MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Christmas holiday has passed, and high school athletes got a few days off to open gifts and enjoy family time.
But the weekend after Christmas is one of the busiest in the state for high school teams as virtually every hockey, basketball and some wrestling squads compete in a holiday tournament. It gives fans a chance to see some of the best teams in the state square off in a competitive atmosphere without an entire season being on the line.
With that said, here are some of the best bets if you want to see some of the best teams and athletes in the state in action the rest of the week.
Boys Hockey: Schwan Cup
The Schwan Cup is easily the biggest boys holiday hockey tournament in Minnesota with 48 teams playing in four brackets around the Twin Cities. The thrill for the players is getting to the championship games in each bracket, which are all played at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul
The Gold Division is loaded with Minnetonka, Hill-Murray, Blaine, Burnsville, Breck, Duluth East, Edina and St. Thomas Academy. Most of those teams end up at Xcel Energy Center in March for the state tournament. Action got started Wednesday, with the highlight of the day being St. Thomas Academy’s 2-1 overtime win over Edina.
The other top hockey tournament in the metro is the Sports Authority Classic at the St. Louis Park Recreation Center. Action starts Thursday afternoon and the field includes Bloomington Jefferson, Wayzata, Eden Prairie, Moorhead, Lakeville North, Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Elk River and Maple Grove.
Boys Basketball: Catholic Spirit Tournament
The University of St. Thomas serves as host to one of the better boys high school basketball tournaments this weekend. Action gets started Thursday with an 8-team bracket that includes Wayzata, Hill-Murray, Rosemount, Providence Academy, Cretin-Derham Hall, St. Agnes, Milwaukee Bay View and Holy Angels. You’ll notice mostly private Catholic schools in the field.
The Granite City Classic at St. Cloud Apollo should also be a solid tournament. The field of 10 teams includes Rocori, Becker, St. Michael-Albertville, Blake, Sartell, Delano, Buffalo, St. Cloud Tech, St. Cloud Apollo and Apple Valley, which features one of the state’s top players, Tyus Jones.
Girls Basketball: Dick’s Sporting Goods Classic
The top girls basketball tournament in the metro area is the Dick’s Sporting Goods Classic at Hopkins High School. The field includes host Hopkins, St. Paul Central, Eden Prairie, Prior Lake, Minnetonka and Osseo. There’s also a very competitive tournament at Hill-Murray, which includes the host as well as Cretin-Derham Hall, Cooper, Totino-Grace, Wayzata, Mounds View, Centennial and Stillwater.
Wrestling: The Clash National Duals
If you want to see some of the best high school wrestling in the country, head to Rochester Community and Technical College this weekend. It serves as the host for the Clash National Duals, which are Friday and Saturday. There are 12 Minnesota schools in the field, led by national powerhouse Apple Valley.
Other Minnesota teams in the field include Burnsville, Forest Lake, Hastings, Kasson-Mantorville, Kimball, Owatonna, Prior Lake, Rochester Mayo, Simley, St. Michael-Albertville and Zumbrota-Mazeppa.
Also a good reminder: The Target Center will host the Timberwolves Shootout, an all-day basketball tournament, on Saturday, Jan. 5. The event features five Minnesota teams, and the day starts with Lakeview Christian Academy facing Onalaska (Wis.) at 9 a.m. At 11 a.m., DeLaSalle faces Blue Valley Northwest High School of Kansas. Roseville will face Valley High School of West Des Moines, Iowa, at 1 p.m. The final and featured match-up of the day puts Minnesota’s two top junior recruits against each other.
Tyus Jones and Rashad Vaughn will lead Apple Valley and Cooper respectively in a game that’s scheduled for 3 p.m. I’ll be at that game to get my first in-person look at each player. Both have received several offers from the best Division I programs in the country. The Gophers have offered scholarships to both.