Posted On: 07/27/19 12:43 PM

When high school teams play basketball in the summer the objective is usually pretty clear: get better for the season that begins in late November. When the teams gather Monday at Anoka-Ramsey Community College they will be playing for something much bigger than themselves: basketball history. The event is the Hall of Fame Summer High School Invitational, a two-day tournament in support of the Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame. A second tournament, featuring some outstanding in-season match-ups, will be held in January.

“The new events are fund-raisers for the Hall of Fame, and they’re meant to support our core mission,” said spokesperson Marc Hugunin. “The response to the events has been very positive, and we’re looking forward to having many of Minnesota’s top programs and coaches and players.”

This week’s tournament features a number of the best programs in the state, including Hopkins, Eastview, Roseville, Chaska, Hill-Murray, Austin and White Bear Lake. The games begin at 9 a.m. Monday with the last tip-off of the day at 3:15 p.m. Play continues Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. and wraps up mid-afternoon. Games will be played under high school rules with 18-minute stop-time halves and high school certified officials.

THREE GAMES TO SEE

One of the wild cards of summer ball – and this event is no different – is you never really know who is going to be on the court. The state’s top players have just completed the most grueling month of the basketball year – the AAU July viewing period. Many of the athletes are banged up. All of them are exhausted. And every high school coach views the situation in their own way. Some will give their top players the time off; others will expect everyone to be there. With that in mind we chose three games to watch on Monday featuring some quality prospects and quality teams we expect will come loaded for victory.

10:15 a.m. – AUSTIN vs HUTCHINSON (Court 1)

Austin was a state-tournament team last spring and there’s no reason to believe that the Packers won’t take a run at it again in 2019-20. The team is led by point guard Hope Dudycha, an incoming sophomore with nice handles and a great sense for the game, along with 5’7 senior Colie Justice and 5’7 sophomore Elise Hebrink. Senior forward Kyra Walters gives the Packers strength up front while Hope’s twin sister Emma Dudycha is also an impact player for Austin.

Tim Ellefson’s Hutchinson Tigers are always solid, regardless of who is wearing the yellow and black uniforms. The most exciting young player on the team is incoming 9th grade post Brynn Beffert, fresh off an outstanding summer with Fury 2023 UAA. Beffert’s toughness is off the charts. She’s strong and powerful, smart and skilled and already has a solid varsity season under her belt. Brynn is joined by lengthy sophomore forward Adri Rhoda and a pair of quality senior guards in Michaela Stamer and Morgan Ellis.

11:30 a.m. – HILL-MURRAY vs ROGERS (Court 2)

Both teams are in a serious youth movement, although the losses to graduation will be felt much more acutely by Hill-Murray. Gone are starters Vanessa Wren, Delaney Runyon and Grace Prokosch, who formed the backbone of the team for a long time. The leadership role for Erin Herman’s Pioneers now rests squarely on the shoulders of incoming juniors Lilli Mackley and Bella Hartzell. Mackley is a 5’11 guard ranked #45 in the Prep Girls Hoops Class of 2021. Hartzell is a 5’8 shooting guard who is rated #60. Both are highly skilled and capable. Both have had very good AAU campaigns. Look for a breakout season from incoming sophomore forward Ella Runyon. She is going to be very good.

Rogers is also young as Greg Amundson’s Royals graduated four seniors. Truth be told, though, Rogers will likely be better thanks to additional playing time for a young and gifted cast of characters led by the #6 sophomore in the state. That would be guard Ellie Buzzelle, who holds Big 10 offers and has top-end talent. She’s joined by a pair of incoming freshman including the oh-so-smooth Clara Glad (she was a regular starter in the second half last year) and long-and-lanky post Katelyn Maciej. 6’2 junior forward Matlyn Jensen is much-improved and will play a major role. Senior leadership comes from guards Alaina Brenning and Ali Karels. We’re also curious to see what junior forward Hannah Omann can do this season.

