Reporting Jeff Wald
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s a big week for many high school girls basketball programs across the state.
The playoffs are always a fun time to watch since that’s usually when the best teams emerge. When a season is on the line and a state tournament bid is at stake, it gets even better. By the end of the week, 32 teams will have their tickets to the Target Center solidified by winning their section championships.
There are several great match-ups on tap Friday night as some of the best in the state square off with everything on the line. The only thing that rivals the thrill of winning a section title is winning a state championship, which can only start by winning your section.
Here are four great games on the docket Friday where state tournament spots are on the line.
Edina (23-5) vs. Bloomington Kennedy (25-3)
Chaska High School
Two of the top teams in Class 4A square off Friday night at Chaska High School with a trip to state on the line as Edina faces Bloomington Kennedy. The Eagles are ranked No. 3 in the state, while the Hornets are ranked No. 7.
Edina is led by M.C. McGrory’s 19.7 points per game and Jill Morton adds more than 14 points per game. They’ll be tested by Kennedy’s intense pressure defense and high-octane approach to the game.
Kennedy is led by Jade Martin’s 17.5 points per game. Tonoia Wade adds more than 12 points and Jasmyn Martin scores more than 11 points per game. With Kenisha Bell’s 11.9 points per game, the Eagles have four players who average double figures on the season.
It should be a great game between two of the top squads in the metro with a trip to the state tournament on the line.
Lakeville North (21-7) vs. Rochester Mayo (20-7)
Mayo Civic Center
Lakeville North and Rochester Mayo always seem to meet with a state tournament trip on the line in girls basketball, and this year is no different as the squads meet in Rochester Friday night in the Section 1AAAA title game. The Panthers are led by Simone Kolander’s 14.8 points per game. Taylor Stewart adds about 11 points on average. Mayo is led by Rachel Doll’s 19.5 points per game. Lakeville North has won seven straight games, while the Spartans have won nine of their last 10. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. in the Mayo Civic Center Arena.
New Prague (21-6) vs. Mankato East (23-4)
Gustavus Adolphus College
Mankato East, this year’s Big Nine Conference champion, faces Missota Conference runner-up New Prague Friday night at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter with a trip to the state tournament at stake. The Cougars are led by Claire Ziegler’s 19.4 points per game as she’s one of three who average double figures on the season. Annie Dittberner leads New Prague at almost 16 points per game, while Lexi Ruehling adds more than 13 points. The Trojans have won nine of their last 10 games, while Mankato East has won 15 of its last 16. The Cougars are ranked No. 5 and New Prague is No. 7. It looks to be a great match-up on paper.
DeLaSalle (24-4) vs. Park Center (18-10)
Anoka High School
Friday’s Section 3AAA title game at Anoka High School should be as up-and-down and fast-paced as any when DeLaSalle, ranked No. 2, faces Park Center for a trip to the state tournament. The Islanders are led by Tyseanna Johnson’s 21.8 points per game. Allina Starr adds nearly 19 points per game. The Pirates are led by Cayla McMorris’s 23.7 points per game. Park Center also has three other players that average eight or more points on the season. Both teams like to get out in transition and create easy scoring opportunities, so it should be a fun one to watch.
Tune into WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally at about 10:20 p.m. Friday as Mike Max and John Lauritsen will have all the playoff action covered, including state hockey coverage from Xcel Energy Center.