Providence stakes its claim as girls high school ball gets underway

Minnesota girls high school ball got underway Friday and Saturday with 7 games each day at Hamline and 12 at St. Thomas. (Well, OK, there was one game on Wednesday in which Princeton demolished Duluth East 75-23.) Simultaneously, the earliest rankings were published by Tim Kohlemainen and all the guys at the Breakdown. What emerges from these first couple of days of 2023-2024 girls hoops is that Class AA #1 Providence has the early claim as the overall #1 team in the state. Providence edged Dowling Catholic from Iowa at St. Thomas 79-76 on Friday night as the amazing Maddyn Greenway scored 36 points. On Saturday, Dowling defeated #3AAAA Hopkins 61-58 by holding Liv McGill, who scored 33 on Friday, to just 12 points–the point being that this enhanced the stature of Providence’s Friday win.

Continuing on Saturday, Providence clobbered #1AAA Benilde-St. Margaret’s 85-63 as Greenway, the #1-rated sophomore in the state, outscored Benilde’s Olivia Olson, the #1-rated senior in the state, 43-6. (The player ratings are courtesy of Prep Girls Hoops and their chief guru Grant McGinnis.)

Class AAAA

I bumped into Minnetonka coach Brian Cosgriff at Hamline last night and asked, “Did you know that the Breakdown book has Tonka rated #1?” “You’re kidding,” he said. Here, the point is that Hopkins is #3. A little more research is needed, but I’m not sure that Hopkins hasn’t been the pre-season #1 every year from 2011 to 2023, as totally amazing and unbelievable as that might seem. And, I figure that Hopkins is still #1 until somebody (from Minnesota) beats ’em. But, no, the guys at the Breakdown rush in where angels fear to tread. And #1 Tonka played well enough this weekend, beating #9 Centennial 56-36 before thrashing #7 Lakeville South 77-31 on Saturday as the state’s #1-rated junior Aaliyah Crump scored 52 points in the 2 games and the Minnesota Gopher signee, senior Tori McKinney, scored 25.

Meanwhile, #2 and defending state champion St. Michael-Albertville also played well, beating East Ridge 64-37 and Davenport North (IA) 77-53 at St. Thomas as Ja’Kahla Craft (40 points), Abby Hoselton (36) and Cali Jahnke (34) shared the primary scoring duties. For the record, #3 Hopkins edged Davenport North just 75-69 on Friday night.

Other than that, #10 Roseville impressed with a 71-46 win over #11AAA Mahtomedi and an 86-52 thrashing of #1A Mountain Iron-Buhl but, hey, both wins came against smaller schools.

Girls basketball action gets into full swing this week with more than 200 games, culminating in the single best day of basketball of the entire season (or days) with the Breakdown Tip-Off next Friday and Saturday (December 1 and 2) at Hopkins. The top 8 AAAA teams will all be in action, most of them against one another. The biggest games are #6 Lakeville North vs. #3 Hopkins at 8:30 Friday night and #1AAA Benilde vs. Hopkins on Saturday at the same time.

Class AAA

The guys at the Breakdown have defending state champion Benilde at #1, and their loss to Providence does not endanger their #1 ranking. Providence is that good. #3 DeLaSalle and #4 (and defending state runner-up) Stewartville were also in action. Stewartville swept 2 games at St. Thomas, beating #11A Mayer Lutheran 74-57 as Audrey Shindelar scored 21, and #10AA St. Croix Lutheran 52-34. #3AAA DeLaSalle clobbered Orono 73-37, then lost to #3AA Minnehaha 61-58 as Jordyn Johnson scored 36 points in 2 games.

Watch for a detailed game report here on DeLaSalle and Minnehaha.

Class AA

It is entirely possible that come next March, the Class AAA and Class AA finals may match private schools Benilde vs. DeLaSalle and Providence vs. Minnehaha. We said (above) that Providence has probably the strongest claim early on to #1 overall status in Minnesota. Meanwhile, #3AA Minnehaha also impressed, beating Class AAAA Edina 75-32 as Addi Mack outscored the Hornets single-handedly with 37 points, and then edged #3AAA DeLaSalle 61-58.

Class A

#1 and defending state champion Mountain Iron-Buhl lost big to Roseville but, hey, they were playing up 3 classes. Their #1 rating is not in any danger just yet. But, Goodhue has moved back down from Class AA to Class A, where it won 2 state titles before moving up 4 years ago. Last year it finished #3 at the Class AA state tournament. Now, they’re rated #2A and represent the biggest threat to MIB.

My Top 20

So here goes: My top 20 regardless of class.

1. Providence Section 5AA

2. Hopkins AAAA lost to Dowling Catholic (IA) Section 6AAAA

3. Benilde-St. Margaret’s AAA lost to Provvidence Section 6AAA

4. Maple Grove 5AAAA

5. Minnetonka 2AAAA

6. Lakeville North 1AAAA with new/old coach Andy Berkvam

7. Wayzata 6AAAA

8. St. Michael-Albertville 8AAAA

9. Stewartville 1AAA

10. Roseville 4AAAA

11. Rosemount 3AAAA

12. Eden Prairie 2AAAA

13. Minnehaha 4AA

14. Prior Lake 2AAAA

15. DeLaSalle 4AAA

16. Andover 7AAA

17. Alexandria 8AAA

18. Champlin Park 5AAAA

19. Shakopee 2AAAA

20. Eastview 3AAAA

21. Albany 6AA

22. Stillwater 4AAAA

23. Delano 6AAA

24. Mountain Iron-Buhl 7A

25. Chanhassan 2AAAA

State Tournament Preview

Class AAAA

Hopkins defeats Andover

St. Michael-Albertville defeats Lakeville North

Maple Grove defeats Rosemount

Minnetonka defeats Roseville

Hopkins defeats St. Michael-Albertville in a rematch of last year’s final won by SMA 71-70

Minnetonka defeats Maple Grove

#3 Minnetonka (and former, long-time Hopkins coach Brian Cosgriff) defeats #1 Hopkins

Class AAA

Benilde defeats Grand Rapids

Alexandria defeats Totino-Grace

Stewartville defeats St. Paul Como

DeLaSalle defeats St. Peter

Benilde defeats Alexandria

DeLaSalle defeats Stewartville

DeLaSalle defeats Benilde

Class AA

We’ll jump to the semi-finals:

Providence defeats Crosby-Ironton

Albany defeats Minnehaha

Providence defeats Albany in a rematch of last year’s final

Class A

Starting with the semis:

Mountain Iron-Buhl defeats Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart

Goodhue defeats Hancock

Goodhue defeats Mountain Iron-Buhl