Archive for HJ Sports

STATE WRESTLING: Boese battles fourth-ranked Rue

HLWW seventh-grader Collin Boese held his own against one of the state's best wrestlers in Panesville's Shawn Rue.

HLWW seventh-grader Collin Boese held his own against one of the state’s best wrestlers in Panesville’s Shawn Rue.

ST. PAUL – Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted seventh-grade Collin Boese entered the Class A individual state tournament as one of three seventh-graders who qualified for the state tournament. At 132, Boese was the only junior high wrestler to reach state, as well.

In his first match, Boese had his hands full against Paynesville’s Shawn Rue, who is the No. 5 ranked wrestler in Class A at 132. Despite the huge task at hand, Boese did more than just hold his own. A takedown from Boese in the first period gave him an early 2-1 lead, but Rue salvaged one back on a late on an escape to cut the deficit to 2-1 after one period.

In period two, Boese held off Rue’s attempt at a pin, keeping his hopes alive as he trailed by just entering the third period. Rue showed worthy of his state ranking in the third period, controlling Boese throughout to earn hard-fought 7-3 decision.

Shawn Rue, the fifth-ranked wrestler in Class A at 132, showed off his experience in the third period against HLWW's Collin Boese.

Shawn Rue, the fifth-ranked wrestler in Class A at 132, showed off his experience in the third period against HLWW’s Collin Boese.



Shawn Rue (Paynesville) over Collin Boese (HLWW), dec, 7-3.

PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Section 5AA seeds announced

The seeds for the Section 5AA boys basketball tournament were announced Friday morning. Receiving the top seed were the Minneapolis North Polars. The Polars are 20-5 on the season, and are the No. 1 ranked team in Class AA.

Brooklyn Center (17-8) received the No. 2 seed, while Holy Family (17-8) is the No. 3 seed.

Below is look at all the seeds and the matchups for the first round of the Section 5AA boys basketball tournament.


1. Minneapolis North

2. Brooklyn Center

3. Holy Family

4. Breck

5. Maranatha Christian

6. Rockford

7. SW Christian

8. Litchfield

9. Providence Acad.

10. Blake

11. Watertown-Mayer

12. PACT Charter

13. HLWW

14. International School of MN


FIRST ROUND MATCHUPS – Thursday, March 8 (All Games at 7 p.m.)

(9) Providence Academy at (8) Litchfield

(10) Blake at (7) SW Christian

(11) Watertown-Mayer at (6) Rockford

(12) PACT Charter at (5) Maranatha Christian

(13) HLWW at (4) Breck

(14) International School of MN at (3) Holy Family

(2) Brooklyn Center – BYE

(1) Minneapolis North – BYE

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter for all news, scores, and in-game updates for the Section 5AA boys basketball tournament.

Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports 



STATE WRESTLING: Royals go 3-for-3 to open state tourney

ST. PAUL – It was a perfect start to the state tournament for three Watertown-Mayer wrestlers. Not only did Austin Gabbert, Zac Neaton, and Nick Nolan all advance, they did so in dominant fashion.

At 106, Gabbert wasted no time. It took just 39 seconds in for Gabbert to punch his ticket to the quarterfinals with a first-period pin as he kicked off his state tournament experience with a bang. He was all over Totino-Grace’s Michael Loger as he turned an early take town into an easy win to open his day.

Austin Gabbert come out firing in his first match of the Class AA state tournament. He took down Totino-Grace's Micael Loger with a first-period pin just 39 seconds into the match.

Austin Gabbert come out firing in his first match of the Class AA state tournament. He took down Totino-Grace’s Micael Loger with a first-period pin just 39 seconds into the match.

Gabbert moves on to Owen Werner of Perham in the 106 Class AA quarterfinals later today. Werner won his first match via a first-period pin, as well. It will be a good test for Gabbert in the quarterfinals as Werner is the No. 4 ranked wrestler at 106 for Class AA.

Neaton kept things rolling in the right direction for the Royals at 170. After controlling things in the first two periods, Neaton wrapped up a win with a third-period pin.

Senior Zac Neaton was in control of his match from the start as he moved on with a third-period pin.

Senior Zac Neaton was in control of his match from the start as he moved on with a third-period pin.

In the quarterfinals, Neaton will face Foley’s Justin Henry, who won his first match via 6-0 decision. Henry posts a record of 38-13, while Neaton’s record is 32-4.

To wrap up the action for the Royals in the first round, Nolan blanked Garrison’s Logan Theodore. Nolan came out victorious with a major decision (11-0), as the senior moves on to the quarterfinals.

