Panthers return to state basketball tourney

North girls seeded 3rd, play Andover in quarterfinals

Lakeville North senior guard Caitlyn Peterson, pictured taking a shot in a regular-season game against Eastview, scored 12 points in the Panthers' victory over Rochester Mayo in the Class 4A, Section 1 girls basketball final. Photo by Jim Lindquist/sidekick.smugmug.com
Lakeville North senior guard Caitlyn Peterson, pictured taking a shot in a regular-season game against Eastview, scored 12 points in the Panthers’ victory over Rochester Mayo in the Class 4A, Section 1 girls basketball final. Photo by Jim Lindquist/sidekick.smugmug.com

Lakeville North takes a 21-game winning streak into the state Class 4A girls basketball tournament. Even more remarkable is it’s only the third-longest active winning streak in the field.

The tournament has two unbeaten teams, Hopkins and Elk River, which are 29-0 going into the Class 4A quarterfinals Tuesday at Target Center. The Royals and Elks also are the top two seeds, with North (27-2) drawing the third seed.

The Panthers, who beat Rochester Mayo 46-41 in the Section 1 final last Thursday, face Andover (20-9) at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the final large-school quarterfinal game of the day. The teams did not meet during the regular season. They had a common opponent in Apple Valley, which defeated Andover and split two games with Lakeville North. The Panthers’ last loss was to Apple Valley almost three months ago – 67-60 on Dec. 20.

The North-Andover winner will play Elk River or White Bear Lake (20-9) in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Thursday at Williams Arena. The Class 4A championship game is 8 p.m. Saturday, March 18, also at Williams Arena.

Tuesday’s Class 4A quarterfinal round opens with Hopkins playing unseeded Minnetonka (17-10) at 10 a.m. Fourth-seeded Eastview (23-6) and fifth-seeded Park Center (24-5) play at noon, with Elk River and White Bear Lake meeting at 2 p.m.

There will be a consolation bracket for the first time since the four-class state tournament was introduced. Teams that lose in the quarterfinals will play in consolation semifinal games at 10 a.m. and noon Thursday at Concordia University in St. Paul. The consolation final is 6 p.m. Friday.

Lakeville North trailed Rochester Mayo 18-15 in a low-scoring first half, but senior guards Temi Carda and Catilyn Peterson helped the Panthers take over in the second half. Carda, the Panthers’ leading scorer in the regular season, had 18 points. Peterson added 12.

Lakeville North also attacked the basket, leading to 14 points from the free-throw line. Mayo attempted only one free throw the entire game.

This will be the Panthers’ 13th appearance in the state tournament, including six as Lakeville High School. It will be their third trip to state in Shelly Clemons’ four years as head coach. Clemons played on Lakeville High School’s 2002 and 2003 state championship teams and was an assistant coach with the 2010 Lakeville North team that won the Class 4A title.