Photo by SportsEngine
We task our reporters with identifying several intriguing games throughout the state to assemble our Top Games of the Week. The matchups are presented in no particular order, and when there are additional games we want to highlight, we’ll include them with brief notes.
Through the years, Stillwater has emerged as a major force to be reckoned with in the east metro. The Ponies are three-time Class 4A, Section 4 champions.
Despite the Ponies' recent success, there are still plenty of challengers. This year, East Ridge joins that group. These two Suburban East Conference and Section 4 rivals meet with a chance to make a move in league title chase and in postseason seeding.
Stillwater (8-2, 4-1) is back among the best in Class 4A, ranked No. 8 by Minnesota Basketball News. The Ponies are rolling at the moment, winning five consecutive games after dropping games to Rosemount and White Bear Lake.
For those who have followed the Ponies in recent years, it's hardly a surprise that Stillwater is led by a player with the last name of Scalia. Amber is the latest Scalia. The senior guard, who's committed to University of St. Thomas, is averaging more than 25 points per game.
East Ridge (8-4, 5-1) sits atop the Suburban East standings, tied with Roseville for first place. The Raptors have found success thanks to experience. They returned five players who were either all-conference or all-conference honorable mention last season.
Sidney Klauer is experienced and leads the charge for the Raptors. She is averaging a team-best 13 points per game this season.
After her team's game against Chaska on Dec. 29, Eden Prairie coach Ellen Wiese said the Lake Conference is "by far the hardest" conference in the state. Based on what we've seen so far, it's hard to argue with Wiese.
Five of the six top-ranked teams in Class 4A call the Lake Conference home. That means nearly every night features a battle of top-six teams, including when Hopkins heads to Eden Prairie on Friday for their first meeting of the season.
The Royals (9-0, 1-0) are on a revenge tour of sorts after last year's state semifinal loss to Chaska, taking out every team in their way and doing it in a big way. Hopkins' closest game this season was a 70-45 victory against the Hawks on Dec. 4.
Besides just wanting to claim a state title, the No. 1-4A Royals trot out a lineup of stars. It starts with Maya Nnaji, the Arizona-bound senior who is averaging a team-best 17.9 points. Junior forward Taylor Woodson isn't far behind, averaging 16.8 points per game.
The Eagles (8-1) are nearly perfect outside a loss to Chaska on Dec. 28. Eden Prairie will attempt to counter Hopkins with its senior duo of Nia Holloway and Myra Moorjani.
Holloway, who's headed to play at Minnesota next year, does most of her damage in the paint, averaging 16.9 points per game to lead her team. Moorjani, a Minnesota-Duluth commit, leads the backcourt effort with 11.1 points per game.
It's a big deal any time Mankato East and Mankato West clash. However, it seems extra important this year as both teams are ranked in the top 10 of Class 3A and sit near the top of the Big 9 Conference standings.
Mankato East (7-2, 6-1) has won each of the past three meetings and currently resides in second place in the conference. The No. 7-3A Cougars lost just one letter-winner from last season.
Mackenzie Schweim and Lexi Karge have been sources of scoring for Mankato East this season. Schweim went for 27 points in a road win over Rochester Mayo while Karge had a 20-point game against Northfield.
As for Mankato West (8-2, 6-2), a win over the Cougars would push them ahead of their crosstown rival. Like Mankato East, the Scarlets have a veteran backcourt led by Lani Schoper and Teresa Kiewiet.
Lake City vs. Rochester Lourdes, 7:15 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 11. These Hiawatha Valley League Gold Division rivals meet as Lake City rises up the rankings in Class 2A while Rochester Lourdes continues its tough 2021-22 schedule.
New London-Spicer vs. Watertown-Mayer, 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 13. New London-Spicer's extended success under long-time coach Mike Dreier continues this season despite all five of last year's starters departing via graduation. The winner will climb the Wright County Conference West Division standings.
Hancock vs. Underwood, 7:15 p.m., Friday, Jan. 14. These two Class 1A, Section 6 rivals meet with a chance to establish which should be the No. 1 seed in the playoffs as the teams have just one loss combined.
The MN Girls' Basketball Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.