It was an entertaining Saturday at the AAU State Tournament, a great day of basketball that went largely according to form – except among the 8th graders. The freshmen-to-be offered up a pair of big upsets when #5-seeded Metro Stars 2022 knocked off #4 UVA Lady Rebels Ware in overtime, and #6-seed Ballin’ Pretty from St. Paul eliminated the defending champs of #3 Stars 8th Kolden. As a result, here are Sunday’s semifinal matchups in all four classes.
- #1 North Tartan 11th EYBL vs. #5. Stars 11th Amundson
- #2 Fury 2019 Gauntlet vs #3 Stars 11th Nelson
North Tartan crushed Stars 11th Bjorgaard by 46 points in the opening round and were equally dominant against their stablemates North Tartan 11th Elite, winning by a margin of 38. Olivia Lane of Pequot Lakes led North Tartan with 22 points over the two games, while Frannie Hottinger of Cretin-Derham Hall had 21. Stars Amundson, with point guard Kacie Borowicz of Roseau back at the controls, had a solid day with wins over Southern Minnesota 2019 Fury and Suns 2019 Keitzer. Breianna Smestad of Maranatha scored 28 points in two games for Greg Amundson’s team.
The Fury opened their tournament with a win over High Impact by 32 before knocking off Comets 11th Elite by 10. Taylor McAulay of Centennial scored 40 points in the two games. The Comets had a nice first half, but when McKenna Hofschild hit a three at the half-time buzzer it seemed to be a turning point in the game. The Fury looked to be pulling away before the Comets closed the margin to just 5 points with four minutes remaining. Then the Fury’s roster of D1 talent turned it up a notch to score a 70-60 victory. Stars Nelson scored a pair of convincing wins, defeating Minnesota PREP by 34 before beating Minnesota Rise 11th Wolfe (without their leader Joey Batt) by 17.
- #1 North Tartan 10th EYBL vs. #4 Suns 2020 Michaud
- #2 Stars 9th Antl vs #3 Fury 2020 Gauntlet
North Tartan had a first-round bye before facing Minnesota Heat Hinck. The Heat hung with North Tartan for a while, but a pair of threes by Paige Beuckers gave North Tartan some breathing room. Bueckers then hit another three at the buzzer to end the half, giving North Tartan a 13-point lead. The final margin was 30. Bueckers finished with 16 points. The Suns scored a 13-point win over MN/WI Force on Friday night. On Saturday De’Ante Michaud’s squad defeated Fury 2020 Yellow by 10.
Stars Antl used a bye to advance to the second round where they handled E1T1 Premier by 22. The Stars struggled in the first half against E1T1’s 3-2 zone, which led to a flurry of turnovers and some ugly basketball. In the second half, Aliyah Ragulen of Park Center knocked down a couple of big buckets early to get the Stars going and their offensive attack then became too much for E1T1.
The Fury went about their business with a 19-point win over Southern Minnesota Fury 2020 and a 21-point defeat of North Tartan 10th Ague. They spread the scoring across the roster as they usually do. The Fury will need solid offensive production again in Sunday’s semifinal meeting with the Stars, a rematch of their Prelims encounter that saw Scott Antl’s team hold the Fury to just 29 points en route to a big upset.
- #1 Stars Hersch vs #4. Suns Coley
- #2 Fury 2021 Gauntlet vs #3 North Tartan Sinn
Stars Hersch defeated Fury 2021 Yellow by 12 to open the tournament Saturday afternoon. In the late game, the Stars scored a convincing 16-point victory against North Tartan Dickmann. Hersch’s Adalia McKenzie of Park Center demonstrated why she is the #1 player in the freshmen class with a dazzling display of athleticism and skill. She put up 19 and 23 points in the two wins while Roseau’s Katie Borowicz was stellar as usual.
Suns Coley defeated MN/WI Force 2021 by 10 in their first game and then scored a thrilling 57-56 win against Tayler Hill Elite in the best freshman game of the day. Tayler Hill was dominant early and carried an 11-point margin into the second half. That’s when Coley went to work, going on a 13-2 run to open the period. It was neck-and-neck the rest of the way. Chyna Young of Apple Valley scored with one minute remaining to give THE the lead before 8th grader Maya Nnaji of Hopkins buried a sweet turn-around jumper for the Suns. Young missed a corner three for Tayler Hill with 6 seconds remaining before Dora Okpara’s attempt from the paint bounced off the rim at the buzzer, enabling the Suns to escape with the win. Nnaji had 14 points in the game, T’Naye Griffin of Park Center scored 13, but it was Allison Miranda of Eden Prairie who had the best offensive output of the day with 36 points in two games.
Fury 2021 Gauntlet defeated Suns P. Long by 21 before posting a 33-point victory over Minnesota Heat Vang. The Heat had advanced out of the first round by winning an entertaining game, as Kate Carlson of North Branch knocked down a pair of free throws with 0.5 seconds on the clock to defeat Top Flight 2021 by a count of 59-57. North Tartan Sinn was dominant on Saturday, defeating Crossfire Hermann by 39 and Comets 9th Elite by 22.
- #1 Fury 2022 Blue vs. #5 Metro Stars 2022
- #2 North Tartan 8th Contreras vs #6 Ballin’ Pretty
The top-seeded Fury had a bye before opening their tournament with an 11-point win over a solid DTA 8th squad. North Tartan had a first-round bye before defeating their sisters from North Tartan Scalia by 20. The Metro Stars defeated MN/WI Force 2022 Friday night in a nail-biter, then knocked off #4-seeded UVA Lady Rebels 8th Ware in a 35-34 overtime thriller. Nia Holloway of Eden Prairie scored all three available points in the and-1 to tie the game with 21 seconds remaining. In the extra period, Mikaela Counce scored on a sweet bank shot with 10 seconds to go to give the Metro Stars a 35-34 win.
Ballin’ Pretty defeated Stars Bjorgaard by 19 on Friday night. On Saturday they pulled off a major upset by ousting the defending state champions Stars 8th Kolden 43-39. BP point guard Kaylynn Asberry of Como Park sat out Friday’s game with a torn meniscus (she’s scheduled for surgery on Tuesday) and then turned in a heroic but painful performance Saturday with 14 points against the Stars, including a couple of key baskets in the closing moments. Ronnie Porter of Ballin’ Pretty had 29 points in two games. (See accompanying story)
Photo top: Taylor McAulay of Centennial (Drake) led the way in a pair of wins for Fury 2019 Gauntlet with 40 points. (photo courtesy of Press Publications)