2020-21 state-tourney squads headline Northwestern tourney field

Meadville girls, Higbee boys top seeds for Nov. 29-Dec. 4 event

Linn County Leader

MENDON — A trio of teams whose 2020-21 high school basketball seasons ended in the Class 1 state tournament – one as the surprise fourth-place finisher – highlight the field for the 8-schools Northwestern Invitational Tournament coming up Nov. 29-Dec. 4.

The 66th-annual event will include its usual recent field, this time including as top seeds the defending-champion Meadville Lady Eagles and the Higbee Tigers, newest member of the Carroll-Livingston Activity Association.

While MHS’ Lady Eagles have largely owned the Northwestern tourney crown for over a decade, including the last three in a row, Higbee is back at Mendon as the favorite after being seeded only sixth and finishing with the consolation trophy 12 months ago.

Under ninth-year head coach Tanner Burton, the youthful Tigers matured significantly as last season progressed and then exploded in the postseason. They captured their district crown, then followed up their state-tourney sectional victory with a 45-38 quarterfinals shocker over the Green City Gophers who had ended the Meadville boys’ season in the sectional round.

While Higbee lost to eventual state champion South Iron by 35 in the state semifinals, it battled St. Elizabeth hard in the third-place game at Springfield before falling by 13.

With four starters back, led by sophomore all-district returnees Jordan Fuemmeler and Derek Rockett and very fast senior guard Luke Ritter, the Tigers rate as both a clear-cut favorite in the upcoming tourney and in their first year of competition in the CLAA.

While Meadville graduated All-State guard Kiera Holcer and Krysta Meyers, it will have back Holcer’s sophomore sister Korrie, along with senior Maggie McLain, whose injury in the latter half of last season might have kept the Lady Eagles from deeper advancement at state. In addition, juniors Mallory Dennis and Kendra Meyers help form a strong core that should let MHS contend for another district championship.

66th-annual Northwestern Invitational Basketball Tournament (2021)