Posted On: 11/27/19 9:27 PM

The Pat Patterson Thanksgiving Tournament has had a long history of success, and Hutton Arena is a classic college gymnasium full of nostalgia, but when the girls basketball tournament at Hamline University opens on Friday morning it will feature a decidedly modern twist: the shot clock. That’s right, this year’s event will use the 35-second shot clock, a standard element of high-level basketball the world over, but not something the Minnesota State High School League has deemed worthy of its blessing thus far. I, for one, am thrilled.

Of course the tournament will also feature some great teams, quality match-ups and plenty of talent to peruse. Here’s a rundown on the three best games to see, the top 10 players to watch and the complete schedule.

TOP 3 GAMES TO WATCH

Friday 2:45 p.m. – St. Michael-Albertville vs St. Paul Como Park

Both teams have a ton of offensive firepower, move the ball exceptionally well and have a lineup full of college prospects. The one difference is size – STMA has it, Como Park not so much. Still it promises to be an entertaining affair. This is practically a home game for Como, whose campus sits less than three miles from Hutton Arena. The Cougars always draw a boisterous crowd of supporters so the atmosphere in the gym should be – as the kids like to say – lit! Como Park is led by talented point guard Kaylynn Asberry. The sophomore has great handles and tremendous court vision, both of which have earned her the #10 ranking in the Prep Girls Hoops Class of 2022. She’s joined by guard Ronnie Porter (#20), an outstanding shooter and one of the quickest kids in the class. Sophomore forwards Jada James (#35) and and Cloey Dmytruk (#68) give the Cougars strength inside. Como will miss Shania Van Nett, a top-10 player in the freshman class who is out for the season with a torn ACL.

The Knights are loaded, led by one of the smartest players in the state in senior guard Mackenzie Kramer, the #4 player in the class who is headed for Lehigh. She’s joined by freshman gazelle Tessa Johnson, ranked third among the 2023s. Seniors Lily Tennyson (MSU-Moorhead) and Vanessa Alexander (Winona State) have lots of length, which could be the difference in this contest. Top-20 sophomore Emma Miller offers speed and tenacity, while junior Kendal Cox is STMA’s most versatile athlete. Johnson put up 30 last weekend against Farmington, and Cox had 21, but it wasn’t enough. STMA is winless in two tries.

1:00 p.m. – Waconia vs Lakeville South

A quick analysis of the two rosters indicates that this should be a solid match-up between the Class 4A Cougars and the Class 3A Wildcats. Lakeville South is led by senior guard Annie Guentzel, the #36-ranked player in the 2020 class. She signed with Division 2 Wayne State in Nebraska. Her fellow senior Haylee Wheeler gives the Cougars size up front. Wheeler is a top-60 player who will play at the University of Minnesota-Crookston. The rising star of the group is big, talented guard Ally Schultz, ranked #22 in the class of 2022 and climbing. Senior guard Amanda Drake (Gustavus) is South’s workhorse. 5’11 junior Adi Brown is poised for a breakout season. Sophomore forward Jenna Cuddigan is still recovering from knee surgery.

Senior guard Tess Johnson is the rocket that propels the Wildcats. She’s athletic, good with the basketball and his a giant motor. As Johnson goes, so goes Waconia. Or at least that’s the way it appears most of the time. The squad’s primary offensive threat is junior forward Addy Salzer, a top-40 prospect who is outstanding when she’s healthy. Junior guard Sydni Olson is one of the state’s best long-bombers. Big, athletic guard Audrey Swanson is a gifted sophomore who gets up and down the floor. Last weekend Waconia was without 2022 forward Ava Stier and that hurt. A lot. The #39 player in the sophomore class plays a physical game with a ton of energy. Let’s hope she’s back. Waconia is 0-2 to date, but don’t be deceived. They lost at the Tipoff to a very good Rosemount team before serving Monday as the latest sacrifice on the Hopkins altar.