Senior Nick Nolan wrapped up a great first round for the Royals with a major decision at 195.

Senior Nick Nolan wrapped up a great first round for the Royals with a major decision at 195.

Nolan will have his hands full in the Class AA quarterfinals as he will face off against Kasson-Mantorville’s Jim Paulson. Paulson is the No. 5 ranked wrestler at 195 in Class AA.





Austin Gabbert (W-M/ML) over Michael Loger (Totino-Grace), fall, 0:39.


Zac Neaton(W-M/ML) over Nehemiah Hammick (St. Croix Lutheran), fall, 4:45.


Nick Nolan (W-M/ML) over Logan Theodore (Garrison), MD, 11-0.


Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter to stay up to date with the W-M wrestling team today.


Winsted Wildcats hosting annual bowling fundraiser

WINSTED – It’s that time of the year again, and the Winsted Wildcats baseball club will be hosting its traditional bowling tournament. The tournament will take place Saturday, March 10 at Delano Lanes.

Check-in for the tournament begins at 12:15 p.m., while the competition will begin at 1 p.m. The cost is $30 for three games of bowling, and that includes shoe rental. Individual prizes will be given to the top bowlers of each game. Prizes include a pair of Winstock tickets and a customized fire ring. Proceeds will go towards the Winsted Wildcats baseball team. To sign up, email the team at


SECTION 2A BOYS BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Deep section provides great matchups in Section 2A Tournament

It’s that time of the year again, and Section 2A for boys basketball has the look of a mini state tournament with some of the top teams in Class A battling it out for just one berth in the state tournament. Of the 21 teams in Section 2A, six teams are currently ranked in the top-20 in Class A, and three are ranked in the top-10.

Section 2A promises to be one of the most exciting section tournaments in the state, despite being only Class A, as several teams have the capability to come away with the section title.

Players To

In the North Sub-Section, Mayer Lutheran unanimously received the No. 1 seed. In its first season under new head coach Patrick Buchanan, the Crusaders have shown enormous signs of growth this season. After going 15-10 overall, the Crusaders have posted an overall record of 23-3, which is the most wins since the 2009-10 season. Along with an impressive overall record, the Crusaders also clinched a share of the MN River Conference title with Jordan for the first time since 2014.

Getting the No. 2 seed in the North Sub-Section are the BOLD Warriors. Like the Crusaders, the Warriors are an improved team this season, as well. With the addition of Carter Henry this season, the Warriors are a legit threat to make a run for the Section 2A title.

After a hot close to the regular season, the New Ulm Cathedral Greyhounds earned the No. 3 seed. The Greyhounds (21-5, 14-2) won 16 of their 17 games this season, with the only loss coming to the No. 1 team in Class A in Springfield.

The Cleveland Clippers are the No. 4 seed and the No. 18  ranked team in Class A. Cedar Mountain/Comfrey is the No. 5 seed. The Cougars were ranked in the top-20 in Class A for most of the season, before falling out of the rankings in the last few weeks. MN Valley Lutheran is the No. 6 seed, and Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity received the No. 7 seed. Getting the No. 8 seed was Sleepy Eye Public. Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart is the No. 9 seed, while finishing things out is No. 10 Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s.

Below is an in-depth look at all the teams in Section 2A, including key players and statistics.

Mayer Lutheran


After completing one of the toughest schedules in the state, the Crusaders have shown what they are capable of. Not only do the Crusaders ride into playoffs on a 16-game winning streak, they’ve won big games all season long.

The Crusaders boast wins over Cleveland, BOLD, CM/C, Jordan, and Cass Lake-Bena, all who are or have been ranked this season in their respective classes.

On the other side, Mayer Lutheran’s three losses have come against some of the top teams in Class AA and AAA. Minnehaha Academy (No. 2 Class AA), St. Paul Johnson (No. 16 in Class AAA), and Jordan (No. 18 in Class AA) are the only teams that have knocked off Mayer Lutheran this season.

What’s been the biggest difference for the Crusaders from a season ago under Buchanan? There’s no doubt it’s their defense.

Last season, the Crusaders allowed more than 65 points a game. This season, the Crusaders have been locked in all year long, allowing just 55 points a game. Throughout Mayer Lutheran’s 16-game winning streak, the Crusaders have allowed just three teams to score more than 60 points in a game.

While the Crusaders have taken a big step forward on the defensive end, don’t sleep on their ability to score. The Crusaders are averaging almost 70 points a game, and can win in a variety of ways. The Crusaders have won shootouts like they did in a 79-76 win over CM/C, and they can also grind it out like they did in a 54-52 win against No. 4 Cass Lake-Bena.

