MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – You have to love this time of year if you’re a high school sports fan. Yes, it’s the middle of February and it’s bitterly cold, but the best programs around Minnesota are flocking to the Twin Cities to take home trophies.

Last week, the best dance teams hit Target Center. This week, the best girls hockey teams in the state are at Xcel Energy Center, where two will be crowned state champions Saturday. The University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion will be buzzing with the state’s best gymnasts, and boys hockey playoffs are underway.

Teams are also chasing conference championships in boys and girls basketball. Our top weekend events feature state gymnastics, pivotal basketball games and a great boys hockey playoff game.

State Gymnastics Tournament (University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion)

The best high school gymnastics teams and individuals in the state are at the University of Minnesota Friday and Saturday for their state meet. This year is all about if history can repeat itself as defending champions Melrose (Class A) and Roseville (Class AA) are back. Friday night’s Class AA team competition is our featured event for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.

Roseville has been a dominant team in the class, and the Raiders are expected to repeat again this weekend. Roseville has won the past three Class AA state team titles, but it won’t be easy. They beat Northfield by a full point last year, but that’s a team that will make Roseville compete at its highest level to win. The field also features returning state participants in Wayzata, St. Cloud Tech, Lakeville North, Cambridge-Isanti and Champlin Park. Wayzata finished third at state last year, St. Cloud Tech was fifth, Lakeville North was sixth, Cambridge-Isanti was seventh and Champlin Park eighth.

In Friday morning’s Class A competition, Melrose is the favorite to win again with six gymnasts who competed at the state meet last year back. Other returning state teams from last year include Austin, Detroit Lakes and North Branch. Detroit Lakes finished third last year, Austin was fourth and North Branch was fifth.

In Saturday’s AA individual meet, Northfield’s Bailey DuPay is seeking her third straight all-around state title. She’s also seeking to defend individual titles in the uneven bars and the floor exercise.

Friday Boys Basketball: Roseville (21-4) at Cretin-Derham Hall (22-3)

The Suburban East Conference title is on the line Friday night as Cretin-Derham Hall hosts Roseville. When the two teams met about a month ago, Cretin-Derham Hall pulled away for a 68-60 victory. Roseville needs a win Friday to claim at least a share of the league title. Cretin, which has won 14 straight games, is led by the guard duo of Sam Neumann (20.2 points per game) and Joe Rosga (19.6 points per game). Roseville has won 10 straight games and is led by Kobe Critchley’s 17.7 points per game. It should be a great game that goes down to the wire.

Friday Girls Basketball: Shakopee (17-6) at Eastview (22-1)

The top two teams in the Suburban East Conference face off Friday night in girls basketball as No. 2-ranked Eastview hosts Shakopee. The Lightning has the league title wrapped up, but rivalry games in league play are always fun. They’re unbeaten in league play at 15-0 and beat Shakopee earlier this season 65-45. Eastview is led by Madison Guebert’s 20.3 points per game and Samantha Trammel’s 14 points. Shakopee has won four straight and five of its past six. The Sabers are led by Tayler Koenen’s 20 points per game.

Saturday Boys Hockey: Duluth East (12-10-4) at Grand Rapids (14-10-2)
(Section 7AA Playoffs)

A pair of northern Minnesota hockey rivals meet Saturday afternoon in the playoffs, with the winner earning the right to play for a spot in the state tournament next week. Grand Rapids and Duluth East face off at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, and the winner plays for a spot in the state tournament next Thursday. Neither team has had the season that meets its usually lofty expectations, but that’s forgotten when a trip to Xcel Energy Center is at stake. The Greyhounds enter the contest with a 2-1-3 mark in its last three games. They shut out Andover to advance in the playoffs. Duluth East is led by Nick Altman’s 22 points in the regular season. The Thunderhawks have won four straight and five of their past six entering the contest. They beat Forest Lake on Tuesday to advance, and they’re led by Mitchell Mattson’s 48 points in the regular season, which includes a team-best 22 goals.

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

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