GRAND RAPIDS (18-3) VS. HOLY ANGELS ACADEMY (19-2)
What: Class AAA quarterfinal
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: St. Cloud Tech High School
Outlook: Grand Rapids is the North’s No. 4 seed while Holy Angels is No. 1. Grand Rapids is making its eighth state tournament appearance and first since 2018 when the Thunderhawks took third. Holy Angels, of Richfield, Minnesota, is making its ninth state tournament appearance and sixth straight since winning the Class AAA title in 2016. … Grand Rapids, ranked 16th in Class AAA, has won seven straight starting with a 63-55 victory over visiting Duluth Marshall, a Class AA state qualifier, on March 8. Holy Angels is ranked second and has won four straight since a 64-61 loss at St. Croix Lutheran, a Class AAA state qualifier ranked 10th. … Grand Rapids advanced with a 58-48 home victory over Chisago Lakes Thursday in the Section 7AAA championship as sophomore Kyra Giffen (13 points), freshman Braya LaPlant (12), sophomore Taryn Hamling (10) and senior Jenny Bowman (10) all reached double figures in scoring. It was the Thunderhawks’ 10th section final appearance in the last 11 years, only missing last season in a streak that dates to 2011. Hamling (17.8 ppg) and freshman Jessika Lofstrom (10.3 ppg) are tops in scoring for a squad that only features one senior contributor in bench spark plug Bowman (7.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.9 spg). … Holy Angels advanced with a 61-50 home victory Thursday over Benilde-St. Margaret’s in the Section 6AAA title game as the Stars raced out to a 37-22 halftime lead. Francesca Vascellaro led the way with 22 points while Rachel Kawiecki added 13 and Grace Massaquoi chipped in 12. Vascellaro, a 6-foot senior guard, leads the team at 18 points per game followed by Kassandra Caron (14.6 ppg) and Massaquoi (13.4 ppg). Kawiecki (7.9 rpg), a 6-foot senior forward, and Massaquoi (7.7 rpg), a 5-11 junior guard, are tops in rebounding for a team that could challenge Grand Rapids with its height.
“The girls are excited,” Thunderhawks coach Kris Hamling said. “It is a young team with no state experience whatsoever, but they are hungry and feel anything is possible if they play their game. Holy Angels is a fast pressing team so we will need to stay calm and move the ball quickly so we stay out of their traps and double teams.”
DULUTH MARSHALL (18-2) VS. PROVIDENCE ACADEMY (20-1)
What: Class AA quarterfinal
When: 5 p.m.
Where: St. Cloud Tech High School
Outlook: Duluth Marshall earned the North’s No. 3 seed while Providence Academy, of Plymouth, Minnesota, is No. 2. Duluth Marshall is making its third state tournament appearance and second straight. Providence Academy, the 2012 Class AA champon, is making its fifth appearance, all since 2011, and second straight. The Hilltoppers and Lions were set to meet in last year’s state semifinals before the tournament was cut short due to COVID-19. “While the makeup of both teams is different, it will be a fun matchup that’s been two years in the making,” said Lions coach Conner Goetz. … Duluth Marshall, ranked sixth in Class AA, has won four straight since a 63-55 loss at Grand Rapids, a Class AAA state qualifier. Providence Academy, ranked fifth, has won eight straight, with its only loss on the season being a 44-38 home loss Feb. 25 to Concordia Academy, the Section 4AA runner-up. … Duluth Marshall advanced with a 63-52 victory Friday in the Section 7AA championship at top-seeded Esko as senior forward Gianna Kneepkens scored 31 points and freshman Ava Meierotto added 14. They each hit four 3-pointers as the Hilltoppers, who led 38-22 at halftime, had 11 3-pointers compared to three for Esko. Kneepkens, a Utah recruit, now has 3,635 career points, fifth all-time in state annals. She is averaging a state-best 41.9 points per game this season. Meierotto and senior guard Merlea Mrozik, a Wisconsin-River Falls commit, are next, both averaging 10.4 points per game … Providence Academy pulled away for a 74-47 home victory over Southwest Christian Thursday in the Section 5AA championship game as seventh-grade sensation Maddyn Greenway scored 34 points to lead the Lions. Greenway, daughter of former Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl linebacker Chad Greenway, a 5-foot-6 guard, leads the way at 20.9 ppg but it’s certainly more than her as Grace Counts (13.5 ppg), Brooke Hohenecker (12.1 ppg) and Maria Counts (11.6 ppg) all average in double figures. The Counts sisters are big and mobile and are the granddaughters of Mel Counts, a former NBA player who played with legends like Bill Russell. “If we get them playing at our tempo we’ll be in good shape,” Marshall coach C.J. Osuchukwu said. “It’s another game like Esko where whoever controls the tempo wins. They are not deep and only play six girls. If we rebound and hold them under 55 points we should win.”
CASS LAKE-BENA (17-5) VS. MOUNTAIN IRON-BUHL (18-4)
What: Class A quarterfinal
When: 4:30 p.m.
Where: Pequot Lakes High School
Outlook: Cass Lake-Bena is the North’s No. 3 seed while Mountain Iron-Buhl is No. 2. Cass Lake-Bena is making its fourth state tournament appearance and first since 2005. MIB is making its 11th state tournament appearance as a co-op and 10th in the past 11 years after qualifying nine straight years from 2011-19 (Mountain Iron also qualified in 1978). … Cass Lake-Bena, ranked 10th in Class A, has won four straight since losing to MIB in the regular-season finale March 15 in Mountain Iron. The teams also met Jan. 18 in Mountain Iron, with the Rangers winning that contest 74-64. CLB has also played Class AA state qualifier Duluth Marshall, falling 80-75 March 5 in Duluth. MIB, meanwhile, is ranked seventh in Class A and has won six straight since a 91-63 loss March 8 at fellow Class A state qualifier Mayer Lutheran, ranked fifth. … Cass Lake-Bena advanced with a 65-55 victory over Stephen-Argyle in the Section 8A title game Friday in Thief River Falls as the Panthers forced 23 turnovers and got 19 points from Taryn Frazer. Frazer, a junior point guard, averages 16 points, five rebounds and six assists and is only 100 points away from 2000 for her career. The Panthers are very balanced, with junior small forward Krisalyn Seelye (15 ppg, 5 rpg, 2 apg), junior power forward Amira LaDuke (12 ppg, 9 rpg, 2 apg) and senior shooting guard Fineday (11 ppg, 3 rpg, 2 apg) also averaging in double figures in scoring. Eighth-grader Fineday (7 ppg, 4 rpg, 2 apg) provides a spark off the bench for a squad with only one senior starter. … MIB is coming off a convincing 60-28 victory over Cherry in the Section 7A title game Thursday in Mountain Iron as freshman guard Jordan Zubich continues to shine with 24 points on 9-for-10 shooting. Sophomore Sage Ganyo added 16 points and freshman Hali Savela also reached double figures with 10 points.
Zubich and Ganyo are averaging about 18 points apiece for the Rangers, who appear to be playing their best basketball after routing a good Cromwell-Wright team 71-38 in the section semifinals.