If you take a look at the schedule across the high school sports landscape this weekend, it’s hard not to get excited at some of the match-ups.
As fans, you love to see the top teams facing each other to get a sense of where the best programs are at before the postseason. When the playoffs arrive, how far can your team go and are they battle tested? We appear to be in a mid-winter thaw with temperatures at or above freezing, but it’s just starting to heat up in arenas across the state.
We have four huge match-ups on Friday across the state in basketball and hockey, and virtually all are top-10 teams squaring off. A big win can give a team momentum heading into the playoffs, and while nobody likes to lose, it can serve as a gauge for where your team needs to get better.
At the end of the day, it’s all about the state tournament. With January wrapping up, the playoffs are just around the corner. Here are Friday’s top high school match-ups.
Friday Girls Basketball: Hopkins (15-2) at Wayzata (14-3)
There’s nothing better than conference match-up between rivals, and two programs with a history of success meet Friday night in the west metro as Wayzata hosts Hopkins in Lake Conference action. The Royals are ranked No. 2 in Class 4A, and the Trojans are looking to stay in the league race. Both teams are chasing Minnetonka. It’s our featured game for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.
Hopkins had been on an 11-game win streak, but it was snapped after a loss to Minnetonka last Friday. The Royals have had a week to stew over it, so they’ll be ready to face Wayzata. Hopkins is led by Nia Hollie, who scores more than 16 points per game. Ashley Bates adds about 13 points for an offense that scores about 74 points per game.
Wayzata might be a team that feels it’s not getting respected in the polls. The Trojans are not in the top-10 in Class 4A despite a 14-3 record, and they’ve won 10 of their last 11 games after an overtime loss to Edina in mid-December. They’ve also won three straight since a loss two weeks ago to Minnetonka. They’re led by Hannah Heiring’s 14.5 points per game.
Wayzata scores about 58 points per game, so it’ll need its best defensive performance of the season to contain the Royals’ high-octane offense.
The two teams meet again on Feb. 23 at Hopkins, and the chance for a league title could be on the line.
Friday Boys Basketball: Waconia (14-4) at Delano (16-3)
It’s always more fun when a league game features two top10 teams, and there’s a lot at stake Friday night as No. 5-ranked Delano hosts No. 6-ranked Waconia. It’s a battle of Wright County Conference rivals. The Wildcats had won four straight games, but now they’re looking to bounce back from a loss to Shakopee on Saturday. They’re led by Joey Korteum’s 19.2 points per game. The Tigers got a big 81-67 win over Orono in our featured game last week, and followed it up Tuesday with a 74-63 win over St. Cloud Apollo. They’ve won five of their past six, and they’re led by Matt Kreklow’s 16.4 points per game. When the two teams met earlier this month in Waconia, the Tigers escaped with an 83-80 victory.
Friday Boys Hockey: Hibbing/Chisholm (18-1) at St. Cloud Apollo (16-2)
A pair of Class A boys hockey powerhouses meet Friday night in St. Cloud as No. 3-ranked St. Cloud Apollo hosts No. 4-ranked Hibbing/Chisholm. The Eagles have won four straight games since an overtime loss to Breck and at one point won 12 straight games after a season-opening loss to Bemidji. St. Cloud Apollo is led by Gino Lucia’s 36 points on the season, which includes a team-high 14 goals. Hibbing’s only loss of the season came on Jan. 14, a 3-0 shutout to Grand Rapids. The Bluejackets have won four straight since, outscoring opponents by a combined 20-6. They’re led by Scott Perunovich’s 51 points on the season. Jarrett Lee leads the team with 15 goals.
Friday Girls Hockey: Edina (16-6-1) at Blake (20-2-2)
Two top girls hockey programs in the Twin Cities meet Friday night in non-conference action as Edina, ranked No. 3 in Class AA, travels to face Blake, ranked No. 2 in Class A. The Hornets bounced back from a 4-1 loss to Minnetonka last Saturday with an overtime victory over Eden Prairie this week. Edina is led by Lolita Fidler’s 37 points on the season, including 15 goals. Emily Oden leads the team with 16 goals. Blake has just two losses on the season, one of which came to rival Breck back on Jan. 9. The Bears have won four straight since, and they’re led by Carly Bullock’s 54 points on the season. That mark includes an impressive 41 goals, an average of nearly two per game.
Tune into WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally at about 10:20 p.m. Friday as Mike Max, Frank Vascellaro and David McCoy have all the action covered.