Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Girls Tournament Pairings Announced

The 4A and 3A drawings happened on Saturday, and the field was completed in a series of 31 sectional finals on Friday and Saturday. Here are the match-ups.

Class AAAA Wednesday Target Center

#1 Hopkins 27-2 vs. Buffalo 25-3. I was shocked to see that Buffalo is 25-3. Sure haven't heard a lot about them, and nothing that says they're not a sacrificial lamb in this game. Brianna Williams and her running mates in the Hopkins backcourt will dominate, though the Buffalo frontcourt will be okay. Hopkins 73 Buffalo 40.

#4 Maple Grove 24-5 vs. White Bear Lake 26-3. Initial reports were that White Bear was #4, but the MSHSL Web site shows Maple Grove #4. Either way, this is the right match-up between #4 and what would obviously be #5 if they seeded that far. The Bears' front court is vastly underrated but Maple Grove has solid talent everywhere. I would have seeded White Bear #4 based on the W-L record, but head to head I like Maple Grove 55-50, mostly because Ellen Edison will shut down Alexis Foley.

#2 Eden Prairie 23-4 vs. Rochester Mayo 21-6. I saw EP beat Edina last night. Edina played very very well, yet the Eagles pulled away 59-44. They are going to be hard for anybody to beat. If Mayo had Coco and Kelly Miller in the lineup, maybe. Eden Prairie 66 Rochester Mayo 41.

#3 Lakeville North 27-2 vs. Anoka 6-24. I love Lakeville North. I love the way Andy Berkvams teams play the game of basketball. But who cannot be excited for the Anoka Tornadoes, 2-24 in the regular season but now 4-0 in the post-season with 3 freshmen in their starting lineup. Still, you would think they'll be out of their depth here. Lakeville North 74 Anoka 33.

Semi-Finals Thursday Target Center

Hopkins 69 Maple Grove 53
Eden Prairie 63 Lakeville North 60

Finals Saturday Target Center

Eden Prairie 56 Hopkins 55

MVP: You probably didn't know that Shayne Mullaney of Eden Prairie has joined the very elite guards in the state.

Breakthrough Player(s): The 3 Anoka frosh have already broken through: Amber Bray, Claire Lundberg and Kyrah Fredenburg may be back at state with a realistic chance to make some noise as soon as next year or surely 2 years hence.

Class AAA Wednesday Williams Arena

#1 Hill Murray 28-0 vs. Red Wing 18-9. Erin Herman of Hill Murray is the girls' coach of the year based on the improvement of the Pioneers' supporting cast. Almost never have a seen 3-4 girls all improve so much in 1 year's time. Tessa Cichy and Beth Doolittle are no longer the whole show. Hill Murray 61 Red Wing 42.

#4 Alexandria 24-3 vs. Grand Rapids 20-8. Don't know much about these guys but I will say two things: The Thunderhawks W-L record reflects a tougher schedule than what Alex played. And Cardinals coach Wendy Kohler is an institution, an icon. Alex 56 Grand Rapids 48.

#2 DeLaSalle 24-4 vs. Rogers 15-14. If you have not seen the Islanders' Tyseanna Johnson, do yourself a favor. She is one of the top 5 players in the state already, IMO, as a sophomore. DeLaSalle 57 Rogers 38.

#3 Benilde 24-5 vs. Marshall 20-6. I like Benilde's freshman point guard Grace Coughlin so I mean this in the most positive way. Benilde misses Itisha Alexander like crazy. She was one of the most underrated players ever. They will prevail easily today, but their bigs don't dominate like they used to with Alexander orchestrating things. Benilde 62 Marshall 52.

Semi-Finals Thursday Target Center

Hill Murray 69 Alexandria 37
DeLaSalle 57 Benilde 52

Final Saturday Target Center

Hill Murray 64 DeLaSalle 58

MVP: Tessa Cichy, Hill Murray, a junior, just edges out Tyseanna Johnson of DeLaSalle, a sophomore.

Breakthrough: The Hill Murray supporting cast including Corinne McCallum, Morgan Rustad and Claire van Dyk, for those of you who think Cichy and Doolittle are still the whole show.

Class AA Wednesday Target Center

Section 1 Caledonia 26-3 vs. Section 6 Sauk Centre 29-1. D1 recruits Amber Sorensen vs. Kali Peschel, both going to the state of Iowa (Northern Iowa and Iowa City, respectively). Peschel is better but Sorensen has a potential D1 recruit to help out, that being 6-3 sophomore Emma Lange. And this is the Warriors' 4th state tournament trip in 5 years; they were the 2009 champs. And yet, Sauk has to be favored, their only loss to 4AAAA Jefferson 52-45. Sauk Centre 56 Caledonia 48.

