Several teams ready to take on Farmington
Farmington is the team to beat in South Suburban Conference girls basketball, and several other teams in the league are ready to take their shot.
Conference games start next week. Farmington, which returns most of the lineup from last year’s conference champion, started 3-0 and plays defending Class 4A champion Hopkins at home on Friday night.
SSC contenders include Eastview, which has reached the state tournament the last eight years; Lakeville North, which knocked off Farmington in the 2019 Section 1 final; and Rosemount, which was one point from qualifying for state last season and returns most of its top players.
Following are capsule previews of the eight South Suburban Conference teams in the Dakota County Tribune and Sun Thisweek coverage area:
Coach: Bryan Doughty.
Last season: 19-9 overall, 12-6 conference, reached Class 4A, Section 3 semifinals.
2019-20 so far: 0-4; lost to Centennial 57-44, Elk River 71-53, Stillwater 68-47 and Hopkins 98-38.
Next game: at Blaine, 3 p.m. Saturday.
Outlook: The Eagles started the season 15th in the Class 4A rankings, but a rough start against quality competition dropped them out of the top 20. The roster is deep in guards; returnees Chyna Young, Anna Mutch and Kalena Myers were among Apple Valley’s top five scorers last season. Twelve of the 18 players in the varsity/junior varsity group are sophomores or younger, and the key for the Eagles might be how quickly they develop.
Coach: Maurice Hodges.
Last season: 10-14 overall, 5-13 conference, lost in first round of Class 4A, Section 3 playoffs.
2019-20 so far: 2-1; lost to Holy Angels 69-57, defeated Henry Sibley 71-34, defeated Bloomington Jefferson 79-40.
Next game: vs. Park of Cottage Grove at home, 7 p.m. Saturday.
Outlook: The Blaze are quietly becoming a program to take seriously. After an opening loss to Class 3A power Holy Angels, routs of Henry Sibley and Bloomington Jefferson vaulted Burnsville to 19th in the Class 4A rankings. Guards Zhane Thompson and Paige Servais, two of the four seniors on the roster, averaged 15.3 and 12.7 points through the first three games. Two other returnees, Morgan Krumweide and Megan Diggan, were Burnsville’s second- and third-leading scorers last season.
Coach: Jesse Madsen.
Last season: 4-23 overall, 1-17 conference, lost in first round of Class 4A, Section 3 playoffs.
2019-20 so far: 1-1; defeated Park of Cottage Grove 53-37, lost to Henry Sibley 46-35.
Next game: at Bloomington Jefferson, 2 p.m. Saturday.
Outlook: Returnees such as Morgan Eckerle, Taylor Grebin, Jocelyn Plonski and Lily Fandre will try to put the Wildcats on the path to improvement. Each of those four averaged at least five points a game last season. Eckerle had 13 points and Fandre 12 in the season-opening victory over Park.
Coach: Molly Kasper.
Last season: 25-7 overall, 14-4 conference, Class 4A, Section 3 champion, fourth in state tournament.
2019-20 so far: 1-3; lost to Wayzata 80-48, lost to La Crosse Aquinas 68-41, defeated Hill-Murray 48-44, lost to Hudson (Wis.) 69-63.
Outlook: Challengers are lining up to try to end Eastview’s streak of eight consecutive Section 3 championships (the Lightning also won two state titles in that span). Eastview will counter with junior guard Cassidy Carson, one of the state’s top players in the class of 2021, and senior forward Brynn Schwanz. The rest of the Lightning lineup will need time to develop as Carson and Schwanz are the only two players who averaged more than two points a game last season.
Coach: Liz Carpentier.
Last season: 24-5 overall, 15-3 conference, reached Class 4A, Section final.
2019-20 so far: 3-0; defeated St. Michael-Albertville 92-79, St. Louis Park 65-39 and Stillwater 79-74.
Next game: vs. Hopkins at home, 7 p.m. Friday.
Outlook: The Tigers return most of the top players from a team that won the South Suburban title last season. Senior guard Molly Mogensen (the school’s career scoring leader), junior center Sophie Hart, and junior guards Paige Kindseth and Peyton Blandin lead a deep, versatile roster. Even though it will be only the fourth game of the season, Friday’s home contest against defending state champion Hopkins could be a benchmark for the Tigers.
Coach: Shelly Clemons.
Last season: 18-13 overall, 11-7 conference, Class 4A, Section 1 champion.
2019-20 so far: 1-1; defeated Centennial 65-61, lost to Wayzata 89-52.
Next game: vs. Minneapolis North at home, 7 p.m. Thursday.
Outlook: Two of the South Suburban’s top guards, Lauren Jensen and Sarah Kuma, occupy the same backcourt at Lakeville North. Jensen, who has signed with the University of Iowa, averaged 26 points last season with a high of 47 and scored the winning basket in the Panthers’ upset of Farmington in the Section 1 final. Kuma, headed to Concordia-St. Paul, averaged about 11 points. Ashleigh Fossey, Abby Ruhland and Ellen Glomstad are among players who got some varsity experience last season.
Coach: Angie Iverson-Ohnstad.
Last season: 10-18 overall, 6-12 conference, reached Class 4A, Section 1 semifinals.
2019-20 so far: 1-2; defeated White Bear Lake 60-38, lost to Waconia 62-50, lost to Minnetonka 70-49.
Next game: at New Prague, 7 p.m. Thursday.
Outlook: The Cougars have a strong foundation with senior guard Annie Guentzel and senior forward Haylee Wheeler. Guentzel (who signed with Wayne State) and Wheeler (headed to Minnesota Crookston) were South’s second- and third-leading scorers last season. Senior guard Amanda Drake, junior forward Adi Brown and sophomore guard Ally Schultz are among other Cougars players who look ready to step in and contribute.
Coach: Chris Orr.
Last season: 19-10 overall, 9-9 conference, reached Class 4A, Section 3 final.
2019-20 so far: 3-1; defeated Waconia 83-57, lost to Hopkins 80-45, defeated White Bear Lake 55-33, defeated Hastings 72-49.
Next game: vs. Henry Sibley at home, 7 p.m. Friday.
Outlook: Most of the players are back from a Rosemount team that lost to Eastview by one point in the 2019 Section 3 final. Senior forward Taylor Janssen has signed with Division I Montana State. Other top returnees for the Irish include junior forward Helen Staley, junior guard Ivory Finley and sophomore guard Alexa Ratzlaff. Senior guard Larisa O’Neil made nine three-pointers in Rosemount’s season-opening victory over Waconia. The Irish expect to play at a faster pace than they’ve shown the last few years.