Class AAAA State Tournament Preview
10 a.m. #1 seed, #1 ranked Eastview (29-0) vs. unseeded, unranked Prior Lake (16-13) Can she do it again? That's the question facing Prior Lake this week. The 'she' in this case is Lakers' guard McKenna Hofschild, who carried Prior…
10 a.m. #1 seed, #1 ranked Eastview (29-0) vs. unseeded, unranked Prior Lake (16-13)
Can she do it again? That's the question facing Prior Lake this week. The 'she' in this case is Lakers' guard McKenna Hofschild, who carried Prior Lake to an improbable spot in the state tournament with three stunning performances in section play. Hofschild scored 41 points against Chaska, 32 against Eden Prairie, and 42 versus Minnetonka. Over the past 10 games she has scored north of 30 seven times. We have been watching Hofschild's greatness for so long now that it's easy to forget just how great she is. Unfortunately for Prior Lake, that won't be good enough against Eastview.
The Lighting are the #1 seed for a reason. They come into the event with a perfect record – 29 wins, zero losses – and have no discernable weaknesses. While Prior Lake brings Hofschild and a cast of upstarts, the Lightning boast the likes of Macy Guebert, Emma Carpenter, Megan Walstad, Andrea Abrams, Mariah Alipate, and Cassidy Carson. It's a formidable lineup and one that will likely make it all the way to Saturday's championship game. When it's all said and done on opening day there will be much said about Eastview and Prior Lake will be done.
Our pick: Eastview 74 Prior Lake 60
12 noon, #4 seed, #7 Maple Grove (24-5) vs. #5 seed, #8 Lakeville North (24-5)
It has been an interesting year for Lakeville North. Most of the other team rankings had them top 5 all year. We picked them high at the beginning but they have slipped to #8 in the Northstar poll. Is Lakeville North better than that? We'll find out this week. The fact is the Panthers haven't beaten a top 10 team all season, losing twice to Eastview and once each to Wayzata and Centennial. They also lost to Prior Lake. Their best wins were over #11 Farmington (three times) and #12 Owatonna.
Mark Cook's Maple Grove squad, led by freshman Jordan Lamker and sophomore Abby Schulte, knocked off Moorhead in sections. The Spuds were a top 10 team until Sam Haiby's knee injury, but she was back for the playoffs. Maple Grove also dispatched #4 St. Michael-Albertville in a classic encounter and beat #6 Champlin Park in the regular season. Maple Grove enters the tournament riding a seven-game winning streak, and have won nine of their last 10. Lakeville North is on a nice run, too, with 11 straight wins in spite of injuries to Lauren Jensen and Taylor Brown. Bottom line: this game is a tossup but we give the Crimson a slight edge.
Our pick: Maple Grove 62 Lakeville North 58
2 p.m. #2 seed, #2 Hopkins (26-3) vs. unseeded, #25 Forest Lake (19-10)
There is talk that class 4A will go to a 64-team tournament in the not-too-distant future. In that scenario, this would qualify as a classic 1-16 matchup. As you know, there has never been a #1 beat a #16 during men's March Madness. In the women's tournament it has happened just once, when Harvard upset Stanford in 1998. In other words, Forest Lake has no chance of beating Hopkins. None.
OK, miracles do happen. If Hopkins has a defensive weakness – and this is a stretch, really – it might be defending the three. If Forest Lake has a particular strength, it is shooting the three. Theoretically, long-distance shooter Maddy Rice could get hot and make everything. Theoretically, the Hopkins bus might break down, too. You can toss those far-fetched scenarios, though, because this is the truth: Forest Lake will be lucky to hang around for more than 10-12 minutes, and there's better-than-average chance this one goes to running time. The Rangers can soak up the ambiance, enjoy playing on the big court at Target Center and savor their state tournament experience but Hopkins will advance.
Our pick: Hopkins 85 Forest Lake 60
4 p.m. #3 seed, #9 Cretin-Derham Hall (21-6) vs. unseeded, #10 Roseville (22-7)
This will be the third encounter of the season between these Suburban East foes. The two squads, both nicknamed Raiders for your reading confusion, met in the first week of December. The game was even with six minutes to go when Roseville lost its way, got run over by the CDH freight train and lost by 22. When they played in February it was a street fight but CDH escaped with the victory by a single point. As odds-makers in Vegas would point out, the chances of Cretin beating Roseville a third time are not good.
The teams have been heading in opposite directions of late. Since they last played, Roseville is 8-1 with the one loss by a single basket at Minnetonka. Over the same stretch, Cretin won just three of six to close the regular season, losing to Mounds View, Stillwater and Woodbury. They still clinched the conference title by one game over Roseville. In the section final, CDH needed a spin of good fortune to avoid overtime against Woodbury. Having said all of that, it's going to be a cage match. We're giving a slight edge to Roseville because that's what Vegas would do.
Our pick: Roseville 54 Cretin 50
Eastview 66 Maple Grove 60
Hopkins 62 Roseville 48
Hopkins 76 Eastview 70
The top 5 players to watch
- Paige Bueckers, Hopkins, 5'11, sophomore, guard
- Raena Suggs, Hopkins, 5'7, senior, guard
- McKenna Hofschild, Prior Lake, 5'3, junior, guard
- Megan Walstad, Eastview, 6'2, senior, forward
- Frannie Hottinger, Cretin-Derham Hall, 6'0, junior, forward
The next 5 include:
- Emma Carpenter, Eastview, 5'10, junior, guard
- Macy Guebert, Eastview, 5'8, junior, guard
- Lauren Jensen, Lakeville North, 5'9, sophomore, guard
- Kaylee Nelson, Roseville, 5'9, junior, guard
- Dlayla Chakolis, Hopkins, 5'9, sophomore, forward