With the section playoffs looming, the final week of the regular season grows in importance as squads look to gain momentum.
With the two frontrunners in the Northwest Suburban Conference standings coming together in our Top Game of the Week, Tuesday's tilt between Park Center and Maple Grove could provide some valuable confidence for the winner heading into the postseason.
These two teams often differ in the way they win games, and for Park Center (21-3, 10-1) its strength often appears to be its offense. Led by junior Adalia McKenzie, the Pirates average more than 75 points per game. McKenzie posts nearly 31 of those points per contest.
Park Center, ranked No. 4 in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News from Feb. 12, boasts additional offensive firepower in the form of Lauren Frost (14.8 points per game) and Aaliyah Ragulen (10.7 ppg).
The Pirates hold a narrow lead in the Northwest Suburban Conference West Division standings, and opposing Maple Grove (20-4, 10-1) has emerged with a multi-game lead in the Northwest Suburban's North Division.
The Crimson don't often need to rely on offensive prowess to achieve success. Maple Grove scores fewer than 58 points per game but it has played defensive-minded basketball, allowing opponents less than than 47 points per game.
The No. 8-4A Crimson do have a handful of scorers who can step in to provide some offense. Abby Schulte (16.8 ppg) and Jordyn Lamker (15.5 ppg) have given Maple Grove the boost it needs to compete for conference supremacy and to be a contender in the postseason.