MINNEOTA ONE STEP FROM STATE RETURN
The Minneota girls basketball team are one game away from getting a chance to defend their Class A state title.
The top-seeded Vikings (25-4) defeated MACCRAY 58-37 in the Section 3A-North final last Friday at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
Minneota now takes on Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (26-2) in the Section 3A championship at 5 p.m. Friday back at SMSU.
This will be the third time the two teams have met this season and they split the first two meeting. Minneota defeated the Panthers 58-41 at home on Dec. 21, while TMB built a 27-point lead on the Vikings before holding off a late rally and winning 50-46 on Feb. 10 in Tracy.
Natalee Rolbiecki leads the Vikings in scoring with a 15.8 ppg average. McKenna Yost averages 13.1 ppg, Ireland Stassen 9.9, Jeren Rost 6.8, McKenzie Tolk 5.2, Kenadi Arndt 4.0, Kennedi Jurrens 3.7, and Grace Hennen 3.3.
Based on QRF ratings (a computerized system based on strength of schedule, results and more) in Class A Minneota is currently ranked No. 7 and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton is No. 8.
Mountain Iron-Buhl (25-3) is the top-ranked team in the QRF ratings system, followed by Mayer Lutheran (24-4), Hayfield (29-0), Cass Lake-Bena (26-2), Sleepy Eye St. Mary's (26-2), Hancock (25-1), Minneota, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, Underwood (22-3) and Badger-Greenbush/Middle River (20-5).
The Vikings won previous state titles in 2013, 2019 and 2021. They reached the state semifinals in 2020 before the Minnesota State High School League shut down the tournament due to the pandemic. The Vikings were favored to win that year, too.
Minneota went 25-0 last year en route to winning the title with a 48-45 victory over Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa.