MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesota’s high school version of March Madness is in its home stretch this week with the final state tournament of the season wrapping up this week.
The State Girls Basketball Tournament, already well underway, has taken center stage both Williams Arena and Mariucci Arena. Championship Saturday is set for Class AAA and AAAA as two of the best teams in each class will battle for state titles Saturday night.
In Class 4A, two of the top three seeds in the tournament will play with everything on the line as Eastview meets Bloomington Kennedy at Williams Arena. It’s a South Suburban Conference showdown and a rubber match as each team won a regular season game in their two match-ups.
Eastview (30-1) has been ranked No. 1 virtually all season and won the first conference game between the two teams this year 65-54. Kennedy, the No. 3 seed for the tournament and ranked in the top five all season, won the second game 73-60. It makes for an exciting and drama-filled game Saturday with a state championship on the line.
The Lightning has won nine straight since that loss to Kennedy, their only loss of the season. They got to the state title game by beating St. Paul Central 63-58 and Eden Prairie 62-51. Eastview has been led all season by Madison Guebert’s 21 points per game and Kari Opatz 14.5 points. Guebert scored 12 points in their semifinal win.
Bloomington Kennedy (25-6) has won 10 straight since losing to Lakeville South in conference play. The Eagles are in the state title game after beating St. Michael-Albertville 71-57 and Lakeville North 61-51. The Eagles have a little more balance to their game as Kenisha Bell, Tonoia Wade and Lashayla Wright-Ponder combined in the regular season to average more than 48 points per game. In their semifinal win, Wade had 19 points, Bell scored 18 and Wright-Ponder added 12. It’ll be a great game between rivals that should go down to the wire.
In Class AAA, it’s No. 1 Park Center against No. 3 Marshall for the state championship.
The Pirates (25-5) have been ranked in the top 10 all year and have won seven straight games. They got to the title game by beating Simley 68-53 and Minneapolis Washburn 63-59. Park Center is led by Cayla McMorris, who averaged 21.6 points per game in the regular season. She scored 26 points in their state semifinal win over the Millers.
Marshall (30-1) has won 18 straight games since its only loss of the season in mid-January. The Tigers got to the state title game by beating Chisago Lakes 68-44 and Fergus Falls 52-51. Marshall is led by Sarah Buysse’s 14.6 points per game and Kenzie Beekman’s 13.6 points. In their semifinal win, Buysse and Hannah Bennett each scored 13 points and Beekman added 11 in a defensive battle.
It should be another great game with a close finish, which is exactly what you want when a state championship is at stake.
Macura puts on a show for Champion Lakeville North
The Class 4A state championship game last Saturday between Lakeville North and Hopkins was an absolute treat to watch if you’re a high school basketball fan. J.P Macura put on a show with 43 points on 15-of-30 shooting from the field and simply couldn’t be stopped. But it was Connor Flack’s rebound off a missed free throw with 10 seconds left in regulation that was the game-winner for the Panthers.
After Macura’s effort in the state tournament, scoring 23, 31 and 43 points in three wins, I thought he might have a shot to at least share the Mr. Basketball Award with Apple Valley’s Tyus Jones. Jones didn’t get the chance to repeat as a state champion after Apple Valley lost to Cretin-Derham Hall in the section finals, but his five-year career at point guard for the Eagles spoke for itself. He was named Mr. Basketball, the award for the top senior every year, earlier this week and is headed to Duke.
Macura will gladly trade that trophy for his gold medal and take one of the best offensive games in Minnesota to Xavier next year.
It should also be noted that DeLaSalle, one of the best teams in the state regardless of class, finished off its third straight state championship run by beating Austin 60-40 last Saturday. It was a rematch of last year’s state title game and the last game for Reid Travis, who will play at Stanford next year.