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An Odd Prep Sports Outing
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/31/2010 5:46:38 PM

Hi, readers of John's Journal. I'm taking some time off this week for a long-ago-planned vacation in Phoenix. Something came up while we're here that's an interesting twist on the prep sports we are accustomed to in Minnesota.

I was talking to a relative who lives here, and he has a child who play high school varsity volleyball. His child is a boy, however. Yes, Arizona has boys' prep volleyball, with a spring season. So on Thursday evening I'm hoping to venture to a nearby high school and see a match.

I'll report back right here on what I see.

More on 4A, and a Tourney Wrap-up
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/27/2010 10:38:16 PM

The basketball season has come to a close, with Hopkins defeating St. Cloud Tech 76-56 tonight at Target Center in the Class 4A championship game.

This was a similar matchup to the 3A game: Top-seeded Hopkins against unseeded Tech. The result, however, was not as close as St. Paul Johnson’s four-point victory over Grand Rapids in 3A.

Tech led by two points early but Hopkins steadily built a lead up to 16 points with 12 minutes left in the game. The margin was 17 with eight minutes remaining and 20 with 6:30 to play. Reserves finished the game for both teams.

Hopkins won its second consecutive title and fifth since 2002. Tech was at state for the third year in a row; the Tigers lost to Hopkins in last year’s 4A semifinals.

Joe Coleman had 21 points for Hopkins (30-2) and Marvin Singleton added19. Tech (27-5) was led by Alex Hanks with 20 points.

*Hopkins’ starters included two juniors and a sophomore, so the Royals may be the team to beat again next season.

*Absolutely the best non-game moment of the entire tournament came at halftime of the 4A contest. Players, managers and coaches from the 1960 Edgerton and Austin teams -- which met in the state championship game before more than 19,000 fans at Williams Arena – were introduced, with the starters from that game shaking hands at center court. Everyone was also given a commemorative basketball in honor of the game’s 50th anniversary.

*The judges revisited the issue in the waning moments of the tournament and a tie has been declared for nicest-looking uniforms: New London-Spicer and St. Cloud Tech.

*The MTBD (Millea Tournament Band Derby) -- of which I have been appointed proprietor by a committee that has chosen to remain nameless – has ended with two bands receiving top tournament honors: New London-Spicer and St. Anthony Village (which filled in for the spring-breaking Grand Rapids band).

*As I wrote on the Journal on Friday, I have been using my courtside laptop computer as a TV in order to keep an eye on the NCAA games during the high school tournament. The same group of folks who sat in the first row behind me last night were back tonight. When I flipped on the West Virginia-Kentucky game, one of the kids said to me, “There he is, Mr. Reliable with the college games!”

*Being a person who has covered prep sports for years, I go to a lot of games. I’ve been to many Hopkins games, and there is a small group of male Royals fans who like to chat when they see me; they usually are angling to get a mention in whatever I am writing. I had not seen those guys in a few weeks … until tonight. After the 3A game, I was walking to the tunnel that leads from the court to the backstage area when I heard a couple of familiar voices yelling down from above the tunnel. “Hey Mr. Millea! How do you like your new job?” There they were, familiar smiling faces. Nice to see you, boys.

*Total paid attendance for the four-day tournament was 55,525. The largest single crowd was for Saturday night’s two games: 7,480.

*The Count (Tournament Wrap-up Edition): Five for the day and a world-record 22 for the tournament.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Hopkins Wins 4A Crown; All-Tourney Team
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/27/2010 10:33:52 PM

Hopkins has just wrapped up a 76-56 victory over St. Cloud Tech in the 4A title game.

Here's the 4A All-Tournament Team

--Grant Soderberg and Brett Ervin, Eden Prairie.

--Jordan Jackson and Mike Rostampour, Henry Sibley.

--Alex Hanks, Scott Nystrom and Thomas Korf, St. Cloud Tech.

--Joe Coleman, Marvin Singleton and D.J. Peterson, Hopkins.

Emotional Postgame in 3A
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/27/2010 8:45:13 PM

Emotions were evident after St. Paul Johnson’s 59-55 victory over Grand Rapids in tonight’s 3A state championship game. There were some red eyes when the Johnson players came out of the locker room, and Grand Rapids coach Dan Elhard, standing outside his team’s quiet locker room, talked about the scene inside.

“These guys cherish each other and cherish this season,” he said. “There are tears and hugs and a lot of private moments going on in there.”

This was a ballgame to be remembered. Johnson was a heavy favorite, holding the No. 1 seed against the unseeded Thunderhawks.

But Grand Rapids came to play, holding Johnson to its lowest offensive output of the season. The Governors’ previous low was 61, in a season-opening 61-45 win over La Crosse (Wis.) Aquinas.

“Actually it’s just a relief,” Johnson coach Vern Simmons said after the game. “You go through a season, taking everybody’s best shot. Now the pressure’s off.”

Estan Tyler led Johnson with 20 points, hitting four of seven three-point shots. Eric Stark scored 15 for the Thunderhawks and Michael Johnson had 13. Both teams made 20 field goals; Johnson hit seven three-pointers to four for Grand Rapids.

“In a game like this you expect to leave it all on the floor,” Simmons said. “And you saw that tonight from both teams.”

*Grand Rapids (29-3) lost this season to DeLaSalle and Orono. The Thunderhawks avenged their loss to DeLaSalle by beating the Islanders 57-53 in overtime in Thursday’s semifinals. Orono also went to state in 3A, falling to Winona in the quarterfinals.

*Johnson (32-0) raised its profile with a holiday tournament victory over Hopkins, the defending champion in 4A; the Royals are playing St. Cloud Tech in tonight’s 4A title game, which is now underway.

*My favorite postgame sight: As the horn blew, Johnson senior Maxie Rosenbloom ran straight to his coach, Simmons. The two embraced for a long time.

*Ten female Johnson fans had a message printed on the front of their white t-shirts in large, glittery, gold letters: U-N-D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D.

*We had another great halftime performance by the St. Paul Johnson “Motion Crew,” a group of eight break-dancing young men who are extremely talented.

*Nice rendition of “Crazy Train” by the St. Anthony Village/Grand Rapids band. Ozzy’s tune has become a favorite on the pep band circuit.

*If my calculations are correct, tonight’s session is the first time under the four-class format that non-metro teams played in both the 3A and 4A title games. Of course, the terms “metro” and “non-metro” are not always clear cut, but stay with me.

The four-class system began in 1997. In 4A, the only true non-metro team I can find that played in a 4A title game was Duluth East, which lost to Osseo in 2001. Non-metro teams involved in 3A finals include Rocori, Red Wing, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Duluth East (in 2006) and Mankato West.

But nowhere can I find a year in which non-metro teams played in both the 3A and 4A finals, as Grand Rapids and St. Cloud Tech did tonight.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

3A All-Tournament Team
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/27/2010 7:59:54 PM

--Jalen Jaspers and Johan Travis, DeLaSalle.

--Alec Brown and Mark Blacklock, Winona.

--Eric Stark, Michael Johnson and Kevin Rabbers, Grand Rapids.

--Estan Tyler, Maxie Rosenbloom and Roosevelt Scott, St. Paul Johnson.

St. Paul Johnson is the 3A Champion
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/27/2010 7:58:09 PM

St.Paul Johnson has completed a perfect season, defeating Grand Rapids 59-55 in the Class 3A boys’ basketball state championship game at Target Center.

The Governors (32-0) survived a tough test from the Thunderhawks (29-3) in capturing the first boys’ basketball title in Johnson history.

Both teams were making their first appearance in a state championship game, and this one went right down to the wire.

The all-tournament team is being announced, followed by the presentation of the medals and trophies to both teams.

A State Tournament Quiz
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/27/2010 6:04:41 PM

An interesting question was raised in the media room here at Target Center between sessions of the boys’ state basketball tournament. As usual, I do not know the answer.

How many basketball players have played in 12 state tournament games?

Ellsworth senior Trevor Gruis played in his 12th game today, thus the question. A player would have had to be on the court for three games in each tournament for four years to meet the 12-game standard. We don’t know; maybe somebody has played in more than 12 games, if they got on the court as a seventh- or eighth-grader.

Feel free to send me an email or a Twitter message if you know of anybody else – boys or girls – who has played in 12 games (or more) at state.

*The Count: The record fell with a clang this afternoon. The new soft drink record is now 20, and it will be extended before the night is out. I’d like to thank the academy and all the little people who made this night possible.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

A Band is on Hand for Grand Rapids
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/27/2010 5:51:43 PM

The final two games of the Minnesota high school basketball season will be played tonight at Target Center as the state titles are decided in Class 3A and Class 4A.

The 3A contest will tip off shortly after 6 p.m., with unbeaten St. Paul Johnson facing Grand Rapids. The 4A game between Hopkins and St. Cloud Tech will follow.

*Hold your cards: We have a late entrant in the MTBD (Millea Tournament Band Derby). It’s the band from St. Anthony Village, which is filling in tonight for the Grand Rapids band. As noted on John’s Journal earlier in the tournament, the Thunderhawk musicians are off on a spring break trip to Florida, and the St. Anthony kids volunteered to step in tonight (Target Center … TV … what’s not to like?). A box of 60 plain orange t-shirts was delivered here to Target Center not long ago, and as the band was setting up behind one of the baskets each of the kids reached into a cardboard box and pulled out an orange shirt. (St. Anthony’s colors are blue and white.) The “fill-in” band can play, too. They are very solid and look like a contender in the MTBD.

*The teams from Johnson and Grand Rapids are warming up in front of me. We’ll drop the puck shortly.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Big Shots, Big Wins for New London-Spicer
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/27/2010 4:30:09 PM

When New London-Spicer’s Jayme Moten hit an NBA three-point – a long NBA three-point shot – to take some of the steam out of Crosby-Ironton in the late stages of today’s 2A boys’ basketball title game, it was nothing new

As the NL-S players were cutting down the Target Center net after their 62-52 victory, coach Matt Cordes talked about the Wildcats’ overtime win against Staples-Motley in the Section 6 title game.

