The field for the 31st Annual Hanson Girls’ Corn Palace Classic is loaded.
The classic, which begins 10 a.m. Saturday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, features six teams ranked in the South Dakota Sportswriters Association basketball poll and two that received votes.
Hosting deep fields and top-tier matchups is becoming a normal occurrence for the Hanson Classic. At last year’s event, five teams were ranked in the basketball polls and two were receiving votes.
“I think that is a testament to the classic,” Hanson girls’ basketball coach Jim Bridge said. “A lot of schools want to get in. I think we have some real good matchups on paper. We have been fortunate to have some good teams play here.”
The Beavers (8-1), who are receiving votes in the Class B poll, will face No. 5 Summit (8-0) at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Beavers finished third in at the Class B state tournament last season.
“Summit has had a tremendous amount of success the last 10 years,” Bridge said. “It is exceptional what they have done for such a tiny school. We have a lot of respect for them and we know they have a good team, and we are excited to face them.”
Another top-tier matchup Saturday is the Sanborn Central/Woonsocket vs. Warner contest, which is set for 5:30 p.m. Warner is 6-2 this season and ranked second in Class B. The Blackhawks are 6-0 and ranked third in the Class B polls.
Both teams made the Class B state tournament last season, and at the end of the three-day tournament, the Monarchs were crowned champion, while the Blackhawks took fifth.
“It would be awesome to be able to come up with a victory Saturday,” said Rob Baruth, who coaches the SCW girls with Tim McCain. “We know it will take our best effort and it will be a dog fight all the way to the end.”
Baruth said every matchup on the court Saturday will be important, but all eyes will most certainly be on the post battle between Division II basketball commits SCW’s Shelby Selland and Warner’s Miranda Ristau.
Next season, Selland, who is averaging 23 points per game, will play for Augustana, while Ristau, a second-team all-state selection last year, will play at Northern State.
“It all starts with Miranda Ristau and Shelby in the middle,” Baruth said. “Miranda is strong and mobile and she can come at you with different angles in the post.”
Other top teams competing this weekend are Class B No. 1 Sully Buttes and No. 4 De Smet and Class A No. 1 St. Thomas More, No. 5 Clark/Willow Lake and Tri-Valley, which is receiving votes.
“I think this might be the best Hanson Classic yet,” said Baruth, whose team played at the Classic last year. “If you look at the Class B side of it, the top six teams in Class B will play Saturday.”
Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students.
Hanson Girls’ Corn Palace Classic pairings
10 a.m.: Wagner vs. Sioux Falls Christian; 11:30 a.m.: Dell Rapids vs. Clark/Willow Lake; 1 p.m.: Ethan vs. Highmore-Harrold; 2:30 p.m.: Chamberlain vs. Tri-Valley; 4 p.m.: Summit vs. Hanson; 5:30 p.m.: Sanborn Central/Woonsocket vs. Warner; 7 p.m.: St. Thomas More vs. Crofton (Neb.); 8:30 p.m.: Sully Buttes vs. De Smet.