Girls basketball: Section 1AAA team capsules
SECTION 1AAA TEAM CAPSULES
No. 1 Red Wing (18-7)is the defending section champ and is the only ranked team in the tournament at No. 10. The Wingers were 14-2 at one point but played just under .500 (4-5) in the last month of the season and finished fourth in the Missota Conference. Coach Dave Muelken has a dangerous offensive team that averages 59 ppg and has one of the top scorers in the state in 5-11 senior G Tesha Buck (24.6). Two others average in double figures, 5-8 senior F Macy Kelly (15.0) and 5-8 sophomore F McKenzie Muelken (10.0). Red Wing is the two-time defending section champ and last year fell in the first round at state to Richfield.
No. 2 Winona (15-9)rebounded strongly after starting the year 0-5, which included losses to both Red Wing and Kasson-Mantorville. They wound up tied for second in the Big Nine Conference with Mayo at 14-4. Coach Tim Gleason's Winhawks got back to .500 with a 5-game win streak in January, and they enter the playoffs on a 4-game win streak which included a 14-point win over Austin last week. Winona averaged 56 ppg, second-most in the Big Nine, with three players who all average 11-13 ppg, 6-0 senior C Ellen Blacklock, 5-5 senior G Dulcey Milek, and 5-11 junior F Audrey Scharmer. Winona's only state appearance was in 2003.
No. 3 Kasson-Mantorville (17-9)is coming off a solid regular season in which it contended for the HVL Gold Division title until a 12-point loss to Hayfield in early February. After that, the KoMets had a sobering 22-point loss to Red Wing, the same team that beat K-M in last year's section final by 14. Coach Ryan Haroldson guides the highest scoring team (63 ppg) in the section field, led by three double-figure scorers, 5-11 senior C Erin Schlotthauer (17.1), 5-9 senior G Abby Manitz (14.3) and 5-3 sophomore G Cori Kennedy (11.4). Schlotthauer and Manitz both reached 1,000 points this season, doubling K-M's total of 1,000-point scorers. K-M hopes to get to state for the first time since 1997.
No. 4 Austin (9-15)garnered a seed in the top half of the section and a home playoff game despite playing below .500 and closing the regular season with three straight losses. The Packers improved after an 0-7 start, but their defensive average (59 ppg) is second-highest in the section. Coach Todd Johnson has a veteran team with seven seniors including top scorers, 5-11 C Jenna Svoboda (13.8) and 5-10 G Steph Justice (11.6). Sophomore 6-0 C Mer Gach (9.3) has also come on stronger during the season. Austin won this section in 2004 and 2008.
No. 5 Waseca (16-9)won a conference title but still was seeded in the lower half of the section. The Bluejays won the South Central Conference with a 9-1 record, but went 7-8 in non-conference games. Waseca got off to a 7-1 start this season but played just under .500 (4-5) for the last month. Coach Joan Conway has a veteran team with six seniors, led by 5-10 F Katie Miller (13.3 ppg) and 5-10 G Jordyn Hedberg (8.3), along with 5-7 sophomore G Mikayla Rolling (8.8).
No. 6 Byron (16-8)had a sturdy 11-3 record at one point but struggled to win close games in the second half of the season. The Bears have some momentum with a two-game win streak entering the playoffs on a pair of 2-point wins, including over Waseca. Coach Darren Nelson has a team capable of scoring 56 ppg, led by 5-9 sophomore F Vanessa Anderson (16.4) and 5-10 senior F Danielle Adams (13.2). The Bears are after their first section title in girls basketball.
No. 7 Albert Lea (10-13)got hot at the end of the regular season winning three straight including a 10-point win over Century. That win streak was on the heels of a six-game losing skid which included five losses by double figures. The Tigers allow too many points at 56 ppg. A pair of junior G's account for most of the points, Bryn Woodside (15.8) and Sydney Rehnelt (15.2). Albert Lea has never qualified for state.
No. 8 Faribault (1-24)had a 3-point win over Breck at the Simley holiday tournament, and that was sandwiched by an 0-7 start and 17 straight losses to close the regular season. The Falcons' defensive average is section high 64 ppg. Faribault finished 0-27 last season and haven't been over .500 since 2010.
— Donny Henn