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.
Expect plenty of points to be scored between the top two teams in the Tri-Metro Conference. Both Holy Angels (9-3) and Robbinsdale Cooper (12-2) average more than 60 points per game and each have three players with double-digit averages in points.
Holy Angels started the season quickly with six straight wins but could use a victory after a 2-2 record in January. Currently at 4-1 in the conference, the Stars have sat at or near the top of the Tri-Metro Conference for the last three seasons, winning in 2020-21 and finishing second in 2021-22 and 2019-20. A win by the Stars in their first meeting of the season against the Hawks would help ensure they remain at the top again.
Holy Angels will need players like senior Jenna Bauer (14.5 points per game) to play well offensively, however, as Robbinsdale Cooper has allowed an average of about 42 points per game to opponents during an 11-game win streak.
After a losing record last season in the Metro West conference, Robbinsdale Cooper now has turned the tables, already doubling the team’s wins from last season.
With senior Bre Frazier and junior Somah Kamara (14.5 ppg) leading the way offensively, the Hawks will put their win streak on the line in a pivotal conference game. The Hawks are atop the Tri-Metro Conference at 5-0 in their first season competing in the conference, and a win against Holy Angels could go a long way in the pursuit of the crown.
Holy Angels and Robbinsdale Cooper will meet again later in the season, as the Stars host the Hawks Feb. 17.
In a rematch of a Class 3A, Section 4 tournament game, North St. Paul (11-2) is not only looking for revenge but to prove it is a contender this season, while Hill-Murray (7-5) is aiming to continue its dominance over the Polars.
Out to a strong record about halfway through the season, North St. Paul is hoping for a different ending than last year. The Polars started 8-2 but ended 2021-22 on a 2-13 skid including a 57-35 loss to Hill-Murray in the Class 3A, Section 4 quarterfinals.
Nevertheless, North St. Paul is playing well this season, averaging 67.4 points per game this season. Senior Magnolia Jones (15.8 ppg) is also leading the offensive charge and is coming off a season-high 26 points in a tight 65-62 win against Two Rivers Jan. 13. Beating Hill-Murray would be a significant checkpoint in the program’s turnaround, as the Polars have not beaten the Pioneers in almost six years.
After a section championship appearance, Hill-Murray could now be playing the role of spoiler to North St. Paul’s strong season. Despite hovering around the .500 mark throughout the first portion of the season, the Pioneers have a 12-1 record against the Polars dating back to the 2016-17 season.
The offensive production, however, has not been as strong as they might like, putting up just 48.7 points per game. With that, look for Hill-Murray to depend on guard Elise Groppoli (13.2 ppg) to lead the Pioneers’ effort coming off two wins.
The teams will meet again Feb. 17 at Hill-Murray in another Metro East Conference meeting.
The result of this first meeting of 2022-23 could be a significant factor in the postseason, as Crosby-Ironton (8-4) and Pequot Lakes (7-1) both are two top teams in the Class 2A, Section 7 standings.
Crosby-Ironton has one of the top scorers in the state in freshman Tori Oehrlein. In her third season on the Rangers’ roster, Oehrlein is sixth in the state in total points (316) and third in points per game (28.7).
After a slow start in the first two games of the season, Crosby-Ironton now averages 62 points per game and has won three straight games scoring at least 79 in each of them. The Rangers will likely rely on Oehrlein and the offensive firepower in order to pull out the win on the road.
Pequot Lakes, however, is not accustomed to losing this season, as the Patriots only loss came in the second game of the season. Moreover, the Patriots are not used to losing to the Rangers, with six straight wins in the matchup since 2019-20.
Like Crosby-Ironton, Pequot Lakes has also played well offensively, scoring 62.3 points per game and will likely need similar production to keep pace with Oehrlein. The Patriots could have a seven-game win streak on the line, with a game at Moose Lake-Willow River Jan. 17, and they would like to make it eight against their section foe.
Crosby-Ironton will host the second meeting between the two teams on Feb. 10.
Detroit Lakes vs. Alexandria, 7:15 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 17. Two of the top 10 teams in Class 3A will square off in a game that could knock the loser out of the rankings. Off a state tournament appearance, No. 9-3A Detroit Lakes (9-2) sustained only one loss in the season opener until falling 61-50 to Pequot Lakes Jan. 13.
Winners of five straight, No. 10-3A Alexandria (8-3) is looking for revenge against the Lakers after falling 71-67 in double overtime of the Class 3A, Section 8 semifinals last season. The game could influence section standings, as Detroit Lakes won the first meeting between the foes 56-50 Dec. 16.
Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart vs. Sleepy Eye 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 17. Class 3A's No. 3-ranked Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart (9-0) will travel to Sleepy Eye (10-4) in a significant game in the Tomahawk Conference standings. The undefeated Mustangs are led by a balanced offensive attack of four players averaging at least 13 points per game including junior guard Rachel Kottke (20 ppg).
After a 4-4 start, including a 56-50 loss to Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart, Sleepy Eye has won six straight games while averaging almost 71 points per game during the stretch.
The MN Girls' Basketball Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.