2:00 p.m. – BIG LAKE vs PINE CITY (Court 1)

Ted Hasz’s squad is coming off a very nice season and returns its nucleus. That would be 5’9 senior point guard Lily Wilson, top-50 junior wing Ellie Hasz and strong senior forward Ashley Faur. None are what you would call superstars, but all three are solid, consistent performers who have the ability to play at the next level. The wildcard for the Dragons is incoming freshman Sophie Lahti, who was a starter last season and has had an outstanding summer. Unfortunately she was hobbling around in a boot last weekend so her status is unclear.

Big Lake features one of the hottest sophomores in the state in 6’0 wing Caela Tighe. The #25 player in the Class of 2021 is coming off a breakout July that saw her make the all-tournament team in Louisville and garner all manner of Division 1 interest over the past few weeks. She’s long and smooth and defends with passion. Her partner in crime for the past decade is 5’9 guard Mia Huberty, a versatile workhorse who is the #42 player among the 2021s. This kid can do it all. They are joined by a pair of quality Hornets seniors in water-bug guard Taylor Moen and 6’0 standout forward Reagan Sternquist.

Megan Oswald and Blooming Prairie will be on hand Monday. (Photo courtesy of Austin Daily Herald)

MONDAY SCHEDULE

The tournament is being played in five divisions, each of which is named in honor of a previous Hall of Fame inductee, including Tracy Henderson, Lindsay Whalen, Coco and Kelly Miller, Kelly Skalicky and Janet Karvonen. For the sake of convenience, however, we have organized the schedule here by tip-off time rather than division. You’re welcome!

9:00 a.m. – Hopkins vs Roseville (court 1)

9:00 a.m. – Eastview vs Chaska (2)

9:00 a.m. – Rogers vs White Bear Lake (3)

10:15 a.m. – Austin vs Hutchinson (1)

10:15 a.m. – Spring Lake Park vs Rochester Mayo (2)

10:15 a.m. – Apple Valley vs Buffalo (3)

11:30 a.m. – Winner of Hopkins/Roseville vs winner of Eastview/Chaska (1)

11:30 a.m. – Hill-Murray vs Rogers (2)

11:30 a.m. – Loser of Hopkins/Roseville vs loser of Eastview/Chaska (3)

12:45 p.m. – Winner of SLP/Mayo vs winner of AV/Buffalo (1)

12:45 p.m. – White Bear Lake vs Austin (2)

12:45 p.m. – Duluth Marshall vs Zumbrota-Mazeppa (3)

2:00 p.m. – Big Lake vs Pine City (1)

2:00 p.m. – Hutchinson vs Hill-Murray (2)

2:00 p.m. – Loser of SLP/Mayo vs loser of AV/Buffalo (3)

3:15 p.m. – Blooming Prairie vs Sebeka (1)

3:15 p.m. – Zumbrota-Mazeppa vs Walker-H-A (2)

3:15 p.m. – Mankato East vs St. Anthony Village (3)

TUESDAY SCHEDULE

9:00 a.m. – Winner of Big Lake/Pine City vs winner of Mkto East/SAV (1)

9:00 a.m. – Sebeka vs Duluth Marshall (2)

9:00 a.m. – W-H-A vs Blooming Prairie (3)

10:15 a.m. – Loser of Big Lake/Pine City vs loser of Mankato East/SAV (3)

Playoff games are scheduled for 10:15 (courts 2, 3), and on all three courts at 11:30, 12:45 and 2:00.

A TRIBUTE TO MINNESOTA’S BEST

The Jack Link’s Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame was established in 2018 by a group of coaches, fans, journalists, historians and aficionados to create a lasting tribute to high school legends of the sport. Inductees are chosen and honored for their statistical records, team success and positive values as role models for Minnesota’s youth, improving, promoting and serving high school basketball in Minnesota. The organization is managed by a Board of Directors that meets to review Hall of Fame candidates annually.

“The Hall of Fame promotes both boys and girls basketball in Minnesota, and the values of healthy, sportsmanlike competition. We do that by remembering the great accomplishments over the years,” said Hugunin, the long-time Prep Girls Hoops contributor who retired in 2018. “Minnesota has a much richer basketball history and tradition than most people know, and we want to keep that alive.”

Top photo: Senior forward Kyra Walters and the Austin Packers will be on hand Monday at Anoka-Ramsey Community College for the Hall of Fame tournament. (Photo courtesy Austin Daily Herald)