We’re down to a handful of area teams in girls basketball and those remaining have their biggest games of the season this week.
Albany plays for the Section 8-3A title at 7 p.m. Friday at Minnesota State-Moorhead against Fergus Falls.
It arguably could be of state-final caliber.
Fergus Falls (27-1) is ranked No. 1 in the state and is the two-time defending section champion.
Albany (26-1) is ranked third and hopes to return to state for the first time since 2008 when the Huskies won the state Class 2A title.
The Otters are tall, talented and experienced. They had the third seed in last year’s state tournament, but were upset 79-78 in two overtimes by Monticello in the state quarterfinals at Williams Arena.
Albany is athletic and has a deep bench. New head coach Aaron Boyum has done a great job in inheriting an experienced team and pushing it to improve.
Fergus Falls is coming off a 66-47 semifinal win Saturday over a very good Alexandria squad.
Albany slipped past an excellent Thief River Falls team 68-67.
A quick look at two other girls basketball sections involving area teams:
* Annandale vs. Braham, North Sub-Section 5-2A championship, 8 p.m. at St. Michael-Albertville.
The Cardinals (15-11) have the top seed, mostly because they play so many Class 3A teams in the Wright County Conference.
Braham (24-4) is the defending section champion and looking for its sixth straight state tournament berth.
The Bombers were second in state last year and won a state championship in 2011.
The first game of this doubleheader feature sixth-ranked Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (25-2) vs. Watertown-Mayer (18-9) at 6 p.m. for the South Sub-Section 5-2A championship.
The Section 5-2A final is 7:30 p.m. Friday at St. Cloud State.
* New London-Spicer vs. Eden Valley-Watkins, South Sub-Section 6-2A championship, 6 p.m. at St. John’s University.
The fifth-ranked Wildcats (22-5) are the sub-section’s top seed. They feature one of the top guards in the state in Taylor Thunstedt, who has signed with North Dakota State.
New London-Spicer is also led by one of the state’s most successful coaches, Mike Dreier.
Eden Valley-Watkins (19-7) is the second seed and also has an outstanding coach in Tom Jansen.
The Eagles are successful because of their balanced scoring, strong fundamental play and gritty defense.
* Staples-Motley vs. Sauk Centre, North Sub-Section 6-2A championship, 7:45 p.m. at St. John’s University.
This is the other half of the doubleheader. Sauk Centre (21-5) is the four-time defending section champion, but has a lot of new faces this year. The Mainstreeters are ranked ninth in the state.
Staples-Motley (20-6) is the top seed and ranked seventh in the state. The Cardinals have been knocking on the door for the past three years and this might be the year they break through.
The Section 6-2A final is 6 p.m. Friday at St. Cloud State.