Reporting Jeff Wald
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s one of the busiest times of the winter to be a high school sports athlete.
Conference seasons are in full swing across the state, and now suddenly almost every game is meaningful and goes down to the wire. It’s that time of year where teams and athletes have to be a little mentally tougher to get through the grind that is conference play.
Teams know each other well and there’s not many new tricks you can throw at each other. It’s all about talent and heart.
There are plenty of great match-ups coming up this weekend, and we have a few to choose from to get your prep sports fix. Here’s my big four.
Friday Boys Basketball: Roseville (10-1) at Stillwater (7-2)
It should be a full house in Stillwater Friday night as the Ponies host Roseville, the No. 3-ranked team in Class 4A. It’s also our featured game for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.
The Ponies are off to a 3-1 start in the Suburban East Conference, while Roseville is 4-0 in conference play. The Raiders only loss of the season so far came to Valley of Iowa in the Timberwolves Shootout.
Roseville has four players who average double figures in scoring, led by Mackenzie Johnson’s 20.8 points. Logan Brown adds almost 14 points per game. Jordan Burich averages about 11 points and 12 rebounds per game.
Stillwater is led by Andrew Duxbury’s 17 points per game. The winner likely takes control of the conference race with a little more than half the schedule left. Both teams have no problems scoring, so it should be interesting to see which squad comes up with the big defensive plays to get the win.
Friday Boys Hockey: Hermantown (10-2-1) at St. Cloud Cathedral (8-6)
It’s always a fun game when Hermantown and St. Cloud Cathedral meet in boys hockey, and such is the case Friday night in St. Cloud. The No. 9-ranked Crusaders are looking for momentum after losing three of their past four, while No. 4-ranked Hermantown looks to get their third win in four tries. The Hawks are led by Travis Koepke’s 15 goals, while St. Cloud Cathedral is paced by Austin Poganski’s 13 goals. Hermantown was a state runner-up to St. Thomas Academy last year.
Saturday Boys Hockey: St. Thomas Academy (10-1-1) at Duluth Marshall (7-6)
It’s a match-up of state tournament teams from last year as No. 1-ranked St. Thomas Academy heads north to face No. 7-ranked Duluth Marshall. The Hilltoppers are looking to end a three-game skid, while the Cadets are on a nine-game unbeaten streak. Tom Novak leads the Cadets with nine goals, while Kris McKinzie leads a balanced Marshall attack with eight goals. The puck drops at 3 p.m. in Duluth.
Saturday Girls Basketball: Benilde-St. Margaret’s (9-3) at Eden Prairie (9-2)
It should be a great non-conference match-up Saturday night as Eden Prairie hosts Benilde-St. Margaret’s in girls basketball. The Eagles have won seven straight games since losing to Lakeville North early in the season. The Red Knights are looking for their fifth win in six games and are led by Grace Coughlin’s 18.6 points per game. Eden Prairie is led by Samantha Trammel’s 12.1 points per game.
It should be another exciting weekend of high school sports around the state. Tune into WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally at 10:20 p.m. Friday as Mike Max, Frank Vascellaro and John Lauritsen will have all the action covered.