“We called a timeout with a few seconds on the clock and Jayme looked me in the eye and said, ‘Coach, I’m gonna hit this shot,’ ” Cordes said. “And he crossed midcourt and hit a 40-footer to win the game.”

NL-S led by 14 points late in the first half Saturday but the Rangers whittled away. The margin was two with 4:16 left in the second half . With 2:13 left, Moten hit his three-pointer to put NL-S in front 52-47. That may have been the backbreaker.

“I knew I could make it,” he said. “A.J. [Aaron Jenny] gave me a nice kick-out, I got it and I made it.”

Moten, the quarterback on the Wildcats’ state championship football team last fall, led the hoops squad with 19 points. Mark Hoge had 27 for Crosby-Ironton, completing a very impressive tournament performance.

NL-S had a 36-20 advantage in rebounds, and that played a role in the outcome. Another important statistic was three-point shooting; NL-S hit six of 19 while Crosby-Ironton made one of 12 from behind the line.

*The basketball championship continues a great string of athletic success at New London-Spicer. Not only did the Wildcats win a football title, during this school year NL-S teams in football, volleyball, wrestling, gymnastics, girls’ basketball and boys’ basketball have a combined record of 129-13. The volleyball and girls’ cross-country teams also qualified for state last fall.

*Most Fashionable Coach: Cordes has been declared the winner, and the committee of fashion experts on media row issued a unanimous verdict. Matt was in all black on Friday, and today he pulled off a very slick zipped cardigan/necktie look. New London-Spicer also was proclaimed to have the best-looking uniforms in the tournament … barring any last-minute wardrobe changes in tonight’s games. NL-S could complete the trifecta by winning the MTBD (Millea Tournament Band Derby), as well. We’ll see how the day plays out.

*Chant of the day: Crosby-Ironton students chanting in rapid-style fashion: “D It Up! D It Up!”

*The 1960 Edgerton Flying Dutchmen isn’t the only team celebrating an anniversary at the tournament. Brothers Dan and Den Gardner have been compiling the all-tournament team votes for 20 years.

*The Count has a new record. Soft drink No. 19 for the tournament went down – tasting as good as No. 1 on Wednesday – during the second half of the 2A game.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Class 2A All-Tournament Team
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/27/2010 4:03:28 PM

--Ben Thiry and Tyler Vaughan, Braham.

--Cole Olstad and Clay Olstad, Plainview-Elgin-Millville.

--Mark Hoge and Brock Tesdahl, Crosby-Ironton.

--Justin Zylstra, Erik Tengwall, Aaron Johnson and Jayme Moten, New London-Spicer.

New London-Spicer is 2A champion
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/27/2010 4:00:20 PM

In a thrilling game that electrified the Target Center, New London-Spicer has just defeated Crosby-Ironton 62-52 in the Class 2A boys’ basketball state championship game.

It’s the Wildcats' second title in three years, and it came in grand style. NL-S led by 14 points late in the first half and was dominating things pretty well, but the Rangers gave them everything they had in the second half.

Two years ago the same teams met in the finals, with NL-S winning by a score of 59-51.

The all-tournament teams are being announced right now, followed by the medals and trophies to NL-S and C-I.

Triple A Awards Announced
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/27/2010 3:09:38 PM

Minnesota high school students were honored at halftime of the 2A title game with the MSHSL Triple A Award, also known as the Academic, Arts and Athletics Award.

The award recognizes seniors for their achievements in the classroom, the arts and athletics. Students must have a grade-point average of B or better and participate in MSHSL-sponsored athletic and fine arts activities.

Member schools are invited to nominate two students, one male and one female, for the award. Recipients are selected through a multi-level process involving the League’s administrative regions and a committee of athletic, fine arts and educational leaders.

Recipients from each region were awarded medals at halftime.

The four overall winners of the Triple A award are Sonja Peterson of Two Harbors, Peter Wollin of Greenbush-Middle River, Ellen Degler of Chaska and Mathew Schnorenberg of Mankato East. Each of those four students will receive a four-year, $1,000-year scholarship from the MSHSL.

Noreen Paces Transitions' Victory
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/27/2010 2:34:08 PM

History was made in today’s first game of Championship Saturday when Minnesota Transitions captured the first title in school history in any sport. The Minneapolis charter school, which was founded in 1996, was led by 6-10 senior center Kevin Noreen, a Boston College signee who had 24 points on 11-for-17 shooting, 15 rebounds and nine blocked shots.

Rodney Owens had 22 points on 11-for-16 shooting for Transitions (30-3), and Sebeka coach Jon Lillquist said Noreen and Owens were the difference-makers.

“Kevin hurt us and they got great production from Rodney Owens,” he said.

Ryan Sharp of Sebeka (30-3) was slowed by a sprained ankle and scored nine points.

“He wasn’t 100 percent and that hurt us,” Lillquist said. “But you have to play with what you have and that’s what we had today.”

Transitions shot 54 percent from the field to Sebeka’s 40.7 percent. Sebeka led by nine with 12:26 left in the first half but things got tighter after that; Sebeka led 32-30 at halftime and Transitions outscored the Trojans 31-20 in the final 18 minutes.

Lillquist, a Sebeka alum who was the first 1,000-point scorer in school history, said he has been coming to watch state tournaments since he was a teenager, and this week’s experience fulfilled a goal for him, his players and the entire community.

“This is a great group of kids,” he said, “and they took us on a great ride.”

*This was Transitions’ third trip to state and the Wolves’ first title. Transitions lost in the 2008 title game to Ellsworth and fell to Granada-Huntley-East Chain in the quarterfinals a year ago.

Sebeka played in its first championship game. The Trojans qualified for state for the first time last season, losing to Ellsworth in the quarterfinals.

*For those of us who are mathematically challenged, the Sebeka lineup made things easy. The starters wore numbers 1, 2 , 3, 4 and 5.

*Another use of instant replay: A foul was called on a Transitions player right at the end of the first half, and the officials went to the video. It wasn’t clear if they were checking 1) to see if the foul occurred before or after the horn, or 2) who was fouled. They made a ruling and Sebeka’s Cody Pulju made one of three free throws to give his team a 32-30 lead.

*Tournament Veterans Know How Things Work Dept.: After Ellsworth defeated Rushford-Peterson in the morning 1A third-place game at Concordia University in St. Paul, the Panthers coaches knew that Trevor Gruis and Casey Schilling were likely to be named to the all-tournament team. So Gruis and Schilling put on dress shirts and ties, looking mighty sharp when they were indeed introduced as members of the all-tourney team.

*The Minnesota Transitions drill team and drumline performed at halftime, and it was a heck of a show. This is a unique, percussion-only pep band.

*Shortly before tipoff I heard a vendor right behind me, in the bottom rows of seats, hawking mini donuts. I was definitely tempted.

*You Know You’re From a Small Town When … the band members leave their instruments in their seats during the game and sit with their fellow students.

*Big Eyes in the Corridors: Some Timberwolves players, returning to the locker room after practice in the Target Center health club gym, walked down the hallway while players, coaches, media and cheerleaders were there after the 1A title game. There were some pretty big eyes looking on.

*The 2A title game between Crosby-Ironton and New London-Spicer is underway. As the C-I Rangers ran out to the court for warm-ups, the first kid rubbed the shiny head of athletic director Dave Niemi and the rest of the players gave Dave a fist bump.

*The Count: My tournament record of 18 Diet Cokes/Pepsis was tied before today’s first game was five minutes old. (I celebrated with a bear claw on the side.)

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Class 1A All-Tournament Team
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/27/2010 1:51:55 PM

--Blake Lea and Kasey Olloff, Rushford-Peterson.

--Trevor Gruis and Casey Schilling, Ellsworth.

--Joey Cuperus, John Clark and Alex Brockpahler, Sebeka.

--Kyle Noreen, Kevin Noreen and Rodney Owens, Minnesota Transitions.

Transitions Wins 1A Title
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/27/2010 1:51:09 PM

In a game between two teams hopingto win their first state championship, Minnesota Transitions has defeated Sebeka 61-52 for the 1A crown.

Medals and trophies are being awarded now.

Championship Saturday is Here
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/27/2010 11:58:48 AM

The teams from Sebeka and Minnesota Transitions are warming up in front of me at Target Center and the Class 1A boys’ basketball state championship game will begin shortly.

It’s going to be a great day of hoops. The games are being televised by Channel 45 and streamed online at 45.grandstadium.tv

I’ll be posting halftime and final scores on my Twitter feed as well as on “MSHSL” on Facebook.

Let’s get this party started!

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

New London-Spicer Advances to Title Game
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/26/2010 10:12:38 PM

Day Three of the boys’ state basketball tournament has come to an end with New London-Spicer defeating Braham 76-67 in the Class 2A semifinals. The Wildcats will meet Crosby-Ironton in Saturday’s championship game, which will be a rematch of the 2008 title game won by NL-S 59-51.

Four players for NL-S scored in double figures, led by Justin Zylstra with 22 points (and a game-high 11 rebounds). Tyler Vaughan scored 25 for Braham. NL-S led 39-33 at halftime and stayed in front through the second half. The Bombers never held a lead.

*Great moment at halftime: Dick Stanford, who is retiring after 35 years as a public address announcer for state tournaments, was honored with a state championship medal as well as a plaque. He stood at center court and received a very nice and well-deserved ovation from the crowd.

*Question posed to me from a young man sitting in the first row, right behind the media table: “Do you know if there’s a Taco Bell close by?”

*Overheard backstage, in the area where buses arrive and depart: Plainview-Elgin-Millville band member to a Crosby-Ironton band member, “Hey, good job guys.” Sportsmanship extends beyond athletics, which is superb.

*Some of the paying customers sitting directly behind me got a two-for-one deal tonight. I had the NCAA game telecasts up on my computer, so the folks within range could watch high school games in person and college games on TV.

*Speaking of which, only a few seconds after a player from Michigan State grabbed a rebound in mid-air and threw down a dunk, New London-Spicer’s Zylstra did the exact same thing.

