Posted On: 03/22/21 11:12 AM
Welcome to week 2 of sections, the six-day stretch where the winners advance to the State Tournament and the losers go home. There is always plenty of drama and excitement, and hopefully a few upsets to pepper the pot just a little. But what to watch? With so many great games on the docket, it can be difficult to choose so we’ve winnowed it down for you. Here are five must-see games this week.
#2 Maple Grove vs #3 St. Michael-Albertville
The 8AAAA semifinal is scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Maple Grove. The Crimson are 16-3, with only a pair of losses to Elk River and a one-possession defeat by Centennial to scar their record. MG has overcome the loss of their leader, senior Jordyn Lamker Jordyn Lamker 6'0" | SF Maple Grove | 2021 State MN (St. Thomas), and continued to play well while others have stepped up to fill a very large void. Top-10 sophomore Kennedy Klick Kennedy Klick 6'0" | CG Maple Grove | 2023 State MN has been a huge addition this season since transferring in from DeLaSalle, while senior point guard Kylie Baranick Kylie Baranick 5'4" | CG Maple Grove | 2021 State MN (Gustavus) is having an outstanding season. Two-way veteran Ari Gordon Ari Gordon 5'9" | SF Maple Grove | 2022 State MN is the glue that holds the Crimson together. Senior Izzy Brant and Sophie Kormann, junior Kyla Overskei Kyla Overskei 5'11" | SG Maple Grove | 2022 State MN , and 8th grader Jordan Ode Jordan Ode 5'11" | CG Maple Grove | 2025 MN are all scoring threats.
Don’t let St. Michael-Albertville’s record fool you: at 8-8 the Knights are a more-than-worthy opponent. STMA has played a punishing schedule in the Lake Conference, and each of their losses is to one of the state’s elite programs. They can definitely win this game. Senior Kendal Cox Kendal Cox 5'9" | CG St. Michael-Albertville | 2021 State MN (Winona State) and junior Emma Miller Emma Miller 5'1" | PG STMA | 2022 State MN have been the motor driving the STMA bus all season, but big sophomore Piper Carlson Piper Carlson 5'11" | SF St. Michael-Albertville | 2023 State MN could be the difference-maker. Sophomore Kaylie Cox Kaylie Cox 5'7" | CG St. Michael-Albertville | 2024 State MN and the sizeable Hoselton sisters – 8th grader Abby Hoselton and junior Lauren Hoselton – have made a big impact over the course of the campaign.
#1 Providence Academy vs #5 Holy Family
The 5AA semifinal is set for Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Providence Academy. This is an intriguing match-up for a number of reasons, and not just because it’s a #5 seed attempting to knock off a #1, which is always a fun scenario at this juncture. Both teams have solid starting lineups with scholarship-level talent. Neither has much depth. With six-player rotations, fatigue could be a factor in a tough playoff game. Holy Family’s record is just 10-8, and at one point in early March the Fire had lost four games in a row. Since returning from a COVID-related pause, however, Holy Family has won four straight, including an impressive 80-77 upset of Minnesota commit Maggie Czinano Maggie Czinano 6'1" | SF Watertown-Mayer | 2021 State MN and her Watertown-Mayer squad. The Fire are led by junior point guard Nicole Bowlin Nicole Bowlin 5'6" | PG Holy Family | 2022 State MN (19.3 points per game) and sophomore Sophi Hall Sophi Hall 6'0" | CG Holy Family | 2023 State MN (17.3). Freshmen Berkley Neubauer and Sophia Zay Sophia Zay 5'8" | CG Holy Family | 2024 State MN combine for almost 22 ppg.
