Class A Teams Hope to Adjust to Mariucci

Girls State Basketball Returns to Gopher Hockey Arena

Of the ight teams remaining in Minnesota Class A Girls Basketball, a quarter are from the Northland.

Mountain Iron-Buhl won Sec. 7A for the sixth year in a row.  The Rangers are seeded second and will face Sleepy Eye Thursday at 3:00 pm.

MI-B beat Sleepy Eye by 24 points in the final of the Rangers’ holiday tournament, but the stage at State is bigger. 

Having lost the last two years at Mariucci Arena, MI–B junior Chelsea Mason hopes the Rangers can finally adjust to their surroundings.

“It’s always different,” said Mason.  “It’s a different gym compared to our gym.  It’s difficult, but we’ll have to overcome that.”

Rangers coach Jeff Buffetta believes he knows the key to getting the elusive win at Mariucci.

We haven’t had much success at Mariucci, so we’re hoping to generate some success there this year,” said Buffetta.  “Mariucci is a different venue, there’s so much space around it.  We’ll just have to play with confidence and hopefully we’ll get some shots to fall early.”

Meanwhile, Cromwell–Wright won the section 5A title to advance to the State Tournament for the first time since 2004.

This group of Cardinals have never been on a stage this big.  Coach Jeff Gronner hopes his team doesn’t get too wide–eyed when the Cardinals take the floor.

“It’ll be interesting, everyone reacts different to it,” said Gronner.  “It helped that most of our girls have down at Mariucci the last two seasons to watch the games down there and see the environment.  They haven’t been on the court, but that will help a little bit.”

Despite their inexperience, the Cardinals have high hopes.

“We’re pretty confident, at least for our first game,” said senior Andrea Hakamaki.  “That’s all we’ve talked about so far because we’re hoping to go down there and get a win.”

Cromwell-Wright faces Wheaton Thursday at 1:00 pm.

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