The Crusader are also no stranger to close games. Of their 23 wins, eight of them have come by 10 points or less. The Crusaders also have been great in late-situations this season, recording last-second wins against SW Christian and Cass Lake-Bena.

Leading the way for the Crusaders this season has been senior Kobey Woolhouse and junior Baden Noennig. Woolhouse and Noennig are capable of taking a game over at any minute, while also putting up big numbers. Both reached 1,000 career points this season, as Woolhouse (14.6 PPG) and Noennig (17.8 PPG) have led the Crusaders on offense all season.

While Woolhouse and Noennig might be the top scorers, there’s no doubt that the Crusaders are one of the deepest teams in the state. Buchanan hasn’t been afraid to go to his bench at any point this season, as Mayer Lutheran’s depth has helped them remain consistent all season.

Senior Garrett Tjernagel will be a force to be reckoned with by any team with aspirations of knocking off Mayer Lutheran. At 6-foot-7, Tjernagel will stand above all players in the Section 2A tournament. The senior big man for Mayer Lutheran has only gotten better as the season has gone on. In the last nine games, Tjernagel has scored 10 or more points for the Crusaders giving Mayer Lutheran a consistent threat inside.

While Tjernagel takes care of business inside for Mayer Lutheran, senior Branden Carlson (8.3 PPG)  and junior Brendan Feltmann (5.2 PPG) can light it up for outside. Both Carlson and Feltmann have stepped up in key spots for the Crusaders all season long.

If having Feltmann and Carlson on the floor to knock down shots wasn’t enough, sharp shooter Cole Hagen has returned for Mayer Lutheran in the past few weeks. Hagen, a senior who was one of leaders in 3-pointers a season ago with 74, saw his first action since Christmas in Mayer Lutheran’s 74-69 win over Belle Plaine. Although he’s been playing limited minutes since returning, getting Hagen back gives Mayer Lutheran another shooter to help spread the floor.

Keep an eye on Matt Menth, Sawyer Kubasch, Kaleb Winter, and Zander Flucas as well for Mayer Lutheran. All four give the Crusaders great minutes when called upon, including Menth who’s been a starter all season long and is one of the top defenders on the team. If one of the main guys for Mayer Lutheran would be off, the Crusaders have plenty of players ready to contribute when called upon.



If there’s a team in Section 2A who can matchup with Mayer Lutheran’s athleticism, it’s the BOLD Warriors. The Warriors are a team that can be explosive on offense any night, as they are averaging more than 75 points a game.

Offensively, the Warriors feature a trio of players capable of a triple-double on any given night. With players like Henry and Gavin Vosika, as well as Drew and Jordan Sagedahl, the Warriors can light up the scoreboard.

Drew Sagedahl may be one of the best shooters in the section. He’s capable of monster games from deep. Against Montevideo, he went 10-for-10 from 3-point range. Vosika is also capable of a big game. Against Sauk Centre, Vosika posted a quadruple-double with 14 points, 12 rebounds, 13 assists, and 10 steals.

While Vosika can do it all at times, Henry is one of the most versatile players and a key player for opposing teams to keep an eye on. At 6-foot-7 with an insane vertical, and great ball handling, Henry is a tough matchup for any team in the state. If the Warriors make a deep run in the Section 2A tournament, Henry will be a big reason for it.

There’s no doubt the Warriors will be ready for postseason play this year after how last year ended. In the Sub-Section quarterfinals, BOLD came up just short in overtime against CM/C on a shot at the buzzer that got waved off.

Should a Mayer Lutheran and BOLD matchup come in the sub-section championship, watching Henry and Noennig battle it out would be worth the price of admission alone. The two look on course for a matchup, but with several other talented teams in the way, anything can happen. Mayer Lutheran defeated BOLD 66-63 earlier this season.

New Ulm Cathedral


If there’s ever a team that isn’t flashy, but yet continues to produce wins, it’s the New Ulm Cathedral Greyhounds. Season after season, the Greyhounds continue to produce quality teams and find themselves in the mix come playoff time.

This season, there’s a new face leading the way for the Greyhounds on the court. Senior Nathan Hauser leads the charge for the Greyhounds. Hauser might not be one of the more common names of players in this section, but nonetheless, he’s a big-time player.

Hauser scored his 1,000th career point this season, as he and the Greyhounds come into section play red hot. After a loss at LP/HT Dec. 19, the Greyhounds went 17-2 the rest of the way, with one of the losses coming to No. 1 Springfield.