Not many teams can ride the back of a 7th grader to a record of 18-1 and a #1 seed, but that is exactly what Providence Academy has done. 2026 point guard Maddyn Greenway Maddyn Greenway 5'6" | PG Providence Academy | 2026 MN is a special talent, something she has proven game after game during the Lions’ season. Greenway, the daughter of former Minnesota Viking Chad Greenway, is averaging 20 points per game. She can handle, distribute and score pretty much any way you want. She is must-see TV. Maddyn’s presence has enhanced the impact of the Counts sisters up front – sophomore Grace Counts Grace Counts 6'0" | PF Providence | 2023 State MN and junior Maria Counts Maria Counts 5'11" | PF Providence | 2022 State MN are both scholarship-level prospects – who are a formidable presence that will be a match-up nightmare for the Fire. The Counts combo produces about 25 points and 21 rebounds per game, an attack nobody has been able to curtail so far.
#1 Chaska vs #2 Minnetonka
A match-up that has been in the making since the season opened in January, the 2AAAA final will take place Thursday at 7 p.m. at Chaska. This is the biggest game of all this week, a contest between two elite squads loaded with high-end talent. Between the two teams, there will be about eight players on the floor who have either already made a Division 1 college commitment or are likely to do so. Chaska’s core includes Minnesota commit Mallory Heyer Mallory Heyer 6'2" | PF Chaska | 2022 State #36 Nation MN (22.4 ppg) and Lehigh signee Kaylee Van Eps Kaylee Van Eps 5'11" | SF Chaska | 2021 State MN (11.4), along with top-5 sophomore Kennedy Sanders Kennedy Sanders 5'8" | CG Chaska | 2023 State MN (14.7). Minnetonka boasts D1 commits Sophie Haydon Sophie Haydon 6'2" | PF Minnetonka | 2021 State MN (George Washington) and Desiree Ware Desiree Ware 5'6" | CG Minnetonka | 2022 State MN (Alabama-Birmingham). Junior Kiani Lockett Kiani Lockett 5'9" | PG Minnetonka | 2022 State MN , ranked #8 in the class of 2022, holds multiple D1 offers. Freshmen post Emma Dasovich Emma Dasovich 6'1" | PF Minnetonka | 2024 State MN is #3 in 2024 while gifted guard Tori McKinney Tori McKinney 5'10" | CG Minnetonka | 2024 State MN is #20. Both have been outstanding. The supporting casts for each team are among the state’s best.
Chaska sports a perfect 14-0 record. They had a significant COVID shutdown but returned just in time for sections play. The Hawks rolled over Bloomington Jefferson in the opening round before posting an impressive 60-44 defeat of Shakopee in the section semifinals. Minnetonka, which played a much tougher schedule in the Lake Conference, is 15-4. They fell to Chaska by 5 in February. The Skippers came closer to beating Hopkins than anyone else, losing by just one point. They dropped a one-possession decision to Wayzata. Minnetonka is battle-tested, having posted a hard-fought, come-from-behind win over Eden Prairie in the semifinals. This game is a toss-up and promises to be a fight to the finish. Get the ice bags ready!
#1 St. Paul Como Park vs #2 St. Croix Lutheran
When the Minnesota State High School League adjusted the section alignments, one thing became clear: the Como Park Cougars had a much straighter path to the State Tournament. No longer would they have to get past DeLaSalle and company to make it to Minneapolis in the spring. On Thursday, the Cougars will meet up with St. Croix Lutheran in the section 3AAA final. There are plenty of story lines in this one, and no shortage of college-bound talent. If you read our weekly recap on Sunday – The Week That Was #10 – then you are already familiar with the narrative.
Como Park was restricted all season to playing games only within the St. Paul City Conference where only one opponent caused the Cougars to even raise a sweat. The concern was that Como would not be battle-tested enough to play well in the postseason. The girls in gold put that notion to rest on Saturday with an impressive win over Simley led by top-20 juniors Kaylynn Asberry Kaylynn Asberry 5'5" | PG Como Park | 2022 State MN and Ronnie Porter Ronnie Porter 5'2" | CG Como Park | 2022 State MN . With a supporting class that includes Cloey Dmytruk Cloey Dmytruk 5'10" | PF Como Park | 2022 State MN , Jada James Jada James 5'10" | PF Como Park | 2022 State MN , Demya Riley and Shakyla Walker Shakyla Walker 5'6" | SG Como Park | 2022 State MN , Como has what it takes to advance. Despite earning the #1 seed, however, Como Park will have to beat St. Croix on their home court due to St. Paul’s COVID restrictions. That’s a tough ask.