3 Jackson County Central 26-2 vs. 4 Minnehaha Academy 21-7. Last year the Red Hawks came in with 9 losses and won it all. But of course, last year they had guard Rachel Hansen running the show. Well, this year they have guard Sarina Baker running the show, and shot-blocker Kate Adams returns. They have a legitimate chance to defend their title. Jackson, meanwhile, comes out of the very tough Section 3 and Southwest Conference. They're making their third tournament appearance in 12 years, and have won 2 state volleyball titles. So they're ready for prime time. Jackson 62 Minnehaha 44.

Class AA Wednesday at Williams Arena

7 Braham 28-2 vs. Pequot Lakes 8 28-1. Braham is the Greater Minnesota's best-known basketball power and the Dahlman family has more to do with that than anybody. Some say sophomore Rebekah is already one of the top few players in the state. The Bombers are in their 3rd straight tournament, and took 2nd place last year behind Minnehaha. But Pequot, with 15 straight wins, also has the look of a contender. Emily and Mattie Lueck leads the way, but it was Kylie Bietz who scored 24 in the section final win over East Grand Forks 64-43. Pequot Lakes 64 Braham 55.

2 St. Peter 24-3 vs. 5 Providence 24-4. St. Peter was #1 or #2 in the pre-season polls but then 2 starters, including Wisconsin recruit Ann Marie Brown, went down with injuries. And yet, here they are. Guards Alyssa Kerkhoff and Katy Kuiper now lead the way. 3 of Providence's 4 losses are to AAAA and AAA teams, the 4th was a 1-pointer to Braham last fall. They give up just 34 points per game. Providence 52 St. Peter 44.

Semi-Finals Friday Target Center

Sauk Centre 55 Jackson 54
Pequot Lakes 68 Providence 42

Finals Saturday Target Center

Pequot Lakes 65 Sauk Centre 49

MVP and Breakthrough Player Emily Lueck, Pequot Lakes, outplays Kali Peschel of Sauk Centre in the final.

Class A Thursday Williams Arena

Section 1 Goodhue 26-4 vs. 6 Hancock 26-2. Goodhue was runner-up to Barnum last year with Erica Tipcke coming off the bench as a sophomore. Now she's all-state. Point guard Courtney Hinsch is also back as are Chanel Robert and Anne Lodermeier. The Wildcats, in short, are loaded. The 4 losses are all against AA and AA opponents. Hancock is back for the 7th time in 24 years, the 3rd time in 10 years under coach Jodi Holleman. They won it all in 1997 and were runners-up in 2007. Goodhue 51 Hancock 45.

3 Minneota 25-1 vs. 4 Maranatha Christian 20-9. Minneota makes just their 2nd appearance in the hoops show, but is a perennial power in volleyball with 7 appearances in the past decade and a state title in 2006. AshlynnMuhl leads the way. 7 of Maranatha's 9 losses are to opponents from higher classes, including 4 to AAAA teams. And Maranatha avenged its 2 losses to a Class A opponent, both to New Life Academy, with a 44-37 win in the section final. They play 4 guards whose average height is about 5-6 but 6-foot post Onye Osemenam is a beast on defense. Maranatha 49 Minneota 48.

7 Mountain Iron-Buhl 26-3 vs. 8 Northern Freeze 28-1. MIB's Charlotte Overbye scored 40 points in the section final, while Northern's Liz Hoglo scored 63 in last year's state tournamen, where they defeated Maranatha, then lost to Goodhue. Their only loss was to AA East Grand Forks. Northern 58 Mt. Iron-Buhl 57.

2 Nicollet 16-8 vs. Sebeka 26-3. The 2 surprise teams, Nicollet because they were genuinely never regarded as a state tournament threat, Sebeka because #1-rated Barnum blocked their path. But the Trojans shocked the defending state champion Bombers 78-70 in OT in the section final. Sebeka is led by guard Alicia Boe. Sebeka 65 Nicollet 45.

Semi-Finals Friday Target Center

Goodhue 48 Maranatha 39
Sebeka 61 Northern 58

Finals Saturday Target Center

Goodhue 57 Sebeka 53

MVP Courtney Hinsch makes things go for Goodhue.

Breakthrough What exactly constitutes a breakthrough in Class A, where most of these teams have played in a recent tournaments but the exposure is still tough to come by? I guess a state title is a breakthrough and so Hinsch is the Breakthrough Player as well as the MVP.

Stars Among the Stars

Shayne Mullaney, Eden Prairie, overall MVP, also the Breakout Player of the Tournament
Tessa Cichy, Hill Murray
Rachel Banham, Lakeville North
Brianna Williams, Hopkins
Tyseanna Johnson, DeLaSalle

6th: Emily Lueck, Pequot Lakes

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