Posted On: 11/25/19 8:42 AM

Welcome to the Week that Was #1. We launched this feature last winter as a way of recapping the odds and ends of the previous seven days while offering up some accolades to players and teams that have done nice work. Despite a number of weather-impacted viewing days, I saw about 150 teams last season and did my best to mention all of them. This item turned out to be a popular addition to Prep Girls Hoops coverage of girls basketball in Minnesota.

The Week that Was will focus on the games that I personally witnessed, but we’ll add in snippets of information gleaned from around the state. We encourage contributions, too, so if you know about a great performance or an interesting piece of news I would encourage you to message me via Twitter (@gmachoops) or send an email (gmachoops@gmail.com). Ideally readers would pass along that information on the day it happens or the next morning so we can disseminate it in a timely manner.

Without further ado, here we go with the best of week #1.

OFF TO A GOOD START

There are now 129 games in the books in the 2019-20 season. I opened my viewing odyssey on Thursday night at Minneapolis Washburn where I saw Sydney Manthana, Ava Cusciota, Sara Byers and the Rockford Rockets in a win over Kari Johnson, Kesha White and the Millers. For more on that, read my story on opening night. I saw all or part of five games Friday night at the Breakdown Tipoff Classic at the Hopkins Lindbergh Center before taking in at least a half of action in 16 games on Saturday. It was a whirlwind of great basketball.

With more than 25 or so games on the regular season schedule it’s not imperative to win your first two or three. It’s sure nice, though. I’m certain the Austin Packers felt pretty good about themselves on Sunday morning. Austin not only survived a somewhat daunting three-games-in-three-days launch to the year; they won all three. Austin opened Thursday night with a 79-31 win over Rochester Century, followed that up with a 63-57 victory over Kasson-Mantorville on Friday, and won again Saturday, knocking off Big Lake 59-37 at the Tipoff Classic. The Packers were led by sophomore guard Hope Dudycha, who racked up scoring totals of 19, 21 and 20. Senior Kira Walters scored 10, 14 and 11. The Packers played in the state tournament last spring.

Ten teams started their season by going 2-0. Park Center and Wayzata won both of theirs at the Tipoff. Minnehaha Academy and New Prague did the back half of their double dip there. Orono, which won just four games all of last season, picked up two victories, led by Julia Knudson, Haley Paulson and Kaila Youngs. Princeton, Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s, St. Paul Academy and St. Paul Como Park are also 2-0.

After beating Plainview-Elgin-Millville on Friday, Red Wing began its Saturday game with a three from standout freshman Sydnee Nelson, followed with a mid-court, pre-halftime buzzer beater by her senior sister Kyli Nelson (Mount Marty), and went on to score an impressive win over Goodhue. Kyli finished with 12 points and  Sydnee (2023 #29) totaled 11. So did junior Abi Deming (#107).

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Each Sunday we’ll name a Player of the Week chosen from the games I saw. During a standard week that means the selection will be from seven or eight games. If there is a tournament or showcase scheduled – that occurs during about half the weeks this season – I’ll see an additional eight to 20 games. We’ll also hand out some honorable mentions from other games around the state.

  • Winner – Junior guard Adalia McKenzie of Park Center, the premier player in the 2021 class, who had games of 29 and 26 points for the Pirates in a pair of impressive wins at the Breakdown over St. Michael-Albertville and Stillwater. We already chronicled her feats in our first recap of the Tipoff, which you can read here.
  • Runner-up – Jenna Johnson of Wayzata. Her accomplishments are covered in same story.
  • Honorable mention –  Katie Borowicz of Roseau had quite the opening night in a 71-68 win over Kittson County Central. The #3-ranked prospect in the Prep Girls Hoops class of 2021 made 10 threes and scored 41 total points. Katie will be carrying the load for the Rams all winter following the graduation of her Miss Basketball sister Kacie Borowicz, who now plies her trade at the University of North Dakota.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

  • Winner – The 3-0 Austin Packers.
  • Runner-up – Wayzata scored two impressive victories at the Breakdown, doing so in dominant fashion.
  • Honorable mention – Minnehaha Academy, which survived three overtimes for a comeback victory over favored Sauk Centre.

NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK

Our definition of ‘newcomer’ isn’t based on the player’s grade. Basically it is any player who hasn’t been a varsity regular before, be that a precocious 7th or 8th grader or a junior who has worked her way patiently up the food chain to earn a spot on her school’s top team.

  • Winner – 8th grader Emma Dasovich of Minnetonka. The big post scored 17 points to lead the Skippers to an impressive 69-39 win over Andover.
  • Runner-up – Freshman Brynn Senden of Wayzata. The Trojans’ lineup is one of the most difficult to crack, never mind trying to break in as a small freshman guard playing behind some of the best players in the state. Senden was solid, making smart plays, limiting her mistakes and generally proving that she belongs.
  • Honorable mentions – 8th grader Kiya Hegdahl of St. Louis Park, 8th grader Jennica Suggs of Minnehaha Academy, and 7th grader Addison Mack of Blake, who scored 23 points in her varsity debut.

THE WEEK AHEAD

I’m opening my week at Fridley High School where Ah’Janay Yancy and the Tigers will host Wayne State-commit Brigid Boyle and the Aggies of St. Agnes. Tuesday night I’ll be in Roseville to see prospects Jayda Johnson (Valparaiso), Tamia Ugass, Rai’janee Meadows, Josie Haug, Drew Johnston and Tianna Iserman against Spring Lake Park, whose lineup includes Macy Smith, Joelle Talso, Averi Dunbar and Madi Ngene.

The only game scheduled on Wednesday is Apple Valley at Elk River. That one takes place at 2 p.m. when I will be at the office doing real work. Thursday is Thanksgiving so it’s an off-day. Friday and Saturday we will be at two great events: The Pat Patterson tournament at Hamline University and the Twin Cities Thanksgiving Tipoff at St. Thomas. I’ll have a preview of those later in the week.

10 BEST GAMES TO SEE

With two tournaments on tap and some terrific non-conference match-ups on the schedule it’s not easy to pick just 10, but those are the self-imposed rules of the game. With that in mind, these are top games scheduled for the week ahead.

  • Tuesday: Wayzata at Chaska, Lakeville North at Centennial, Park Center at Eden Prairie, Albany at Fergus Falls, Mesabi East at Mountain Iron-Buhl
  • Friday: Waconia vs Roseville (Hamline), St. Michael-Albertville vs St. Paul Como Park (Hamline)
  • Saturday: LaCrosse Aquinas vs DeLaSalle (St. Thomas), Centennial at Eden Prairie, Farmington vs Stillwater (Hamline).

Top photo: Rockford opened its season with a win at Minneapolis Washburn. The Rockets’ leaders are (left to right) Sydney Manthana, Ava Cusciota and Sara Byers.