Alexis Pratt of Stillwater (credit: Pioneer Press)

Saturday at 8:15 p.m. – Stillwater vs Farmington

There will no doubt be a ton of great basketball played at Hamline on Friday and Saturday, but the schedulers definitely saved the best for last. That would be the Saturday nightcap between Farmington and Stillwater. The Ponies were finalists in Class 4A last spring. The Tigers could very well be in that same spot four months from now.

Now that the great Sara Scalia has moved on to the University of Minnesota – she was firing on all cylinders Tuesday and had a career-high 20 points – the Ponies’ show is being orchestrated by junior Alexis Pratt and sophomore Amber Scalia, who is – you guessed it – Sara’s little sister. Pratt is a top-15 prospect, and most would consider her to be the quickest player in the state. Scalia is a top-50 prospect herself, whose game is definitely on the rise. Junior guard Giona Carr is Stillwater’s top defender. Up front the Ponies are big. Really big. Liza Karlen, the 6th-ranked senior in the state, is a Marquette signee who can beat you inside and out. Seniors Grace Cote (Mayville State) and Mary Fultz (Missouri Western) can both rebound and score. The sleeper to pay attention to may be 6’1 sophomore Lizzie Holder. The only downer is Stillwater lost senior Delaney Wagner to a torn ACL on the second day of practice.

Farmington is one of the most intriguing teams around right now. They have all the ingredients, it appears, that you need to go far. They’ve got size in 6’4 post Sophie Hart, the #4 junior in the state. They’ve got an exceptional point guard in #7 senior Molly Mogensen, who is committed to Creighton. They’ve got a pair of deadly shooters in 2021 #10 Paige Kindseth and #51 Peyton Blandin. And they have an experienced supporting cast that includes seniors Morgen Ebel and Katelyn Mohr. Farmington comes into the game with a record of 1-0. In their win over St. Michael-Albertville, Mogensen, Hart and Kindseth shot 58 percent and combined for 70 points. They’re good.

10 MORE PLAYERS TO SEE

  • Kendall Coley – junior forward, St. Louis Park (#5)
  • Jayda Johnston – senior forward, Roseville (Valparaiso) (#12)
  • Tamia Ugass – junior forward, Roseville (#12)
  • Alexa Ratzlaff – sophomore guard, Rosemount (#15)
  • Raegan Alexander – junior forward, St. Louis Park (#21)
  • Taylor Janssen – senior forward, Rosemount (Montana State) (#22)
  • Tayah Leenderts – sophomore forward, Rosemount (#34)
  • Chyna Young – junior guard, Apple Valley (#41)
  • Kaila Youngs – sophomore forward, Orono (#44)
  • Ella Janicki – senior guard, White Bear Lake (#51)

Plus the entire Hopkins crew of Paige Bueckers, KK Adams, Maya Nnaji, Amaya Battle, Nunu Agara, Taylor Woodson, Alayna Contreras, Kelly Boyle and more.

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

Friday

  • 9:30 a.m. – Bloomington Kennedy vs Orono
  • 11:15 a.m. – Waconia vs Roseville
  • 1:00 p.m. – White Bear Lake vs Lakeville South
  • 2:45 p.m. – St. Michael-Albertville vs St. Paul Como Park
  • 4:45 p.m. – Apple Valley vs Stillwater
  • 6:30 p.m. – Farmington vs St. Louis Park
  • 8:15 p.m. – Rosemount vs Hopkins

Saturday

  • 9:30 a.m. – Orono vs Roseville
  • 11:15 a.m. – Bloomington Kennedy vs St. Paul Como Park
  • 1:00 p.m. – Waconia vs Lakeville South
  • 2:45 p.m. – White Bear Lake vs Rosemount
  • 4:45 p.m. – St. Louis Park vs St. Michael-Albertville
  • 6:30 p.m. – Hopkins vs Apple Valley
  • 8:15 p.m. – Stillwater vs Farmington