Posted On: 05/2/19 8:34 PM

Last weekend the best in Minnesota basketball travelled far and wide in search of shiny treasure at AAU events across the country, and many came home with some pretty nice loot. This weekend and next they’ll travel across town and beat the crap out of each other for one trophy per grade. It’s AAU State Tournament time, the annual festivities to declare the best in all-star basketball in these parts, and it begins Friday evening with the Girls State Prelims.

All of the top teams will be there. Most of the top players will play. And I for one plan to enjoy every minute of it. To help you do the same, here is a rundown on the Top 10 Games at the Prelims for your viewing pleasure. All of the games listed below will be played at Bloomington Kennedy, but there will also be action at Jefferson and Chaska.

FRIDAY

6:30 p.m. on court 7 – Stars 2021 Hersch vs Tayler Hill Elite

Kick off your weekend with one of the best rivalries we have seen over the past few years. The Stars are led by point guard extraordinaire Katie Borowicz of Roseau along with Roseville post Tamia Ugass and Farmington guard Paige Kindseth. The Alpha girls for Tayler Hill Elite is none other than point guard Jade Hill of Minneapolis South, Robbinsdale Cooper post Kierra ‘Mimi’ Wheeler and Cooper speedster Andrea Tribble.

7:40 p.m. on court 7 – North Tartan 2020 EYBL vs Stars 2020 Antl

The new-look North Tartan squad is led by Iowa commit Lauren Jensen of Lakeville North, Creighton commit Mallory Brake of Hastings and Drake commit Courtney Beckers of Wisconsin. The floor leader for Stars Antl is point guard Abby Schulte of Maple Grove who is joined in the back court this year by Grace Kirk of Duluth Marshall. Up front you’ll find top 10 prospects Nneka Obiazor of Eden Prairie and Emily Russo of New Prague.

8:50 p.m. on court 2 – Stars 2023 Hersch vs Minnesota Elite 2023 Cade

After one season playing under the Stars banner the ladies of Minnesota Elite Cade are once again going it alone, and they certainly have the talent to do it. Led by 7th grade point guard Alivia McGill of Park Center, and guards Kennedy Klick and Nicole Lillard of Maranatha, the Cade team plays run-and-gun, in-your-face basketball and the two-time state champions play it well. Stars 2023 Hersch is loaded with five players among the 20 on our 8th grade Watch List: Shania Nichols-Van Nett (Como Park), Taryn Hamling (Grand Rapids), Aby Shubert (Kasson-Mantorville), Katelyn Maciej (Rogers) and Brylee Iverson (Triton). They are fast, skilled and very, very deep.

Start your Saturday with Paige Meyer and Comets 2021 Elite. (Photo courtesy of St. Cloud Times)

SATURDAY

8:00 a.m. on court 7 – Comets 2021 Elite vs UVA 2021 Coley

With a point guard like Paige Meyer (Albany), you know Comets 2021 Elite is good. With the state tournament season just completed by the Becker foursome of Julia Bengtson, Alayna Lindquist, Courtney Nuest and Megan Gamble, they’re really pretty great. The Comets will be up against the former North Tartan, former Minnesota Suns, now UVA Coley squad. It features top 10 talents Kendall Coley (St. Louis Park) and Nora Francois (DeLaSalle) along with prospects Takara Mason (Tartan), Frankie Vascellaro (Holy Angels) and 6’3 post Sacia Vanderpool (Byron).

9:10 a.m. on court 7 – Metro Stars 2020 Starks vs North Tartan 2020 EYBL

This is the one everyone is talking about, the first-ever meeting between the new-look North Tartan EYBL squad and the brand new Metro Stars Starks. In addition to Jensen, Brake and Beckers mentioned above, North Tartan has a formidable roster that now includes Zhane Thompson (Burnsville), Patience Williams (Benilde-St. Margaret’s), Jayda Johnston (Roseville) and Ava Hill (Mesabi East) plus the great Maty Wilke of Wisconsin. The Metro Stars counter with the premier junior in the country: Paige Bueckers of Hopkins and Team USA. Her supporting cast includes K.K. Adams and Nunu Agara of Hopkins along with Mia Curtis (Minnehaha Academy), Liza Karlen (Stillwater), Vanessa Alexander (St. Michael-Albertville) and Nyamer Diew (Sioux City, Iowa). I believe TeeTee Danso of Simley, who committed last week to Bradley, is still sidelined.

11:30 a.m. on court 7 – Tayler Hill Elite vs Minnesota Fury 2021 UAA

In addition to the THE 2021 players highlighted above, look out for Macy Smith of Maranatha, Chyna Young of Apple Valley and Dora Okpara of Irondale. The formidable Fury 2021 UAA squad is also loaded, featuring top-20 prospects #6 Kaylee Van Eps (Chaska), #11 Sophie Hart (Farmington), #18 Maggie Czinano (Watertown-Mayer), #19 Jordyn Hilgemann (Marshall) plus Helen Staley (Rosemount), Alexis Pratt (Stillwater) and newcomer Giana Kneepkens (Duluth Marshall).

3:00 p.m. on court 7 – North Tartan 2023 Milan vs Minnesota Fury 2023 UAA

Former Gopher Ashley Ellis-Milan is now in charge of North Tartan’s top 2023 squad and she’s got some nice young talent to work with. Point guard Chloe Jarnot (Maranatha), wing Clara Glad (Rogers), guard Ashley Fritz (Hastings) and 7th grader Laura Hauge (St. Croix Lutheran) are all standout varsity players. The Fury counters with a loaded lineup of their own that includes top prospects Kennedy Sanders (Chaska), Molly Lenz (Eden Prairie), Zoey Washington (Mahtomedi), Brynn Beffert (Hutchinson) and Teresa Kiewiet (Mankato West).

