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Bracket set for Minnesota state 4A basketball championship

While the opening rounds of the Class 4A section tournaments featured a number of upsets, order was restored by the time the section championship hardware was raised. In seven of the eight section championship games the team with the higher seed won the game; six of those teams were the top seed in their section. The relative lack of a Cinderella team makes for a star-studded 4A field, and it also made the job of seeding the top five teams very difficult.

Coaches from the eight teams that qualified for the state tournament got together on Saturday morning to discuss the participating teams and to determine which teams should receive the seeds. Per Minnesota State High School League rules, seeds are given to five teams in the tournament; the other three teams draw their quarterfinal opponents at random from the teams seeded 1-3. Seeds four and five play each other in the first round.

Following are the seeds for the state Class 4A basketball tournament along with their quarterfinal matchups on Wednesday at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

#1: Apple Valley (28-1)
#1: Apple Valley (28-1) Dan Hinrichs

#1: Apple Valley (28-1)

While Park Center could’ve made a case for the #1 seed- they were the one team to defeat Valley during the regular season- the Tyus Jones-led Eagles were certainly a deserving recipient of the tournament’s #1 seed.  The Eagles, undefeated champions of the South Suburban Conference and the #1 team in the final Minnesota Basketball News poll, blew through the Section 3AAA playoffs by defeating their opponents by a total of 115 points.  They defeated seventh-seeded Rosemount in the section finals, a team that threw the section bracket into flux by knocking out #2 seed East Ridge in the first round.  Apple Valley’s making their sixth trip to state in school history with their last trip coming in 2009.

Valley’ reward for the 28-1 season?  A quarterfinal showdown against the Brainerd Warriors, the Section 8AAAA champion who also went 28-1 on the season.  Like Apple Valley, the Warriors’ one loss was a two-point loss; unlike Valley, the Warriors had to face the section’s #2 seed in the finals where they defeated Elk River 74-68.  Playing an outstate schedule against a lot of 3A opponents hurt the Warriors when it came to assessing the teams on strength of schedule; also, with the rest of the 4A field hailing from the Twin Cities, the Warriors were likely an unknown when compared with the metro-area teams.  Brainerd’s making their tenth trip to state and their first since 1991; they’ve got one championship in their trophy case, a title won in 1954.

Apple Valley and Brainerd tip off the Class 4A tournament at 10am Wednesday morning.

#2: Park Center (26-3)
#2: Park Center (26-3) Minnesota Sports Online

#2: Park Center (26-3)

The Park Center Pirates put themselves on the map early in the season, knocking off Apple Valley 72-70 in the Breakdown Tip-Off Classic back on December 8.  The Pirates eventually ascended to #1 in the Minnesota Basketball News poll when they knocked off defending champion Osseo ten days after their win over Apple Valley, and they held that #1 spot until Osseo got revenge on them in early February.  Park Center ended up winning the Northwest Suburban by a game over Osseo, then defeated the Orioles 73-71 in a thrilling Section 5AAAA title game last Thursday.  Led by Quinton Hooker, the Pirates are making their third appearance at state, their first since 1997.

They’ll take on Lakeville North in the quarterfinals, the runner-up to Apple Valley in the South Suburban.  Lakeville North was the runner-up to Osseo last year, losing the championship game on a buzzer-beating shot by Osseo’s Ian Theisen.  The Panthers made it through the Section 1AAAA playoffs relatively easy, defeating their first two opponents by a combined 71 points and then beat #2 seed Rochester John Marshall 61-47 in the section title game.  Lakeville North is making their third appearance in the state tournament; prior to splitting into North and South, Lakeville High School had state tournament appearances in 1995 and 2004.

This one’s the third quarterfinal of the day at the Target Center; scheduled tip is at 2pm.

#3: Edina (22-7)
#3: Edina (22-7) Edina Hornets Twitter feed (@edinahornets)

#3: Edina (22-7)

After an 0-4 start to the season, Graham Woodward and the Edina Hornets kicked things into high gear, winning 22 of their next 25 games and wresting control of the Lake Conference away from Hopkins to boot.  The Hornets defeated the Royals twice during the regular season to take the conference crown, then defeated the eight-time champions in the Section 6AAAA finals to earn their first trip to state since 1991.  Edina’s enjoyed a phenomenal 2012-2013 school year in boys sports- in addition to this trip to the state basketball tournament, they won the state AA hockey championship and Lake Conference crown in football this past fall.  This is their seventh trip to state and they’ve won three titles, the last coming in 1968.

They’ll take on the Andover Huskies, the champions of Section 7AAAA.  The Huskies were the #4 seed in the section, but they trounced the #1 seed St. Francis by 18 in the section semifinals before getting by third seed Forest Lake 41-37 in the section title game.  With a 10-19 record they’re the longshot team in the tournament, but they’ve played top competition all year long as a member of the Northwest Suburban Conference.  They’re making their fourth trip to state and their first since 2007.

This quarterfinal is the last of the 4A quarterfinals on Wednesday; game time is scheduled for 4pm.

#4: Woodbury (25-4)
#4: Woodbury (25-4) Dan Hinrichs

#4: Woodbury (25-4)

The Royals are back at state for the second straight year, looking to add a title to the one they won in 1983.  Co-champions of the Suburban East Conference, they’ve won 17 of their last 18 games, including a victory over conference rival Stillwater 52-44 in the Section 4AAAA title game.  Woodbury was the only #2 seed to make it through the section playoffs, a very balanced section that featured three teams in the final Minnesota Basketball News top 10.  This is Woodbury’s seventh trip to state.

They’ll take on the fifth-seeded Eagles of Eden Prairie, winners of Section 2AAAA.  Eden Prairie finished in fourth place in the Lake Conference but rolled through the section playoffs, winning each game by a minimum of 15 points.  They’re currently at 21-8 for the season- 18-3 against non-conference competition- and are making their fourth straight trip to the state tournament and ninth overall.

Woodbury and Eden Prairie have the noon game on Wednesday, the second of the four quarterfinals.

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