MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Unless you’re one of the few teams to end a season with a state championship, there’s nothing like the feeling of winning a section title and earning that coveted trip to state.
Some have already been earned, but many bids are on the line Friday night and Saturday to determine the 32 teams among four classes that will be playing for state titles next week at Target Center. When the clock hits zero and you’ve won a section title, there’s nothing that can compare to getting the gold medals and hoisting the championship trophy.
There are a lot of big match-ups on paper to determine this year’s state tournament teams, so here’s a taste of what is ahead Friday night.
Section 5AAAA: Park Center (25-3) vs. Osseo (25-3)
(Rogers High School)
It’s a shame one of these teams won’t be going to the Class 4A State Tournament as Park Center and Osseo square off at Rogers High School Friday night for the Section 5AAAA title. It’s a top-five matchup with players on both sides that will be athletes at the college level.
Quinton Hooker leads the Pirates with about 23 points per game. Devin Buckley adds more than 15 points per game and Treyton Daniels scores more than 13 per game. Park Center runs and up-and-down style with intense defense that’s fun to watch when it’s clicking.
The Orioles have a state championship to defend, and they’re led by the duo of Bridge Tusler and Ian Theisen. Tusler averages more than 15 points per game, while Theisen scores more than 17 per game and averages almost 11 rebounds.
When the two teams met earlier this season, Park Center took a 73-62 win over Osseo. The team that executes its game plan better wins Friday night. Neither team is a bad choice to go to the state tournament. It’s a game that will feel more like a state semifinal than a section championship.
Section 1AAAA: Lakeville North (22-6) vs. Rochester John Marshall (21-6)
(Mayo Civic Center)
The runners-up in the South Suburban Conference take on a gritty Rochester John Marshall team for the Section 1AAAA title Friday night at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. The Panthers are led by junior J.P Macura, one of the top players in the metro, who averages more than 25 points per game. He’ll need some help from Grant Erickson, who scores about 14 per game. The Rockets are led by John Mattison’s 21 points per game.
Section 3AAA: DeLaSalle (25-1) vs. Spring Lake Park (15-13)
(Coon Rapids High School)
Spring Lake Park is looking to pull off a big upset when it takes on DeLaSalle, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 3A, in the Section 3AAA title game Friday night at Coon Rapids High School. The Islanders are led by junior forward Reid Travis, one of the top basketball recruits in the country. He averages about 27 points per game and more than 10 rebounds. Luke Scott adds about 15 per game. Robert Ben leads Spring Lake Park, which has three players who average double figures, with almost 16 points per game. It figures to be an entertaining matchup with everything on the line.
Section 1AA: Plainview-Elgin-Millville (21-8) vs. Byron (24-4)
(Mayo Civic Center)
Plainview-Elgin-Millville, last year’s 2A state champion, will have to get past Byron in the Section 1AA title game Friday night at the Mayo Civic Center to get the chance to defend its title. The Bulldogs are led by Nick Shanks’ 27 points and 13 rebounds per game. Byron, the Hiawatha Valley League champions, is led by Buster Meyer’s 13.9 points per game and Jack Nelson’s 13.3 points per game. Byron will need a great game to knock off the defending champions.
Section 2AAAA: Apple Valley (27-1) vs. Rosemount (9-19)
(Burnsville High School)
Rosemount is looking to play Cinderella Friday night at Burnsville High School as the No. 7-seeded Irish face No. 1-ranked Apple Valley for the Section 3AAAA title. The Eagles have won 25 straight games and are led by the best point guard in the country, junior Tyus Jones. They also have depth in Harry Sonie and Dustin Fronk on the perimeter. Rosemount is led by Garrett Goetz’s 16.7 points per game. It’s hard to pick against Apple Valley in this one, but section championship games are always interesting.
Tune into WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally at about 10:20 p.m. Friday as Mike Max, Frank Vascellaro and John Lauritsen will have all the action covered.