Thanksgiving Tip-Off Tournament returns

| November 17, 2017 | 0 Comments

In this 2016 file photo, Cretin-Derham Hall’s Elizabeth Edinger takes a shot during girls basketball practice Nov. 15. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Back by growing demand, local Catholic high school girls basketball teams will commence their seasons at the second annual Thanksgiving Tip-Off Tournament Nov. 24-25.

The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul will co-host the event again with the Office of Stewardship and Development in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

“This tournament allows talented women in Catholic high schools an opportunity to play against other Catholic high schools in a wonderful facility like the University of St. Thomas,” said Margaret Slawin, director of the Office of Stewardship and Development. “There is a large amount of talent at these schools, and this tournament is the perfect platform to showcase those players.”

Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield has Destinee Oberg, ranked 14th nationally for junior forwards by ESPN. Oberg helped the Stars win a Class 3A state title in 2016 and take third in 2017.

DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis has loads of talent back from its Class 3A state tournament team last March. Lourdes High School in Rochester from the Diocese of Winona also returns talent from its Class 2A state tournament squad, including NCAA Division I prospect and sophomore guard Alyssa Ustby.

Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, brings the biggest talent of all in point guard Caitlin Clark, ranked No. 1 nationally by ESPN for all sophomores. The Diocese of Des Moines school accepted the invitation for the tournament when it expanded from 12 to 14 teams this year.

Slawin said the invitation was made to “bring in something new and fresh in the level of competition.”

“It’s outstanding,” said Holy Angels coach Dan Woods, whose team will play Dowling Nov. 24. “It’s what we want [and] what we’ll need to prep us for the season.”

Funds raised from the Thanksgiving Tip-Off support participating teams and local Catholic education.

Last year’s tournament only had Minnesota Catholic schools, but interest has grown since. In addition to Dowling, Hill-Murray School in Maplewood is new to the tourney.

“We have received calls from other schools to be part of the tournament and have started a waiting list going forward,” said Slawin, who also noted the spots filled quickly.

Around 5,000 fans attended the tournament last year. That reach could grow with the addition of the varsity games being broadcast by the Catholic Sports Network, a website that broadcast Catholic high school teams in the archdiocese.

Other schools in the tournament are: Benilde-St. Margaret’s in St. Louis Park, Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, Cristo Rey Jesuit in Minneapolis, Holy Family Catholic in Victoria, Providence Academy in Plymouth, St. Agnes in St. Paul, Totino-Grace in Fridley, Convent of the Visitation in Mendota Heights and Cotter in Winona from the Winona diocese. Junior varsity teams will also play in the tournament.

Women’s basketball scouts from about 400 colleges and universities have been invited to the tournament. St. Thomas coach Ruth Sinn said her program has benefited from the Catholic schools in the archdiocese, particularly with the Tommies’ most recent Division III Final Four last March.

“From this team, all of our seniors were from the Catholic high school girls basketball programs who are currently participating in our tournament,” Sinn said. “We appreciate all the high schools do to develop and grow these young women as basketball players, but more importantly, as people.”

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