Section time springs upsets. The most impactful day of the section calendar is the first Saturday when things quickly stop for some teams. March 4th, the most commanding day of the year, was no exception. Four number one seeds fell, two ranked teams in AAA among them (Jordan and Mahtomedi). Other ranked teams were going to fall because both were ranked. Those epic battles started off on Thursday night in 2A North with #3 seed (and #5 ranked) BOLD topped #2 seed (#3 ranked) Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart. Things were not so clean in the 11-20 rankings in A with five falling by the wayside. In AA section 1 #3 seed (#13 ranked) Caledonia finished off #2 seed (#6 ranked) Rochester Lourdes. The only other ranked team to drop in AA was #12 Montevideo in the 3AA North final to #4 New London-Spicer. In AAA section 2 both #1 and #2 fell—Jordan to Marshall and Mankato East to St. Peter. It will be an all Big South final. Both wins were revenge wins. Marshall will look to keep that revenge string alive. They recently lost to the Saints in the Big South title game. Mahtomedi saw their season come to a halt at home against #5 seed Totino-Grace. The defending champs were not ready to finish their year. The other top ten team to drop was #10 Detroit Lakes, a state entrant a year ago, to the third seed in 8AAA Sauk Rapids-Rice. There were more teams dropping in the 11-20 range in AAA—-Delano gave Benilde-St. Margaret’s a fit before falling in a three point loss. Red Wing lost a 2/3 match up to Austin in 1. And Orono exited early with Hutchinson stopping the Spartans. All in all there are 13 of the twenty ranked teams still standing, the lowest of any class. In AAAA two top tens are gone—#8 White Bear Lake, defending section 4AAAA champ and #6 Minnetonka. The Skippers at a four seed had to face the current #1 Chaska Hawks and almost pulled off the surprise. In the 11-20 listing in AAAA Rogers lost the battle of 101 to Elk River. #15 Prior Lake lost to #5 Eden Prairie in brutal section 2AAAA; #17 Mayo was upended by #20 Lakeville South in 1AAAA. #19 Cooper did not get by #4 Wayzata. Technically two of those were supposed to happen. At any rate 14 ranked teams exist to play again this week in AAAA.
So how do these upsets happen. According to a wise resource—in order for a team to win a tournament (section or state) they have to survive their bad half. Hence Glaeser’s Theorem (from a friend Mark Glaeser). Things that go wrong, off kilter, kittywampus, questionable calls, bounces or flukes all help in this downward spiral. Having watched eleven games this week and seeing some of these “upsets” up close and personal there is something to it. Psychology plays a huge part of it. When you expect things to roll one way and then they flip, players start stressing (as do coaches). I can verify that Glencoe-Silver Lake survived their bad half on Thursday against Norwood-Young America. The Wildcats are poised to make a run to state now. Other teams I charted this week crashed on the rocky shores of trying to comeback. Part of this is they are not used to playing behind. It is a new experience, one they are not in a comfortable zone. Some teams unfortunately have injuries that derail the best laid plans. LQPV had a knee injury that prevented them from their best efforts. Even if the player tries to hobble on that leg, the explosiveness is no longer present.
So how to survive? Keep a steady mind, remind players to stay in the current moment, not five plays ago, or five minutes ahead. Nail the basics. Keep things simple. In one state tournament situation back in 2000, the year Osseo won in AAAA, the Orioles in the semifinals had this “bad half” moment. The way we got out of it was Coach Thorpe called a time out. I told him the kids were tight, they needed to loosen up. He made a joke and got them out of their stinkin’ thinkin’ and the Orioles went on to win that game.
If teams haven’t had their bad half yet…..beware and prepare. Some did not survive.
The third AAA section to be completed was section 1, the southeast part of the state which is split between the Big 9 conference and the Hiawatha Valley. That happened when I charted Winona on Wednesday with their battle at Byron. Stewartville is the number one seed this year and is out of the HVL. IF they win the title next week in 1AAA they will complete a rarity in girls basketball—-each team (8) in the HVL will have been to the state tournament since 2006. The Tigers have never been to state. The other conferences to send all their teams to state is the Lake—-surprise!!—and the Northwest Suburban. Stewartville was charted a hefty five times this year—thanks to “events” and teams I needed to chart. Their 117.4 against Caledonia (still fighting in 1AA for a state berth). The Tigers are 91.3 in those five games with a +20 margin. All five of those games were against teams that are or were in the top 20 at the time. Without Stewartville in the mix that section is still in positive pp100 territory at +2.2, but with only a 77.8 pp100.
There will be no more completions because the teams I need to see are, or have been, turning in uniforms.
I just missed out on completing the Big 9—only missing ingredient was Northfield.
ONES AND DONE
Five #1 seeds saw their season come to an end this week. It was the odd classes that saw the carnage….so far.
AAAA: all are alive
AAA: Jordan (2); Mahtomedi (4)
AA: all are alive
A: Lac qui Parle Valley (1N); Braham (5E); Kelliher-Northome (8E)
Last week I listed the most dangerous seeds 2-5. How did they do? (only if they pulled upsets)
AAAA-#3 Stillwater beat #2 White Bear Lake in 4AAAA. #4 Minnetonka gave #1 Chaska all they could handle in a two point loss in the 2AAAA semis.
