Opening-day predictions for the high school season
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The more things change the more they stay the same. As high school practice opens today, the most significant change this year will be the statewide implementation of the shot clock. That’s not likely to change a whole lot at…
The more things change the more they stay the same. As high school practice opens today, the most significant change this year will be the statewide implementation of the shot clock. That’s not likely to change a whole lot at the Class 4A and 3A levels but it could significantly alter the way most Class A games are played. Everything else is pretty much status quo. That’s certainly evident in our predictions on who will win the four state championships, although we do offer a couple of “out there” spins of the crystal ball on what lies ahead. Published in conjunction with Breakdown Sports USA, here are my personal predictions for the 2023-24 high school season.
Who will win the Class 4A title this season and why?
Hopkins – Different year, different team, same prediction. The Royals will have to adapt following the graduation of Nunu Agara, Taylor Woodson, Jasmine Dupree, Macaya Copeland and Kelly Boyle. Those are big shoes to fill, but point guard Liv McGill can still lead a much younger squad to the promised land. Returnees, , , and will be huge as will newcomer .
Who will win the Class 3A title this season and why?
Benilde-St. Margaret’s – The Red Knights return the core of the lineup that captured the title last spring and they’ve added one more big-time talent to the mix. That would be freshman, who is one of the state’s top prospects. Senior will once again lead the way. Juniors , and will be crucial along with sophomores and . Coach Tim Ellefson will get the job done again.
Who will win the Class 2A title this season and why?
Providence Academy – How can you pick against any team led by super sophomore, the dynamic point guard who is one of the best in the country? Yes, the Lions will miss Grace Counts (now at UM-Duluth) but an extra year of experience for her sister will be huge. Ditto for freshman , 8th grader and sharpshooter . Add outstanding 7th grader Beckett Greenway and burgeoning freshman forward to the mix and the Lions will repeat.
Who will win the Class 1A title this season and why?
Mountain Iron-Buhl – I’m not sure how many years in a row we picked MIB to win it all but the Rangers finally made good on that prognostication with the 2023 title. Despite losing standout guard Sage Ganyo (Bemidji State), Coach Jeff Buffetta will still have plenty of tools at his disposal. Leading the way once again will be North Carolina commitand Jamestown signee . Look for freshman to come up big along with a supporting cast of guards who can bomb it.
Who’s my favorite sleeper team?
Lakeville North – Way back in 2010, during the Rachel Banham era, Coach Andy Berkvam’s Lakeville North team went 32-0 and captured a state championship. Berkvam is back in Lakeville now and has the pieces in place to win it all. Led by Loyola-Maryland signeeat guard, and Vanderbilt commit in the post, the Panthers will be a tough out. Talented juniors , and , along with senior and a strong supporting cast, just might lead the team in red to victory.
Who will win the Ms. Basketball award?
– The highly accomplished, supremely versatile, physically dominant guard led Benilde-St. Margaret’s to the Class 3A state championship last season. There’s every reason to believe she will do it again. The University of Michigan signee, who has represented the United States on the world stage, has all of the qualities the Ms. Basketball committee loves. She’s talented, productive, hard-working and a true leader. Certainly of Hopkins will receive due consideration, and it will be well-deserved. Ditto for the likes of of Minnetonka, of Mountain Iron-Buhl and of Albany. In the end, though, Olson will probably prevail.
What’s my best go-out-on-a-limb prediction?
Prior Lake – The Lakers sneak out of Section 2 and become the Cinderella story of the State Tournament. All of the pieces are there for Coach Maurice Hodges to direct the Lakers to an upset. Led by Colorado State commitand UW-Milwaukee signee , Prior Lake is loaded with veteran talent and size. Seniors Julia Thoms (Jamestown) and and a cast of standout juniors – , , , and – have what it takes to wear the glass slipper. Sure it’s a long shot, but isn’t that what go-out-on-a-limb predictions are all about?
TOP PHOTO: Mountain Iron-Buhl had plenty of success this summer. Can the Rangers repeat their 2022-23 state-championship winning season?