With Alan Woitas pacing the sidelines for the Greyhounds, they’ll be a tough matchup to bounce this tournament. The Greyhounds thrive on defense as they allow just over 61 points a game.

Other key players to keep an eye on for the Greyhounds are Alex Hillesheim, Jon Zinniel, and Jacob Manderfeld. Offensively, the Greyhounds are a balanced bunch, having five guys who can score in double figures any night.



It’s another year, and once again the Cleveland Clippers are a team to be reckoned with. With seniors Carter Kopet, Austin Plonsky, and Mitch McCabe leading the way, the Clippers will be another tough out in the Section 2A tournament.

If there’s one thing the Clippers bring to the court that is tough to match, it’s experience. The past two seasons, the Clippers have reached the sub-section semifinals, including getting the Section 2A title game in 2016. The Clippers also won 20 games for the third season in a row.

Although Kopet might have lost a step after his injury that kept him out for the playoffs last season, he’s still one of the top players in the section. Kopet’s ability to use his body inside, along with his quickness, makes him a tough guard for opponents.

Keeping Plonsky is another player for the Clippers that team’s must key in on. With the ability to get hot at any minute, Plonsky can change a game in a hurry with his 3-point shooting ability. He holds the school record for 3-pointers in a game (11) and career 3 pointers, Plonsky is the school’s all-time leading scorer after a 30-point performance against Medford last week. Kopet is right behind Plonsky on the school’s all-time scoring list.

While Plonsky and Kopet might be the household names for the Clippers, McCabe is another threat to help propel the Clippers to a deep run. When McCabe gets hot from deep, that gives the Clippers another scary threat to deal with. If you want to knock off the Clippers, you’ll have to shoot the ball well. With Cleveland relying on a zone defense for much of the season, teams will have to work to be able to score inside the paint, or get hot from deep to gain the edge.



It’s been an up-and-down season for the Cougars so far. Despite that, the Cougars are the No. 5 seed coming into the Section 2A tournament. The Cougars were a top-20 team for much of the season in Class A, but with losses to New Ulm and New Ulm Cathedral, fell out of the rankings for the first time this season.

The Cougars made a run to the Section 2A title game last season where they fell short against Tomahawk Conference foe Springfield. With some new names and faces this season, the Cougars will be looking to get back there once again.

Lewis Pendleton and Dylan Hillesheim lead the way for the Cougars. Both have the ability to shoot the three, as well as get buckets inside the paint. Another player to keep an eye on for the Cougars is Matt Larsen.



Like the CM/C Cougars, the MVL Chargers have had their fair share of hiccups this season. Despite all that, the Chargers posted a record of 18-8 this season, and received the No. 6 seed in Section 2A.

Leading the way for the Chargers is Jake Kettner. He scored his 1,000th career point earlier this season, and is a big reason for the success of the Chargers this season.

Kettner is capable of putting up a big game and keeping the Chargers in games at times. He’s posted seven games with 23 or more points this season. Jace Marotz and Mason Cox are other key players to keep an eye on for the Chargers.



The Bulldogs of Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity have only gotten better as the season has gone on. After opening the season losing its first four games, the Bulldogs got things rolling in the right way with a big win over New Ulm Cathedral.

Since the win over the Greyhounds, the Bulldogs have had their ups and downs. Despite the inconsistent play, the Bulldogs closed out its regular season with a big win against Spectrum. The Bulldogs are 11-15 on the season overall, and are 2-1 against Section 2A opponents. The two wins came against New Ulm Cathedral and BLHS, while the lone loss came against top-seeded Mayer Lutheran.

Michael Ziermann leads the way for the Bulldogs on both ends of floor. Ziermann has improved his game a lot this season for the Bulldogs, which makes them a dangerous team to overlook. Whether Ziermann has his shot working or not, he’s still a threat to make plays. There’s no doubt he can score when needed, but he also can do everything else. In a dominating win over Lincoln International, Ziermann posted 21 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists for the Bulldogs. He’s also been very good in close games, including hitting the game-winner against BLHS to secure the No. 7 seed. Ziermann also recorded his 1,000th career point this season.

While Ziermann might be the leader for the Bulldogs, there’s a lot of nice pieces around him. Junior Dylan Ruzicka might come into the section tourney as one of the hottest shooters from 3-point range. Ruzicka has been on fire for the Bulldogs of late. On the season, Ruzicka has knocked down more than 40 3-pointers including three games this season with five or more in a game.

Sophomore Evan Lee is another shooter who can give the Bulldogs an extra scoring threat. He’s also knocked down more than 40 3-pointers this season, and is capable of getting hot, as well.