*Here’s the Championship Saturday lineup:

--1A/ Minnesota Transitions (29-3) vs. Sebeka (30-2) at noon

--2A/ Crosby-Ironton (30-2) vs. New London-Spicer (31-2) at 2 p.m. (approximate)

--3A/ St. Paul Johnson (31-0) vs. Grand Rapids (29-2) at 6 p.m.

--4A: Hopkins (29-2) vs. St. Cloud Tech (27-4) at 8 p.m. (approximate)

*Let’s go the mailbag for an important question:

Hey John,
What's the unofficial trips to the bathroom count after all those diet cokes/pepsis? Hahahha
Rick Grammond
Little Falls Radio

Here’s my reply: Good question, Rick. It's not quite a 1-1 ratio, but it's gotta be close.

*Another great band moment, from New London-Spicer: During a timeout, they played the Kinks’ famous, “You Really Got Me.” Well, not the whole band … just a drummer and two kids on electric guitars. Sweet.

*Most Fashionable Coach Contender: New London-Spicer’s Matt Cordes, dressed all in black (including black tie). Extra points for the soul patch and no deduction for gray hair. (I understand. Believe me, I understand).

*Speaking of the above email, let’s go to The Count: The record will fall, my friends, oh yes it will fall. The Diet Coke/Pepsi count is five for the day and 17 for the tournament. I will tie my record of 18 very early in Saturday’s action, and before the day is done that sucker will be broken like a vinyl record in a tornado.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

P.S. If you're up late tonight, I will be joining Steve Thomson on WCCO AM 830 shortly after 11 p.m.

Another Band Steps in for Grand Rapids
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/26/2010 9:59:39 PM

This is one of the neatest stories you will ever hear...

A replacement for the Grand Rapids band has been found and will be here in full force Saturday. Superintendent Rod Thompson of the St. Anthony-New Brighton School District shares what he calls “a great story of competition and cooperation between two school districts.”

Here is his email:

“Today I received a phone call from administration from Grand Rapids High School. Their school band is gone in Florida and had no band to play for their State 3A Championship basketball game on Saturday night. They called me and asked if our band would play for them since they had no band available.

"I quickly pulled our band members together to ask them if they would be willing to help out another school in need. The request was especially challenging since my school went on Spring Break today! After a meeting to check for interest, 60 students gave up their first day and night of Spring Break to help out a high school team they have never met or ever seen play!

"It is this kind of cooperation and kindness that exemplifies the great things we learn through participation in activities and athletics in the MSHSL.”

Indeed. Massive kudos to the band kids from St. Anthony-New Brighton.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Crosby-Ironton Wins in (What Else?) Overtime
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/26/2010 8:39:46 PM

Holy overtime, Batman.

We had one overtime game Wednesday and three games that went into double overtime on Thursday. So when Crosby-Ironton and Plainview-Elgin-Millville played four extra minutes here at Target Center tonight in the Class 2A state semifinals, it seemed like old hat.

Here’s the moment I will remember most from Crosby-Ironton’s 51-48 victory: A jump ball was called with 4.6 seconds left in overtime, and about 5,000 right arms – all wearing C-I colors – pointed to the Rangers’ end of the court, knowing the all-important arrow was looking C-I’s way.

And there was a rare five-point play for C-I in the last 10 seconds of regulation: a three-point basket, a foul on the shot, missed free throw rebounded by C-I, loose ball, quick pass, layup, tie game with 7.2 seconds left.

Saturday’s game will be C-I’s second trip to the finals in two years. The Rangers lost the 2008 title game to New London-Spicer … which is facing Braham in the second game tonight.

This game had almost everything, and it wasn’t all things that teams want to see. P-E-M shot 38.5 percent and C-I shot 37.5 percent. They combined for 29 turnovers and they shot a combined 5-for-27 from the three-point line.

The teams played on this court during the Jan. 9 Timberwolves Shootout, with Plainview-Elgin-Millville winning 51-41. At that point in the season, P-E-M was ranked seventh in 2A and Crosby-Ironton was No. 1. In that January game, the teams combined to commit 41 turnovers and hit just 36 of 93 field-goal tries.

“Our kids played with a lot of heart,” said P-E-M coach Kirk Thompson. “We never gave up, we battled. Crosby-Ironton played well. This is a very disappointing loss for us.”

Down the hall, the Crosby-Ironton kids were celebrating. Mark Hoge, who led the Rangers with 19 points, was so excited that he got just a bit confused about the spoils that go to the victor.

“Hopefully we can come home with those blue medals and that big trophy,” he said. (The medals are gold and the ribbons are blue … let’s cut the kid some slack.)

*The boys on the P-E-M bench linked arms as their buddies shot free throws down the stretch in regulation.

*We have a really nice crowd here tonight, and the folks are fired up. The C-I vs. P-E-M ballgame gave them plenty to shout about, too, as both teams raced up and down the court at full throttle. I heard it described as: 1) Racehorse basketball; 2) Barnyard basketball; and 3) YMCA basketball. Whatever you want to call it, the game was highly entertaining.

*During a timeout in the late stages of the game, we had a most excellent “We’ve Got Spirit, Yes We Do!” battle between the crowds from C-I and P-E-M. It began with the student sections, but by the end the adults were jumping up and hollering their lungs out, too. How great is that?

*One of the simplest chants you’ll ever hear comes from the Crosby-Ironton faithful: “Go C-I Go! (clap) Go C-I Go! (clap) Go C-I Go! (clap).”

*Braham and New London-Spicer are moments away from tipoff.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Tonight's the Night (For More Hoops)
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/26/2010 5:48:56 PM

Here we go, cranking it back up for the evening session of the boys’ state basketball tournament at Target Center …

Between sessions, I had the honor of MC’ing a press conference featuring 1960 Edgerton players Dean Verdoes, Darrell Kreun and Dean Veenhof, as well as coach Richie Olson. Their state championship of 50 years ago is being celebrated during this tournament; there will be a ceremonial jump ball tomorrow night before the 4A title game, featuring players from Edgerton and Austin (the team the Flying Dutchmen defeated in the 1960 title game). And at halftime of that game, both teams will be honored.

*As soon as I walked back out to the court for the evening session, I heard electric guitars and electric keyboards being tuned up. Crosby-Ironton and Plainview-Elgin Millville will tip off shortly in the Class 2A semifinals, and both schools have exceptional bands. This place is gonna be rockin’ tonight.

*Yesterday we solved the Mystery of the Missing Grand Rapids Band (they are in Florida), and today we have some new information about what we might see when the Thunderhawks meet St. Paul Johnson in Saturday’s 6 p.m. 3A championship game. I just received this information from a source in Grand Rapids: “someone donated $$$ to get a band together to play on Saturday night on behalf of Grand Rapids - don't know the particulars, but that is the rumor.” Oooh, we love a juicy rumor.

*The Count stands at one Diet Coke (consumed in the car, which qualifies … as noted in a previous post) and three Diet Pepsis for the day and 16 for the tournament. My record of 18, set last week at the girls’ basketball tourney, could fall tonight. If not, it will come crashing down early in tomorrow’s Championship Saturday action.

*One more thing: Dave Lee, WCCO AM morning drive guy, television play-by-play voice of the state basketball tournaments and one of my close personal friends, has expressed severe disappointment at not being mentioned on John’s Journal. So, I salute Dave Lee (with a mention in the final paragraph)!

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Historic Win for Sebeka
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/26/2010 4:03:09 PM

No overtimes so far today, but the second 1A semifinal was a whopper of a contest. Sebeka held off Ellsworth 61-60 in a game that went right down to the last shot, which failed to fall for Ellsworth.

That set off a wild celebration by the Sebeka players, coaches and fans. The Trojans will play in the state championship game for the first time tomorrow, meeting Minnesota Transitions at noon.

It was a real good back-and-forth battle between Sebeka and Ellsworth, two teams with some familiarity. They met in last year’s quarterfinals, with Ellsworth winning 59-46. That was Sebeka’s first trip to state while Ellsworth is a regular.

The Panthers have played in five state championship games since 2003, winning it all in 2007 and 2008. Last year Ellsworth was defeated by Granada-Huntley-East Chain 62-54 in the 1A title game.

*I need to get off the laptop for a while now in order to manage an upcoming press conference featuring players from the 1960 Edgerton team. That will be a lot of fun.

*We almost had a chemical spill here at courtside during the second half. A couple of players, running for a loose ball, ran into the table. I quickly grabbed a glass of Mountain Dew – that’s a chemical, isn’t it? -- that belongs to the guy sitting next me and saved a bunch of computers, radio equipment, programs, papers and pants and shirts from requiring a haz-mat team being called in for cleanup duty.

*A solid contender for the state tournament all-name team: Ellsworth sophomore Nick Nolte.

*Entertaining halftime show by the Sebeka winter drumline.

*Remember to join MSHSL on Facebook. Search for “MSHSL” and get on board the bandwagon.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Transitions Moves to 1A Title Game
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/26/2010 2:12:55 PM

Game one is in the books, with Minnesota Transitions Charter School defeating Rushford-Peterson 56-49. The result is no surprise since Transitions (29-3) is a tournament veteran and Rush-Pete came to state with a record of 15-14.

Transitions will play in tomorrow’s Class 1A championship. Its opponent will be determined by the game that just began: Ellsworth vs. Sebeka.

Transitions shot 60 percent, with Boston College signee Kevin Noreen, a 6-10 senior, getting 17 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. Rodney Owens added 18 points. For Rush-Pete, Nick Thompson scored 20.

Rushford-Peterson made 11 of 21 three-point tries, and coach Tom Vix said that was more than their usual number of three attempts. “And that’s part of their defense,” he said. “They make you do that.”

Noreen’s interior defense clogged up the middle, and “Any time you get in the lane, it’s like volleyball,” Vix said of Noreen’s shot-blocking abilities.

Rush-Pete was sort of the ultimate darkhorse in this tournament, but that didn’t detract at all from the experience.

“They’re down, but they’ll recover,” Vix said. “We’ll have another game tomorrow (for third place) and we’ll have the community behind us.”

