Girls Night(s) Out 

Sec. 1AAAA Quarterfinal Wednesday: No. 2 Owatonna vs. No. 7 Rochester Century, 7 PM (104.9 FM)

Sec. 2AA South Semifinal Thursday: No. 1 NRHEG vs. No. 4 Tri-City United, 6 PM (104.9 FM)

Sec. 1A West Final Saturday: No. 1 Goodhue vs. No. 3 Blooming Prairie, 2 PM (104.9 FM)

Posted By: Jason Iacovino

The New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva girls basketball team will start defense of its State championship on Thursday when the top-seeded Panthers battle Tri-City United in Mankato.  It has been a foregone conclusion that NRHEG would be at State for a third straight year and based on how NRHEG closed out its regular season, there appears nothing will prevent that from happening.

What we have discovered in the last couple weeks is NRHEG may have some company from other area teams.

Blooming Praire pulled off a nice upset over Lyle-Pacelli in Rochester on Monday night in their subsection semifinal game, scoring 73 points against a team that held them to 19 back on Dec. 5.  The game was the latest in a continuing trend of dramatic improvement for coach John Worke's squad, which ended the regular season with a 7-point loss to No. 2 Kenyon-Wanamingo.  The Awesome Blossoms will face top-seed Goodhue on Saturday at 2 PM for the Subsection championship and the winner of that game should be the favorite to advance to State. 

As with Lyle-Pacelli, the Blossoms lost to Goodhue by a convincing margin earlier this season.  Goodhue also likes to apply full court pressure, something that Blooming Prairie proved they could handle on Monday night.  The one notable difference is Goodhue has size to match up with BP's Taylor Hagen and Kalyn Naatz, who both were a strong force inside against a smaller Athletics team on Monday. 

The other local team that could be joining NRHEG in the Twin Cities on March 18-22 is the Owatonna Huskies.  Coach Tricia Hoffman's team drew the No. 2 seed in Sec. 1AAAA and will face No. 7 Rochester Century tonight at OHS in the quarterfinal round.  The Huskies swept the Panthers in the regular season and are on an 11-game winning streak.  They would appear to be on a crash course to play No. 1 Lakeville North in the Section title game in Rochester on March 14, but there are other good teams in the Section, including No. 3 Rochester John Marshall, who has also won 11 straight.  

The odds of all 3 area girls teams reaching State are still fairly long, but I can honestly say having seen these teams recently with my own eyes, that they are playing their best basketball of the season at the right time. 

Jason Iacovino can be heard Tuesdays and Fridays on KRFO-AM 1390 at 3:50 p.m.  Email him at  Follow him on Twitter @JasonIacovino.