The South Suburban Conference has quickly become the league to beat during the winter sports season.

The 10-school conference has won four state championships and has three third-place finishes up to this point. It’s looking at add more.

“It’s been an incredible winter, and it hasn’t been just one sport,” Apple Valley activities director Pete Buesgens said. “The South Suburban Conference is second to none.”

The girls’ basketball tournament concludes the winter schedule this week, and the league has two of the top five seeded teams in Class 4A. Defending state champion Eastview is No. 2 and Shakopee is No. 5.

In the boys’ tournament this past week, the conference had three of the four semifinal teams in Apple Valley, Lakeville North and Shakopee. The Eagles went on to win the state title while Shakopee topped Lakeville North in the third-place game.

Wrestling was also a big winner for the conference. Apple Valley won its 10th consecutive Class 3A state crown while Prior Lake finished third. The league also boasted six of the 14 individual weight champions.

The Lakeville North boys’ hockey team won its first Class 2A state title, defeating Duluth East 4-1 in the finals. The Panthers (31-0) became only the 13th large school or single-class team and 17th overall to go undefeated and untied while winning the state tournament. They became the first large school to accomplish the feat since Bloomington Jefferson in 1992-93. Coach Trent Eigner’s squad was the state tournament runner-up the previous year.

The Eagan boys’ swimming team won the Class 2A championship for the first time in the history of the program. It won the title by 16 points despite not having an individual champion.

The other third-place finish went to Lakeville North’s gymnastics team.


Make it nine

The New Prague girls’ basketball team, which reached the Class 3A state tournament, is making the school’s ninth tournament appearance.

The No. 4-ranked Trojans defeated No. 6 Hill-Murray 58-38 for the Section 4 championship. Senior guard Jess Allar (18) and sophomore forward Taylor Hustad (16) combined for 34 points.

New Prague (24-4) will meet Kasson-Mantorville (28-2) in the quarterfinals at noon Wednesday at Mariucci Arena on the University of Minnesota campus. Coach Ron Gunderson guided the Trojans to the state championship in 2000.

Goalie honored

Burnsville goaltender Dyllan Lubbesmeyer was presented the Frank Brimsek award, given to the top senior boys’ high school hockey goalie in the state. Lubbesmeyer had a 2.47 goals-against average with four shutouts. The Blaze finished with an overall record of 15-11-2.


Ron Haggstrom • 612-673-4498