North Branch vs. Hermantown

1:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 18

Few teams in Class 3A this season have seen the level of improvement that Hermantown has. After finishing with an 11-16 record last year, the Hawks (12-1, 6-0) have already compiled more wins in just 13 games played.

Hermantown has improved in most every statistical category this season, but what stands out most is its defense. The Hawks allow just 43.8 points per game, nearly 10 points a game fewer than a season ago.

Elly Schmotz has impressed on offense, including on Dec. 14 when she scored 26 points in a 47-32 win against Proctor.

The Hawks, who have have emerged as a Class 3A, Section 7 frontrunner, face a potential postseason contender is North Branch this Saturday.

The Vikings (9-4, 2-2) started the season on a seven-game winning streak, also a big improvement from last year. After finishing with just five wins last season, they've nearly doubled their win total with a month remaining in the regular season.

Sophomore forward Paige Peaslee, averaging 17.1 points a game, has helped drive North Branch's improvement this season.