5:20 p.m. on court 8 – UVA 2022 Ware vs Minnesota Stars 2022 Nilsen

Leah Dengerud (DeLaSalle) scored 20 points in five or six minutes on Sunday to give UVA the win in Dallas, but she’s not the only quality player in the Urban Ventures 9th grade lineup. Led by top 10 prospect Desiree Ware of Minnetonka, the squad also includes Alicia Bates (Hopkins), Hannah Herzig (Centennial), Cloey Dmytruk (Como Park) and big post Lily Niebuhr (Jordan). The Stars top 2022 team has undergone a makeover in the off season. Top returnees include guards Dorothy Stotts (Edina) and Ava Berg (Elk River) along with forwards Jenna Cuddigan (Lakeville South) and Tayah Leenderts (Rosemount). They’re joined by newcomers Ella Campbell (Edina), Ally Schultz (Lakeville South), Jocelyn Plonski (Eagan) and the Crabtree twins (Kylie and Kaylie) of Hawley.

6:30 p.m. on court 7 – DTA Academy 2022 Blue vs Minnesota Fury 2022 UAA

This game might be the second-best matchup of the weekend. DTA is hot, hot, hot. The Fury are loaded, loaded, loaded. DTA is led by returnees Maddie James (Princeton), Maddie Thorfinnson (Minnewaska) and Adeline Kent (Becker). The newcomers include top 10 prospect Nia Holloway (Eden Prairie), lightning-quick guard Ronnie Porter (Como Park) and long bombers Myra Moorjani (Eden Prairie) and Tori Ratz (Fergus Falls). As for the Fury, well we could list the whole roster but the top prospects in order of their ranking are #3 Mallory Heyer (Chaska), #7 Ellie Buzzelle (Rogers), #8 Lilly Meister (Rochester John Marshall), #9 Callin Hake (Chanhassen), #12 Emma Miller (STMA) and four more in the top 30. Don’t miss it!

SUNDAY

12:40 p.m. on court 6 – Suns 2020 Bluestar vs Heat 2020 Hinck

These two squads might not have quite as many blue chippers on their rosters but they match up very nicely. The Suns are led by two outstanding forwards in T’Naye Griffin (Park Center) and NJ Weems (DeLaSalle), the multi-dimensional Shayla Miller (St. Louis Park), athletic wing Carley West (Woodbury) and dynamic guard Tianna Iserman (Roseville). The revamped Heat lineup includes standout point guard Sam Sibbet (St. Anthony Village), guards Amme Sheforgen (Cambridge-Isanti) and Kirsten Robbins (Heritage Academy) and a trio of quality posts in Emma Goldeman (St. Francis), Josie Haug (Roseville) and Jordyn Allen (Heritage Academy).

OTHER TEAMS TO SEE

The way the tournament is scheduled a lot of the top teams play at the same time. In many cases you can catch two games at once on courts 6, 7 and 8 upstairs at Kennedy, or you can wait until Sunday when they’ll be fighting it out for top seeds at next weekend’s AAU State Tournament. Here are four more groups you definitely want to watch.

Minnesota Fury 2020 UAA

I never get tired of watching the Fury’s top juniors do their thing. Led by point guard Mackenzie Kramer of STMA (Lehigh) and wing Alyssa Ustby of Rochester Lourdes, the Fury are loaded. Other top returners include Molly Mogensen (Farmington), Lauren Frost (Park Center), Natalie Mazurek (Eden Prairie) and Zareia Chevre (Simley). New to the lineup this year is forward Taylor Janssen of Rosemount (Montana State) and Ella Grove of Alexandria. Watch them Sunday at 4:10 p.m. on court 6, 7 or 8 depending on where they finish in pool play.

North Tartan 2021 EYBL

Ruth Sinn had a great group last year. Now she has added the #1 player in the class of 2021 Adalia McKenzie (Park Center) and the #1 player in the class of 2022 Maya Nnaji (Hopkins) to go along with 2022 #4 Mara Braun and top 2021s Jenna Johnson (Wayzata), Ellie Dague (Henning), Cassidy Carson (Eastview), Jordyn Lamker (Maple Grove) and Kendal Cox (STMA). Did we mention CJ Adamson (Rochester Lourdes) and Sophie Haydon (Minnetonka)? These girls are good! Watch them Sunday at 5:20 p.m. on court 6, 7  or 8 .

North Tartan 2022 Elite

The former North Tartan Contreras squad is somewhat depleted by the loss of players to the startup MN P.R.E.P team and the decision by Tessa Johnson of STMA to sit the summer out. But don’t feel sorry for this collection of elite players. They’re led by none other than guard Amaya Battle of Hopkins, a top three player in the Class of 2022 and one of the top handful of players in the state regardless of class. She’s joined by her fellow Royals varsity athletes Taylor Woodson (probably the best of the 2023s), Alayna Contreras and Selam Maher. Toss in Ari Gordon of Maple Grove and soon-to-be varsity 7th grader Emma Dasovich of Minnetonka and this North Tartan team cannot be overlooked. Watch them at 12:40 p.m. Saturday vs UVA 2022 Ware on court 3, or Sunday morning with time and court to be determined.

Metro Stars 2023 Wiese

Ellen Wiese’s crew has been making noise for the past year or so and they’ve got some youngsters you definitely need to see. Big post Savanna Jones of Eden Prairie is an emerging talent and she’s joined by her fellow Eagles Priyanka Satish and Kylie Bamlett. 6’0 post Julia Wagner of STMA has looked great so far, as have guards Jasmine Dupree (Hopkins), Kayla Kallenbach (Orono) and Sonya Pothoff (Mahtomedi). Watch the Metro Stars Sunday at 1:50 p.m. on court 4, 5 or 7 depending on where they finish in their pool.