Other key players to keep an eye on for the Bulldogs are Parker Bayerl, Tyler Scheevel, and Leighton Buhr.

Bayerl gives the Bulldogs a unique talent that can play inside and outside. He’ll need to be able convert his inside shots though if the Bulldogs want to make a run.

Scheevel, although not a big offensive threat, is one the top defenders in the section. He’s got the ability to shut down a team’s best player just like he did against BLHS.

Buhr also gives the Bulldogs solid minutes on both ends of the floor, and as a senior, has been the calming presence on the floor this season for LP/HT.

Sleepy Eye


The Sleepy Eye Indians come into the Section 2A tournament as a sleeper team. Despite an 11-15 overall record, the Indians can play with some of the best. The Indians have played the top teams in the Tomahawk Conference tough this season, including giving Springfield a battle in an 85-77 loss.

The Indians bring a nice balance to the floor offensively. Ben Laffen, Nathan Walter, Zach Haala, Carter Brinkmann, Avery Stevens, Jose Ibarra, and Kegan Heiderscheidt all are capable of scoring in double digits for the Indians. Laffen is one of the top-shooters from deep on the team, as the Indians can mix it up from inside and outside.

If the Indians are going to make a run here in the postseason, they’ll need everyone to contribute. Lacking a player who can truly take over a game, the Indians will rely on its balanced attack to make a run.



The BLHS Mustangs enter the Section 2A tournament with a record of 7-18 this season. While the record for BLHS might not be that impressive, they’ve been in games despite losing 11 of their last 12 games. The Mustangs fell to LP/HT at the buzzer, and lost 54-52 to Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop.

Trent Weispfennig is the player to watch for the Mustangs. He was one of the top scorers in the Tomahawk Conference, and a 20-point performance from him is not out of the ordinary.



As the Section 2A tournament kicks off, the Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s Knights will be looking for their first win. It’s no secret that the Knights have had its troubles this season. With just two seniors on the roster, the Knights have had to rely on young talent to keep the team a float this season.

Nick Labat is the player to watch for the Knights. Although just a sophomore, Labat has been on the varsity since eighth grade, and is one of the most experienced players for the Knights.


There’s no doubt the Springfield Tigers are the favorite to repeat as Sub-Section champions. The Tigers are the No. 1 ranked team in Class A, and are the defending Section 2A champs, as well.

Led by Tanner Vogel and Isaac Fink. The two might be  one of the most dynamic duos in the state, each capable of posting a huge game. Other key players for the Tigers to keep an eye on are Derek Scheffler and Mitchell Buerkle.

Other teams that can’t be overlooked in the south are St. Clair and Mountain Lake. St. Clair is led by Mitch Weber, who is one of the top big men in the section. Mountain Lake features a balanced attack offensively, as that has helped the Wolverines pick up 19 wins this season.

To stay updated on all things related to the Section 2A tournament, stay connected with Herald Journal and Kip Kovar.

Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports 


SECTION 5AA GIRLS BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Section 5AA title up for grabs with multiple contenders

There’s not many sections across the state that can say they are as loaded as Section 5AA is for girls basketball this season. Section 5AA features five teams that been have been, or are, ranked in Class AA this season.

Along with five teams that have proven worthy of state recognition throughout the year, there’s another four to six teams that are capable of pulling off some upsets.


At the top of Section 5AA lies the Holy Family Fire. The Fire, the Section 5AA runner-ups last season, are back at the top once again, as they look for its second state tournament appearance in three years.

Joining Holy Family near the top are Maranatha Christian Academy and Watertown-Mayer.

Maranatha Christian is in its first season of making the jump to Class AA after dominating its competition in Class A. The Mustangs have reached the state tournament the last eight seasons at the Class A level, including two runner ups and two state titles. In its first year at the Class AA level, the Mustangs have the talent and chance to make it nine-straight trips to the state tournament.

Also looking to get back to state tournament once again are the Watertown-Mayer Royals. The Royals, the No. 3 seed and the defending Section 5AA champions, have surprised a lot of people with their success this season, despite losing several key players from last year’s team that took third place at the Class AA state tournament.

Other teams to keep an eye on that can surprise are Annandale, Minneapolis North, Maple Lake, Providence Academy, Rockford, and SW Christian. While those teams have the higher seeds, there’s still other teams in this section who have proven they can play with, and beat, some of the better teams in this section.

Below is an in-depth look at each of the teams in the Section 5AA tournament including key players and statistics. The Section 5AA tournament kicks off Thursday, March 1 with the high seeds hosting.

