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Plan is set for the nation's best teams to gather at Hopkins and show off on ESPN

By Star Tribune staff, 01/12/22, 7:00PM CST


The national sports network will broadcast and stream the Jan. 21 and 22 games, which involve three programs right off the top of the national rankings.

Maya Nnaji and her Hopkins teammates are scheduled to show their skills on ESPNU. EARL J. EBENSTEINER, SportsEngine

Four prominent girls’ basketball programs from four states will gather Jan. 21 and 22 at Hopkins for a tournament that will be broadcast and streamed by ESPN.

The teams are pulled right from the top of ESPN’s national rankings. Sidwell Friends (Washington, D.C.), DeSoto (Texas) and Hopkins are ranked 1 through 3. The tournament’s fourth team, Grandview (Colorado), features the nation’s No. 1 senior recruit, 6-7 center Lauren Betts, who has committed to Stanford.

Hopkins’ game against Sidwell Friends on Jan. 21 will be broadcast on ESPNU. The tournament’s other games will be streamed on ESPN Plus.

The Jan. 21 schedule:

Sidwell Friends vs. Hopkins, 4 p.m.

Grandview vs. DeSoto, 6 p.m.

The winners will play for the championship at 6 p.m. Jan. 22. The third-place game will begin at 4 p.m.

Grand basketball milestones 

Two top scorers, playing Tuesday night on their home basketball courts located about 60 miles apart on Hwy. 212, each achieved the same scoring plateau. 

Madalynn Wulkan, a senior guard at Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart, and Chloe Brunsberg, a junior guard at Southwest Christian High School in Chaska, surpassed 1,000 points. 

Wulkan, lauded by Mustangs coach Jesse Weick for her attitude, coachability and team-first approach, became the program’s sixth player to reach the mark since 2000. 

Brunsberg, a junior captain for the Stars, is a consummate teammate and leader, Southwest Christian coach Tiffany Stubbs said. Brunsberg has made 30 three-pointers through 10 games this season, almost halfway to her total of 64 last season. 

Both players are averaging 19 points per game. 

Dearth of officials builds

Pete Vrieze, the assigner for officials for the Minneapolis Officials Association, informed athletic directors for six different games that were scheduled for Tuesday that they had to reschedule because not enough officials were available that night.

The problem was a combination of COVID-related absences that added to a shortage of officials and the longtime custom of playing on Tuesdays.

Vrieze asked the athletic directors to reschedule to either Monday or Wednesday, nights when the schedule is typically less crowded.

“We just don’t have enough bodies right now,” Vrieze said. “It makes me feel like a failure to have to tell them they have to change.”

Thanks for reffing

Amid a lack of officials that is becoming a crisis, the St. Michael-Albertville girls’ basketball team has found a way thank officials who work their games.

After home games, each officials is presented with a handwritten thank you note from one of the Knights players and a gift card to Caribou Coffee. “It’s our little way of telling them how much we appreciate them,” Knights coach Kent Hamre said.


• Lexi Bright, a senior, became the first West Central Area girls’ basketball player to score 2,000 points in her career in the Knights’ 84-67 victory over Henning on Monday.

• Gophers recruit Mallory Heyer of Chaska is closing in on 2,000 career points. She has 1,981 going into the Hawks’ home game against St. Louis Park on Thursday.

Star Tribune staff members Kevin Bertels, Ron Haggstrom, David La Vaque, Jim Paulsen and Joel Rippel contributed to this report.

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