 19-5. And, don’t forget they clobbered Winona in December 54-33. Yes, it was December but, still, they didn’t lose that game. Winona did. It’s gotta mean something. Our pick: KM 59 Winona 57.
New Ulm (21-5) and Waseca (18-5) are the favorites. But, while New Ulm has the best overall record, each has 2 losses in the Big South, and Waseca is 6-0 in the section. New Ulm is 5-2, and both losses are to Waseca 74-62 and 41-38. Neither has lost to anybody else in the section, but New Ulm squeezed by Mankato East in OT and Faribault by 4.
Certainly somebody could pull a surprise or two, but who? Faribault has beaten Rochester Mayo twice, Mankato West beat Faribault twice, Jordan beat Mankato East and Marshall, Worthington split with Marshall and beat Jordan, Marshall split with Worthington and beat both Mankatos, and even 8th-seeded Mankato East beat Mankato West. So, on any given night…. Not to mention, the seeds are hard to predict what with the mix of conferences and of schedule difficulty represented here.
The safest thing is to hang with New Ulm and Waseca even if the level of confidence isn’t high. And you know what they say about 3 on a match. Our pick: New Ulm 49 Waseca 45.
The defending state champs from Holy Angels are prohibitive favorites here, but 2 of their 3 losses are all upsets, meaning they have had some off nights. In fact they’ve lost 2 out of 3 though a loss at AAAA Edina is pretty understandable. But, before that it was St. Croix Lutheran, not what you’d call a good loss. And, besides that, the real competition is Bloomington Kennedy, and Holy Angels only beat them by 12 at a time when the Stars were playing pretty well and Kennedy was trying hard to gel.
Simley is the dark horse and they’re 6-3 after starting 7-7. Still, our pick: Holy Angels 59 Kennedy 54.
This is the most topsy-turvy of any section in any class. Mahtomedi is 19-3 and #2 in the state in QRF. (We have them #10.) But they did lose to St. Paul Como 71-67 and stumbled against Simley. Injuries had something to do with that, and they’ve bounced back with 4 wins including a rout of Simley at Simley. But they are going to be severely tested in Section 4.
Como (18-7) has won 8 in a row. St. Anthony (17-6) has had a nice season, winning 5 in a row before losing at Rush City 58-51. DeLaSalle is just 14-10 but that’s after starting 7-8. Recently they’ve beaten Benilde, Cretin, St. Croix Lutheran, Minnehaha and most recently Maranatha 95-64. If the Islanders are the #4 seed, then the #1 vs. #4 game is not going to be a slam dunk.
So, in the final, our pick: St. Paul Como 78 DeLaSalle 73.
Among these 4 it would be 1) Holy Angels, 2) Kasson-Mantorville, 3) Como, 4) New Ulm. But, obviously, the final seeds would depend on also mixing in the winners from Sections 5 through 8.