For the first time since the Minnesota State High School League went to a four-class tournament in 1997, there are two undefeated teams in the largest-school bracket. Both No. 1-seeded Hopkins (29-0) and No. 2-seeded Elk River (29-0) had to overcome second-half deficits in the section finals to keep their unblemished records intact. The last time there were two undefeated teams in any state tournament bracket was in Class 2A in 2003 (Albany and Worthington).
Fourth time’s a charm
Elk River had lost three consecutive Section 8 championship games before finally pulling out an 84-73 victory over Moorhead last week. The senior-laden Elks won despite losing leading scorer Gabi Haack, who fouled out with five minutes left. “I knew my teammares would pull it out,” she said. “They said ‘We’re not letting this happen again.’ ”
2016 finals rematch
Just like in the Class 2A boys’ hockey tournament quarterfinals, the quarterfinals feature a Lake Conference rematch of the 2016 final when Minnetonka faces Hopkins. The Skippers won that game 61-52, but Hopkins has won both meetings this season by double-digit margins.
End of an era
This tournament signals the end of a terrific core of players at Park Center. Guards Ann Simonet and Danielle Schaub and center Mikayla Hayes all started for the Pirates in their run to consecutive 2014 and 2015 Class 3A championships. Seniors now, they have led Park Center to back-to-back state tournament appearances since it moved up to Class 4A before last season.
Eastview’s college crowd
Eastview, making its sixth appearance, has six players who will be college athletes. Five will play college basketball — seniors Rachel Ranke (Kansas State), Allie Pickrain (Winona State), Miranda Crenshaw (Southern Connecticut) and Kierra Walker (Jamestown, N.D.) and junior Megan Walstad (Wis.-Milwaukee). Senior Claudia Pueschner will play soccer at Augustana.