The final state tournament of the spring will be the girls basketball tournament on March 18-22, which switched dates with the boys due to a Target Center conflict. But first, the Road to Target Center begins with a preview of the eight Class AAAA sections.
The top seed in Section 6 is the Hopkins Royals, who will begin their quest for a fourth consecutive state title. But returning to state won't be an easy task for head coach Brian Cosgriff and the Royals since there are three other teams that could end Hopkins road to Target Center. The second seeded Minnetonka Skippers, the third seeded Edina Hornets and the fourth seeded Eden Prairie Eagles. Will Hopkins go for four or will their Lake Conference rivals show them the door? It's a tough section with several really good teams.
Section 2 is another toughie with the Bloomington Kennedy Eagles the top seed. But look out for the second seeded Shakopee Sabres. They're on a roll with a 12 game winning streak. The third seeded Chaska Hawks have height and talent, anchored by MaKena Panning and Ellen Thompson. Who will emerge? Head over to Apple Valley for the section final on Friday, March 14. It should be a great game.
Going south to Section 1, it's been an outstanding winter sports season for the Lakeville North Panthers with both hockey teams in the state tournament and the boys basketball team looking for a return trip to Minneapolis. As for the girls, they go into section play as the number one seed. However, there are a couple of hot teams riding 11 game winning streaks, the second seeded Owatonna Huskies and the third seeded Rochester John Marshall Rockets. Another interesting section to watch.
THE REST OF THE FIELD
In Section 3, the top seeded Eastview Lightning's lone loss was to South Suburban Conference rival Bloomington Kennedy. Head coach Melissa Guebert has built an outstanding perimeter shooting team and they are the favorite's to head for state.
Section 4 has the top seeded White Bear Lake Bears and second seeded Rosevile Raiders. Challenging the two Suburban East conference rivals is the hot St. Paul Central Minutemen, winners of nine straight.
If there's any guarantee in Section 5, it's that the champion will be one of the four top seeds from the Northwest Suburban Conference. Start with the top seeded Centennial Cougars, the second seeded Champlin Park Rebels, the third seeded Maple Grove Crimson and wrap up with the fourth seeded Osseo Orioles. Can the Cougars follow in the footsteps of the boys hockey team by having a hot tournament and filling the fan buses for a trip from Circle Pines to Target Center?
The St. Michael-Albertville Knights are the top seed in Section 8. The only other team in the section with a winning record is the second seeded St.Cloud Tech Tigers.
The Section 7 pairings have not been posted but the team that could be the number one seed is the Anoka Tornadoes. The Forest Lake Rangers are also in the hunt.
Next up will be the Class AAA preview.