TODAY'S PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL PLAYOFF GAMES
GRAND RAPIDS (20-7) VS. CHISAGO LAKES AREA (17-11)
What: Section 7AAA final
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Cambridge-Isanti High School
Outlook: Top-seeded Grand Rapids is going for its seventh state tournament appearance and third straight, while third-seeded Chisago Lakes is going for its fourth. The Thunderhawks are ranked seventh in Class AAA while Chisago Lakes isn't ranked. The teams met Jan. 6 in Grand Rapids, with Chisago Lakes winning 68-60 after the Thunderhawks got into foul trouble and two of their top scorers were held to four points apiece. ... Grand Rapids, which has won six straight, advanced with an 83-60 victory over Hibbing in Saturday's semifinals as senior guard Heaven Hamling had a career-high 40 points. Hamling, a Stephen F. Austin commit who leads the Thunderhawks at 22.7 points per game, was 7-for-13 from 3-point range. While Hamling is Grand Rapids' go-to player, the Thunderhawks have enough balance to keep defenses honest, with juniors Hannah DeMars and Meara Beighley, and senior Maggie Miska, all averaging at least nine points per game. ... After stumbling with three straight losses in mid-February, Chisago Lakes has rattled off three straight wins, including a 72-65 semifinal victory at Hermantown on Saturday as senior guard Carmen Backes had 23 points and junior guard Sarah Bjelland added 19. Backes leads with Wildcats at 22.6 points and 13.1 rebounds per game.
Radio: KOZY-AM 1320
MOUNTAIN IRON-BUHL (27-2) VS. BIGFORK (25-3)
What: Section 7A final
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Romano Gym
Outlook: Mountain Iron-Buhl's domination of the section started in 2011, and the Rangers have been the team to beat ever since, winning seven straight. Top-seeded MIB is vying for its ninth state tournament appearance as a co-op (Mountain Iron and Buhl both advanced separately in the late '70s), while second-seeded Bigfork is hoping to make its second appearance. The Rangers are ranked No. 2 in Class A while the Huskies aren't ranked. The teams met twice during the regular season, with the Rangers winning 59-40 at home on Dec. 28 and 72-37 on the road on Feb. 15. ... MIB has a habit of making good teams look bad, advancing with a 68-21 victory over Floodwood on Tuesday as the Rangers led 47-7 at the half. It was their seventh straight win. Senior Mary Burke, a Minnesota-Crookston recruit, led the Northland in scoring at 26 points per game, while also being one of the top rebounders at 10 per game. Juniors Allie Negen, Madisen Overbye and Macy Savela all average double figures in scoring. The Rangers pride themselves on full-court pressure defense, averaging nearly 20 steals per game. "Bigfork is good. Not too many Class A teams can put five players on the floor that can score, but they can," MIB coach Jeff Buffetta said. ... Bigfork edged Cromwell-Wright 38-34 on Tuesday as
Senior forward Emma Rauzi scored 16 points. Junior guard Kia Tower leads the Huskies with 15 points, five assists and four steals per game, followed by Haley Grover (11 ppg, 6 rpg), Lexi Becker (12 ppg, 3 apg, 3 spg) and Rauzi (11 ppg). All four are shooting over 45 percent and have topped 1,000 career points. "MIB is such a well coached, fundamentally sound team that we're going to be composed and handle their pressure," Bigfork coach Greg Powell said.
Radio: KMFY-FM 96.9