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Where: Xcel Energy Center
Southern surprises: Lakeville North, ranked No. 1, is the undisputed surprise team in Class 2A. The Panthers have been undefeated since mid-December and posted impressive victories against Hill-Murray, Burnsville and Duluth East. But the Cinderella team is less than 20 miles from the Iowa border. Luverne (23-0-1) hopes to cap an undefeated regular season, win Class 1A, Section 3 and advance to its first-ever state tournament.
TV history: Veteran broadcaster Gary Thorne will handle TV play-by-play duties for the Class 2A tournament at Xcel Energy Center. Broadcast partner Lou Nanne will be attending his 50th boys’ hockey state tournament.
Tyus Time again?
When: March 12-15
Where: Target Center, Williams Arena
Packing them in: Apple Valley senior point guard and Duke recruit Tyus Jones is the main reason 13,309 fans — the largest crowd since the advent of four classes in 1997 — watched the Eagles win the big-school title a year ago. It would be only fitting to watch him in the finals one last time.
Fashion statement: Two-time defending Class 3A champ DeLaSalle’s school colors are black and gold. Islanders coach Dave Thorson always patrols the sideline in black from head to toe. If his team goes for its third consecutive title at Target Center, perhaps he could switch to gold, considering it’s an Olympic year.
Carlie The Great
When: March 18-22
Where: Target Center, U of M
Another tourney legend? The girls’ tournament is known for making legends of elite outstate players such as Janet Karvonen, Kelly Skalicky and Rebekah Dahlman. In that vein comes NRHEG’s Carlie Wagner, a scoring machine and U of M recruit who led the Panthers to the Class 2A title last year. Wagner’s instant offense and likable demeanor make her a fan favorite.
New faces at the top: Hopkins and DeLaSalle have owned the two largest classes for the past three years. Continuing their reigns is far from certain. Eastview has knocked Hopkins out of its traditional top spot in Class 4A. Meanwhile, a still-green DeLaSalle team in Class 3A has struggled to remain above .500.