With this little get-together called the boys’ hockey state tournament (perhaps you’ve heard of it?) at Xcel Energy Center this week, it would be easy to forget that there are some pretty important boys’ basketball games coming up.
To keep from being swept away like so many ice shavings under hockey’s Zamboni-like presence, here are some games of note this week:
Section 3 final: Cretin-Derham Hall vs. Apple Valley, 7 p.m. Thursday at Farmington. Last year the Raiders dashed then-senior Tyus Jones’ hopes for a repeat state championship with an 89-77 double-overtime victory over the Eagles in the section finals. No doubt Apple Valley still feels that sting and is looking for a little payback. But Cretin-Derham Hall is playing so well right now, riding a 17-game winning streak, that it may not matter.
Section 6 final: Eden Prairie vs. Hopkins, 7 p.m. Wednesday at Cooper. These teams split during the regular season, with Eden Prairie winning a 69-68 thriller in the regular-season finale. Eden Prairie has played well without leading scorer Grantham Gillard, whose playing time has all but dried up in recent weeks. Hopkins lost its last two regular season games but has looked sharp in the postseason.
Section 5: If, as expected, Champlin Park gets past Centennial and Maple Grove beats Wayzata in Tuesday’s semifinals, they will meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Rogers for the section championship. After losing to Osseo in the 2014 section finals, No. 1-ranked Champlin Park, led by guard J.T. Gibson, has been the section favorite all season. Maple Grove (23-3), with its trio of guard Brad Davison, wing Tywhon Pickford and center Reed Nikko, are formidable enough to pull off the upset.
Section 4 final: St. Paul Johnson vs. Hill-Murray, 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Paul Washington. It’s possible that this could be the final high school game for one of the metro’s most unheralded superstars, Hill-Murray’s Marshawn Wilson. The senior guard has been electric over the past three weeks, scoring more than 30 points in five consecutive games. He had a career-high 53 points in a 93-88 victory over Simley on Feb. 20. Top-seeded St. Paul Johnson (24-3) has its own star in Jalen Mobley and has won 11 consecutive games.