Limited spring high school sports action is taking place this week, but the schedule will accelerate next week, starting with Opening Day for South Suburban Conference baseball and softball Monday, April 8.

Lakeville North, which finished fifth in the 2018 state Class 4A baseball tournament, plays Burnsville in its season opener at home at 4:30 p.m. Monday. Eastview, a state tourney qualifier last year, plays host to Eagan. Other baseball openers have Rosemount playing at Apple Valley, Lakeville South at home against Farmington, and defending conference champion Prior Lake playing host to Shakopee.

Baseball teams are scheduled to play 18 conference games. Barring weather issues – always a possibility in the early spring – South Suburban Conference games will be played Monday, Wednesday and Thursday through mid-May.

Lakeville North, one of the South Suburban’s two teams in the 2018 state Class 4A softball tourney, plays at home against Burnsville in its opener at 4:30 p.m. Monday. In other conference action, Eagan is at Eastview, Farmington is at Lakeville South, Rosemount is at Apple Valley, and Shakopee is at Prior Lake. Shakopee also qualified for state last year, while Prior Lake is defending SSC champion.

There will be a 14-game conference schedule in South Suburban Conference softball.

State baseball schedule changes

For those planning ahead to watch the state Class 4A baseball tournament in June, be aware there are some schedule changes because of field availability.

The first two days of the tournament will be Friday, June 14, and Saturday, June 15, at CHS Field in St. Paul. Usually those games take place on a Thursday and Friday but the schedule had to be moved back a day while the St. Paul Saints finish a homestand at CHS Field.

All four classes will have their championship games Thursday, June 20, at Target Field – three days later than usual because the Twins are on a homestand through June 19.

Boys volleyball Season 2

Boys volleyball is not a Minnesota State High School League-sanctioned sport, but it appears to be gaining a foothold in its second season.

Forty-nine varsity teams – more than twice as many as last year – are scheduled to compete when the regular season starts Monday, April 8. Most programs with varsity teams also will have junior varsity squads.

Among the schools participating are Eagan, Eastview, Farmington, Lakeville North, Lakeville South and Rosemount, all of which will compete in the South Conference. Eagan and Rosemount are new programs this year.

The Minnesota High School Boys Volleyball Association did not schedule a state tournament in the inaugural season in 2018. That changes this year; the first-ever state tourney is May 18-19 at Shakopee High School.

Walt Weaver, who coached girls teams at Apple Valley and Lakeville North to three state championships, helped establish the league and is one of its directors. Eastview girls volleyball coach Ryan Dehnel also coaches the Lightning’s boys club team. Kathy Gillen, who has coached seven Eagan girls teams to state championships, signed on as an assistant coach with the Wildcats’ first-year boys team (Kelly Schlagel, an Eagan girls assistant coach, is head coach of the boys team).

Monday’s matches include Eden Prairie at Lakeville North at 6:30 p.m., Eagan at Minnetonka at 6 and Rosemount at Hmong Prep Academy at 5:30. More information, including schedules, is available at www.mnboyshighschoolvolleyball.com.

No Minnesotans in Final Four

Losses by Duke, Kentucky and Gonzaga in the Elite Eight mean no Minnesota-born players will compete in the NCAA Basketball men’s Final Four this weekend at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Duke’s 68-67 loss to Michigan State in the East Regional final Sunday means guard Tre Jones won’t get a chance to match his brother Tyus’ achievement of helping lead the Blue Devils to the national championship in his freshman season. Jones had four points and five assists against Michigan State. Two nights earlier, he had a season-high 22 points – and made five of seven three-pointers – as Duke held off Virginia Tech 75-73 in a Sweet Sixteen game.

Jones, who helped two Apple Valley High School teams win state Class 4A championships, averaged 9.4 points, 5.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds for Duke (32-6).

Still to be determined is whether he goes back to Duke for his sophomore year. When asked after the Michigan State game, Jones said he had not decided whether to return to school or declare for the NBA draft. Three of his teammates – freshmen Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish – are regarded as potential top-five picks if they choose to leave school.

Two former DeLaSalle players, Reid Travis and Geno Crandall, also were denied a chance to play in the Final Four in their home state. Travis joined Kentucky this season as a graduate transfer after playing at Stanford. Kentucky lost to Auburn 77-71 in overtime in the Midwest Regional final. Crandall is a senior at Gonzaga, which lost to Texas Tech 75-69 in the West Regional final.

Virginia will play Auburn and Texas Tech will face Michigan State in the national semifinals Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium, with the first game starting approximately 5:20 p.m. The championship game is Monday, April 8.

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