The third Breakdown Tip Off Classic matchup is our only all-Class AAA game of the day, and it features the state champions from Park Center.
The Pirates bring back seven contributors from that state championship team of last March, and is rated #1 in both Breakdown Sports and Northstar Girls Hoops pre-season rankings. But their opponent, the Delano Tigers, boasts perhaps the top player in Class AAA, 6-1 power forward Alex Wittinger, who is Illinois-bound after this coming season. The Tigers are rated #3AAA by Breakdown Sports but just #13AAA by Northstar Girls Hoops.
6-2 sophomore post Mikayla Hayes is Park Center’s top returning scorer at 9 ppg, and will probably have the main responsibility for slowing Wittinger down. But the Pirates’ main strength is its backcourt where seniors McKenna DuBois and Hannah Schaub and sophomores Danielle Schaub and Ann Simonet all scored from 5 to 9 ppg last year. Hannah is just back from an ACL injury, and will be playing college ball at D1 Valparaiso at this time next year.
Meanwhile, Wittinger is not alone on the Delano side. Senior forward Bria Barfnecht, an all-state volleyball player and Sioux Falls University volleyball recruit, scored 16 ppg last year. Point guard Brooke Lemke, also a senior, scored 12 ppg, and will play basketball at Gustavus Adolphus.
Wittinger, who scored 19 points with 12 rebounds per game last year, will be stronger and more mobile than Hayes. Barfnecht is 5-9 and averaged 9 boards last year, so Park Center will have their hands more than full inside.
Bria Barfnecht, Delano vs. McKenna DuBois, Park Center
The 5-6 DuBois successfully defended 6-3 Creighton-bound Kylie Brown of Simley in the state tournament last year. We imagine coach Chris VandeHyde will ask her to defend Barfnecht, and if that matchup works out, then Delano’s height advantage will be largely negated. On offense, DuBois is the Pirates leading three-point shooter, and Park Center will need some of those, too, to off-set Delano’s size.
Why Delano Will Win
• Wittinger and Barfnecht will dominate in the lane.
• Delano’s perimeter defense won’t give up too many open three-point looks to DuBois, the Schaubs and Simonet.
Why Park Center Will Win
• Park Center’s guards will harass Lemke and the other Delano guards into enough turnovers and easy buckets to maintain control.
• Mikayla Hayes will play Wittinger almost to a draw.
Hayes vs. Wittinger won’t be a draw, but Park Center’s guards will cause enough turnovers and hit enough threes to win by 6.