With Class 4A and 3A mostly consisting of metro area schools, and Class A almost all representing consolidated and hyphenated ones, this is the true small town championship bracket most years.
Section 1--Lake City 20-3 #25 QRF took Byron apart the other night, thereby supplanting the Bears as the Section 1 have. Byron 20-4 #10 (tied) and Rochester Lourdes 18-6 #10 (tied) remain the highest rated teams according to QRF, which is weird since Byron went 11-1 in the Hiawatha Valley and Lourdes just 6-5. Defending state champ Plainview-Elgin-Millville cannot be disregarded either.
Section 2--St. Peter 20-2 #7 has the best resume but Hayfield 16-6 and Maple River 20-4 will contend.
Section 3--Fairmont 19-3 #4 has the best resume but Worthington 14-7 #20 and Redwood Valley 18-5 #16 will not just contend, one of them could just as easily knock off the Cardinals. Redwood beat Worthington twice but lost to Fairmont, while Fairmont lost to Worthington. Fairmont and Worthington are both in the South Sub-Section, Redwood has a less challenging Sub-Section, and so I'll go with Redwood in the final.
Section 4--Minnehaha 17-5 #1 will try to gum up the words of the so-called small town tournament. They certainly have one of the easiest paths to the state level. Only Breck could conceivably challenge the Redhawks.
Section 5--St. Cloud Cathedral 17-6 #2 has been up and down. When they're up, as in their wins over AAA Grand Rapids and Little Falls, they're up. When they're down, as in a 94-66 rout at the hands of Melrose, well, they're down. Which will it be? They are 4-0 in the section. So I think they'll outlast Jordan 19-4 #13 and Annandale 14-9 #9.
Section 6--Litchfield 16-5 is #3 QRF but Melrose 23-1 #8 is the obvious favorite. But Litchfield gave the Dutchmen their only defeat 65-59 in OT and Litch is 5-1 in the section, losing only to Morris in OT. Their (Litchfield's) slowdown game could, well, slow Melrose down. But I'll go with Melrose.
Section 7--Mora 18-3 #6 and 6-0 in the section is the favorite but there are any number of challengers--Esko 19-4 #17 and Braham 21-2 #29 in the sub-section, and Virginia 17-6 #22 and International Falls 18-4 #23 across the way. Mora has beaten Esko and Braham but by a total of 9 points. Nothing would surprise me here. If I gotta pick somebody, I will stay with Mora.
Section 8--Hawley 19-1 #5 is the obvious favorite with Crosby-Ironton 19-4 #14 as the obvious challenger.
3. St. Peter
4. Lake City
First Round Williams Arena Thursday March 20
10 a.m. #1 versus random draw--I'll say Melrose versus Mora. A great game but Melrose and Scottie Stone can put up enough points to win today.
Noon #4 versus #5. Obviously if I picked Lake City at #4 then I must think they're better than Minnehaha at #5. But, no, this is what I think the real seeds will be, not my seeds. So I think Minnehaha wins this game.
2 p.m. #2 versus random draw--I'll say Hawley versus Redwood Valley. Here I do think the "real" #2 seed, if it's Hawley, would beat Redwood.
4 p.m. #3 versus random draw--the only people left are St. Peter versus St. Cloud Cathedral. This should be another great game. I'll take St. Peter.
Semi-Finals and After
Melrose over Minnehaha, and St. Peter over Hawley. St. Peter wins the title and Minnehaha takes 3rd.
C- Conor Voss, St. Cloud Cathedral
C- Peter Kruize, St. Peter
F- Devon Pekas, Hawley
F- Scottie Stone, Melrose
F/G- Braxton Raymond, St. Peter