AAA-#3 St. Peter and #4 Marshall both won their games over #2 Mankato East and #1 Jordan in 2AAA. In both cases they were revenge wins from earlier losses. And then the #5 Totino-Grace win over Mahtomedi made that class 3/3 so far. I had Hill-Murray at #2 but it will not be considered an upset if HM tops TG in the 4AAA final.
AA-#3 Caledonia halted Rochester Lourdes season in 1AA.
A-#3 BOLD ended Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart’s chances in 2A North.
Overall 6/8 on the upset specials, with Minnetonka almost making it 7/8.
WEEKLY TEAM REVIEW
A whopping eleven games featuring 22 teams—15 for the first time this year, a healthy haul. We won’t approach that again this week. The weather was cooperating this week and the roads were ideal. Most of those unseen teams live in distant parts of the state (longer than an hour or two away) and were of the smaller class variety. Of the 15, eleven were class A. For the week the pp100 checked in at 83.2, a strong showing. Winners were at 94.9, 23.5 better than the losers. Four times winners cracked the century mark with Grand Meadow in the first game of the week beating everyone with a 110.5. The highest losing score (the “best” game of the week) came in the final game as Nevis had a 92.1 in the loss to Walker-Hackensack-Akeley. The tightest game of the week was when Glencoe-Silver Lake overcame the sluggish first half to stop Norwood-Young American and coach Gary Lembcke. That margin was 53-47 or in pp100 differential 9.2.
Week two of sections will be wrapped up, weather permitting, on Friday evening. My viewing schedule will be determined by the highest school not charted as of yet. It looks like I will be spending most of the time in the northwest quadrant of the state in the smaller schools. I have seen all the survivors in AAAA and AAA. With Thursday’s schedule it looks like I will be able to go to any game I want—no strays on that day.
A lucky 13 joined the 31 Club this first full week of sections. Even though I saw 11 games with only three in AAA they produced six entrants, basically two for every game. AA had one join, A also had six join, but they did it in six games. The numbers also were big this week. Topping the list was a 61 Club member—with 63—Samantha Paulsen of Zimmerman in their win over St. Francis on Tuesday. In addition, five players made the 41 Club (six with Paulsen). Two of those just missed the 51 Club by one. 31 Clubbers were 8-5 for the week. Zimmerman, Mahtomedi and Winona each had two entries. All three are finished, but the Thunder were initial winners on Tuesday. The top pp100 of the 31 Club this week belongs to Lexy Foster of Grand Meadow who ripped it up with a 180 pp100 and a 35 score in their win over Bethlehem Academy on Monday. The Superlarks are still in the hunt for a state berth in section 1A.
We are down to a final four for soloists. Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart lost to BOLD in the 2A North semis on Thursday ending their season and tagging them with loss number two.
AAAA 1: Chaska
AAA 0: none
AA 3: Albany, Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial, New London-Spicer
A 0: none
Everyone is above 20. What streak will continue until March 18? Providence.
AAAA: 22 Chaska
AAA: 25 Grand Rapids
AA: 24 Providence
A: 21 Grand Meadow
SEARCH FOR 100
For now, complete. Two came off with Southwest Christian (Chaska variety) and Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa—-after a week’s delay and no ground blizzard. Big improvements in the A side this week.
Looking at the top 10s I am at 100% in AAAA, AAA; and AA; 70% in A.
Looking at the “seeding the state” A jumps to 62.5% still behind the others with their 100% mark.
The #1s in each section is/were 100% in AAAA, AAA; & AA. Much work to do in A at 46.2%, but the score was doubled this week with both #1s in section 3 and 5 west added.
Rock Ridge will NOT be seen. They are at #109. The biggest fish still swimming is Thief River Falls at #113.
Heading into state the possibility exists that could be at 121 out of 125.
SEEDING THE STATE
The return of the Royals. Hopkins has a stake on the top spot in AAAA after the semifinal round of AAAA Saturday action. Chaska in AAAA and Benilde-St. Margaret’s were survivors in semifinal scares.
Underlined teams are replacements since sections started. AAAA & AA have not seen a change. AAA had had two so far and A one. GSL pulls ahead of LCWM not because of losses, but because a change in viewpoint.
- Hopkins (6)
- Chaska (2)
- Michael-Albertville (8)
- East Ridge (4)
- Maple Grove (5)
- Lakeville North (1)
- Rosemount (3)
- Blaine (7)
- Becker (5)
- Benilde-St. Margaret’s (6)
- Grand Rapids (7)
- Stewartville (1)
- DeLaSalle (3)
- Peter (2)
- Alexandria (8)
- Providence (5)
- Albany (6)
- Goodhue (1)
- Crosby-Ironton (7)
- New London-Spicer (3)
- Minnehaha (4)
- Perham (8)
- Glencoe-Silver Lake (2)
- Mountain Iron-Buhl (7)
- Mayer Lutheran (2)
- Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (5)
- Hayfield (1)
- Underwood (6)
- Badger-Greenbush-Middle River (8)
- Southwest MN Christian (3)
- Heritage Christian (4)