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Prep Blog: This Weekend's Top High School Match-Ups

We're getting a break, albeit brief, from the subzero temperatures that become the norm with winter in Minnesota. But just as the bitter cold returns to Minnesota, things will be heating up inside gyms and hockey arenas this weekend as several top teams are facing each other.

With that said, we're officially in the meat grinder of the conference seasons across the board in high school sports. Every night is a tough match-up for any team, there are no guarantee games and the effort has to be 100 percent across the board. It may sound obvious, but it's not an easy concept to master.

This week, we focus on two boys basketball games Friday and two boys hockey games that are the featured match-ups across the Twin Cities metro. All four have implications when it comes to conference championships, and more importantly down the line with playoff seedings.

Here is a look at this weekend's top match-ups.

Friday Boys Basketball: Maple Grove (12-1) at Osseo (14-0)

It doesn't get much better than when two top-five teams meet in a conference showdown. That's exactly the case Friday night as No. 5-ranked Osseo hosts No. 3-ranked Maple Grove in a battle of Northwest Suburban Conference rivals. The two teams have combined for just one loss on the season, and it's our featured game for WCCO-TV's High School Sports Rally.

Osseo comes in with a perfect 14-0 record. The marquee wins for the Orioles so far have come in two of their past three games, beating Armstrong 79-76 and No. 4-ranked Champlin Park 77-64. The Orioles score about 84 points per game, and they're led by Zach Theisen's 16 points per game. Damario Armstrong adds about 13 per game.

Maple Grove comes in having won six straight games since its only loss of the season. That was to No. 2-ranked Apple Valley, 86-81 in overtime, in the Granite City Holiday Classic. The Crimson average about 76 points per game, and they're led by the trio of Brad Davison, Tywhon Pickford and Reid Nikko. Pickford is the leading scorer at 18.3 points per game, while Davison and Nikko are both Division I recruits. Davison is averaging 17 points per game, and Nikko scores about 10.

The two squads meet again in the regular season finale for both teams on Feb. 19, and there's a fair chance the Northwest Suburban Conference title could come down to that night.

Friday Boys Basketball: Wayzata (9-5) at Minnetonka (12-4)

It should be a great match-up between a pair of Lake Conference rivals Friday night as Minnetonka hosts Wayzata on the hardcourt. The Skippers coming in having won six straight games since a loss to Eagan. They're led by Amar Miller's 22 points per game. The Trojans are on a two-game win streak and are led by Johnny Beeninga's 15.5 points per game.

Saturday Boys Hockey: Wayzata (9-5-1) at Edina (10-5-2)

Two hockey powers meet Saturday night in the west Twin Cities metro as No. 6-ranked Edina hosts Wayzata at Braemar Arena. The Hornets are looking to build off their state semifinal run last year and have won three of their past four games. They're led by Ben Copeland's 24 points on the season, which includes 10 goals. Sam Walker leads the team with 11 goals in 17 games. Wayzata is looking to rebound from a 2-1 loss to Farmington on Tuesday. The Trojans are led by Mark Senden's 17 points on the season.

Saturday Boys Hockey: St. Thomas Academy (8-4-3) at Hill-Murray (9-4-1)

It's always a great battle between rivals, and now the top two teams in the Metro East Conference meet Saturday as Hill-Murray meets St. Thomas Academy at Aldrich Arena. The Pioneers have bounced back from consecutive losses to Eden Prairie and Edina at the Schwan Cup with a 6-0 win over Hastings and a 3-3 tie against the Hornets. Hill-Murray is led by Marko Reifenberger, who has 22 points on the season, which includes a team-high 12 goals. The Cadets had lost two straight to Benilde-St. Margaret's and Mahtomedi before beating South St. Paul 4-1 last Saturday. They're led by Billy Jerry's 25 points, which includes a team-high 12 goals.

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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