Up for grabs: Section 1AA girls basketball tourney wide open
It used to be a familiar refrain at girls basketball tournament time: The trip to the Class AA state tournament would have to go through Rochester Lourdes and/or Caledonia.
Caledonia has won the formidable section four times in the last five years, and before that, Lourdes practically owned it with seven section crowns in 10 years, from 1999-2008.
But it's different tune in the 2012 tournament, and a brand new team could be making the trip to state in a couple of weeks. The postseason begins in earnest Friday with subsection quarterfinal games in both Section 1AA and Section 1A.
Defending section champ Caledonia is the top seed again in the Section 1AA East tournament, but the Warriors aren't as explosive or physically imposing as the last couple of seasons, and No. 2 seed Chatfield has good late-season momentum and confidence from a 18-point win over the Warriors a month ago.
Winona Cotter could also be a factor in 1AA East after winning seven of its last eight games. The Ramblers' only loss down the stretch was a 4-point setback against HVL Conference champion Kasson-Mantorville.
Lourdes appears out of the playoff contention for the first time ever in Section 1AA West after completing its first losing regular season since 1984, which was Myron Glass' first season as head coach. It was a difficult, injury-filled season for an Eagles team that was 26-3 last year and played in the subsection final.
Seventh-ranked Pine Island is the new team to beat in 1AA West, but defending subsection champ Stewartville, Dover-Eyota and surging Zumbrota-Mazeppa could all have something to say about that.
• Southland is the No. 2 seed in Section 2AA South and Kenyon-Wanamingo is No. 2 in Section 2AA North. Hayfield and Triton also play in 2AA.
Southland won the Three Rivers Conference crown by averaging a conference-high 71 points per game, but the No. 10 ranked Rebels share the same subsection with unbeaten New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva, which averages 70.
• The script doesn't look much different in the Section 1A tournament, where No. 2 ranked Goodhue and No. 5 ranked Spring Grove are the clear-cut favorites to repeat as subsection champions.
Goodhue, the three-time defending section champ, will be fortified by the return of senior starter Erica Tipcke, who missed the last six games of the regular season with an illness.