One of northern Minnesota's biggest boys basketball rivalries will take center stage tonight in the Section 8A playoffs.
Red Lake and Cass Lake-Bena will meet in the Section 8A East Subsection championship game at 6:30 p.m. at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls.
The winner moves on to Friday night's Section 8A championship game for a chance to reach the state tournament. The season ends for the loser.
Red Lake enters tonight's game as the top overall seed in the subsection. The Warriors are a much-improved team from last year and are led by senior Rob Pemberton and junior Tim Lajeunesse.
The Warriors have a 20-5 overall record this season, with all of the losses coming to strong teams. Two of the losses have come against Minnesota Transitions Charter School, the team that defeated Cass Lake-Bena in the state semifinals last season.
The Warriors average 85 points scored per game and 75 points allowed per game.
Red Lake's road to the subsection championship has included a 97-65 win over No. 8 Red Lake County in the quarterfinals and a 74-60 win over No. 4 Blackduck in the semifinals.
Defending section champion Cass Lake-Bena enters tonight's game as the No. 2 seed in the subsection. The Panthers have a 22-6 record this season and have won 10 of their last 11 games. The only loss was a 78-74 loss to Nevis at the end of February.
The Panthers are led by senior Nate Howard, senior Jeromy O'Brien and junior Martin Wind.
The Panthers average 93 points scored per game and 68 points allowed per game this season.
Cass Lake-Bena's route to the subsection championship has included a 74-37 win over No. 7 Win-E-Mac in the quarterfinals and an 88-71 win over No. 3 Clearbrook-Gonvick in the semifinals.
Red Lake and Cass Lake-Bena have split the two meetings against each other this season.
The Warriors took the first game in Red Lake and beat the Panthers 91-79. It was the start of a three-game losing streak for Cass Lake-Bena.
Cass Lake-Bena won the second game in Cass Lake, defeating the Warriors 113-70.
Given the previous scores between the two teams and their offensive and defensive averages, tonight's game could turn into an offensive shootout.
The Section 8A West Subsection championship game between Warren-Alvarado-Oslo and Stephen-Argyle follows at approximately 8:15 p.m.
The East and West champions meet for the Section 8A championship Friday night at 7 p.m. at Thief River Falls.
8-2A final moved
The Section 8-2A boys final, originally scheduled for Bemidji State University tonight, was moved to Brainerd when Crosby-Ironton and Pequot Lakes emerged as winners in Saturday's semifinals at Bemidji High.
Top-seeded Crosby-Ironton had problems with Roseau through a half, leading by no more than six points at any time and taking a 32-30 lead to the break.
But the Rangers opened with an 11-2 run to begin the second half and ran nine straight points midway through the period to lead 60-41 and coasted home, winning 77-62.
Playmaker Matt Hudrlik led three Rangers with 20 while Mark Hoge added 18 and Brock Tesdahl, 17.
Tesdahl is another grandson of Chisholm's coaching legend Bob McDonald and younger brother of BSU's Bryce.
Eric Vatnsdal led the Rams with 15 while Ryan Peterson had 12 and Jordan Timmersrman 10.
Roseau held a 41-32 boards advantage but committed 26 turnovers to 13 for the winners.
No. 2 Pequot Lakes had even more first-half problems, trailing 13-2 at the start before outscoring Warroad 15-6 down the stretch to take a 28-21 halftime lead.
The Patriots opened a double figure advantage early in the second half and never led by fewer than five in going on to a 57-45 win.
Mike Georges hit five 3-pointers to lead the Pats with 15. Martin Adams was high for Warroad with 14.
Pequot held a 44-26 lead off the boards with Mike Ward cleaning 14. Each team had 11 turnovers.
It was a welcome home for Pequot Lakes Coach Garry Grewe, who guided Bemidji High from 1996-2002.
Pelican Rapids, the state's top-ranked team, and East Grand Forks will clash at Concordia tonight for the west sub-section championship. Tonight's two winners come to grips Friday at Concordia for the section title.
8-4A, 8-3A finals
St. Cloud State will host a championship double header Thursday when unbeaten St. Cloud Tech faces Buffalo for the 8-4A title followed by the 8-3A championship between St. Cloud Apollo and Little Falls.
Buffalo, the No. 7 seed, reached the final by beating Alexandria and Maple Grove. Tech ousted Brainerd and Elk River.
The pair will be meeting for the first time this season.
Apollo won over Sartell and Sauk Rapids. Little Falls beat Thief River and Rocori.
Apollo swept the regular season games 67-60 and 81-73.