Zimmerman is the obvious favorite here, but the recent loss of power forward Naomi Hagstrom to a knee injury and the fairly decisive loss to Hermantown, 68-53, are reasons for concern. Still, guards Alyssa Daugherty and Danielle Williams are a dynamic duo. But, if not Zimmerman, then Big Lake and Willmar are the threats. Big Lake had a rough stretch but they’ve been better since getting Paige Domyahn back from an injury. Willmar served notice by beating Alexandria 40-33 the other night. Our pick: Willmar 52 Zimmerman 50.
Hutch and Orono. Orono and Hutch. Orono won their first matchup at Hutch 86-76. Hutch won a month later at Orono 58-51. Tori Andrew, Maddie Loder and Natalie Smaron are a dynamic trio for Orono. Hutch can’t match up 3-on-3 but basketball is played 5-on-5 usually and Hutch is better at 4 and 5 and on up through the rest of the rotation. Our pick: Hutch 65 Orono 64.
Another 2-team race. I don’t see anybody keeping up with Grand Rapids and Hermantown. Hermantown’s four 6-footers are an intimidating group but Grand Rapids, led by point guard Heaven Hamling, was not intimidated and beat the Hawks at Hermantown 62-56. That was a while ago. I saw Grand Rapids lose to Cooper, and Hermantown manhandle Zimmerman, and I have no idea how this one is going to go. But we gotta choose, so we’ll chose our pick: Grand Rapids 69 Hermantown 61.
Here’s another one where an injury could be decisive. Macy Hatlestad, Alexandria senior point guard, suffered a knee injury that sounded serious. Well, she’s already been back playing, but on the other had Alex has already lost to Willmar in a game in which Hatlestad scored 3 points. So, who knows? But, Willmar is in Section 5AAA. Who in 8AAA can beat Alex, even if Hatlestad is playing with one knee tied behind her back?
Well, Sartell-St. Stephen has the 2nd best record at 14-10 while Fergus and Thief are 14-11 and 13-11, and Thief knocked off Grand Rapids the other night. Detroit Lakes (11-12) could also sneak in with a 4th seed. But, I think Thief River Falls gets to the finals vs. Alex. Thief and Fergus play Thursday night with the 3rd and maybe the 2nd seed at stake. Our pick: Thief 50 Alex 49.
Seeds and State
Among this second set of sections, the seeds would be 1) Hutch, 2) Grand Rapids, 3) Thief River Falls, 4) Willmar.
And among all 8 of our section favorites in AAA, the seeds would be 1) Holy Angels, 2) Hutch, 3) KM, 4) Como and 5) Grand Rapids. Your state tournament matchups will be:
Holy Angels vs. New Ulm
Como vs. Grand Rapids
Hutchinson vs. Thief
Kasson-Mantorville vs. Willmar
You’ll note that we’ve cleverly matched up Hutch and Thief, a replay of last year’s dramatic state tournament game. Como and Grand Rapids is a matchup of 1st round losers from last year. Both now have a better idea of what it takes to win here, so that could be a doozy.