Rochester John Marshall vs. Mankato West

7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 3

The Big 9 Conference boasts a significant contest Thursday and it's likely the biggest game to date for each team, which makes this our Top Game of the Week.

Rochester John Marshall (9-1, 7-0) and Mankato West (7-1, 6-1) begin the week having combined for just two losses this season — and the Scarlets are intent on handing the Rockets their first conference loss and forcing a possible three-way tie atop the Big 9 standings with Austin.

The Rockets will look to avoid the same fate they suffered last season, when they got swept in the season series by Mankato West despite big games from Jessie Ruden, who scored a team-high 19 and 21 points in the losses.

If the Rockets, who are ranked No. 7 in Class 3A by Minnesota Basketball News from Dec. 26, are going to stay undefeated in Big 9 play, they may need an even bigger performance from Ruden, who's now a senior averaging 19 points per game this season.

The Scarlets, meanwhile, have been led on offense by Lani Schoper, Ashley Gustavson and Holly Wiste. They’ve combined to score 43.3 points per game, with Schoper leading the way at 16 per contest.

If the trio meets or surpasses their combined averages on Thursday, they could prove to be a nightmare for the Rockets defense.