Holy Family


The Fire have been one of the most consistent teams in Section 5AA this season, and they’ve also played one of the toughest schedules in the state on top of that. On the schedule for the Fire this season have been Watertown-Mayer (No. 13 in Class AA), Rush City (No. 5 in Class AA), Annandale (currently unranked), Stewartville (No. 8 in Class AA), Maranatha Christian (No. 3 in Class AA), Norwood Young America (No. 7 in Class AA), Robbinsdale Cooper (No. 1 in Class AAA), and Hutchinson (No. 8 in Class AAA) twice. Of the eight losses for the Fire this season, six have came against those ranked teams.

A big reason for the success of the Fire has been their ability to defend. The Fire are allowing just 44.7 points a game this season, which ranks among the top in Section 5AA.

At times, the Fire can struggle on offense. They averaged just 48.2 points a game, but with the way they defend, the Fire always seem to be in games no matter the opponent.

The Fire boast a nice balance on the offensive end of the floor. Leigh Steiner leads the way averaging 13 points a game. Steiner isn’t the only player who can be relied on to score the for the Fire.

Shea Thompson (8.6 PPG), Julia Geurs (9.9 PPG), and Grace Conroy (8.3 PPG) all are proven scorers for the Fire. Thompson is capable of going off for the Fire like she did against Waconia with a season-high 23 points.

With the balance and experience the Fire bring to the floor, they’ll be a tough out in the Section 5AA tournament, and one of the favorites to claim the section title.



There might not be a scarier team to face than the Maranatha Christian Mustangs in the Section 5AA tournament. The Mustangs, a team that is not only deep, but also experienced, are the No. 3 ranked team in Class AA, and rightfully so. Led by an experienced group of seniors, the Mustangs are one of the most complete teams in Section 5AA.

The Mustangs (22-4) are led by a pair of seniors in Jaclyn Jarnot and Kyle Post. Both Jarnot and Post will be playing college basketball next season, and have plenty of experience and skill to lead the Mustangs to another state tournament appearance.

Jarnot, a Monmouth University commit, has been the leader for the Mustangs for some time. She’s a double-double machine, and has the ability to create mismatches for any team the Mustangs face. With Jarnot’s ability to post up inside, as well as knock down outside shots, she’s a tough guard for anyone. She’s averaging 17.8 points and 11.7 rebounds a game this season. Although she doesn’t shoot many, Jarnot is a threat from deep, connecting on 14 of her 17 attempts this season.

While Jarnot takes care of business inside and out, Post is a lot to deal with as well on the perimeter. Try and press Post and the Mustangs, and she’ll make you pay. Fall back into the half court, and Post will run the offense to perfection.

Post is averaging 14.2 points a game, 6.8 rebounds a game, and 3.6 assists a game, as she can do it all on the court. Post’s ability to see the court makes her dangerous all over, and just has a knack for making the right play.

Along with the two seniors leading the way, the Mustangs feature other key players such as Macy Smith, Breianna Smestad, and Kae Seana-Barth-Lofton. Smith, just a freshman, has proved she can handle her own at the varsity level. At 5-foot-8, Smith has the ability to overpower defenders with her height and speed.

Smestad and Seana-Barth-Lofton also add some depth to the scoring for the Mustangs. Both have made big plays when needed,  as the Mustangs have lost just three times this season.

If you want to beat the Mustangs, it’s no secret that you need to get back on defense. The Mustangs are a team that lives on fast-break points and loves to get easy looks in transition. In a 93-78 win over Mayer Lutheran, the Mustangs got easy looks all game long and scored 84 points in the paint.

What makes the Mustangs so tough is that head coach Chris Buerman isn’t afraid to go the bench. It’s not uncommon for the Mustangs to have 10 or more girls see the court. Even if you stop or contain some of MCA’s biggest threats, there’s multiple girls ready to come off the bench and contribute anyway they can.



There’s no bigger surprise than the Watertown-Mayer girls basketball team this season and the success they’ve had. After losing Claire Killian and Kirstin Klitzke,  who are both career 2,000-point scorers, the Royals are once again looking to get back to the state tournament.

While it may be a surprise to some of the success the Royals have had, it really shouldn’t be, knowing the Royals have senior Monika Czinano on the roster this year. Czinano has been having a monster season this year for the Royals, and is a walking double-double.

The University of Iowa commit has been fantastic all season long for Watertown-Mayer. Czinano has scored 20 or more points 12 times this season, including scoring 36 in a game twice this season.

