If you had to apply a theme to the 2016-17 west metro girls’ basketball season, it would be something along the lines of the best is yet to come.
While there are some good upperclassmen — floor general Rae Johnson of St. Michael-Albertville comes to mind — it’s the influx of exceptional freshmen and sophomores who stand out. Among them are Hopkins’ Paige Bueckers, Holy Angels’ Destinee Oberg and St. Michael-Albertville’s Mackenzie Kramer, a transfer from Becker who mesmerized fans at the Class 3A state tournament with her ball-handling.
Senior dream team (college players signed with in parentheses): Tori Andrew, Orono, 5-10, G (Yale); Bailey Helgren, Edina, 6-5, P (Kansas); Annika Jank, Edina, 6-2, P (Colorado); Rae Johnson, St. Michael-Albertville, 5-8, G (Iowa State); D.D. Winston, Hopkins, 5-7, G (Siena).
Five junior jewels: Katey Brattland, Minnetonka, 5-6, G; Morgan Hill, Minneapolis South, 5-9, G; Kayla Mershon, Minnetonka, 6-2, F; Reana Suggs, Hopkins, 5-8, G; Terra Rhoades, Minnehaha Academy, 5-5, G.
Five breakout underclassmen: Paige Bueckers, Hopkins, 5-10, fr. G; Destinee Oberg, Holy Angels, 6-2, so., F; Mackenzie Kramer, St. Michael-Albertville, 5-8, fr., G; Kaylie Van Der Werf, Holy Angels, 6-1, fr., F; Mimi Schrader, Wayzata, 5-9, so., G.
Five on top: Hopkins (4A); St. Michael-Albertville (4A); Edina (4A); Holy Angels (3A); Wayzata (4A).
Five dark horses: Minnetonka (4A); Minnehaha Academy (2A); Orono (3A); Waconia (3A); Minneapolis South (4A).
Five must-see matchups: Dec. 6 – St. Michael-Albertville at Hopkins, 7 p.m.; Dec. 29 – Hopkins vs. Eastview at St. Olaf, 8:30 p.m.; Jan. 3 – Wayzata at Orono, 7 p.m.; Jan. 13 – St. Michael-Albertville at Elk River, 7 p.m.; Feb. 16 – Holy Angels at Edina, 7 p.m.