North Woods has been ripping through the regular season with lopsided wins, including five in which the team has reached the 100-point mark. In fact, only one team has finished the game within one possession of the Grizzlies, and that happened when North Woods eked out a 58-55 home win against Virginia on Jan. 18.
The No. 1-1A Grizzlies (19-0, 4-0) are led on offense by Tate Olson (20 ppg) and Cade Goggleye (18 ppg), yet both scored just 10 points in the previous game with the Blue Devils. Their teammates, however, stepped up to shoulder the load, as every player who scored finished with at least eight points to keep North Wood's perfect season alive.
The ability to diversify their high-octane offense is positive for the Grizzlies, who are looking to return to the Class 1A title game. Last year, their season ended with a loss to Minneapolis North in the state championship. With the Polars now in Class 2A, North Woods is certainly a favorite to capture a state crown, and tests against teams such as Virginia will help sharpen the Grizzlies' claws for a postseason run.
Nine points separates the Blue Devils (16-3, 9-0) from an undefeated record, as they have fallen by three points in all of their losses, but it's defense that could be the tipping point on Thursday.
Virginia contained the normally high-scoring Grizzlies in their first meeting, ending the first half tied at 26 before being edged in the second 32-29.
The Blue Devils have shown they can control the pace of the game and score with North Woods. If home-court advantage can help Virginia knock down a few more shots while also limiting the Grizzlies to a few less baskets, the Blue Devils have a chance to knock off the top team in Class 1A and gather momentum entering section play.