Girls basketball | Power struggle assured in Section 1AA

Here's a riddle for you as the high school girls basketball tournaments begin this week:

Chatfield's Kirsten Keefe drives for a layup between Dover-Eyota's Brandi Blattner, left, and Megan Hintz, right, in a Feb. 6 game at Chatfield. D-E won 78-64 to sweep their Three Rivers Conference series. The No. 1 ranked Eagles and No. 7 ranked Gophers may meet again in a tough Section 1AA tournament.

Here's a riddle for you as the high school girls basketball tournaments begin this week:

Plainview-Elgin-Millville and Chatfield began the season ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in Class AA, and Dover-Eyota was No. 7. Then, in the regular season, Chatfield and P-E-M split two close games, D-E beat Chatfield twice, and P-E-M and D-E split two.

Now D-E (24-2) is ranked No. 1, P-E-M (22-4) is No. 4 and Chatfield (22-3) is No 7.

Question: Who wins the Section 1AA tournament?

"I honestly believe this section has four or five of the top ten teams in state and it will be a battle," D-E head coach Brian Harris said. "Whichever team gets hot for a couple of games could go to state this year. I don't necessarily see a favorite."


"There are so many good teams on both sides of the section that you better be ready to play each night or it will end quickly," said Chatfield coach Brian Baum.

D-E was soaring with a 23-game win streak and averaging 72 points per game, until a 56-51 loss to P-E-M to close the regular season last Friday.

"Hopefully, we can learn from that game and come with intensity into the playoffs," said Harris, whose team rolled past P-E-M in their Jan. 27 meeting, 71-48.

D-E is the top seed in the West subsection and P-E-M is the top seed in the East, so a third meeting could only happen in the section final.

D-E shares 1AA West with No. 2 seed Kenyon-Wanamingo (18-8), the defending section champion. The Knights were HVL Blue champs and had won five straight before falling to Kasson-Mantorville in the HVL title game, 56-55.

"In order for us to get through the section we need to have balanced scoring and play great defense without getting key players in foul trouble," said K-W head coach Brent Lurken. His Knights finished as runners-up at state last year, falling in the final to NRHEG, 71-61.

Lurken sees D-E and P-E-M as the favorites.

"Dover-Eyota has great inside play with (Megan) Hintz and guards that can do a little of everything with (Madison) Nelson and (Brandi) Blattner. They are the best rebounding team in the section," he said.


"P-E-M is deep and talented, and when Sarah Hart gets in the zone she can take over a game."

Chatfield presents the biggest challenge to P-E-M in 1AA East, although Caledonia (20-6) is no slouch.

"Each of the top seeds have a player or two who can take over a game and secure a win," said P-E-M coach Jason Melbostad. "Chatfield has Kirsten Keefe who has been playing in key section games for several years now and takes care of the ball as well as anyone."

Melbostad said that in a historically strong section this could be the toughest tournament in years. He sees the winner doing well at state. The last time Section 1AA produced a state champion was Caledonia in 2009.

"Whoever wins this section will need to execute very well offensively in a tough neutral site and also defend extremely well," he said. "Not to mention, a little luck may be required as well."

Goodhue favorite in strong 1A field

Goodhue is the favorite again in Section 1A, a tournament the Wildcats have conquered four times in the last six years under head coach Josh Wieme.

Goodhue (21-5) is on a roll entering the playoffs, with a nine-game winning streak and ranked No. 5. But the Wildcats aren't the only ranked team in a section which includes four 20-win teams, all in the same subsection.


Goodhue shares a loaded 1A West subsection with No. 9 ranked Lyle/Pacelli (21-3), No. 10 Blooming Prairie (21-3) and Randolph (22-5). It also includes Southland (17-9), which defeated Goodhue by 15 points six weeks ago.

Wieme calls it "without a doubt" the best Class A subsection in the state.

"While we may have received the top seed in our subsection, by no means are we the hands-down favorites," said Wieme, whose team beat Rushford-Peterson in last year's Section 1A final and went on to finish third at state.

"I'm very pleased with how our team has progressed this season," he added. "We've had ups and downs, but it seems like our team is playing its best right now."

Fillmore Central (15-11) is the top seed in a 1A East field that includes only two other teams with winning records, R-P (12-11) and Spring Grove (16-9).

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