Park Center vs. Maple Grove

7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 7

Since a choppy start to the season, Park Center has been sailing smoothly with 16 straight victories — including eight against Northwest Suburban Conference foes.

The Pirates are now in the crow’s nest looking down at their Northwest Suburban West Division competition, and they hope to remain afloat while deftly navigating through a squall on the horizon: a rematch with rival Maple Grove on Thursday in our Top Game of the Week.

Park Center started the season in treacherous waters with losses to No. 10-4A Eden Prairie (67-57 on Nov. 28) and No. 5-4A St. Michael-Albertville (63-62 on Dec. 4) sandwiched around a 99-95 win over Prior Lake on Dec. 1.

The Pirates (17-2, 8-0), who are No. 6 in the Class 4A rankings released by Minnesota Basketball News on Jan. 30, have righted the ship and avoided running aground during the winning streak, which included a 69-60 decision over Maple Grove on Dec. 18.

A big reason for the Pirates’ success has been Adalia McKenzie, who averages 28.2 points per game, which is the third-highest in the state.

A 75-50 victory over Totino-Grace on Saturday kept Park Center's conference record perfect and has it racing toward a fifth straight Northwest Suburban West crown.

Maple Grove would like to sink those plans and outmaneuver Park Center to steal a piece of the regular-season division title. The Crimson have either finished No. 2 in the division standings or shared the regular-season title with the Pirates each season since since 2014, and they can position themselves to move into a tie atop the division by exacting revenge for that early season loss to Park Center.

Maple Grove (15-4, 7-1) enters the week just a game behind Park Center in the division standings after winning all but one game since mid-December — a 49-44 decision against No. 2-4A Wayzata on Jan. 16.

Jordyn Lamker and Abby Schulte combined for 47 points in the earlier loss to the Pirates, and they may need to be dynamic again for the Crimson to reverse course on Thursday.