The Week Ahead: Playoffs hit full-force this week
High school playoffs get going full-force this week as girls basketball playoffs begin on Tuesday in Section 1A and 1AA. Boys hockey playoffs begin on Tuesday as well; Lourdes and Century anticipate being high seeds in their section tournaments.
By the end of the week we’ll also know which boys swimmers and divers from southeastern Minnesota will qualify for the state meet at the U of M Aquatics Center, and state champions will be crowned in gymnastics.
Here are some events for area sports fans to keep an eye on in the coming week:
• JM at Northfield, today, 2 p.m.: JM is a half-game ahead of Red Wing for first place in the Big Nine with a week left in the regular season. The Rockets have four games remaining; today’s is the only one against a team in the top half of the conference standings. A win today could well lock up at least a share of the conference title for JM.
• Section 1A tournament, beginning Tuesday: Seven teams in the section have 15 wins or more. Goodhue (No. 2) and Grand Meadow (No. 7) are currently in the top 10 in the state in the QRF rankings. Grand Meadow (23-1) suffered its first loss of the season Friday to rival Lyle/Pacelli .
• Section 1AA tournament, beginning Tuesday: Like 1A, this tournament is a crapshoot at the top. The top six teams in the section — Lourdes, Stewartville, Cotter, Lake City, Zumbrota-Mazeppa and Caledonia — are all ranked between No. 7 and No. 20 in the state in the QRF rankings. They all also have at least four losses (at least two against section opponents).
• Mayo vs. Big 9’s best: The Spartans (13-6) are coming off the emotional high of beating cross-town rival Century 83-78 on Friday. Now they enter a stretch of four games in five days, including home games Monday against Big Nine Conference-leading Austin (14-4), then Big Nine power Mankato East (15-3) on Tuesday and Thursday against Northfield (13-6).
BOYS SWIMMING & DIVING
• Section 1AA meet, Wednesday-Friday, Rochester Rec Center: Swimmers and divers from across southeastern Minnesota will battle for berths in the state meet this week in Rochester. Mayo’s Grant Reeves (200 IM, 100 backstroke) and Century’s Grafton Parlette (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle) are defending section champions in two individual events.
• Section 1A tournament, begins Tuesday: Toss the top four teams in this section in a hat and pull one out. That’s about as good of a way to determine who the best team in the section is. Mankato East (15-7-1) will likely earn the No. 1 seed, but it has lost to Albert Lea (15-9-1), which has lost to Minnesota River (16-4-0) and Rochester Lourdes (14-10-0). Those could well be the four teams we’ll watch next Saturday at the Rochester Recreation Center in the section semifinals. Or it could be any of the other six teams in the section, who have all show the ability to pull an upset this season.