Reporting Jeff Wald
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As someone who keeps a pretty close eye on the high school sports scene, this is one of my favorite times of the year.
January is coming to an end, which means conference races around the state are heating up. Every game has meaning, whether it be to keep the top spot in a certain league or for a team to set itself up for a deep postseason run.
There simply aren’t a lot of breaks in league play, and that’s what makes it so enjoyable to watch it unfold. On any given night, pretty much any team can come out with a victory. This week, we preview the big match-ups of the weekend.
We highlight the weekend with a big girls basketball game in the south metro, plus another rivalry game on the hardwood and a big hockey game in Burnsville. Here’s our top for this weekend.
Friday Girls Basketball: New Prague (12-4) at Chaska (13-5)
There is a huge game in the Missota Conference Friday night as Chaska will host New Prague in girls basketball action. Both teams are ranked in the top six in Class 3A, and both are looking to keep pace in a loaded conference with the leader, Red Wing. It’s our featured match-up for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.
It’s the last game of the first round of the conference season for the Trojans, who will again meet the Hawks in their regular season finale. New Prague has won three straight games and eight of its last 10. In that stretch was coach Ron Gunderson’s 600th career win.
Chaska, meanwhile, has won four of its last five games but is looking to recover from its second home loss of the season earlier this week. Friday’s winner will stay just one game back of Red Wing in the conference standings.
Ellie Thompson leads Chaska with 16.3 points per game and eight rebounds. New Prague, which feasts of a high-tempo and full-court press approach, is led by Lexi Ruehling (14.8 points per game) and Annie Dittberner (14.5 points per game).
It’ll be a great game between a pair of conference rivals with plenty at stake. We’ll see how much of a factor home court advantage plays for the Hawks.
Friday Boys Basketball: Lakeville South (6-8) at Lakeville North (12-3)
City bragging rights are on the line Friday night as No.7-ranked Lakeville North hosts Lakeville South in South Suburban Conference action. Don’t be fooled by the Cougars 6-8 record going up against the 12-3 Panthers, records are out the window for these two teams. Many of the players know each other well and some are even friends off the court. The Panthers are led by J.P. Macura’s 27.5 points per game, while Cory Larson leads Lakeville South with nearly 19 points per game. The Panthers have won five of their last six, with the only blemish coming in overtime to Apple Valley. Lakeville South snapped a two-game skid with a win on Tuesday.
Friday Girls Basketball: Hopkins (15-1) at Edina (15-2)
There’s a great match-up for girls basketball in the west metro Friday night as Edina hosts Hopkins in the Lake Conference. They are two of the top five teams in the state in Class 4A. The Royals, who have recovered from their first loss of the season with two straight wins, are led by Nia Koffey’s 18.2 points per game. Edina, which has won six of its past seven games, is led by M.C. McGrory’s 21.4 points and Jill Morton’s 14.8 points per game. Hopkins is looking for its third straight win over a top 10 team.
Saturday Boys Hockey: Eastview (11-6-1) at Burnsville (10-7-1)
A good rivalry in the South Suburban Conference takes place Saturday afternoon when Burnsville hosts Eastview. The Blaze have won three in a row and four of their past five games, while the Lightning have won five of their past six and are unbeaten in four straight games. Eastview is led by Ryan McNamara’s 14 goals and 10 assists. Burnsville has three players with at least 10 goals, led by Cole Borchardt’s 12. He also has 20 assists. The Blaze need a win to keep pace with Eagan in the South Suburban Conference, so it’s an intriguing match-up.
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.