It wasn’t long ago that we finally exited the dreaded 2020 and it’s already March.
There have been a number of world-grabbing headlines that have developed over the past two-plus months, one of which being the stock market.
The Robinhood-inspired craze has caught the eyes of Wall Street and beyond, and has made average Joes feel like Gordon Gekko.
Now, before you start thinking that I filled my closet with the finest Italian suits or have been saying to myself “money never sleeps,” this average Joe admits he knows little about the stock market or Bitcoin and has avoided any craze. But I do know a little more about girls basketball.
So with some help from the trading world, here are some impressions on the area landscape seven weeks into the 2021 girls basketball season.
MACCRAY junior center Gabby Randt takes it to the basket after a turnover during a Camden Conference game against Dawson-Boyd on Feb. 4 from MACCRAY High School. Patrick Bernadeau / West Central Tribune
To start, New London-Spicer and Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa might as well be Apple and Microsoft.
The Wildcats are unbeaten in 15 games entering Friday and have been the top-ranked team in Class AA since rankings were released. Recently, the team ripped through a road gauntlet of quality teams with Division I guards.
NLS earned a big win over Glencoe-Silver Lake and Eastern Illinois commit Miah Monahan 78-55 on Feb. 26. Then, the Wildcats went into then-No.2-ranked Albany and cruised to a 62-45 victory over the Huskies and South Dakota State recruit Paige Meyer. The next night, they beat Watertown-Mayer 61-41 and Minnesota Gophers commit Maggie Czinano.
What makes NLS’ recent run more impressive is that the team isn’t at 100%. Starting senior center Erin Knisley has played while nursing an ankle injury suffered during a win against Dassel-Cokato on Feb. 23. Fellow senior center Grace DeSchepper will miss the rest of the season after tearing knee ligaments during a Feb. 19 win over Litchfield.
Through all of that, the Wildcats remain the team to beat in Class AA.
Like NLS, you don’t have to go too far down the rankings to find BBE, which is fourth in Class A.
In search of a return trip to the state tournament, the Jaguars have been nearly perfect, having the No. 1 QRF ranking according to Minnesota-Scores.net. They are 13-1 entering Friday’s huge home showdown against Class AA No. 2-ranked Sauk Centre.
BBE’s lone loss came against the best team in Class A. The Jags fell to No. 1 Minneota 42-38 on Feb. 20. Since then, they won their following four games by an average of 21.5 points. Senior forward Allisa Knight has scored in double figures in every game during the winning streak. Knight, a Minnesota State-Moorhead recruit, put up 25 points, 11 rebounds and a pair of blocks during the team’s 67-56 win over Pine River-Backus on Feb. 26.
Also, Willmar and Lac qui Parle Valley deserve nods.
Ranked as high 10th this season and within the top-20 throughout, the Cardinals are 11-3 overall and second in the Central Lakes Conference, one game in the loss column behind Alexandria.
The Eagles lead the Camden Conference North Division standings with a 9-2 mark.
Overall, the team is 11-2, suffering two losses by a combined eight points. LQPV fell 63-59 at Lakeview on Jan. 21 before losing in overtime to Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 64-60.
The Eagles entered Friday’s game against Lac qui Parle Valley with a four-game winning streak.
BOLD eighth-grader Lainey Braulick (left) looks to make a pass while Montevideo’s Tenley Epema (14) defends during a West Central Conference game on Jan. 29 at Montevideo High School. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
There are a few teams in this category that remind me of Gamestop and AMC, companies that both came out of nowhere and saw their stock prices soar.
Montevideo matched its win total from a year ago eight games into this season with a 6-2 start.
Behind the athleticism and versatility of sophomore forward Avery Koenen and the outside shooting of sophomore guard Tenley Epema, the Thunder Hawks are on their way to their first winning season since the 2016-17 season.
Starting with the 2016-17 season, BOLD has had a winning record every year since then. But after losing Hengstler-Ranweiler Award winner Makayla Snow, along with starters Ashley Trongrad and Brenna Weis due to graduation, the Warriors were expected to have a down year. This year’s team has responded with a current four-game winning streak and an 8-4 record overall.
BOLD has gotten strong contributions from its youth, namely eighth-grade guard Lainey Braulick and sophomore guard Mari Ryberg.
Central Minnesota Christian junior forward Molly Mulder is fouled on her baseline shot during a Camden Conference game against Lac qui Parle Valley on Feb. 12 from Central Minnesota Christian School in Prinsburg. Patrick Bernadeau / West Central Tribune
Montevideo and BOLD were scheduled to face off on Friday, but the game was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
Another team that has been solid as of late has been MACCRAY. The Wolverines open the season with losses in their first three games, but are now 9-6 and have won six of their last seven.
Junior guard Ella Bourne has led MACCRAY in scoring each of the last five games, including a 23-point performance during Thursday’s 66-19 win at Dawson-Boyd. Meanwhile, junior forward Gabby Randt has been the team’s best rebounder in that stretch. She grabbed 15 boards in the team’s 65-61 loss to LQPV on Feb. 23.
Central Minnesota Christian opened the season with two losses before ripping off five straight wins.
Entering Friday’s game against Renville County West, the team has dropped its last four games after winning its previous three.
If that isn’t like the fluctuating nature of Wall Street, then I don’t know what is.
With a 8-7 record prior to their matchup with the Jaguars, it’s fair to say the Bluejays have taken a step back from their 20-7 mark last season. Compared to the 2019-20 season, their scoring is down two points per game and they’re allowing five more points per contest.
But don’t sell your Bluejays stock just yet.
Six of CMCS’ losses came against teams with winning records, including a 68-45 defeat to top-ranked Minneota on Jan. 21. Five of the team’s losses have been decided by single digits. Also, the team fell to LQPV 57-40 on Feb. 12, but that game was tied at halftime.
The Bluejays have shown the ability to compete with the area’s best. And while not as good as last year’s team, they have plenty of talent
Junior guard Coco Duininck is one of the most dynamic players in the area and one of the best scorers in the state. Junior forward Molly Mulder provides a post presence that’s capable of collecting double-doubles.
This year’s team isn’t as deep as last year’s, but it does have players that can contribute. During CMCS’ 84-79 loss to LQPV on Tuesday, senior Nyssa Vogel drilled nine 3-pointers as part of a 27-point effort.