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Top games: Tracy-Milroy-Balaton looks to take down powerful Minneota

By Ryan Williamson, SportsEngine, 02/07/22, 8:00AM CST


Feb. 10: The Panthers look to play spoiler in their matchup with the Vikings, who continue to be one of Class 1A's best teams.

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.

Minneota vs. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton

4:45 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 10

As members of the Camden Conference, Minneota and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton have met for years as conference rivals. But this year, there's a new wrinkle in this matchup. 

After many years as a Class 2A program, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton moved down to Class 1A. The Panthers now reside in Section 3, the same section that Minneota has master on an annual basis.

The Vikings (21-2, 8-0) have won three state titles in the past eight years and have continued that tear this season. They are ranked No. 4 in the Class 1A rankings released by Minnesota Basketball News on Feb. 2.

One of Minneota's wins this year came against Tracy-Milroy-Balaton on Dec. 21. Guard-forwards Natalee Rolbreck and Ireland Stassen led the charge in the 58-41 triumph. Rolbreck, a senior, added 18 points while Stassen scored 15 points.

The No. 8-1A Panthers (17-2, 7-1) are certainly not an opponent to take lightly. They are currently riding a nine-game winning streak.

Tracy-Milroy-Balaton has found this success with all-conference players such as Margaret Dolan and Jordan Munson. They will look to these players to try to end a skid against Minneota that dates back to Feb. 2, 2018.

Maple Grove vs. Blaine

7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 10

After three consecutive losses to open the season, Maple Grove ran through its schedule with little issue. The Crimson look to keep that momentum rolling against a Blaine squad they've had quite a bit of success against.

Maple Grove — ranked eighth in Class 4A — holds a perfect 13-0 overall record and the top spot in the Northwest Suburban Conference standings. All four of the Crimson's losses came to Class 4A-ranked Lake Conference foes: No. 7 Wayzata, No. 4 Eden Prairie, No. 2 Minnetonka and No. 5 St. Michael-Albertville.

The Crimson's dominance in the Northwest Suburban is thanks in part to the play of guards Kyla Overskei and Kennedy Klick. Overskei, a junior, is averaging more than 14 points per game and tallied 20 in a 65-54 win against the Bengals on Jan. 18.

Klick, meanwhile, did not play in the first meeting against Blaine but is averaging 12.5 points per game.

The Bengals (13-6, 8-5) will try to get a large monkey off their backs by defeating the Crimson. Blaine has not defeated Maple Grove since before the 2010-11 season, going more than 17 games without a win.

Starting 9-0, the Bengals have hit a few rough spots but have plenty of scoring power in the front court with Jade Bryant and Molly Garber. Bryant averages a team-best 13.8 points per game while Garber is not far behind with 12.6 points per game.

St. Michael-Albertville vs. Wayzata

7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 8

It's pretty much become the norm now to see a Lake Conference matchup between ranked squads on the calendar each week. One of them this week pits two teams looking to make a push up in the standings.

This marks the second time these two squads have met, with St. Michael-Albertville pulling out a 55-52 win on Jan. 14.

The Knights (16-4, 2-3) have played a rough schedule but still have a solid record and are ranked No. 5 in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News. 

The return of junior guard Tessa Johnson has been well received by St. Michael-Albertville. She is averaging more than 20 points this season and poured in 25 in the win against the Trojans.

Wayzata has some impressive wins in its chamber but would probably like to extract some revenge against its Lake Conference rival.

So far this season, the No. 7-4A Trojans (14-4, 4-3) have relied on balance with five players averaging more than 10 points per game. 

Mara Braun leads all Trojans with 20.8 points per game. The future Gopher did not play in the teams' first meeting.

Junior forward Shannon Fornshell is also a major threat, averaging 11.1 points per game. She tallied 12 against the Knights.

Other games to keep an eye on

Benilde-St. Margaret's vs. Orono, 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb 8. Chaska seems to have the Metro West Conference crown secured, but these teams sit right behind the Hawks and are ready for any chance to move up. They also may see each other in the Class 3A, Section 6 tournament.

Montevideo vs. Sauk Centre, 6 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 8. These teams meet for the second time this season as two of the top teams in the West Central Conference. Though the Mainstreeters won the first tilt on Jan. 7, Montevideo sits higher up in the latest Class 2A rankings.

Chisago Lakes vs. Becker, 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 8. Becker has been the thorn in the side of just about everybody in Class 3A. Mississippi 8 Conference and Section 5 rival Chisago Lakes can attest. The Wildcats will look to pick up a rare win against the top-ranked Bulldogs.

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