MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – We’re now in the bitter cold of January, but things are just starting to heat up in the winter prep sports season.
There are big match-ups every week between ranked teams in every sport, providing plenty of chances for fans to get out and enjoy highly-anticipated games. Conference races in basketball and hockey all throughout the state are also starting to take shape.
It’s that exciting time of year where no team can take a game off. It’s also that time of year where athletes and coaches have to be careful about injuries and sickness.
With all that said, Friday night provides one of the biggest games of the year in boys basketball, and we have it covered. Here are four big match-ups to keep an eye on tonight:
Boys Basketball: Eastview (10-0) at Apple Valley (10-1)
No. 1-ranked Eastview travels to No. 3-ranked Apple Valley in a clash of titans in the South Suburban Conference. Both teams enter the contest 3-0 in conference play, and the winner is likely the front-runner in the conference title chase. It’s also our featured game for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally and city bragging rights are on the line.
Eastview is the only team to have beaten Benilde-St. Margaret’s this year. The Lightning is led by 6 foot, 9 inch post Joey King, who averages more than 28 points per game. Ben Oberfeld and Dan Haugh also average more than 12 points per game.
The Eagles are led by Tyus Jones, arguably the most highly-touted basketball player in Minnesota since Khalid El-Amin, and he’s just a sophomore. Jones is one of the state’s top scorers at more than 29 points per game. But he’s best at setting his teammates up and being a floor leader. Apple Valley’s only loss this season was an 89-85 game, where Jones scored 37 points, against Eden Prairie in the season opener.
It promises to be a great game in a packed house. I’ll give the edge to Apple Valley playing on its home court.
Girls Basketball: St. Michael-Albertville (10-4) at Wayzata (12-1)
It’s a rare non-conference game in mid-January Friday night in the west metro as St. Michael-Albertville travels to Wayzata in girls basketball. The Knights are starting a tough three-game stretch against ranked opponents, while the No. 3-ranked Trojans have won nine straight games since losing a close one to White Bear Lake. Christine Thorn leads the Knights with 15.6 points per game, and Marissa Grossfeld leads Wayzata with 17.5 points per game. I’ll give Wayzata the edge being at home.
Boys Hockey: St. Cloud Cathedral (10-3) at Hermantown (13-0)
Two perennial hockey powers will square off Friday night as Hermantown, the No. 2-ranked team in Class A, hosts No. 10-ranked St. Cloud Cathedral. The Hawks are outscoring their opponents by about a 6-1 average and are led by Jared Thomas, who has 37 points on the season. Chris Benson leads the team with 14 goals. St. Cloud Cathedral is led by Danny Johnston’s 30 points, and Austin Poganski leads the team with 14 goals. Two of Cathderal’s three losses are to high-ranked opponents. They will give Hermantown a good game in a great rivalry, but the Hawks have the edge.
Girls Hockey: Lakeville South (12-4-1) at Breck (16-0-1)
The No. 1-ranked team in Class A hosts Lakeville South Friday night in Golden Valley. Breck’s only blemish, if you even want to call it that, was a 2-2 tie in the Schwan Cup to Benilde-St. Margaret’s, a game they lost in a shoot-out. The Mustangs are led by Milica McMillen’s 32 points. She also shares the team lead of 15 goals with Kate Schipper and Carly Schaeder. Lakeville South is led by Ari Reid’s 24 points. Callen Naasz leads the squad with 17 goals. I give the Mustangs the edge.
Tune into WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally at 10:20 p.m. as Mike Max, Frank Vascellaro and John Lauritsen will have all the action covered.