MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It's getting to be that exciting time of the winter high school sports season as we go down to the wire for conference champions and get the postseason started.
The playoffs are always an interesting time of the year. For the programs that have struggled, regardless of the sport, it's a new start with chance to save something in what's been an otherwise frustrating year. For those who are on top and favored, it's time to check that intestinal fortitude. It's when the pressure is on that the elite talent and the great teams come out on top.
It's early February, which means playoffs are underway in girls hockey and soon starting in boys hockey. On the basketball court, league titles are on the line seemingly every night. We have plenty of big match-ups heading into the weekend. Here's some of our top ones.
Friday Girls Hockey: Prior Lake (8-15-2) at Edina (17-7-1)
(Section 2 Playoffs)
The playoffs are underway in girls hockey as teams begin their journey to Xcel Energy Center. It could be a good match-up Friday night as Edina, ranked No. 5 in Class AA, hosts Prior Lake in the Section 2AA Playoffs at Braemar Arena. The winner advances, and the loser's season is over.
The Hornets have had yet another strong season and enter the playoffs having won six straight games and eight of their last 10. They're led by Taylor Williamson, who had 50 points during the regular season. That number includes 30 goals. Prior Lake has struggled this season and enters the playoffs having lost four of its past five. All can be forgotten with an upset Friday night. They'll need a big game from Katie Huntington, who leads the team in points (33) and goals (20).
Friday Boys Basketball: Apple Valley (20-1) at Eastview (15-6)
The No. 2-ranked team in Class 4A will have its hands full Friday night as Apple Valley travels to crosstown rival Eastview in South Suburban Conference action. When the two teams met earlier this year, the Eagles beat the Lightning 80-61. Apple Valley will be looking to maintain its three game lead in the league standings. The Eagles are led by sophomore Gary Trent Jr.'s 22 points per game. Eastview has won three of its past four games and is led by Drew Guebert's 14.5 points per game. It'll be a huge game and a packed gym with city bragging rights on the line.
Friday Girls Basketball: Chaska (10-9) at Chanhassen (14-5)
A pair of Metro West Conference rivals meet Friday night in girls basketball, with one quad looking to maintain its two-game lead in the league race. Chanhassen, ranked No. 9 in Class 4A, hosts Chaska Friday night. The Storm is 7-0 in league play and has won nine straight games. They're led by Danielle Gitzen's 16 points per game and Martha Kuderer, who scores nearly 17 points per game. The Hawks, who have won four of their last five games, are led by Nicole Parsons' 17 points per game.
Friday Boys Hockey: East Grand Forks (18-4) at Roseau (11-10-1)
It's always a big game in northern Minnesota when East Grand Forks and Roseau square off on the hockey rink, even if one of the team's is having a down year. The Rams host the Green Wave Friday night with an 11-10-1 record, down by Roseau standards. East Grand Forks is ranked No. 3 in Class A. Roseau is led by Bryden Stoskopf's 23 points on the season, including 12 goals. The Rams have won two of their past three games. The Green Wave, which just had a nine-game win streak snapped this week, is led by Dixen Bowen's 50 points. That includes 21 goals.
Friday Boys Basketball: Coon Rapids (2-18) at Champlin Park (21-0)
The No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A puts its undefeated season on the line Friday night as Champlin Park hosts Coon Rapids in Northwest Suburban Conference action. It's a safe bet that the Cardinals will give the Rebels their best game, having won just two all season. When the two squads met earlier this season, Champlin Park rolled to a 91-38 victory. The Rebels average about 86 points per game, and they're led by JT Gibson's 19 points per game. Coon Rapids is struggling to score at about 47 points per game. It's a team that's led by Sam Carver and Timmy Nguyen, who each score about 11 points per game.
Tune into WCCO-TV's High School Sports Rally at about 10:20 p.m. Friday as Mike Max and David McCoy will have all the action covered.
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