While Czinano leading the way is no surprise, it’s been the play of W-M’s guards that helped them win another Wright County West Conference title this season. Emma Ragner, Grace Knutson, Emma Maas, and Maggie Czinano have all stepped their games up big-time this year for the Royals. While Ragner gets the offense rolling by running the point for the most part. Mass and Maggie Czinano have taken big steps forward in the scoring column this season.

Maggie Czinano (9.2 PPG) saw some time as an eighth-grader at the state tournament for the Royals last season, and has only gotten better as the season has gone on. She’s become a legitimate threat to score, and a tough matchup, as well, with her size and quickness.

Maas (7.3 PPG) and Ragner (5.4 PPG) have also stepped up their games, as well. Maas has become one of the better shooters from deep on the team, while Ragner’s overall ability to get the offense going has been a key for the Royals all season. The Royals also rely a lot on Knutson for all sorts of things. She’s one of the best rebounders on the team, and has also vastly improved her offensive game.

Along with those players who have been the leaders all season, the Royals have got great production from their bench throughout the season. Libby Heilmann, Shelby Mueller, and Jena Barden have all made their contributions for the Royals this season.

With Monika Czinano leading the charge inside, W-M coach John Rosholt has got to like the direction his team is headed, as they look to make it back-to-back state tournament appearances. The Royals have battled ranked teams all season long, and should be ready to handle the battle that’s ahead of them in Section 5AA.

North Polars


The Polars of Minneapolis North are another team making the jump to Class AA this season. Like the Mustangs, the Polars have been a Class A team for the past few seasons, and are in its first year of competing at the Class AA level.

The Polars are 17-8 this season overall, and are the No. 4 seed in the Section 5AA tournament.

Monique Wooten is the player to watch for the Polars. She’s averaging better than 17 points per a game this season, and is a tough matchup to deal with. Her ability to drive and finish at the rim makes her a tough guard, as she is shooting 56 percent (118-for-210) from the field this season.

Tiffany McNeil (14 PPG) and Alexandria McNeil (10.4 PPG) are two other players to keep an eye on for the Polars.

The Polars are coming into the Section 5AA tournament after an impressive 53-47 win against the fourth-ranked team in Class AAA DeLaSalle. The Polars will look to keep things rolling the Section 5AA tournament as they are a top-four seed.


While not ranked currently in the top-20 in Class AA, the Cardinals are a tough team to matchup against when you need a win. Despite losing four of its last six games to close out the season, the Cardinals are a deep and an experienced team.

The Cardinals hold wins against Watertown-Mayer and New London-Spicer this season, who are both ranked in Class AA. A tough conference schedule also has the Cardinals prepared for what’s headed its way in the postseason.

Hannah Purcell and Allie Spaulding give the Cardinals an edge against most teams they face. Purcell (6-foot-1) and Spaulding (6-foot-2) present a lot of matchup problems for both teams. Both Purcell and Spaulding can bang inside and score, while also stepping on the perimeter and stretching out the defense.

Purcell is averaging almost 15 points a game this season, and can do it all. She can post up, shoot the three, and drive to the basket, which makes her a tough matchup with her size. Spaulding is averaging just under 10 points a game, but has the ability to take over a game,

Other key players for the Cardinals to keep an eye on are Taylor Medvec, Grace Atkinson, and Briana Canesi. Like the Royals, playing in the WCC West will have the Cardinals ready for the physicality and competition they’ll see in the Section 5AA tournament.

Maple Lake


You’d be hard-pressed to find a team that’s playing better heading into the postseason than Maple Lake. The Irish are 18-7 on the season, and won their last seven games to roll into the postseason on a good note. In that seven-game winning streak, the Irish have knocked off good teams, such as Watertown-Mayer, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, and Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity.

While the Irish are playing well lately, senior Linsey Rachel has been a big reason why. She’s playing some of her best ball of the season, including when she scored 29 points to knock off Watertown-Mayer.

Rachel is a player who simply does it all for the Irish. She can score, rebound, defend, and get her teammates involved, as she is one of the most important players on the team.

Other key players to watch for on the Irish squad are Mackenna Brown, Gracey Heying, Calli Maki, and Mollie Scheiber.



Providence Academy comes into the Section 5AA tournament as the No. 7 seed. The Lion, who are 15-10 this season overall, have had its ups and downs this season. Despite all that, they are coming into the postseason playing well as they have won six of their last seven games, including wins over Delano, Breck, and Orono. It’s only loss in that stretch came to Minnehaha Academy.

Anna Counts is the player to watch for the Lions. The 6-foot-2 senior leads the Lions in scoring, and is averaging 18.5 points per game this season. Against Minnehaha Academy, one of the top-ranked teams in Class AA, Counts poured in a season-high 35 points.

