DULUTH EAST (16-3) VS. WAYZATA (16-2)
What: Class AAAA quarterfinal
When: 4 p.m.
Where: Osseo High School
Outlook: This matchup was supposed to be played March 13 but was called off at the last minute due to COVID-19 precautions. Now the Greyhounds, seeded third in the North bracket, match their seven-game win streak against Wayzata’s 11-game run. East beat Coon Rapids 74-60 to win its first Section 7AAAA title since 2012 and qualify for its 14th overall state tournament. While Coon Rapids concentrated on stopping the Minnesota Duluth-bound pair of Noah Paulson and Mattie Thompson, guard Giovani Saldivar pumped in 24 points and made seven 3-pointers. Paulson, the 6-foot-9 senior center who was a Mr. Basketball semifinalist, averages about 18 points and 9 rebounds a game. East, which is able to compete at a fast-paced tempo, has improved defensively during its win streak, not allowing over 60 points in any of its last six games. … The second-seeded Trojans are making their sixth state trip and third in the last four tournaments after winning Section 6 with a tough 67-59 victory over Robbinsdale Cooper. Camden Heide (18.2 points per game) paces the team in scoring and is helped by Eddie Beeninga and Carter Bjerke (both 14.4).
Quote: “We’ve already watched a lot of film on them; we know who they are. Obviously they are going to be a tall task for us, but we feel like we are already prepared. … The guys were really upset that we didn’t get to play them and now we get to use that as a little bit of fuel.” — East coach Rhett McDonald on Wayzata
HIBBING (16-3) VS. DELASALLE (14-5)
What: Class AAA quarterfinal
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: St. Cloud Tech High School
Outlook: The Bluejackets, seeded third in the North bracket, ended a 32-year state tournament drought by dominating Princeton 80-59 in the Section 7AAA final for their seventh consecutive win. Senior guard Ayden McDonald (17.9 ppg, Northland-leading 11.7 assists per game) had a team-high 24 points in that game, while Parker Maki (12.9, 8.1 rebounds per game) continued his recent stellar play with 23 points. Tre Holmes (15.1 ppg) and Mayson Brown (14.7) both can light it up from outside. Hibbing is a good ballhandling and free-throw shooting team that can hold on to leads. While this marks the Bluejackets’ 11th state qualification, the alma mater of Kevin McHale has gone only once (1989) since the Hall of Famer graduated. Coach Joel McDonald, now in his 22nd season at the helm, even went as a player at Chisholm (1991) since Hibbing’s previous state berth. … The second-seeded Islanders are a tough out at playoff time. They beat Mound Westonka 59-50 in the Section 6 final to qualify for their 26th state tournament since the Minneapolis-based school’s first appearance in 1975. DeLaSalle has won 12 titles since, including seven of the past eight Class AAA crowns. Dartmouth University recruit Cade Haskins (15.6 ppg), Nasir Whitlock (13.9) and Evan Boyd (13.6) lead a balanced-scoring offense that is predicated upon the team’s pressure defense.
Quote: “(DeLaSalle) likes to put a lot of pressure on the ball and try to get you into situations where you are uncomfortable. We’ve been spending years going down to the metro, even during their days in fourth, fifth and sixth grade basketball, so this shouldn’t be something that surprises them. Generally, we match up well with them and one of the keys is how we take care of the ball. If the game speeds up, which I’m sure it will, we just have to be ready to follow that with good decision-making.”
MOOSE LAKE-WILLOW RIVER (18-3) VS. MINNEAPOLIS NORTH (14-1)
What: Class AA quarterfinal
When: 1 p.m.
Where: Osseo High School
Outlook: The third-seeded Rebels are back at state for the first time since the school’s debut appearance in 2005. They stretched their win streak to seven with a 57-51 victory at Pequot Lakes in the Section 7AA final. Leading scorer Mason Olson had 19 points and Sam Dewey had 15 off the bench. Olson and Brady Watrin, the Polar League MVP, and the rest of the seniors have been looking forward to this moment for a long time. All but one of the regulars play for a football team whose season was cut short by COVID-19. The Rebels won’t be afraid of getting into a shootout since they lead the state with an 85.1-points per game average. … The second-seeded Polars earned their 23rd state berth with an 84-47 rout of Holy Family Catholic in the Section 5AA title game. North has won seven championships (the most recent two in Class A). The team’s lone loss this year came to three-time defending Class AA champion Minnehaha Academy. Willie Wilson (17.5 ppg) and 6-7 Davon Townley (14.9 ppg) are the primary scorers but the team is loaded with height with 6-6 Marcus Owens and lightning quick guards.
Quote: “They’re big, they’re fast, they’re athletic. They’re big, did I say that already? They are a really good basketball team. I watched some film on them, and film doesn’t always tell you everything. Guys don’t look quite as fast on film as they do in person, but these guys look fast on film. We’re definitely going to have our hands full.” — Rebels coach Wes Cummins
BADGER/GREENBUSH-MIDDLE RIVER (19-3) VS. DEER RIVER (20-2)
What: Class A quarterfinal
When: 6 p.m.
Where: Pequot Lakes High School
Outlook: The Gators, seeded third in the North bracket, clawed through Section 8A, beating Cass Lake-Bena 55-48 in the final after edging Stephen-Argyle 53-52 in the quarterfinals. The Gators enter their first tournament since the school’s debut in 2007 on a 10-game win streak. Adam Benke is the go-to-player on offense, while the defense (51.1 ppg) has been stout all season. … The second-seeded Warriors enter as one of the hottest teams in the state, winning their 18th straight in a 60-42 win over Nashwauk-Keewatin in the Section 7A championship game. Leading scorers Ty Morrison (20.1 ppg) and Mikhail Wakonabo (18.2 ppg) combined for 45 points in the win that sent Deer River to its first state tournament. Tait Kongsjord (8.3 rpg) and Wakonabo (7.7) dominate the boards.
Quote: “They are a well-coached team and senior dominated. They are a very sound team, they take care of the basketball and play good half-court man defense. They will be tough to beat. I think tempo will say everything in this game. If they can slow us down, they’re going to have a shot at beating us. If we can run the floor, I think we can beat anybody.” — Deer River coach David Olson, who once upset BGMR when he coached at Northome-Kelliher.