*Ellsworth coach Tyler Morris had one question for tournament organizers a couple of hours before the Panthers’ game against Sebeka: Does anybody have any glue?

One of the Ellsworth players had discovered that the sole of one of his shoes was coming loose. And yes, some glue was located.

*Ellsworth’s enrollment in grades 9-12 is 61 students. That’s less than half of any other school in the state tournament.

*The Rushford-Peterson band, wearing gold and green tie-dyed t-shirts, played a song I had never heard before at a basketball game: Coldplay’s “If I Ruled the World.” Nice.

*It’ll be a busy day for the Media Specialist. At halftime of the first game I did a radio interview with Devon Krueger on KFIL from Preston. A few minutes ago I was on the air with Tom Coombe and Paul McDonald of WELY Radio in Ely during “The Sports Attack with Coomber and Mac.” At 4:30 – between sessions -- I’ll be facilitating a press conference featuring players from the 1960 Edgerton team. And shortly after 11 o’clock tonight I’ll be on WCCO AM 830 with Steve Thomson, talking all things tournament.

*We had to make a ruling on The Count this morning. I walked out to my courtside seat for the first game with a Diet Pepsi in my hand and Mike Morrisey of KDHL radio said, “Is that No. 1 today?” I replied that I had thrown one down in the car on my way to Target Center, but wasn’t sure if consumption outside the building counted. The ruling from Mike: “It’s a 24-hour period that counts.” So, the count is now three.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Back Again at Courtside for Day 3
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/26/2010 11:56:30 AM

Bands are playing, teams are warming up and I’m sitting courtside and getting thirsty. That means we’re ready for another day of the boys’ state basketball tournament. This is a one-site tourney today, with everything playing out in front of me at Target Center.

Remember, fans, all the games today and tomorrow are being televised by Channel 45 and streamed free on the internet at 45.grandstadium.tv

The first game of the day is a Class 1A semifinal between Rushford-Peterson (16-14) and Minnesota Transitions (28-3), starting shortly after noon. That one will be followed by Sebeka ((29-2) vs. Ellsworth (26-5).

In Class 2A tonight, we’ll see Plainview-Elgin-Millville (29-2) vs. Crosby-Ironton (29-2) at 6 p.m. and Braham (28-3) vs. New London-Spicer (30-2).

If today is anything like yesterday, we’re in for a wild ride. Three of yesterday’s four semifinals – one in 3A and both of them in 4A – went to double overtime before a winner was determined.

Remember what I wrote in my first post yesterday? That’s right … buckle up.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Let's Play Two More ... Overtimes, That is
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/25/2010 11:27:06 PM

Aw, what the heck? After a day filled with double-overtime games, there was no reason the last contest of the evening shouldn’t go into extra time, as well. And that’s what happened in the second 4A semifinal, which was won by St. Cloud Tech by a 62-58 score over Eden Prairie in double overtime here at Target Center.

That makes it about an 11-hour day of hoops, considering the first of today’s four games began shortly after noon. Three of those four games went into double overtime.

Tech moves on to face Hopkins in Saturday night’s championship game. The same teams played in the semifinals last season, with Hopkins winning 55-36.

*Meanwhile, in Syracuse, Eden Prairie grad Ryan Wittman was playing for Cornell against Kentucky in the NCAA tournament. His team was also a non-winner.

*Friday’s lineup of semifinal games looks like this…

--In 1A, it’ll be Rushford-Peterson (16-14) vs. Minnesota Transitions (28-3) at noon, followed by Sebeka (29-2) vs. Ellsworth (26-5).

--In 2A, we’ll see Plainview-Elgin-Millville (29-2) vs. Crosby-Ironton (29-2) at 6 p.m., followed by Braham (28-3) vs. New London-Spicer (30-2).

Saturday’s championship schedule is: 1A at noon, 2A at 2 p.m, 3A at 6 p.m. and 4A at 8 p.m.

Remember, all the semifinals and finals are televised by Channel 45 and streamed free on the internet at 45.grandstadium.tv

*The Count at the halfway point of the tournament: Five Diet Cokes/Pepsis for the day, 12 for the tournament. The record of 18 (set last week at the girls’ basketball tournament) is in big-time danger of falling.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Two Overtimes Does it for Hopkins
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/25/2010 9:20:17 PM

Well now, that was some kind of fun, wasn’t it? Holy mackerel, Hopkins’ 90-82 win over Henry Sibley in double overtime had a little bit of everything, including some state tournament history.

Hopkins made 39 of 58 free throws, and both of those numbers are new records. There were 59 fouls, 119 field goal attempts, 82 total free throw attempts … none of those are records, but they help tell the story of this Class 4A semifinal game.

Six players – five from Henry Sibley – fouled out. And in the end, that might have been the difference in this grinder of a game. In the last minute of the second overtime, three of the five Sibley players on the floor were kids who had not played even one minute in the first half.

“We just couldn’t stop fouling,” said Sibley coach Tom Dasovich. “But I’m proud of our kids. We couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Joe Coleman led Hopkins (29-2) with 25 points and Marvin Singleton had 22. Jordan Jackson had 25 for Sibley (22-5), and three other Warriors scored in double figures.

It appeared that Hopkins was headed for a victory in regulation, but things changed in a hurry. At the end of regulation, Sibley’s Dante Grant banked a leaning three-point shot in off the glass. There was a question whether he was indeed behind the three-point line, and the officials checked the replay before confirming that the game was headed for overtime.

“That was the most nerve-wracking game I’ve been in in 30 years of coaching,” Hopkins coach Ken Novak Jr. said. “They were more physical than we were, and that doesn’t happen often.”

Hopkins will play for its second consecutive state title on Saturday night. Their opponent will be decided by the game that has just begun: Eden Prairie vs. St. Cloud Tech.

*Kudos to two excellent bands. Henry Sibley was trailing 63-59 with 2:43 left in regulation when, during a timeout, the Sibley band played “Don’t Stop Believin’. ” During the first overtime, the Hopkins band played “Thriller.” The Sibley band struck up “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” again with 5.4 seconds to go in overtime No. 1 and the score tied 76-76. Very fitting music for this game.

*I had a nice visit with a 90-year-old former newspaper co-worker of mine this evening. (Sid likes to complain about four-class basketball, but he came to watch.)

*Tubby Smith was in the house tonight.

*Join up with the MSHSL on Facebook. Go to Facebook, search for “MSHSL” and be part of all the fun!

*The count(s) … Games I’ve seen this week: nine. Overtimes: five. Diet Cokes: Five for the day, 12 for the tournament.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Henry Sibley Leading Hopkins
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/25/2010 7:13:34 PM

Very interesting matchup tonight in the first Class 4A semifinal. No. 4 seed Henry Sibley leads No. 1 seed Hopkins 35-29 at halftime.

Sibley is outshooting Hopkins 50 percent to 36 percent, while also leading the rebounding battle (20-11) and the turnover battle (5-11)

Neither coach has been unafraid to express their opinions to the officials. Sibley’s Tom Dasovich was unhappy early in the half and Hopkins’ Ken Novak Jr. was in a similar frame of mind late in the half. A technical foul was called on the Hopkins bench before the half ended.

The final 18 minutes – and maybe more – should be fun to watch as Henry Sibley tries to pull off the upset of the defending state champions and shake up the tournament.

*This is a matchup of coaches who go back a long ways. Dasovich (who is in his eighth year as a head coach) played at Hopkins under Novak (in his 28th year).

*Henry Sibley is winning the battle of the student bodies with a seriously large contingent of kids dressed in red and gold. Spring break began at Hopkins today, so the Royals’ crowd is down from what it would normally be.

*Clarification about the Grand Rapids band has arrived via several emails from Grand Rapids as well as this message via Twitter: “The Grand Rapids band and cheerleaders left for a competition in Florida. Watch out Johnson here come the thawks!”

*Back to the email bag:

I would like to thank the members of the Edgerton Flying Dutchmen
1960 team for giving Edgerton reason to be proud. I enjoy wearing a
shirt with "Edgerton" written across the front and wait for the
comments that will come from passersby. “You're from Edgerton? I
remember that town,” “Hey, the Flying Dutchmen!” It’s amazing people still remember the victory 50 years later.
Mike Drooger
Edgerton MN
In the absence of my Flying Dutchmen at state I say, “Go Ellsworth Panthers!”

*Before the game, the Henry Sibley students batted around a couple of beach balls. That’s technically not allowed, so security guards converge and wait for the balls to be knocked outside the edges of the crowd. It’s a little game of cat and mouse.

*Halftime entertainment is being provided by the flag team from Bloomington Jefferson.

*”Sweet Caroline!” Way to go, Henry Sibley band!

*The DC Count: four for the day, 11 for the tournament.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Grand Rapids Does it Again
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/25/2010 5:30:53 PM

When Grand Rapids beat Benilde-St. Margaret’s in Wednesday’s Class 3A quarterfinals, coach Dan Elhard called it the biggest win in school history. Well, there is a new biggest win today.

The Thunderhawks advanced to the state championship game with a 57-53, double-overtime victory over DeLaSalle at Target Center. The unseeded Thunderhawks put on an exceptional never-say-die performance against the second-seeded Islanders.

Eric Stark led Rapids with 20 points and Michael Johnson had 14 before fouling out. Jonah Travis had 15 and Jalen Jaspers 14 for the Islanders.

The “unseeded” tag has followed Grand Rapids (29-2) all week, and they are using it to their advantage.

“We played with a chip on our shoulder,” said Stark. “This is a great opportunity and now we’ve got to bring it home.”

Beating top-seeded Johnson (31-0) will be a tall order, but the Thunderhawks’ quickness and speed should help them match up with the Governors.

“They’re an incredible offensive squad,” Elhard said, “and we’ve got to find a way to slow them down.”

*Instant replay was used -- for the first time in this year’s tournament -- to determine how much time was on the clock when a Grand Rapids player was called for traveling during a scramble for a loose ball near the end of regulation. The clock was stopped at 0.8 seconds, but after seeing the replay the officials had it set at 1.3 seconds. DeLaSalle inbounded near midcourt and Travis got off a long, errant shot.