Maggie Murphy and Hailey Hohenecker are two other players to keep an eye on for the Lions, as they look to continue to play well and make a run in the Section 5AA tournament.

SW Christian2

Like the Lions, the SW Christian Stars are another sleeper team to keep an eye one. At 15-11 on the season, the Stars have won several games against good competition, as well as giving other teams all they could handle and more.

Against the No. 1 seed Holy Family, the Stars gave the Fire all they could handle in a 41-37 loss. The Stars have also played well against good teams like Mayer Lutheran, Maranatha Christian, and Minnehaha Academy.

For the Stars, guards Grace Schmidt and Sydney Beard have big keys to the success this season. Both Beard (10.3 PPG) and Schmidt (10.1 PPG) can knock down the three, as well as get in the lane. They can both score in bunches as both have posted season-highs of 23 points.

Another play to watch for is Brenna Krommendyk, who gives the Stars some size inside, and also has a nice touch to be able to finish in traffic.



The Rockford Rockets (13-13) may not have the record of a great team, but they are a team you can’t overlook. Playing in the WCC West, the Rockets faced off against tough competition all season long. The Rockets have losses to Annandale twice, Watertown-Mayer, Holy Family, all by a combined 32 points.

Sydney Manthana is the girl that leads the way for the Rockets. She’s averaging better than 12 points per game, and is the leading scorer on the team this season. Other players on the radar for the Rockets that will be relied upon are Samantha Fitzsimmons, Neely Griffin, and Logan Heinrich.

Rockford will take on SW Christian in the always entertaining No. 8 vs. No. 9 game.



The Blake Bears start the list of teams under .500 entering the Section 5AA tournament. At 12-14 this season, the Bears have had the definition of a back-and-forth season. The Bears have not won more than two games in a row. They also have not lost more than two games in a row this season.

Cate Moe leads the attack for the 10th-seeded Bears. Moe is averaging 15.6 points a game this season. She’s not only the player on the roster who can score, though.

Robbie Grace (10.3 PPG) and Rachel Winkley (10.2 PGG) are also proven scorers for the Bears. Winkley is a threat to watch from deep, as she leads the team in 3-pointers with 41.



After a nice start to the season, the Breck Mustangs had its struggles. The Mustangs won four of its first five games this season, before ending the season with a 9-11 record overall, and the No. 11 seed in the Section 5AA tournament.

The Mustangs have struggled to score all season long, averaging just 43 points a game. With the struggles on offense all season, Allie Murphy has carried the load for the Mustangs. She’s the team’s leading scorer, and will be relied on once again in the postseason if the Mustangs want to make a run and pull of some upsets.



The Lakers are one of the most improved teams in Section 5AA this season. Although an 11-15 record doesn’t sound like much, it’s a big step forward for the Lakers, who won just three games a season ago.

The elevated play of CJ Decker and Alexa Schumann has been a big reason for the success of the Lakers this season. Schumann was one of the top-scorers in the Central MN Conference this season, while Decker has the ability to make big plays in the clutch,  and be able to get her teammates involved.

Schumann (15 PPG) and Decker (13 PPG) will need to carry the load for the Lakers in this tournament, but the Lakers also have other players who can step up and help carry the load.

Senior Lily DeBoer has been a steady presence for the Lakers on both ends of the floor. She’s averaging 7.8 points per game, 8 rebounds per game, and 2.4 assists per game.

Other key players that the Lakers will need to contribute are Jenna Benson, Courtney Long, and Erin Luchsinger.

Brooklyn Center


The Brooklyn Center Centaurs enter the Section 5AA tournament as the No. 13 seed, with a record of 16-5 this season.

The Centaurs are led by a balanced attack from Shamia Hudson, Maleah Confair, and Rachel Sulonteh.



The Patriots come in with just three wins on the season, and have lost its last 13 games entering the Section 5AA Tournament.

They’ve had their struggles all season long, averaging just 35.3 points a game.

Ashantae Braxton and Cynthia Robinson are the two players to keep an eye on for the Patriots.



The Lions from PACT Charter are another team who has had struggles this season. They come into the Section 5AA tournament with a record of 4-21.

Players to watch for the Panthers are Lauren Erickson and Sophie Willems.



To stay updated on everything that has to do with the Section 5AA tournament, stay connected with Herald Journal. Also, follow Kip Kovar on Twitter for news, scores, in-game updates and more all tournament long.

Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports 


SEction 5AA GBB BRacket