Posted On: 05/8/19 11:14 PM
Roscoe Goose won’t be suiting up to compete in the girls AAU State Championship this weekend but he will most certainly be there in spirit with all of the long-shot entries hoping to pull off an upset in the annual quest for supremacy in Minnesota grassroots basketball. Goose, if you aren’t familiar, rode Donerail to victory in the 1913 Kentucky Derby in the greatest win ever by a dark horse long shot. The odds were 91:1!
Can a dark horse win it all this weekend in Shakopee? Probably not, but many are going to give it a try. We’ve picked our dark horse for each of the four classes covered by Prep Girls Hoops. But we’re not done there. We’ve also added some ‘Dangerfields’ to the conversation. Some whats? Yes, Dangerfields, as in Rodney. You know, the late great comedian who ‘Don’t get no respect.’ These are the teams that appear to be seeded much lower than the strength of their rosters might indicate.
So here goes. In memory of Rodney and Roscoe, the winners are…
2020 DARK HORSE
#5 North Tartan 2020 Elite – Never bet against any team coached by Jon Herbrechtsmeyer. The Bethel University boss knows how to get the most out of his players. This is North Tartan’s second junior team, and they are really pretty good. The Elites beat both Stars Antl and Fury 2020 Yellow by 7 points apiece last weekend. The roster includes #21-ranked Annika Stewart of Wayzata, #24 Lindsey Becher of Mounds View and #39 Sara Kuma of Lakeville North. They’re joined by #54 Lydia Haack (Elk River), #56 Lily Tennyson (St. Michael-Albertville) and #81 Zoe Velde (Pipestone) plus three quality sophomores: #28 Ivane Tensaie of Concordia Academy, #56 Anna Miller of Rochester Mayo and #68 Haley Paulson of Delano. North Tartan opens play at 7:50 p.m. Friday on court 10 against #12 MN/WI Force.
#11 United 2020 – No, this isn’t the United that plays in that shiny new soccer stadium over in St. Paul. This is the Spring Lake Park High School team in disguise. This group has been toiling away in AAU ball for some time now, and has had its share of tournament success. Their participation has also helped to reestablish the Panthers high school program, which was the whole point of forming the team. United is led by two standout guards: the #85-ranked junior Joelle Talso and top 50 freshman Averi Dunbar. This group plays really well together and they play hard. They also know a little something about upsets having eliminated heavily favored Park Center in the Section 5AAAA playoffs. United beat Southern Minnesota Fury, Crossfire St. John and MN/WI Force at the Prelims. They’ll open play Friday at 7:50 p.m. on court 9 against #5 Fury 2020 Yellow.
2021 DARK HORSE
#5 Minnesota Comets 2021 Elite – Minnesota’s sophomore class has always been ultra-competitive, including last summer when Stars Hersch took home the title. The Comets Elite team has always been on the outside looking in, however. Good, but not quite good enough. This winter, though, their top 5 players all had unprecedented high school success that ended at the state tournament, and that appears to have elevated the team to a new level of performance. The Comets are led by point guard extraordinaire Paige Meyer of Albany, the #17 player in the class. She’s joined by the Becker foursome of #53 Julia Bengtson, #76 Courtney Nuest, #98 Megan Gamble and #114 Alayna Lindquist, along with newcomer #87 Erika Lane of Pequot Lakes. The Comets beat the Stars by 5 points in the Prelims and lost to UVA Coley by just 6. Although they may not be at the level of North Tartan quite yet, Comets Elite could make some noise nevertheless. They’ll open play Saturday at 9:10 a.m. on court 9 against #12 Fury 2021 Yellow.
#12 Minnesota Fury 2021 Yellow – Sam Ebenreiter’s squad had a rough go of it at last year’s state tournament which pretty much cemented their seeding this time around. The thing is, the 2019 team is quite different from one year ago and realistically they are probably a top 7 or 8 squad. The Fury are led by the #36 player in the Class of 2021 in Ella Hronski of Mahtomedi. She and #61 Kenna Moon of St. Croix Lutheran are the only returners from last year’s team. Among the top newcomers are #54 Sydni Olson (Waconia), #66 Allie Murphy (Edina), #78 Tatum Brostrum (Prior Lake), #85 Jenna Guyer (Centennial) and #90 Julia Knudson (Orono). The winner of the opening round game between Dark Horse and Dangerfield will likely play #4 UVA 2021 Coley.
2022 DARK HORSE
#4 Minnesota Stars 2022 Nilsen – The former 7th grade state champions, then known as Stars Kolden, are no more as half the team departed for greener pastures over the winter. Enter new coach Matt Nilsen of Edina along with a host of new players. I think the Stars have surprised a few people with their performance so far this season and they simply cannot be overlooked. The team is led by point guard Dorothy Stotts of Edina, the #18 player in the class. Her fellow returnees include #53 Ava Berg of Elk River, #65 Tayah Leenderts of Rosemount and forward Jenna Cuddigan of Lakeville South. They’re joined by talented newcomers Ally Schultz of Lakeville South, #44 Ella Campbell of Edina, #50 Jocelyn Plonski of Eagan and a pair of crafty guards from Hawley in twins Kaylie Crabtree and Kylie Crabtree. Stars Nilsen opens the state tournament Friday at 6:40 p.m. on court 1 vs their clubmates from Stars Bjorgaard.
#13 Minnesota Stars 2022 Bjorgaard – How on earth is this talented group only seeded #13? They’ll certainly have to prove themselves, but we think they are a top 10 team for sure. This group of Stars is led by lengthy forward Lilly Nuytten of Hastings, the #38 player in the class, along with one of the rising stars of the season, #56 Ava Stier of Waconia. Ava has been on fire, and was the leading scorer among all freshmen last weekend at 18 points per game. They’re joined by #59 Lily Fandre of Eagan and #60 Hope Kanenwisher of Elk River, along with Paige Broze, Kate Cordes and Katie Goodwin of Shakopee, Ellie Austad of St. Louis Park and Ellie Wildermuth of Wayzata.
2023 DARK HORSE
#7 Metro Stars 2023 Wiese – We have been impressed in multiple viewings this spring of Metro Stars 2023 Wiese, but if you just looked at their 1-3 record from the State Prelims you might wonder if we had been smoking something. Look a little deeper, however, and you’ll see that the Metro Stars could just as easily have been 3-1. Ellen Wiese’s team lost by just two points to the #2 seed in the Class of 2023. That would be the high-flying Minnesota Elite Cade. They lost close ones to 43 Hoops Martin and Stars 2023 Hersch. So, yeah, they should be considered a dark horse. The team is led by post Savanna Jones, point guard Priyanka Satish and forward Kylie Bamlett of Eden Prairie, along with big Julia Wagner of St. Michael-Albertville. The Metro Stars open play Friday at 6:40 p.m. on court 10 against #10 North Tartan 2023 Wolkow.
#10 North Tartan Wolkow – We haven’t seen a lot of Maddie Wolkow’s 8th grade North Tartan team, but what we have seen we have liked. Wolkow was a standout player at Lakeville South and the University of St. Thomas and now she has turned her attention to coaching. The North Tartan roster includes her sister Emy Wolkow. In fact, there is a distinct Sister Act tinge to the NT lineup which also includes Jordan Langbehn of Elk River (sister of 2021 standout Johanna Langbehn) and Drew Johnston of Roseville (sister of 2020 top 10 prospect Jayda Johnston). They also have a varsity post we have been hearing a lot about in 6-foot Sophie Lahti of Pine City. NT Wolkow went undefeated last weekend, including a pair of wins by scores of 63-14 and 55-16.