*The game had a very deliberate pace compared to the previous contest, in which St. Paul Johnson defeated Winona in an intense, up-and-down battle.

*Wednesday we had the intriguing sight of a reporter/referee when Tim Leighton of the St. Paul Pioneer Press officiated the 3A quarterfinal game between Grand Rapids and Benilde-St. Margaret’s at Williams Arena. We had a somewhat similar situation today with Paul McDonald, the men’s basketball coach at Vermillion Community College, officiating the DeLaSalle-Grand Rapids game.

*The Target Center had more available seating during the DeLaSalle-Grand Rapids game than during the St. Paul Johnson-Winona contest. And I don’t know what happened to the Grand Rapids band. They were at Wednesday’s game at Williams Arena but were not assembled today. Anybody in G.R. want to send me an email with the story? I bet the band – and pretty much everybody in Grand Rapids – will be here on Saturday night.

*Neat sight among the Grand Rapids student section: six boys wearing white t-shirts, each with one letter, spelling FAMILY … the same word that is on the front of the team’s warm-up tops.

*At halftime of the DeLaSalle-Grand Rapids game, the DeLaSalle band took an Ozzy turn and knocked out a very enjoyable version of “Crazy Train.”

*This Williams Arena band report comes from a source I cannot reveal: “In the pregame battle of the bands between Sebeka and Mesabi East, Sebeka took top honors with a rockin’ version of ACDC’s “All Night Long”, complete with an electric guitar solo.”

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

The Governors Rule the Semifinals
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/25/2010 3:02:12 PM

If there was any doubt about the St. Paul Johnson boys’ basketball team, they were answered in a big way today here at Target Center. The undefeated and top-seeded Governors put on an impressive second-half display of shooting, defense and running in defeating Winona 80-55 in the semifinals of the Class 3A state tournament.

The score was tied 48-48 when the Governors found the switch. Estan Tyler hit two three-pointers and Marcus Marshall hit one, sparking a run that quickly put Johnson in front by 10. Winona (28-2) got in some foul trouble, the Governors kept rolling and before long the outcome was no longer in doubt.

“That got us going,” Johnson coach Vern Simmons said of the trio of threes.

Winona 7-foot senior Alec Brown posed a big threat. But he missed his first 11 shots and Johnson’s defense did a good job of pressuring the ball and sagging on Brown, who made five of 21 shots and finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine blocks.

“We don’t see seven-footers,” Simmons said. “You can’t practice it and you can’t simulate it.”

Mark Blacklock led Winona with 20 points. Four Governors were in double figures, led by Jordan Pluff with 20 points off the bench. The score was tied seven times and there were five lead changes.

Winona went in as the underdog, and coach Rocky Peterson tried to use that as motivation.

“We told them, ‘You’re not going to find anybody out there who believes we can win today. But I believe, and you believe.’ ”

The Winhawks put up a heck of a fight, too, and they have no reason to hang their heads.

*The roster of MSHSL computers took a hit – literally – today over at Williams Arena. John’s Journal correspondent Amy Doherty files this report: “The biggest player on the court was going for the ball and had enough momentum to fly onto press row. He came in contact with my computer, which launched between the railings behind press row and landed on the concrete in front of the fans. Needless to say, we are working with one fewer computer over here!”

*The halftime show during the Johnson-Winona game was spectacular. The St. Paul Johnson “Motion Crew” was a group of eight boys who (pardon my lack of correct terminology) danced/spun/hipped/hopped and blew the roof off the place. The crowd went wild, and deservedly so.

*Former Gopher Quincy Lewis is an assistant coach at DeLaSalle. And there are two female assistant coaches in the tournament: Braham’s Britne Sahlman and Minnehaha Academy’s Micah Guthland.

*More emails are coming in today. Here’s one from Paul:

“John, when you get a chance could you give your thoughts on the EP and St Cloud game tonight? Are these big teams, with size? Do they have the shooting ability to stay with a Hopkins? St Cloud looked impressive when they beat Champlain Park.”

Paul, I saw Eden Prairie beat Owatonna yesterday but I was at Williams Arena when St. Cloud Tech defeated Champlin Park. Neither team has great size but both play well as a team. There are no superstars for either E.P. or Tech. You are assuming, of course, that Hopkins will beat Henry Sibley tonight. Hopkins is the favorite, for sure, but Sibley has more size. The Hopkins-Sibley game might be similar to the St. Paul Johnson-Winona game. Winona is bigger but Johnson plays at a faster pace and pressures the ball very well; Sibley must handle Hopkins’ pressure and pace and work the ball inside in order to win.

*And here’s a nice note from the mailbag:

Thanks for your kind words about the Owatonna HS Pep Band on your blog. They might be small, but you are right, they do pack a punch. We appreciate the support!!

Best wishes,

(That’s Peter Guenther, Owatonna band director)

*The 3A semifinal between DeLaSalle and Grand Rapids is going on now. As DeLaSalle coach Dave Thorson was walking from the locker room to the court, he said to me, “Congratulations on the new job.”

*The soft drink count: two.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Johnson, Winona in a Tight Game
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/25/2010 1:26:03 PM

We have a great game going on between Winona and St. Paul Johnson. We’re five minutes into the second half and Johnson is up 41-38. Winona shot very poorly early in the game and trailed by 10, but got within two at halftime.

Johnson is a run and gun team with little height but tremendous speed and a deep bench. Winona has a 7-footer in Alec Brown, who has been held to six points at this point.

This one will probably be decided by the tempo. A fast pace favors the Governors and a slower game favors the Winhawks.

*One of the most unlikely teams to advance to the semifinals is Rushford-Peterson, at least if you look at the records. The Trojans defeated Springfield 71-63 in today’s Class 1A quarterfinals at Williams Arena, and that gives Rush-Pete a record of 16-14. The Trojans finished the regular season with six losses in a row but now have won five straight.

*The semifinals are not only being televised by Channel 45, they are also being streamed live on the internet. Go to 45.grandstadium.tv (I’ve assisted a couple college students with that tip today; they’re sitting in class and want to sneak a peek at the games).

*An absolutely stunning National Anthem was performed by the Winona band. We can call it a pep band, but their sound during the anthem was purely orchestral.

*Great t-shirts worn by the members of the St. Paul Johnson band. On the back is printed “Tradition and Pride.”

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Let's Get Cranked Up for Day Two
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/25/2010 11:27:13 AM

Good morning hoops fans far and wide. I’m back at courtside at Target Center, where fans are taking their seats in anticipation of the state semifinals in 3A and 4A boys’ basketball.

The afternoon session will be devoted to 3A, with top-seeded and unbeaten St. Paul Johnson facing No. 4 seed Winona at noon, followed by No. 2 seed DeLaSalle vs. unseeded Grand Rapids. These should be two very entertaining games.

Tonight the focus will be on 4A, with top-seeded Hopkins vs. No. 4 seed Henry Sibley at 6 p.m., followed by second-seeded Eden Prairie vs. unseeded St. Cloud Tech. Again, those will be fun to watch,

All of the semifinals will be televised by Channel 45.

Over at Williams Arena, the 1A quarterfinals will be held. Underway now is Rushford-Peterson vs. Springfield, followed by Minnesota Transitions vs. Cass Lake-Bena (scheduled for 1 p.m.), Mesabi East vs. Sebeka (3 p.m.) and Ellsworth vs. Hillcrest Academy (5 p.m.). The 1A quarterfinals are not televised.

The 2A teams have today off. The semifinals in 1A and 2A will be held Friday here at Target Center, with everything on Channel 45.

I hear the drummers in the Winona band warming up. We’re about 30 minutes from tipoff and I’m going to seek out the day’s first Diet Coke/Pepsi.

Buckle up.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Day One is Done
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/24/2010 9:32:33 PM

The day of basketball has been completed, with 12 games played on two courts. The highlight for me was Braham’s improbable rally from 20 points behind with six minutes left in regulation to beat Sibley East in overtime.

Thursday’s lineup of games is loaded. In the 3A semifinals at Target Center, it will be St. Paul Johnson vs. Winona at noon, followed by DeLaSalle vs. Grand Rapids. The 4A teams take over the evening session at Target Center, with Hopkins vs. Henry Sibley at 6 p.m., followed by Eden Prairie vs. St. Cloud Tech.

The 1A quarterfinals will be held at Williams Arena on Thursday, with four games beginning at 11 a.m.

Here at Williams Arena in 2A tonight, New London-Spicer defeated a gritty team from Windom 78-60. Over at Target Center, it was Crosby-Ironton 72, Minnehaha Academy 67. The 2A semifinalists will get a day to prepare for Friday’s semifinals at Target Center.

*Very nice chant from the New London-Spicer students during the final minute of the game: “Both teams are great! But our team is better!” That’s a keeper.

*The New London-Spicer band blew us away a halftime with “Another One Bites the Dust.” Band director Brian Pearson plays a mean trumpet, too.

*Let’s go back to the mailbag one final time tonight. Here’s what Sara wrote…

“Thanks for that nice article on John's Journal on Braham and Coach Vaughan! Our Bombers Rock!! Coach Robert Vaughan deserves Coach of the year award, he has taken pure raw talent and has molded it into All-Stars!! Or at least the best Coach in Minnesota!!”

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

It's Bombs Away for Braham
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/24/2010 8:22:14 PM

With 2.9 seconds left in overtime and Sibley East leading Braham by one point, Braham sophomore Tyler Vaughan was fouled by Marshall Bjorklund. A cheerleader behind me (guess where she was from?) absolutely shrieked “ NO! NO! NO! NO! HE DIDN’T TOUCH HIM!”

That was just one of about a dozen memorable moments from Braham’s 60-59 thriller over Sibley East in tonight’s Class 2A state quarterfinals at Williams Arena. The Bombers trailed by 20 points with six minutes to play in regulation but somehow, someway managed to force overtime and win the game.

“I thought I was going to have to hug my seniors and cry because the season was over,” Braham coach Bob Vaughan said afterwards. “I can’t believe it. I’ve been coaching forever. They had us beat. We were lucky.”

