The Pacesetter Sports Sweet 16 is more than a month away but it seems odd to me that they still don’t want you to know who’s playing. This information is not yet available on the Pacesetter Web site, though we…
The Pacesetter Sports Sweet 16 is more than a month away but it seems odd to me that they still don’t want you to know who’s playing. This information is not yet available on the Pacesetter Web site, though we did discover that if you fill our their form and ask them who’s playing, they will send you the information. And, we know that the tournament will be August 5-6 at St. Ben’s. We have to this day, however, still never seen a copy of last year’s brackets, so don’t hold your breath. But, here are the Sweet 16.
Class AAAA: Hopkins, Moorhead, St. Michael-Albertville and Wayzata
In theory, the 4 teams from each class are the top 4 for that class, according to the Pacesetter’s best guess. But, of course, nobody knows—at least, not you and I—who the Pacesetter folks really invited and who turned them down.
Our top 4 are Hopkins, Centennial, Minnetonka and Eastview. We have St. Michael, Moorhead and Wayzata at #6, #7 and #10. I would guess the Pacesetter guys didn’t see it that way, and there probably weren’t 3 teams that turned them down, but probably 2.
The truth is that there are lots of teams that are not looking for another chance to play Hopkins. So, it’s all the more courageous of St. Michael and Wayzata, who play Hopkins during the regular season, to take the bait.
The other thing about the Sweet 16 is that you never know for sure who’s going to show up. But, Hopkins has showed up with enough firepower to win a half a dozen Sweet 16s over the years, and this year will almost surely be no exception.
But, the real question is can anybody beat any of the AAAA teams. The Sweet 16 brackets an A, a AA, a AAA and a AAAA together, and it will be a surprise if all 4 AAAAs don’t get to the semis with that setup.
As we look ahead to 2017-2018, Hopkins is #1 with a projectred starting lineup of Paige Bueckers, Angie Hammond, Dlayla Chakolis, Raena Suggs and one from among Amaya Battle, Jaide Pressley and Kahla Adams.
St. Michael brings back Kenzie Kramer, Kendal Cox and Vanessa Alexander, but we saw what happened to them without Rae Johnson last March. It will be awhile before they’re playing top 4 ball again, though they will. Moorhead has Sam Haiby, our #1 ranked 2018 and bunch of young ‘uns. Wayzata is the most battle tested of the 3 challengers right now with Kallie Theisen, Mimi Schrader and Jasmine Smiley.
Class AAA: DeLaSalle, Grand Rapids, Robbinsdale Cooper and Waseca (invited)
Here they’ve got the #1, #3 and #4 teams from our rankings…plus #10 Waseca. The Bluejays are designated, as you can see, as “(invited),” which generally means that they have not yet either accepted or declined.
The missing link here is our #2 Holy Angels. We would guess they were probably invited but declined. Destinee Oberg is not playing at this point of the summer in order to get her sore shoulder healed. Other obvious possibilities might have been #5 Zimmerman, #6 Northfield or #8 Mahtomedi but for whatever reason, they’re not coming.
The big questions are 1) how will the AAAA and AAA entries be paired, and 2) can anybody in AAA defeat anybody from AAAA. Well, I think De, or Grand Rapids or Cooper could pull off an upset under the right circumstances, like a star player or two sitting out for the bigger schools. Short of that, my pick is that the best matchup for an upset is Cooper of AAA vs. St. Michael of AAAA.
Cooper has been in AAAA for years, so it has less fear than the other AAAs. And, it has plenty of quickness (Aja Wheeler, Ja’Hyia Gaston) to keep up with St. Michael’s kids. But, it’s also got more size—lots more size—than St. Michael in Alexis Nance, Kiara Coops and youngster Kierra Wheeler.
If #3 Cooper can win, what about #1 DeLaSalle. Well, De will be #1 in March. For now, they’re still incredibly young as we saw in the state tournament.
Class AA: Annandale, Maranatha Christian Academy, Minnehaha Academy and Norwood-Young America
Here we have the #1 (Minnehaha), #4 (NYA), #6 (Annandale) and #9 (Maranatha) according to our rankings. You’d have to imagine that #2 Rush City, #3 Sauk Centre and #5 Roseau said no. Could they really not have been invited?
All of these are solid teams, three of them are state tournament teams, though all three of them laid an egg at one point or another at state last March. Maranatha and Minnehaha can point to a little bit of youth, the others not so much. All are capable of winning a game or two but not a championship which, again, would mean going through an AAAA or 2.
The big question is, how will Maranatha look with an AA on its back instead of an A.
The top players in AA are Mia Curtis of Minnehaha, Bren Fox of NYA and Hannah Purcell of Annandale. Minnehaha and Maranatha have the best depth, not an umimportant thing with 4 games in 2 days.
Class A: Badger-Greenbush-Middle River, Bigfork, Lac qui Parle Valley, and Walker-Hackensack-Ackley
Boy, the names sure get longer as you go from AAAA to A! Here you have to imagine there were a lot of turn-downs. I mean, what Class A team really wants to come here and get its brains beat out? So we’ve got #5 Bigfork, #13 Lac Qui Parle Valley, #17 Walker-Hackensack and unranked Badger-Greenbush. These are of course the rankings that always prove the most volatile, and the ones on which I would bet the smallest nest egg. In other words, whose to say we haven’t missed on LQPV, WHA and BGMR? But, even if that’s the case, who are these teams going to beat?
Old-timers remember when Cedar Mountain-Comfrey actually won this whole thing. But, that was a long, long time ago, and it is never going to happen again. Still, Bigfork has a couple of nice guards in Haley Grover and Kia Tower, Lac Qui Parle has guard Kelsea Lund, Walker-Hack has post Katie Benjamin and BGMR has the latest of the Mekash sisters, Carly. BGMR, by the way, was in Class AA last year and will move into Class A for the 2018 state tournament.
Some Possible Seedings
Just for fun, I worked up some seedings and brackets by seeding Class AAAA 1-2-3-4, Class AAA 5-6-7-8, Class AA 9-10-11-12, and Class A 13-14-15-16.
From there, bracket 1 has #1-8-9-16, which is Hopkins, Waseca, Minnehaha and Badger-Greenbush. Minnehaha pulls 1 upset, but Hopkins advances.
Under this scheme, Bracket 2 would have Wayzata, DeLaSalle, Maranatha and Bigfork. DeLaSalle-Maranatha is a track meet, but Wayzata advances.
Bracket 3 would be St. Michael, Grand Rapids, NYA and Walker-Hack. Grand Rapids and even NYA might have a shot, but I’d like to see St. Michael’s Kenzie Kramer vs. Grand Rapids Heaven Hamling.
What’s left is bracket 4—Moorhead, Cooper, Annandale, Lac Qui Parle. Cooper has a shot. Be fun to see what Wheeler and Gaston can do about Sam Haiby.
Of course, we don’t know that these are the brackets. They’re a guess, a very wild guess. Just for fun.You may never know what they are. But, if they were, then Hopkins, Wayzata, Grand Rapids and Cooper advance to the semis, and Hopkins beats Cooper and Wayzata beats Grand Rapids to advance to the final.