It might be early January and our winter weather is finally turning frigid after a mild start, but conference races in the winter high school sports are starting to heat up and take shape.

The holidays were a busy time for prep athletes. Regardless of the sport, most teams around the state were in post-Christmas tournaments. It created for some great match-ups in a fun setting with a tournament atmosphere where teams were also guaranteed multiple games.

The New Year’s celebration has passed, and now we’re back into the grind of conference play across all sports. Here are some of Friday’s top match-ups.

Boys Basketball: Shakopee (10-2) at Lakeville North (10-1)

There is a big game between two top teams in the South Suburban Conference Friday night as Lakeville North hosts No. 6-ranked Shakopee. The Panthers have won seven straight since an early December loss to Chaska. They’re led by 6-9 junior power forward Nathan Reuvers, who averages 23 points per game and is getting looks from several Division I schools. Shakopee got off to a 9-0 start, but has lost two of its past three games. The Sabers are led by Steffon Mitchell’s 25 points per game and Booker Coplin’s 20. It’s a big game in helping determine who could stay with No. 2-ranked Apple Valley in the league race.

Boys Basketball: Edina (7-5) at Hopkins (11-0)

Nobody has beaten Hopkins yet this year, not even Apple Valley. The Royals get another test in Lake Conference play as they host Edina Friday night. Other than close wins over Wayzata and Apple Valley, Hopkins really hasn’t been challenged yet this season. The Royals are led by Gophers signee Amir Coffey, who is averaging about 20 points per game and is in double digits in rebounds. He’s one of five Royals who score in double figures. Edina is led by Will Moreton’s 20.2 points per game and Walt McGrory’s 18.8. The Hornets have lost three of their past five games.

Girls Basketball: Lakeville North (10-1) at Shakopee (8-0)

Two of the better girls’ basketball programs in the state meet in the south metro Friday night as unbeaten Shakopee hosts Lakeville North in South Suburban Conference action. The Panthers’ only loss of the season so far came at Eastview in mid-December, and they’ve won five straight games since. Lakeville North is led by Temi Carda, who averages more than 14 points and four rebounds per game. The Sabers are a perfect 8-0 and are led by Taylor Koenen, who averages nearly 20 points and eight rebounds per game. Caleigh Rodning adds 12 points and seven rebounds for Shakopee.

Boys Hockey: St. Cloud Cathedral (11-4) at Hermantown (11-1-1)

They are both programs that expect to be in the state tournament at Xcel Energy Center in March, and they’ll meet Friday night as No. 1-ranked Hermantown hosts No. 9-ranked St. Cloud Cathedral in non-conference action. The Hawks have won six straight games since a 3-0 loss at Minnetonka, a stretch that includes three wins at the Duluth Marshall holiday tournament. Hermantown is led by Cole Koepke’s 32 points on the season, including 17 goals. The Crusaders have bounced back from a three-game losing streak in December to win six straight. They’re led by Logan Neu’s 27 points on the season, which includes 11 goals. It’s always a game that both programs have circled on their calendars.

Extra: Friday Boys Basketball: Woodbury (11-2) at Mounds View (11-1)

It should be a great match-up in a battle of rivals in the Suburban East Conference Friday night as Mounds View hosts Woodbury. Both squads are jockeying for position at the top of the league with Cretin-Derham Hall. It’s our featured game for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.

Mounds View is coming off its only loss of the season, to those Raiders, on Tuesday. The Mustangs are led by Nate Albers’ 24.6 points per game, and Zeke Thompson adds about 14. Mounds View had won 11 straight to start the season before Tuesday’s loss. Woodbury has won seven straight since losing themselves to Cretin-Derham Hall in early December, 69-67. The Royals are led by Jeremiah Goddon’s 17.9 points per game. Michael Jones and Michael Carter each add a little more than 10 per game.

Tune into WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally at about 10:20 p.m. Friday as Mike Max and David McCoy will have all the action covered.

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