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Top games: Lakeville North and Lakeville South set to battle in crosstown matchup

By Brendan O'Brien, SportsEngine, 01/02/23, 9:45AM CST


Jan. 6: The Cougars are off to a strong start while the Panthers have slipped from the rankings.

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.

Lakeville South vs. Lakeville North

5:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 6

The crosstown rivalry between Lakeville South (9-1) and Lakeville North (7-2) had been one-sided for the last few years, with the Panthers winning 11 consecutive meetings between the two. But after breaking the streak last year and a strong start this year, the Cougars are looking to flip the script in their favor.

Winning its first nine games of the season, Lakeville South played its way into the Class 4A top 10 rankings. The offense has not been dominant (57.8 ppg), but the Cougars have beaten opponents with a stifling defense, allowing an average of only 44.5 points and allowing 60 or more points once. Junior Finley Ohnstad has also been a steady presence on offense, scoring at least 15 points in eight games.

Lakeville North, however, will be one of South’s most challenging opponents to date. After sustaining two losses early in the season, the Panthers are riding a six-game winning streak into the matchup. The game will be Lakeville North’s first against a ranked opponent since a loss to Wayzata Dec. 6, as the team's game against Rosemount on Dec. 22 was postponed. Junior Gabby Betton (13.2 ppg) leads the Panthers’ scoring attack that's averaging 62 points per game. 

No matter who comes away victorious, the winner will have a chance at revenge with the rematch set for Feb. 6 at Lakeville South.

Becker vs. Providence Academy

7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 5

At the Hopkins Tip Off Class Dec. 3, two of the state’s top programs in Becker (5-1) and Providence Academy (7-2) met in a tight 83-76 Bulldogs win. Four weeks later, the Class 3A runners-up and Class 2A champions are set to meet again on the Lions’ home court.

Other than the team’s recent 55-51 loss to Minnetonka Dec. 30, Becker has won behind a strong offense that has scored at least 70 points in its five wins. Four players are averaging at least 13 points per game for the Bulldogs, including seniors Ayla Brown (21.2 ppg) and Maren Westin (16.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg). The senior duo combined for 47 points in the win over Providence Academy as Becker now looks to sweep the Lions this season. 

Since the loss to Becker, Providence Academy has turned on the gas. The Lions have won six straight games in dominant fashion, winning by an average margin of about 29 points. Freshman Maddyn Greenway (29.4 ppg, 6.2 apg and 6.1 rpg) powers the Lions’ offense as one of the state’s top scorers, while senior Grace Counts makes her impact felt by averaging a double-double (14.8 ppg, 11.1 rpg). Greenway had a game-high 33 points against Becker.

White Bear Lake vs. East Ridge

7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 3

The race for the Suburban East Conference and a higher seed in the Class 4A, Section 4 tournament will loom large when conference unbeaten teams White Bear Lake (10-1) and East Ridge (9-3) meet for the first time this season.

Winners of their last seven games, the Bears are riding momentum off their state tournament appearance last year. Junior Jordan Schmittdiel is the team’s leading scorer (16 ppg) on an offense that averages only 48.5 points, so White Bear Lake might need to pick up the scoring against No. 7 East Ridge. A win against a ranked conference foe would be significant, as their only game against a Class 4A ranked team was a 73-44 loss at Wayzata.

East Ridge continues to have a balanced offensive attack with four players scoring at least 10 points per game. Senior Emily Christenson (16.4 ppg) has been leading the way, but she and the Raptors are looking to bounce back from a 64-52 loss to Rosemount Dec. 29 where Christenson scored only two points. Nevertheless, East Ridge has relied on a strong defense (46.8 ppg allowed) to propel them toward the top of the conference once again.

East Ridge had the upper hand on White Bear Lake since Jan. 31, 2020, the last time the Bears took down the Raptors. But White Bear Lake got the last laugh in last season’s Class 4A, Section 4 semifinal when the Bears won 44-38. The two teams will square off again Feb. 10 at White Bear Lake.

Other games to keep an eye on

Minnehaha Academy vs. Anoka, 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 3. Coming off a big 61-55 overtime win against Lakeville South Dec. 30, No 2-2A Minnehaha Academy (7-2) will put its five-game winning streak on the line when sophomore Addi Mack (27 ppg) and the Redhawks travel to Anoka. At 9-1, the Tornadoes have been somewhat of a surprise during the winter, as Anoka last had a winning season in 2017-18.

Jordan vs. Byron, 7:15 p.m., Friday, Jan. 6. Two Class 3A heavyweights will be on display as both Jordan (7-0) and Byron (6-3) have had little trouble scoring. The Jaguars are led by senior Jenna Kluxdal and sophomore Savannah Borowicz who are both averaging 17 points per game, while the Bears were averaging almost 66 points per game before dropping two games at the Rotary Holiday Classic in Rochester.

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