Benilde's Grace Coughlin
This is arguably the marquee matchup of the Breakdown Girls' Tip Off Classic and a must-see game for anyone who is a fan of basketball in the metro. One storyline in this one is that this game features at least three future Golden Gophers in Shayne Mullaney and Jackie Johnson of Eden Prairie and Grace Coughlin of Benilde. Another is that Eden Prairie faced a highly-ranked Class AAA team (Hill-Murray) in last year’s Tip Off and lost despite speculation that they would win handily.
Eden Prairie comes into this game after a convincing win against Eagan and what should be a win tonight against Apple Valley. They lose two big-time guards from last year’s state tournament team in Aubrey Davis and Morgan Van Riper Rose but benefit from another transfer this year as Sam Trammel brings her talents in the post over from Hopkins. There certainly isn’t as much hype surrounding this team as there was last year at this time, but they are still ranked No. 2 and hope to challenge Hopkins in the Lake Conference this season.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s finds itself in familiar territory, ranked in the top 5 in the state at the start of the season as they are almost every year! They are led by a trio of Division 1 commits -- Kadijah Shumpert (New Mexico), Josie Dillon (North Dakota), and Coughlin. There are a few people around the state who question the Gophers' early scholarship offer to Coughlin, who is only a sophomore, and this will be a great chance to prove herself on a big stage.
Eden Prairie's Jackie Johnson
Jackie Johnson, Eden Prairie vs.
Khadijah Shumpert, Benilde-St. Margaret's
There are probably several key match-ups here, and we could have easily picked the PG position, but to us, this is more intriguing. Shumpert is an athlete and a great defender who has the ability to shut Johnson down, but can she do it? Johnson is more of an offensive presence and is usually able to take advantage of her defending either by going inside or out, but that won’t be the case with Shumpert, because she is as tall/long and more athletic.
Why Eden Prairie will win:
Why Benilde-St. Margaret’s will win:
Our prediction: Eden Prairie