MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – There will be plenty of familiar faces at the Target Center this week for the Girls State High School Basketball Tournament.
Hopkins, DeLaSalle, Braham and Maranatha Christian Academy are all back to defend titles in their classes. The Class AAAA field is loaded once again with five of the eight teams in the field ranked in the top 10.
In the Class AAA bracket, half of the field is ranked in the top 10 and returning champion DeLaSalle is the No. 1 seed. No. 2 ranked Fergus Falls, third-ranked Richfield and No. 5-ranked Hutchinson will also make it a highly competitive tournament.
Games start Wednesday morning with AAAA action at the Target Center and AAA games at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus.
In Class AAAA, the best game of the quarterfinals might be right away at 10 a.m. Hopkins faces Lakeville North. When the two teams met early this season in Lakeville, the Royals escaped with a 46-41 victory. St. Michael-Albertville, which upset Buffalo in overtime of its section championship, is matched up against No. 4-seeded Eastview. That game is almost a toss-up.
With that said, I expect all the seeded teams to advance, creating semifinal match-ups of Hopkins/Eastview and Edina/White Bear Lake.
In AAA, Richfield is the No. 1 seed at 25-4 and I expect them to meet DeLaSalle in the state championship game.
The best game of the AA bracket might also be in the quarterfinals Wednesday night as defending state champion Braham takes on New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva. That’s a match-up of No. 2 vs. No. 3 in the state.
In Class A, we could see one heck of a state championship game if Minneota and Maranatha Christian Academy both get there. That’s No. 1 against No. 8 in the state rankings, but Minneota has just one loss on the season and Maranatha has pretty much been dominant in most of its wins this year.
Here are some players to watch in this year’s state tournament:
Hopkins – Nia and Sydney Coffee: They’re the daughters of Richard Coffey and will both play basketball in college. Hopkins goes as they go, and they’ve been the key to the Royals’ run this year. Nia is averaging more than 23 points per game and Sydney scores more than 11 per game.
Braham – Rebekah Dahlman: Yes that name should sound familiar. She’s the sister of previous Braham boys stars Isaiah and Noah Dahlman. Rebekah is one of the top players in the state, averaging close to 30 points per game. She’s also a high caliber rebounder.
Richfield — Jessica January: She’s one of the top players in the metro, averaging about 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists per game this season. She’ll be the catalyst if the Spartans make a run for a championship.
DeLaSalle – Tyseanna Johnson, Mia Lloyd and Allina Starr pace a balanced Islanders attack.
Maranatha – Onye Osemenam averages nearly a double-double per game to dominate the post area with more than 14 points and eight rebounds. Maranatha’s success at the state tournament will depend on her ability to have big games.
Tune into WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally as Mike Max, Frank Vascellaro and John Lauritsen will have all the action covered, including a look ahead at Saturday’s state championship games.