Mankato Loyola takes on Minneota in a Breakdown Tip Off Classic matchup that screams of state tournament preview. Loyola has been to two straight state tournaments, and last year surprised #2 seed Maranatha 93-91 in OT in the first round as (then) freshman guard Lindsey Theuninck scored 37 points. They didn’t win again, finishing fourth, but they’re a prohibitive favorite to get a third straight tournament appearance in 2015.
Minneota, meanwhile, has been to four straight tournaments, winning it all in 2013 and finishing second a year ago. They, too, are a big favorite to return to the tournament again next March. They’re rated #1A both by Breakdown Sports and by Northstar Girls Hoops. Loyola is rated #6A by the Breakdown and #8A by Northstar.
Minneota is led by 5-11 post/power forward Taylor Reiss, who scored 23.5 ppg last year, including 40 in the Vikings’ first round state tournament win over Browerville. Minneota lacks the depth they’ve had the past two seasons, but forward Peyton Boerboom and guard Emily Steinessen are back and battle-tested.
Loyola returns Theuninck, already a South Dakota State recruit. She scored 15 ppg last year from the point guard spot while wing Megan Schroeder, who also returns, scored 13.
Taylor Reiss, Minneota vs. Alexxys Clow and Megan Schroeder, Mankato Loyola
Clow, 5-10, and Schroeder, 5-9, are Loyola’s tallest players, so they will be part of the committee that tries to guard the lane. They’ll have to hold Reiss below 20 to 25 points to have a chance at a win, and there’s very little guarantee they can do that.
Why Mankato Loyola Will Win
• Theuninck will be the player she was in the Maranatha game, putting her team on her shoulders, getting into the lane, avoiding turnovers, and scoring at least 25 to 30 points.
• Schroeder, in addition to defending Taylor Reiss, will shake off the Minneota defense to score 15 points herself.
Why Minneota Will Win
• Taylor Reiss
• Emily Steinessen may not be the best all-around guard on the floor, but she’s the best three-point shooter.
Minneota by 7