When: March 4-7
Where: Betty Engelstad Sioux Center
No.1 Thompson (20-1)
No. 2 Hillsboro-Central Valley (18-3)
No. 3 Grafton (17-4)
No. 4 Larimore (16-5)
No. 5 Hatton-Northwood (16-6)
No. 6 Cavalier (14-7)
No. 7 Park River/Fordville-Lankin (8-14)
No. 9 North Border (11-11)
Who is the favorite?
Other than a mid-season hiccup, Thompson looked like the No. 1 team in Class B this season. And once senior Cadyn Schwabe entered the lineup after coming back from a football injury, the Tommies have been tough to slow down. This is a physical team with senior Hayden Overby setting the tone on every possession. The inside presence with Overby along with juniors Clay Odenbach and Chance Danner give Thompson opportunities at second-chance points with their rebound skills. Toss in the guard play by Schwabe and senior Marcus Hughes and this team has a good shot at getting to the state tournament for the first time in program history.
Hillsboro-Central Valley: This is a different Hillsboro-Central Valley team that won state in 2016-17 and 2017-18 but Elliot Rotvold and the Burros have the same expectations, which is to compete for a Region 2 championship. Besides juniors Carson Henningsgard and Landen Reed, the bulk of H-CV’s roster saw its first varsity action this year. Henningsgard leads the charge for a team that has shot more 3-pointers this season than in the past. The Burros don’t have the rebounding power that they did last season but that hasn’t stopped Henningsgard and company from beating top teams such as Kindred, Richland, Four Winds-Minnewaukan, Cavalier and Grafton. However, two of H-CV’s three losses have come at the hands of Thompson. If the Burros want to make their third straight trip back to state, they’ll need a big performance out of senior Jacob Heinitz and/or junior Patrick Limke. H-CV also has solid bench play with junior Oscar Benson, senior Colton Anderson and sophomore Sam Preston playing quality minutes.
Grafton: It’s been a sour end to Grafton’s regular season as they lost two of its final three contests to Thompson and Hillsboro-Central Valley. Senior Dalton Albrecht didn’t play against H-CV on Feb. 16 but played against the Tommies six days later. He’s the guy that makes the Spoilers roll and has scored 30-plus points in multiple games this season. Senior 6-foot-7 Beau Feltman is another important player for Grafton as he and Albrecht combined for 56 of the Spoilers 61 points against Thompson on Feb. 22. Grafton has the talent but getting scoring production from other players is going to be key.
Dark Horse Team
Cavalier: Cavalier started the season on a 10-game winning streak before dropping seven of its final 11. At one point during the season, I said the Tornadoes were a Top 5 team in Class B. Brady Laxdal’s squad is not in the same place right now as they were when the year started but tournament time allows them to hit the reset button. Cavalier has the talent to compete with any team in Region 2. The one-two punch that senior Conley Carrier and junior Andre Carrier present is dynamic to say the least. Junior Colton Ratchenski is a solid defender and adds some scoring and the Tornadoes have an energetic bench player in sophomore Brodie Cluchie. It’s not going to be an easy task for Cavalier as they’ll have to get past Grafton and then most likely H-CV to even reach the title game. But I wouldn’t count out a fired up Tornadoes group.
No. 1 Thompson over No. 9 North Border
No. 4 Larimore over No. 5 Hatton-Northwood
No. 2 Hillsboro-Central Valley over No. 7 Park River/Fordville-Lankin
No. 3 Grafton over No. 6 Cavalier
No. 1 Thompson over No. 4 Larimore
No. 2 Hillsboro-Central Valley over No. 3 Grafton
No. 1 Thompson over No. 2 Hillsboro-Central Valley