Sibley East led 29-19 at halftime and was absolutely cruising to what appeared to be an easy win. But Braham started hitting three-point shots and kept creeping closer to the Wolverines. Tyler Vaughan scored 19 of his 29 points in the second half and teammate Ben Thiry got 14 of his 16 in the final 18 minutes.

The Bombers made just three of 12 three-point shots in the first half but made six of 13 in the second half.

“This is the all-time greatest comeback we’ve ever had,” said Bob Vaughan, who has won three championships in five previous trips to state. “That shows you the Braham kid. They never give up.”

Bjorklund, a 6-foot-7 center who will continue his basketball career at North Dakota State, finished on an outstanding note, hitting 14 of 16 field goal attempts with 33 points, 23 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.

“We knew he’d score 25 or 30 no matter what we do,” Bob Vaughan said. “He’s the best post player in the state.”

It's already been a heck of a night for 2A hoops; over at Target Center, Plainview-Elgin-Millville rallied to beat Jordan 45-42.

*Just tipping off here at Williams Arena in 2A are Windom and New London-Spicer. The New London-Spicer band is outstanding; they just might be a contender in the MTBD (Millea Tournament Band Derby). They played an excellent version of Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer.” They have an outstanding cowbell player, too.

*Hey, let’s go to the mailbox! Here’s an email from Val in Winona with an interesting twist on where some of the state tournament coaches originally hail from:

“Hi John - I thought this was an interesting fact: Winona is in the state tournament, and there are three coaches from three different schools in the tournament that are Winona Senior High graduates! Matt Urbanek - coach for Jordan, Mike Trewick - coach for St. Cloud Tech, and Kirk Thompson - coach for Plainview-Elgin-Millville. Kind of neat I think, and could make for an interesting article? :) Thanks and I enjoy your writings!”

Thanks Val!

*The DC count: Seven (burp).

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

"Biggest Win in Grand Rapids History"
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/24/2010 6:16:03 PM

I don’t know if you can call them upsets when unseeded teams with a combined record of 52-6 win state quarterfinal games over teams seeded third, but that’s what St. Cloud Tech in 4A and Grand Rapids in 3A did today.

Unseeded Tech defeated Champlin Park 55-51 at Target Center and here at Williams Arena unseeded Grand Rapids beat Benilde-St. Margaret’s 70-61.

Grand Rapids shot the ball well (58.5 percent) and outrebounded Benilde 32-24. Grand Rapids (28-2) coach Dan Elhard called it “probably the biggest win in Grand Rapids history.”

The Thunderhawks lost to eventual 3A champion Minneapolis Washburn in last year’s state quarterfinals, and it didn’t take long for the players to set a goal for 2009-10.

“[Winning in the quarterfinals] has been a goal since we were defeated down here last year,” Elhard said. “The guys said, ‘We’re gonna make it to Saturday.’ ”

The fact that the Thunderhawks were not seeded among the top four teams at state rubbed them a little raw. Elhard said, “Yes, we felt disrespected. We thought we had a good year and we played a tough schedule. But we told the guys, ‘You can feel that way, but you’ve got to prove it.’ ”

Eric Stark led Grand Rapids with 21 points, Michael Johnson had 18 and Austin Pohlen 12. Isaiah Zierden led Benilde-St. Margaret’s with 14.

*Grand Rapids’ warmup shirts have a pretty direct message printed on the front in capital letters: FAMILY.

*A coach who has won multiple state tiles said this while watching Grand Rapids: “They are really good!” The Thunderhawks will meet second-seeded DeLaSalle in the semifinals Thursday at 2 p.m. at Target Center.

*Diet Coke tastes good (six).

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Basketball and Teletubbies
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/24/2010 5:02:10 PM

Hello again and welcome back to the show. I have safely negotiated the streets of Minneapolis and arrived courtside at Williams Arena. The place is rocking as Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Grand Rapids battle in a 3A quarterfinal.

Right now unseeded Grand Rapids is looking good, leading third-seeded Benilde-St. Margaret’s 45-36 with 10:49 left in the second half.

And here’s a fresh Williams report from Amy Doherty: “No full rows of costumed kids in this match-up between Benilde-St. Margaret's and Grand Rapids, but BSM has two kids in full Teletubby garb. They are both dressed as red Teletubbies, complete with red-rimmed sunglasses that completely hide their eyes and large red shoe covers. One just waved to me and said Hi. :) They are standing around as though it's their normal apparel.”

Yes, this tournament is already at full throttle.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Big Second Half for Eden Prairie
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/24/2010 3:56:33 PM

Eden Prairie led Owatonna by only three points at halftime, but Eagles coach David Flom must have done some big-time X’ing and O’ing in the locker room at halftime.

The Eagles came out flying in the second half and raced to a 61-46 victory in the third Class 4A quarterfinal here at Target Center. Eden Prairie outscored the Huskies 15-4 in the first six minutes of the second half and never slowed down much.

Owatonna had serious problems shooting in the big arena. With eight minutes to play the Huskies had made just seven of 29 field-goal attempts (24 percent). That won’t win many ballgames, no matter the opponent. The Huskies finished the game with a shooting percentage of 30.8 (12 for 39).

Grant Soderberg (15) and Brett Ervin (14) led Eden Prairie in scoring and Paul Satterlund had 10 points for Owatonna.

*The next game here at Target Center will be St. Cloud Tech vs. Champlin Park. That will complete the 4A quarterfinals. The evening games here will be 2A quarterfinals: Plainview-Elgin-Millville vs. Jordan and Minnehaha Academy vs. Crosby-Ironton.

*More big student sections from Tech and Champlin Park. The Tech kids are wearing the school colors of orange and black and the Rebels are yelling while wearing the “white out” look.

*Interesting/entertaining sight: The Eden Prairie students jumping up and down and singing the “Oompa Loompa” song (from “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” of course) while Owatonna players shot free throws.

*The Owatonna band has taken the early lead in the MTBD (Millea Tournament Band Derby). It’s not the largest group of musicians you will see at a ballgame, but the sound is tight, the brass is fantastic and the percussion is first-rate. Now that the Huskies are out of the tournament, I’m gonna miss that band.

*Thanks to all of you who have sent me emails saying how much you are enjoying “John’s Journal.” I’m getting a tremendous amount of positive feedback, and this blog just scratches the surface of what I hope to accomplish in my new position with the MSHSL. Thanks again and stay tuned to www.mshsl.org now and in the future.

*The Diet Coke/Pepsi count has reached five. I’ll be leaving Target Center shortly and heading over to Williams Arena to watch some 2A games. Williams is a Coke building (Target Center is a Pepsi building), so the official count will be even more official as I return to drinking Diet Cokes.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Wild Win for Henry Sibley
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/24/2010 2:24:55 PM

We had one heck of a game in the second 4A quarterfinal at Target Center. Henry Sibley defeated Eastview 50-47 and the hero was most unlikely.

The score was tied 47-47 after Eastview’s Joey King hit a three-pointer with 21 seconds left in regulation. Henry Sibley set up a play intended for Jordan Jackson, who led the Warriors with 16 points. Sometimes the best-laid plans go awry, of course, but in this case it all worked in Henry Sibley’s favor.

A pass to Jackson bounced off his left leg and caromed to backup center Jake Golberg, who was parked outside the three-point line on the left side.

Golberg threw up a shot, the shot went in and Sibley won. It was not only Goldberg’s first three-point basket of the season, it was his first three-point ATTEMPT of the season.

“He took a long two-pointer once,” said a happy and relieved Warriors coach Tom Dasovich.

Frank Veldman led Eastview with 17 points, including the most spectacular play before Golberg’s game-winner. On a first-half break, Jordan Kuhn threw an alley-oop pass to Veldman, who threw down a one-handed dunk despite being slightly off balance.

*Now on the court are Eden Prairie and Owatonna (Owatonna leads 11-10 with 8:00 left in the half). The 4A quarterfinals will conclude with St. Cloud Tech vs. Champlin Park, scheduled for 4 p.m.

*Big crowds of students here from both Eden Prairie and Owatonna. The Owatonna kids are going the “white out” route, with everybody wearing white t-shirts. The Eden Prairie students are dressed to the nines (I don’t have an explanation), with most of the boys in shirts and ties. I see some well-dressed girls, too. If anybody in Eden Prairie can clue me in on what’s going on with that, send me an email and I’ll post the answer here.

*Two first-rate mascots in the house: the Owatonna Husky and the Eden Prairie Eagle. Here’s some backstage “insider” information: I saw the EP Eagle as he/she/it came out of the dressing room and headed for The Show. (Whispering now … it’s a dude.)

*During warm-ups the Owatonna band played one of my Green Day favorites, “Holiday.” Nicely done, Huskies.

*Diet Coke/Pepsi Count. Four. And that’s after just two games. My girls’ tournament record of 18 is in imminent danger.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Eastview-Henry Sibley Underway
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/24/2010 12:14:46 PM

One of the most anticipated Class 4A quarterfinal matchups is underway here at Target Center. After Hopkins defeated Forest Lake 75-51, now up is Henry Sibley vs. Eastview. Both teams have been playing great basketball coming into the tournament.

Hopkins’ victory was paced by Joe Coleman with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Zach Riedeman had 23 points for Forest Lake. The Rangers actually shot a better percentage (46.8) than Hopkins (45.2), but Hopkins took 62 shots to Forest Lake’s 47.

For the second game, there is a great big bunch of Henry Sibley students on hand. Eastview is on spring break so the Lightning fan base is a little sparse. But the Eastview band is here, as is the band from Henry Sibley.

*Interesting twist on this game: The Eastview athletic director (Matt Percival) and the Henry Sibley principal (Robin Percival) are married. I’m told that Matt is not here, but he has a pretty darn good reason: he is accompanying some students on a class trip … to Paris.

