GIRLS’ BASKETBALL: METRO TOP 10
The Royals lost a Division I player in senior center Liz Bulver, who moved to Kansas, but still have enough talent to run away with the Class 4A title.
A Lake Conference rival of the Royals, the deep and talented Skippers are the team with best shot to take them down. The continued improvement of senior Lizzie Odegard will be crucial.
3. Elk River
The Elks have four starters back in post Abi Scheid, forward Sidney Wentland and guards Gabi Haack and Ava Kramer. Together they accounted for 48 points per game in 2014-15.
The Hornets feature one of the metro’s most physically imposing front lines on the court with 6-foot-5 post Baily Helgren, 6-2 wing Annika Jank and 5-10 win Siri Veker.
5. St. Michael-Albertville
The most underrated program in Class 4A. The Knights have made the state tournament six times in the last seven years and have the talent, led by 6-1 guard Sydney Tracy, to do it again.
6. Park Center
The Pirates will take a few lumps with the move to Class 4A, but guards Ann Simonet and Danielle Schaub are cool under pressure and will relieve the pressure on center Mikaya Hayes.
It starts with 6-2 senior guard Taylor Koenen, a do-it-all type whose myriad skills force teams to shift defenses her way. That should benefit seniors Caleigh Rodning and Annie Rhinesmith.
8. Orono (3A)
The Spartans were undefeated for much of 2014-15 and finished 30-2, claiming the Class 3A third-place title. Four starters are back, led by 6-4 center Meghan Mandel and dead-eye shooting guard Tori Andrew.
The Associated Press ranked the Lightning No. 4 in the Class 4A preseason . There are too many holes to fill to put them that high, including adjusting to first-year head coach Molly Kasper. But this is a top-10 program.
The Cougars’ depth is enviable, with all five starters returning from last year’s 21-victory team. One question is veteran leadership on a roster with no seniors.