How good has girls’ basketball in Minnesota become? Let the finals of the recently completed Deep South Classic tell that tale.
Nearly 400 AAU girls’ basketball teams representing players between the ages of 13 and 17 converged on Raleigh, N.C., last week in one of the biggest tournaments of its kind in the nation.
The finals of the highest level, the 17-Under Nationals, featured the Minnesota Fury, based in the south metro, and the Minnesota Stars, located in the west metro. The Fury, led by Shakopee star Taylor Koenen and Rochester John Marshall forward Jamie Ruden, downed the Stars, who were led by Hopkins’ Nia Hollie and Ashley Bates, 69-59 to win the championship.
“That says so much about the quality of basketball in Minnesota,” Stars coach Tracy Martin said. “It would have been nice to win it, but we have so much respect for the Fury and its players. They deserved to win.”
Despite playing for the runners-up, Hollie, who stood out in Hopkins’ run to the Class 4A state championship in March, was named to the MaxPreps 2015 All-America team.
• Minnetonka junior guard Hannah Hedstrom has made a verbal commitment to play college basketball at Lehigh.
In an effort to gauge team development and find the best possible competition, Blake, which has won five consecutive girls’ lacrosse state championships, has made a point of adding Chicago-area lacrosse power New Trier High School to its schedule on a yearly basis.
Blake met New Trier on Saturday at Arrowhead Union High School, home of the defending Wisconsin state champs. The Bears have never defeated New Trier in four previous official games and they lost again, 8-6. The game was close throughout, however. The Bears led at halftime despite not having leading scorer Olivia Nolan, who sprained her ankle in Blake’s 11-6 victory over Arrowhead earlier that day.
“I think we’re on par with New Trier,” Blake coach Linda Hokr said. “It was close the whole way. Considering the circumstances — losing our leading scorer and having played a match earlier that day — I’m really proud of what we accomplished.”
• Minnehaha Academy second baseman Ford Schroeder went 5-for-10 at the plate last week, becoming the first baseball player in school history to reach 100 career base hits.
• Maple Grove softball pitcher Sydney Smith, the Star Tribune 2014 Metro Player of the Year, did not pitch in the Eastview Great 8 Tournament last weekend. Smith has been battling shin splints, and Crimson coach Jim Koltes decided to give Smith a rest. The Crimson lost two of three games in the tournament, its first losses of the season after a 12-0 start.