*It's Henry Sibley 4, Eastview 3 ... 13 minutes left in the first half.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

From the Court to the Classroom
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/24/2010 11:18:02 AM

Thursday’s Class 1A quarterfinal between Minnesota Transitions Charter School and Cass Lake-Bena (1 p.m. at Williams Arena) has sparked some good-natured but important competition in the classroom. Here are some excerpts from a Cass Lake-Bena press release about what is being called the Superintendent’s Challenge:

“Acknowledging that academic achievement is the district's top priority, Cass Lake-Bena Superintendent Carl Remmers has challenged Minnesota Transitions Charter School Superintendent Tony Scallon to beat Cass Lake-Bena on the upcoming MCA-II's. Superintendent Scallon has agreed to the challenge, and so it's academic 'game on' for both schools.

“The challenge is set up with three possible points. The district that has the most students participate in testing earns one point. The district that has the best overall math proficiency earns one point. And the district that has the best overall reading proficiency earns one point. The district who wins two of the three points wins the challenge.

“Superintendents have agreed that if their district loses the challenge, they will wear the school jersey of the winning district on the first day of the 2010-11 school year. Superintendent Remmers hopes that this challenge will encourage all students to attend school on testing days and to do their best on every question, knowing it is possible that one more student attending school or one more correct answer could make our district the winner!”

*Some basketball players from Cretin-Derham Hall are here at Target Center watching the action. The Raiders fell one victory short of state, losing to Henry Sibley in the Section 4 final. Among the Cretin-Derham Hall players in the stands is Seantrel Henderson, who on Tuesday signed a letter of intent to play football at Southern California.

*My MSHSL colleague Amy Doherty is the John’s Journal correspondent over at Williams Arena today. She reports that Hutchinson has a row of fans outfitted in various mascot costumes. “The Tiger, an Easter bunny, Batman, Spiderman, a Lakers player (complete with headband), the Joker (I think), a ref, a cow, a kid in a cape, a kid with a disco outfit and wig ...there is also a giant chicken and gorilla in the Hutchinson section.”

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

A First: Reporter/Referee
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/24/2010 10:33:57 AM

One of my close personal friends is pulling some very intriguing double-duty today, something I have never seen before. St. Paul Pioneer Press sports reporter Tim Leighton is not only covering the state tournament, he also will work one of today’s games as an official.

Tim has been a basketball official for years now, and it’s a testament to his talents with a whistle around his neck that he has been selected to work one of the state quarterfinal games. (I don’t want to pinpoint the game he will be working and bring undue attention from fans, but suffice to say it will be at either Target Center or Williams Arena.)

*We’ve got the usual large contingent of media covering the tournament. Here at Target Center, the courtside table is nearly filled already. It’s always fun to chat with old friends from around Minnesota who I don’t get to see nearly often enough. Sitting next to me is my buddy Mike Morrisey, broadcasting the action for KDHL, The Mighty 920 in Faribault. I don’t know if Mike ever really worked as a babysitter for James Naismith, but I’ll look into it.

*Diet Coke/Pepsi Count: Zero. I know, I know. Time to get going.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Boys' Basketball Kicks Off
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/24/2010 10:12:16 AM

Hello again from courtside at Target Center, this time for the opening day of the boys’ state basketball tournament.

We’ve had some internet issues in the building this morning , which is why I’m just getting online as the first game of the day is underway.

In Class 4A, top-seeded and defending champion Hopkins leads Forest Lake 17-6. Hopkins, with the No. 1 seed, is the favorite to win the tournament but there are several teams that could make a run at this thing.

There is a nice crowd this morning, including a mammoth group of students from Forest Lake. And some tremendous musicians in both bands, as well. This is really fun.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

A Celebration of 1960 Tournament
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/23/2010 10:05:06 AM

This week’s boys’ state basketball tournament will include all the excitement and drama that is part of every state tourney, but history will play a large role in the 2010 event.

In 1960 – yes, 50 years ago – one of the legendary stories in Minnesota sports history played out when the boys’ basketball team from the tiny community of Edgerton shocked everyone by winning the one-class tournament title.

Many of the players from Edgerton and Austin who took part in the 1960 title game will gather again to mark the anniversary of that special time.

A ceremonial jump ball will be held before Saturday night’s Class AAAA state championship game. At halftime of that game, representatives from the Edgerton and Austin teams will be honored during an on-court ceremony.

Media note: A press conference will be held Friday at 4:30 p.m., between the afternoon and evening sessions at Target Center, featuring 1960 Edgerton players Darrell Kreun, Dean Veenhof and Dean Verdoes and coach Richard Olson.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Community Pride on Display
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/22/2010 2:38:51 PM

There’s a great video on the Jordan Independent website, showing the Hubmen cutting down the net after winning the section title and qualifying for state for the first time in school history.

The basket was lowered to eye level, meaning no ladder was needed for the net-cutting.

But the best part of the video is what happens at the end. After coach Matt Urbanek completes the removal of the net, the players gather around him as each of them sticks one hand into the air above the pack of teammates.

Before they break, however, classmates and little kids get in on the action, adding an extra layer or two to the huddle of players.

The video says an awful lot about what school sports teams mean to their communities.

You can find the video by copying and pasting this address into your browser: http://www.jordannews.com/news/high-school-sports/hubmen-basketball-cutting-net-video-103

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Going to State is Special
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/22/2010 2:08:29 PM

Here's an excerpt from the Cottonwood County Citizen, home newspaper of the state tournament-bound Windom High School boys' basketball team...

"Students and fans will get the chance to send the Windom Eagle boys basketball team on its way to the State Tournament Tuesday afternoon.

"A send-off pep fest for the Eagle team will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Windom Area High School Eagle Gym. The Eagle boys will then be led through town by the Windom Fire Department as they depart for the Twin Cities at 1:30 p.m.

"The rest of the Windom contingent will wait for Wednesday to take off for Williams Arena. The Eagle Pep Band will depart from the Windom Area High School at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, while the student fan bus will leave at 3 p.m. and the adult fan bus will take off at 3:45."

This kind of fun is taking place all over the state as teams, families and fans get cranked up.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Boys’ Basketball Pre-Tournament Notebook
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/22/2010 11:28:14 AM

Here's a quick look at some of the news, numbers and tidbits from the teams that will be playing in this week's boys' state basketball tournament...

--New London-Spicer (AA) has five players who average 10 or more points per game. The team is making its third straight state appearance; the Wildcats won a state title in 2008 and were AAA football champs last fall. During the current school year, New London-Spicer teams in football, volleyball, girls’ basketball, boys’ basketball, wrestling and gymnastics have a combined record of 126-13.

--Benilde-St. Margaret’s (AAA) is at state for the third time in four years. Coach John Moore is a 1974 graduate of BSM.

--Braham (AA) has been to state six of the last seven years and won championships in 2004, 2005 and 2006. The Bombers have won 20 games or more for 13 years in a row and have won seven consecutive Great River Conference championships. The Braham girls were the AA state runner-up last week.

--Cass Lake-Bena (A) is making its fourth consecutive trip to state and fifth in the last six years. The Panthers are five home wins away from a state-record 56 consecutive home wins. Martin Wind has scored more than 2,500 points in his career. In 2009 he set the state’s single-game assist record with 28.

--Crosby-Ironton (AA) is at state for the second time in three years. Brock Tesdahl is the grandson of Chisholm coach Bob McDonald, the state’s leader in career victories.

--DeLaSalle (AAA) is making its 16th trip to the state tournament since being included with the MSHSL in 1975. This is the Islanders’ ninth state appearance in 16 years under coach Dave Thorson, with three titles and two runner-up finishes. During the regular season, the Islanders defeated fellow tourney teams Benilde-St. Margaret, Grand Rapids and Minnehaha Academy

--Eastview (AAAA) started the season with a 4-9 record. The Lightning is 14-2 in its last 16 games. Eastview senior Brad Losee will attend Columbia University next fall on a football scholarship. Assistant coach Darren Kent played in the 2005 state championship game in which Hopkins’ Blake Hoffarber made a crucial basket from the seat of his pants to help Hopkins win the title. Kent graduated from Kansas State last spring.

--Eden Prairie’s (AAAA) opponents have shot only 38 percent this season.

--Ellsworth (A) is big for a small town. Trevor Gruis is 6-9, Casey Schilling is 6-5 and Matt Buntjer and Tyler Chapa are 6-4. Gruis, who has committed to play basketball at South Dakota, is one of five finalists for the Mr. Basketball award. This is Ellsworth’s fifth straight state tournament appearance and sixth overall since 2003. The Panthers have played in the last four championship games, finishing second in 2003, 2006 and 2009 and winning titles in 2007 and 2008. Ellsworth, which joined the Red Rock Conferencein 2006-07, suffered its first conference loss this season to Hills-Beaver Creek. The Panthers’ Red Rock record is 67-1.

--Grand Rapids (AAA) is making its third consecutive appearance at state. The Thunderhawks have won 19 games in a row.

--Defending AAAA champion Hopkins has won 20 consecutive games since losing to Minneapolis North in early January. Coach Ken Novak Jr. won his 600th game as a head coach earlier this season. He has won five state championships: four in boys’ basketball and one in girls’ tennis.

--Hutchinson (AAA) plays a 10-man rotation, with two groups of five players going in and out. Three players in the second group started at some point in the season a year ago. The Tigers have been to state six previous times, but this is their first appearance since 1966.

--Jordan’s (AA) Yuriy Malashenko passed the 1,000-point and 1,000-rebound plateaus this season.

--Minnehaha Academy (AA) is 18-2 since Jan.1. The Redhawks have not lost to a AA team this season. Assistant coaches John Breneman and Pete Hamburge played on the last Minnehaha Academy boys' basketball state tourney team in 1996.

--Plainview-Elgin-Millville (AA) participated in the 2004 state tournament as Plainview and went to state in 2007 and 2009 as Plainview-Elgin-Millville. This is the fourth year of the consolidated school.

--Rushford-Peterson (A) assistant coach Chris Drinkall played in three state tourneys for Rushford-Peterson and assistant aoach Matt Halverson played in two tournaments, including a runner-up finish and a state championship.