The Crusaders, with a record of 13-5, boast a veteran lineup led by Juel Skrien Juel Skrien 5'10" | SG St. Croix Lutheran | 2021 State MN (14.1 ppg), UW-Eau Claire commit Lucia Hauge Lucia Hauge 6'0" | PF St. Croix Lutheran | 2021 State MN (12.7) and Mackenna Moon Mackenna Moon 5'7" | CG St. Croix Lutheran | 2021 State MN (11.1). All three seniors are 1,000-point scorers. Their undisputed leader, though, is 9th grader Laura Hauge Laura Hauge 5'9" | SG St. Croix Lutheran | 2024 State MN , who averages 20 points per game and has 72 made three-pointers on the season. The precocious guard, who is ranked 4th in the Prep Girls Hoops Class of 2024, just passed 1,000 points herself. If Como cannot pressure her on the perimeter, Laura is capable of winning the game by herself. This one promises to be fun!
#1 Hopkins vs #2 Wayzata
Over the past few seasons any encounter between Hopkins and Wayzata has inevitably earned top billing. This time around it’s a little different. Although the Chaska/Minnetonka encounter might be drawing most of the buzz this week, the third meeting of the season between Hopkins and Wayzata is still a prominent story line. You never know what might happen at this time of year, especially in 2021 when truly anything is possible. This edition of the section 6AAAA championship game is Thursday at 7 p.m. in Hopkins.
The Royals haven’t lost a game since we were all much younger. They’re 14-0, having taken a voluntary one-week pause in the final week of the season to reduce their COVID risk. Hopkins returned to action March 12 for a win over Becker. After receiving a first-round bye in section play, Hopkins’ first opponent was supposed to be Minneapolis South, but the Tigers elected to forfeit and conclude their campaign early. That means the Royals will have played just once in the previous 24 days when Thursday’s game tips off. All of that matters not, however, as Hopkins – led by Amaya Battle Amaya Battle 5'10" | PG Hopkins | 2022 State #29 Nation MN , Taylor Woodson Taylor Woodson 6'0" | PF Hopkins | 2023 State #28 Nation MN , Maya Nnaji Maya Nnaji 6'4" | PF Hopkins | 2022 State #7 Nation MN , Liv McGill Liv McGill 5'7" | CG Hopkins | 2024 State MN , Nunu Agara Nunu Agara 6'1" | PF Hopkins | 2023 State #32 Nation MN and Alayna Contreras Alayna Contreras 5'7" | CG Hopkins | 2022 State MN – is a heavy, heavy favorite to advance to the state tournament once again.
Lest we forget, however, Wayzata is led by two high-major commits who are among the state’s premier players. Senior Jenna Johnson Jenna Johnson 6'2" | PF Wayzata | 2021 State #52 Nation MN (Utah) is coming off a 38-point performance in her last game. Junior Mara Braun Mara Braun 5'11" | CG Wayzata | 2022 State #21 Nation MN , who will become a Minnesota Gopher in 2022, has returned from a COVID pause herself, and is capable of going off in any particular game. Sophomore guard Brynn Senden Brynn Senden 5'5" | PG Wayzata | 2023 State MN is also back and the Trojans’ supporting cast is a whole lot better today than they were when the season began. One thing is for sure: there’s zero pressure on Wayzata which, at this point, has nothing to lose.
Top photo: Among the talented prospects featured prominently this week are (left to right) Ronnie Porter Ronnie Porter 5'2" | CG Como Park | 2022 State MN , Mara Braun Mara Braun 5'11" | CG Wayzata | 2022 State #21 Nation MN , Kaylynn Asberry Kaylynn Asberry 5'5" | PG Como Park | 2022 State MN and Cloey Dmytruk Cloey Dmytruk 5'10" | PF Como Park | 2022 State MN .