What to know about this week's Section 1 boys basketball championship games

Mar. 12—By late Friday evening, four Section 1 teams will have qualified for next week's boys basketball state tournaments.

None of them will have had an easy path, though, as the four Section 1 championship games set for this week offer intriguing — and challenging — matchups.

Here's a look at those four games:

Who: No. 1 seed Stewartville (25-3) vs. No. 2 Byron (21-7)

When: 8 p.m., Friday, March 15

Where: Mayo Civic Center Arena

About Byron: The Bears are seeking the third trip to state in program history, having previously qualified in 2013 and 2021. ... Byron has the second-best offense and defense in the section, scoring 68.6 points per game and allowing 57.6 points per game. ... The Bears won their first two section playoff games by 28 and 20 points. ... After losing their season opener 66-63 to Section 1-2A finalist Lake City, the Bears went on a 13-game winning streak. ... Among the Bears' leaders is 6-5 junior forward Max Dearborn, who scored 14 points in Saturday's section semifinal win against Winona. It was the first game back from an injury for Dearborn, who averaged 17.1 points and 4.1 rebounds in the regular season.

How the Bears got here: Beat No. 7 seed Kasson-Mantorville 81-53 in section quarterfinals; beat No. 6 Winona 65-45 semifinals.

About Stewartville: The No. 4-ranked Tigers are the defending section champions. ... They enter this year's section title game on a 19-game winning streak, having won those games by an average of 30.7 points per game. ... Stewartville's last loss was more than two months ago, a 64-63 setback against Mankato East on Jan. 6. Since then, the Tigers have won 19 in a row, 16 of those by double figures. ... They are 7-0 against Section 1 opponents this season and won the tough Hiawatha Valley League with a perfect 16-0 mark in league play. ... Stewartville has the top offense (70.9 ppg) and defense (45.6 ppg allowed) in the section. ... The Tigers beat Byron twice during the regular season, 68-55 on Jan. 26 and 65-29 on Feb. 15.

How the Tigers got here: Beat No. 8 seed Red Wing 89-44 in section quarterfinals; beat No. 4 Faribault 72-42 in section semifinals.

Who: No. 1 seed Lake City (23-5) vs. No. 3 Cannon Falls (24-5)

When: 8 p.m., Thursday, March 14

Where: Mayo Civic Center Arena

About Cannon Falls: The Bombers are looking to qualify for the boys basketball state tournament for the first time in school history. ... They are paced by talented 6-foot-5 senior guard Aiden Johnson, who entered the Section 1-2A playoffs averaging 20.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. ... Senior guard Dylan Banks lifted the Bombers into the section final by going end-to-end for a layup with just seconds left in an 82-81 semifinal win against Caledonia. ... Cannon Falls is 17-2 against Section 1-2A opponents. ... The Bombers' losses this season all came against Stewartville, Byron, Lake City or Caledonia. Stewartville and Byron will play for the Section 1-3A title; Lake City is in the Section 1-2A title game and Cannon Falls just beat Caledonia in the section semifinals.

How the Bombers got here: Beat Randolph 71-60 in first round: beat Lewiston-Altura 71-69 in section quarterfinals; beat Caledonia 82-81 in section semifinals.

About Lake City: The Tigers are ranked No. 3 in the state in Class 2A. ... They are looking to get to state for the ninth time overall and first since 2019. Lake City won state titles in 1978, 1979 and 1990. ... The Tigers have won their three section tournament games so far by an average of 25.0 points, beating the Nos. 16, 8 and 5 seeds to advance to the title game. ... Lake City split two regular-season games against Cannon Falls, both teams winning on their home courts. Lake City won 59-45 on Jan. 11 and lost to the Bombers 69-61 at Cannon Falls on Feb. 16. ... Keegan Ryan, a 6-5 guard/forward, entered the playoffs averaging 15.4 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, while Hunter Lorenson is at 17.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

How the Tigers got here: Beat Albert Lea 72-37 in first round; beat Pine Island 65-42 in section quarterfinals; beat Zumbrota-Mazeppa 63-46 in section semifinals.

Who: No. 1 seed Blooming Prairie (28-2) vs. No. 6 Goodhue (17-13)

When: 6 p.m., Thursday, March 14

Where: Mayo Civic Center Arena

About Goodhue: The Wildcats are 17-13, but 11-1 against Section 1-1A opponents. Goodhue battled against Class 2A and 3A teams much of the season, playing in the rugged Hiawatha Valley League. ... Goodhue is in the section final for a third consecutive season, having lost to Spring Grove a year ago and Hayfield in 2022. ... The sixth-seeded Wildcats have won their three postseason games this year by an average of 17.0 points, beating the Nos. 11, 3 and 7 seeds to advance to the championship game. ... Goodhue is looking for its fifth trip to state, having previously qualified in 2004, 2011, 2016 and 2017.

How the Wildcats got here: Beat Schaeffer Academy 79-59 in second round; beat Rushford-Peterson 75-64 in section quarterfinals; beat Fillmore Central 86-66 in section semifinals.

About Blooming Prairie: The Blossoms last met the Wildcats in the 2019-20 regular season, Blooming Prairie earning a 40-34 victory en route to winning the section championship that winter. ... That was just the second time the Blossoms have ever qualified for state. They first went in 1966. ... Blooming Prairie is led by brothers Gabe Hein and Zack Hein. Gabe, a 6-4 senior forward, entered the section playoffs averaging a double-double (24.6 points, 10.0 rebounds) per game. Zack, a 6-4 senior guard, averages 16.5 points and 4.0 assists per game. ... Blooming Prairie is ranked No. 6 in the state in Class 1A and has won seven consecutive games. ... The Blossoms' two losses this season came in back-to-back games, a 61-60 loss to Winona Cotter on Jan. 27, and a 73-60 loss at Kenyon-Wanamingo on Jan. 29. ... The Blossoms avenged that loss to K-W in the section quarterfinals, beating the Knights 72-47.

How the Blossoms got here: Beat Faribault Bethlehem Academy 65-43 in second round; beat Kenyon-Wanamingo 72-47 in section quarterfinals; beat Kingsland 74-72 in section semifinals.

Who: No. 1 seed Lakeville North (23-5) vs. No. 2 Farmington (22-6)

When: 6 p.m., Friday, March 15

Where: Mayo Civic Center Arena

About Farmington: The Tigers are looking for their first trip to state in 87 years. According to MSHSL records, the last — and only — time they qualified for the boys basketball state tournament was 1937. ... They are ranked No. 8 in the state in Class 4A. ... Farmington is led by 6-foot-4 senior guard Tyler Beckwith. He scored a game-high 24 points in a section semifinal win against Lakeville South on Saturday.

How the the Tigers got here: Beat Rochester John Marshall 75-68 in section quarterfinals; beat Lakeville South 69-52 in section semifinals.

About North: Ranked No. 7 in the state in Class 4A. ... The Panthers are led by 6-foot-6 senior forward Jack Robison, a University of Wisconsin commit. ... North is the South Suburban Conference champion. ... Robison scored 21 points against Century in the section semifinals. His teammate Matt Drake led the way with 26. ... The defending section champion, North has been to state 10 times previously and was a section finalist in 2020, when the section title game was canceled due to COVID-19.

How the Panthers got here: Beat New Prague 85-38 in section quarterfinals; beat Rochester Century 77-71 in section semifinals.