After a one year absence the Sweet 16 is back. But it is not 16 teams, only a dozen. Sweet Dozen doesn’t have the same cache. But maybe we need to call it the Summer Lake Conference invitational. Three AAAA entries reside in the Lake. Wayzata, it is rumored, was the fourth AAAA team entered, but withdrew from the event.
Prior to the virus there were years where the field of 16 was not filled. Usually, the holes came in the smaller classes. That was not exclusively the case this year. Class A was the only class to fulfill its obligations. AAA had the least number of teams in the event with only two. AAAA & AA provided three each.
Why the low number? No one is going to pin it on the virus & masks. This is only speculation, but many schools were asked (about 10 to a dozen per class). Perhaps the refuseniks have been involved heavily already this summer and need a break. Perhaps there was an unforeseen injury. Perhaps a key player is at another camp or on a family trip. But most of the time coaches don’t want to turn the keys to their well-oiled, finely tuned (they hope) vehicle only to see it smashed into smithereens by an inexperienced driver. Trust. Maybe the powers that be do not want to spend the rest of August, September and October in therapy with their team as the fissures in their building are exposed as structural defects. Finger pointing and doubt ensue. Also, no one wants to become two dimensional after facing the Hopkins steamroller.
The pedigree of the teams involved on Saturday had eight section champs from last year with all three AA entries state experienced. I charted two of the three possible contests (I have other responsibilities and missed the first match ups). Games consisted of four nine minute quarters. Biggers classes beat smaller classes 10-2 on the day. The two exceptions were also the only two overtime games. I did chart the last overtime game. It should be noted that not all the names are accurate. I tried to triangulate with the photos from the State Tournament, but that method is not iron clad. I requested rosters. STMA delivered.
Hopkins 65, Providence 47
By the way the rumorama of the day was Paige Bueckers in the house for the first game supporting former Hopkins teammates.
Hopkins 84, West Central 51
Providence 61, West Central 44
Minnehaha 62, Mankato East 54
Mankato East 65, Cass Lake-Bena 52
Cass Lake-Bena 60, Minnehaha 56 OT
Austin 72, St. Michael-Albertville 68 OT
St. Michael-Albertville 58, Minneota 19
Austin 63, Minneota 40
Minnetonka 63, Lake City 45
Minnetonka 63, Stephen-Argyle 18
Lake City 79, Stephen-Argyle 48
GAME 1 STMA 58, MINNEOTA 19
St. Michael-Albertville rolled over two time defending A champion Minneota (2019 & 2021—no 2020 champ crowned but they were one of four left standing) in the first game I charted. The Knights opened with six straight scores and a 14-0 lead before the Vikings called time out. At the end of the first quarter STMA had the total amount Minneota would have at the end of the night (19). There was no mystery after that.
Not everyone was present for STMA. Even though her dad was coaching the squad, Tessa Johnson had other camp obligations. The Knights also had a starter injured in the first contest that did not play.
|TOP SCORER||Three with 10||#21 8|
|31 CLUB||Emma Miller 24||#21 12|
TRENCH PLAYER: Emma Miller
GAME 2: CASS LAKE-BENA 60, MINNEHAHA 56
This had to be considered an upset for two reasons: smaller school over bigger school; and Minnehaha was in the driver’s seat with an earlier win over Mankato East, while CLB had lost to East. So, what was the difference? On the basic face of it, it was the free throw line. CLB went to the line 27 times and made 16, four more than Minnehaha made. Four was the margin of victory. CLB forced overtime with one of two free throws on their last possession in regulation. But MA had much fewer free throw attempts, only 14. MA got to the line every 29.29 touches; CLB every 10.67. That aggressive attitude to the basket, the ability to get the ball closer to the rim, plus four starters in double digits helped the Panthers. Both teams were fairly even in the stats: each team had 21 turnovers; each team connected on eight triples. But here again it was percentages that told the story. CLB delivered at 50%; Minnehaha relied heavily on the 3 attempt (58.7%). Balance belonged to CLB. We already mentioned the four in double figures for the Panthers. Minnehaha had a massive game from Addie Mack with 28 points. Mack gave the Redhawks a 53-52 lead as time was winding down in regulation with her fifth 3 of the game.
But perhaps the most important play from a momentum standpoint came on the first possession of overtime when Alyssa Wright scored her only points of the night—-a 3 from the left wing. Two possessions later Amira LaDuke scored a lay up and CLB had a five point lead. Telia Graham scored on a putback & one to cut the gap to 58-56. Taryn Frazer was fouled as soon as possible and she converted both free throw for the final margin. There was some confusion at the end of the game when a desperate half court heave by MA appeared to have been associated with a foul. Others thought it was a turnover. The officials decided the clock had run its course and the game was over. All three teams in the East division finished 1-1. Looking at margin next Mankato East would prevail +5 to Minnehaha’s +4 and CLB’s -9. The reward for first? The chance to face the mighty Hopkins Royals.
|TOP SCORER||Gabby Fineday 17||Addi Mack 28|
|31 CLUB||Krisalyn Seeyle? 27||Addi Mack 34|
TRENCH PLAYER: Taryn Frazer doesn’t leave the floor. MA put what I assume was their best defender on her. Indispensable & Respect.