Dueling Tournaments–Summer Kickoff, Battle on the Hardwood
This week’s “grassroots” action begins tonight, June 2, with the Summer Kickoff, sponsored by the MN Stars, at Bloomington Kennedy. The Kickoff continues Saturday and Sunday, as a 2nd tournament gets underway at Lakeville South. That would be Tartan and…
This week’s “grassroots” action begins tonight, June 2, with the Summer Kickoff, sponsored by the MN Stars, at Bloomington Kennedy. The Kickoff continues Saturday and Sunday, as a 2nd tournament gets underway at Lakeville South. That would be Tartan and Crossfire’s Battle of the Hardwood.
Stars Summer Kickoff has 78 teams in our 4 coverage age groups (2018-2019-2020-2021), including 48 rated MN teams (rated by Northstar Girls Hoops, that is), 14 of which are Stars squads. There are 20 teams for other states.
Battle of the Hardwood has 32 teams from 2018 to 2021, 17 of them ranked Minnesota teams (again, that’s compared to 48 at the Kickoff). In fact, co-host North Tartan is bringing only their 11 Elites, 10 Elites and 9 West in our 4 age groups, though it’s true they have 5 5th, 6th and 7th grade teams playing. Crossfire has 8 teams. I’m aware of 9 out-of-state teams playing, again, from 2018 to 2021.
All of the following analysis focuses just on the Minnesota teams. There are probably a few out-of-state powers that are going to blow up our predictions, but so be it.
Summer Kickoff plays Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Kennedy.
• The Platinum division is the top division with mostly 2018s plus Stars Amundson and Stars Nelson playing up a year. The tournament opens Friday night at 7:10 p.m. with potentially one of the best games of the weekend as the 2018 Tayler Hill Elite takes on the 2019 Stars Nelson on Kennedy Court #1. They are in Pool C along with Fury 2018 Gold.
Pool A features Stars Hersch, Pool B has Stars DeSart and Pool D has Stars Amundson. Those would be the favorites among the Minnesota teams to advance to Sunday’s 10:20 a.m. semi-finals on Kennedy 4 and 5, with the final at 12:40 on K3.
Stars DeSart have been one of the surprises of the summer season so far, though they haven’t gotten a signature win over a top 4-5 team yet. But with Bren Fox, Noelle Josephson, Kylie Post and more, they appear poised to surprise somebody one of these days.
• The Gold division is the 2019 division, basically. Another Friday night game features Suns Jefferson and PREP in Pool C at 8:20 p.m. on K4. Suns Kietzer, Stars Bjorgard and Stars Buerman are among the other favorites to get to Sunday’s semis and final at 9:10 a.m. on K4 and K5 and then 1:50 on K5. Suns Kietzer, led by Mimi Schrader, Jen Schaible and Abbey McDonald, have been cold, hot and cold so far this summer. They’re due to get hot again this weekend.
• Silver is the 2020 division. Pool B is perhaps the most competitive with Stars McAlpine, High Impact Briski and Suns P. Long/Michaud. Pool D has Stars Zabel and Heat 9th Dineen, while Comets 9 Elite and Stars Antl are also among the favorites. The semis and final are of course on Sunday at 11:30 on K4 and K5, and at 1:50 on K4.
The Suns sat out the AAU tournament, and so Tianna Iserman and company come in with something to prove.
• Bronze is the 2021 division (except that So Minn Fury 2021 ended up in the Diamond division with a bunch of 22s) and it is the only division that does not have pool play. Stars Blascziek and Stars Voyce open things up on Friday night at 8:30 on K3. Tayler Hill 8 and Stars Hersch are favored to meet for a 3rd time this year in the final at 1:50 Sunday on K2. Note that 3 championship games will be running simultaneously at 1:50.
So Minn Fury should run roughshod over the 2022s but they’ve been inconsistent so far. So Erin Lamb, Elyse Hebrink, Macy Holtz and company still have something to prove.
Battle of the Hardwood
There are no Friday games! The games are all played at Lakeville South.
• Gopher Division, consisting mostly of 2018 teams and players. It is very hard to picture anybody but Tartan 11 Elite and Metro Stars Wiese in Sunday’s 10:40 a.m. final. But you’ve also got Crossfire in the division with CF Erlien and CF Willey, Erlien in particular building on a strong showing in the AAU 2018 d2 tournament (losing to the champion Cyclones 54-50 in the final). And you’ve also got two teams from Kingdom Hoops, who could just as well be very good as anything else.
1st round play open at 10:40 Saturday with Crossfire Erlien facing Metro Stars Wiese on Court #1. The final is at 11:45 Sunday, also on LS1. Katrina Theis and Crossfire Erlien are anxious to show that they’re not just the AAU D2 champ, but that they can compete higher up the 2018 food chain.
• The Badger Division consists of one 2018 and at 3 2019s. Tartan 10 Elite and Rise 11th look like the best of the litter, unless Rise 10th proves to be better than Rise 11th. The finals are at 9:35 Sunday morning on LS1. If Rise 11 should happen to face Rise 10, it would be interesting to see the point guard battle between Madi Heiderscheidt and Joey Batt.
• Spartans is the 2020 division. Crossfire Jorgenson and Tartan 9th West are the top rated teams here, but Crossfire Smith and Lady Get Shook Turner are a year older and could make some noise. The finals are at 1:55 a.m. Sunday on LS4. CF Jorgenson surprised Tartan 9th West in the AAU Prelims, behind Abigail Schulte, Alaina Brenning and Alivia Arnebeck, though Kendal Cox led all scorers for Tartan with 10. Can they do it again?
• And, Hawkeyes is the 2021 division. Crossfire Schuck would appear to be the favorite here. They had a nice AAU experience, led by Sophia Kormann. The final is at 10:40 a.m. Sunday on LS1