--Sebeka (A) has five starters who average double-figure scoring. The Trojans’ two losses this year were against AA schools New London-Spicer and Staples-Motley, which played for the Section 6 title. Sebeka is 29-0 at home over the last two seasons. Head coach Jon Lillquist was the first boys’ 1,000-point scorer in Sebeka history and he has coached all of the other 1,000-point scorers

--Springfield (A) finished 3-21 two years ago and now is making its first state appearance since 1986. The Tigers won their first conference championship in 23 years.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Mesabi East Boys Headed to State
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/21/2010 4:46:49 PM

The final slot in the boys' state basketball tournament was filled Saturday when Mesabi East defeated AlBrook 75-66 in th e Class 1A, Section 7 championship game at Hibbing Memorial Arena.

The Giants will take a record of 22-9 into a state quarterfinal game against Sebeka at 3 p.m. on Thursday at Williams Arena.

Sebeka (28-2) advanced to state by beating Isle 71-51 in the Section 5 title game on Friday.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

After 40 Years, A State Title
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 10:34:49 PM

As the Lakeville North Panthers took turns climbing a ladder and cutting down the net at Target Center a few minutes ago, the last person to take a snip was a guy who now owns a state championship after 40 years of coaching.

The players chanted “Schreff! Schreff! Schreff!” as assistant coach Jim Schreffler finished the job. He was a longtime coach in Iowa on the high school and college levels before coming to Minnesota a few years ago as the head coach at Farmington. He wore one of the biggest smiles in Target Center this evening after North’s Class 4A championship victory over White Bear Lake.

North coach Andy Berkvam applauded the play of White Bear Lake.

“They gave us everything they had,” he said. “I knew they would, too.”

*And that's a wrap from the tournament. The boys' basketball tournament is up next, beginning Wednesday at Williams Arena and Target Center.

See you soon.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

4A All-Tournament Team
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 10:00:35 PM

The 4A all-tournament picks are …

--Kristi Kuhn, Wayzata
--Brooke Browne, Ellen Degler and Brianna Tisch, Chaska
--Julia Dysthe, Alexis Foley and Carly Jensen, White Bear Lake
--Cassie Rochel, Rachel Banham and Apiew Ojulu, Lakeville North

Unbeaten Lakeville North is 4A Champ
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 9:57:43 PM

When the preseason rankings were released, Lakeville North was at the top of everyone’s list. And when the final game of the Minnesota girls’ basketball season was played tonight at Target Center, the Panthers were in a familiar place: At the top.

Their 57-47 victory over White Bear Lake capped a 32-0 season. The Bears (29-3) put up a tremendous battle, falling behind by as many as 14 points but never giving up and fighting to the end.

Rachel Banham scored 20 of her 25 points in the first half for North and Cassie Rochel finished with 13 points and 20 rebounds.

The Bears’ Carly Jensen hit six of 11 three-point attempts (she took only one shot from inside the three-point line) and led her team with 19 points. Alexis Foley added 12 for the Bears.

The 4A game capped a tremendous tournament.

* My official Diet Coke/Pepsi count for the girls state basketball tournament is (drumroll) 18. The bar is set for the boys tourney next week.

*My next post will have the 4A all-tournament team.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Threes Boost the Bears
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 9:45:55 PM

White Bear Lake is hanging right with Lakeville North, with the Panthers in front 52-47 with 3:31 to play in regulation.

White Bear has made 10 of 26 three-point shots, and that’s what keeping them in this thing.

Halftime in 4A
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 9:19:53 PM

Lakeville North finished strong in the first half and leads White Bear Lake 36-26 as the second half begins. Rachel Banham, a junior guard who has made a verbal commitment with the Gophers, has 20 points for North.

The Panthers are shooting 53 percent to White Bear Lake’s 33 percent

*Some of the Lakeville North students held up cardboard signs that read – one letter at a time – “Berkvam Barnyard.” (That's a reference to coach Andy Berkvam.)

*My Diet Pepsi/Coke Count: five.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Benilde's Victory, By the Numbers
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 8:39:42 PM

Two statistics jump off the page from Benilde-St. Margaret’s 41-38 victory over Hill-Murray in tonight’s Class 3A girls’ basketball state championship game at Target Center…

--Points in the paint: Hill-Murray 16, Benilde-St. Margaret’s 28.

--Free throws: Hill-Murray 0-3, Benilde-St. Margaret’s 10-14.

Nobody from Benilde scored in double figures and the Redhawks committed 21 turnovers to 13 for Benilde. But the Redhawks pulled it off.

“We knew deep down inside that we’re a team,” Benilde coach Bob Lyons said. “Anyone can lead us in scoring on any given night.”

Hill-Murray led 22-17 at halftime, and as odd as it might sound, Benilde was happy about that.

“I told them, ‘We’ve got them right where we want them,’ ” Lyons said. “That was one of our worst halves of the year and we were only down by five.”

Benilde had its chances to win in the last minute, including two missed free throws by scoring leader Tessa Cichy. But coach Erin Herman said the end was not the issue.

“I don’t think the final minute was the problem,” Herman said. “I think wasted opportunities throughout the game was the problem. We didn’t take care of the ball the way we should have.”

Remember my pregame post, quoting Herman’s words to the Pioneers before taking the court? (Scroll down if you missed it).
After the game, she said, “Maybe for the first time in the tournament, the kids realized this was a big game.”

*Another in a long line of great tournament moments: The Hill-Murray students chanting to their team after the game, “We all love you!”

*The 3A title game between Lakeville North and White Bear Lake is underway. North leads 12-10 with 12:45 left in the first half.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

3A All-Tournament Team
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 7:53:44 PM

Named to the 3A all-tourney team were …

--Andrea Whitney and Haley Guetter of Sartell-St. Stephen

--Tyseanna Johnson and Carissa Wolyniec of DeLaSalle

--Olivia Antilla, Khadijah Shumpert and Itisha Alexander of Benilde

--Tessa Cichy, Bethany Doolittle and Jenna Savino of Hill-Murray

Benilde-St. Margaret's is 3A Champ
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 7:52:40 PM

In a game that went down to the wire, Benilde-St. Margaret’s rallied past Hill-Murray and held on through the final frantic seconds to win the 3A state title with a 41-38 victory.

Hill-Murray was ahead by nine points in the first half but Benilde-St. Margaret’s came out strong in the second half and took a 25-24 lead with 13 minutes to play. It was a race to the wire from there.

Tessa Cichy of Hill-Murray scored a game-high 24 points. She narrowly missed a three-point shot as the game ended. Khadijah Shumpert led Benilde-St. Margaret’s with 12 points.

*Interesting sidelight: While Tessa Cichy was throwing a second-half inbounds pass right in front of my seat at the courtside media table, I was watching a YouTube video of her father, Steve Cichy, returning a blocked punt 33 yards for a Notre Dame touchdown in the 1979 Cotton Bowl. That helped the Irish, led by QB Joe Montana, rally from a 34-12 deficit against Houston and win 35-34.

Steve Cichy never lost a football game while playing at Fargo Shanley, winning four state titles. Steve’s father (and Tessa’s grandfather), Sid Cichy, was the football coach at the powerhouse Shanley program.

*The all-tournament team is being introduced as I type this.

*The Diet Coke count is at four (four cans of D. Pepsi, that is.)

Hill/Tichy Ahead at Half
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 7:09:31 PM

Hill-Murray held a 22-17 lead over Benilde-St. Margaret’s as the first half ended in the 2A state championship game. Actually, the score could have read Hill-Murray 22, Benilde 17, Cichy 14.

Tessa Cichy, the Hill-Murray sophomore guard who scored 34 points in the semifinals, has been lighting up Target Center. She has 16 points early in the second half and Hill-Murray is in front 24-17.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Ready for 2A Title Game
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 6:15:49 PM

I dashed home between sessions to let the dog do a couple of things (let’s just call them shipping & receiving) because I am the only human in my house this weekend.

I was listening to the Kansas-Northern Iowa NCAA game on the radio in the car. Several Minnesotans on the UNI roster, and of course Cole Aldrich plays for Kansas. Right now UNI leads by 11 with 10:00 left.

But let’s get back to the girls’ state tournament here at Target Center. The starters for Hill-Murray and Benilde-St. Margaret’s are being introduced, and away we go for another two-game session of championship hoops.

As I walked out to the court, I went past the Hill-Murray Pioneers as they gathered around coach Erin Herman for some final words.

“This is just another game,” she told the kids. “It’s a big game, but it’s just another game.”

Let’s tip it off.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

2A All-Tournament Team
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 4:03:48 PM

Class 2A All-Tournament Team

--Bree Woelber and Bailey Bouman, Pipestone

--Laura Melquist and Shelby Hanssen, Rochester Lourdes

--Kelsey Sorenson-Giffrow, Rebekah Dahlman and Liz Anderson, Braham

--Sarah Scholl, Katelyn Adams and Rachel Hansen, Minnehaha Academy

Minnehaha Academy Takes 2A Title
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 4:01:58 PM

Minnehaha Academy has just finished off a strong performance in the 2A girls’ state basketball championship game, defeating Braham 64-46 at Target Center.

The Redhawks played well inside, using the size advantage provided by 6-foot-4 Katelyn Adams and the all-around play of scoring leader Rachel Hansen.

The all-tournament team will be announced in the next few minutes.

Even Champions Shed a Few Tears
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 3:04:58 PM

There were smiles all around as the Barnum Bombers celebrated their 1A state girls’ basketball championship today at Target Center. But there were a few tears, as well.

They weren’t tears of sadness and they really weren’t tears of joy, either. They were tears that came about because a wonderful journey was over.

“We have a lot of seniors who are graduating,” said junior Jessica Newman, who scored a game-high 19 points and was named to the all-tournament team. “It’s a little bittersweet, but more sweet than bitter.”

Jessica, bless her heart, was a little emotional as she said those words to a crowd of reporters. Her statement was a wonderful testament to the importance of high school activities: friends working together day after day, suffering through the lows and celebrating the highs, never giving up until the final whistle blows and always staying together, on and off the court.

The Bombers finished third last year and second in 2008, losing to Ada-Borup both times. This year’s team includes five tournament-tested seniors, and their final attempt to take home a title brought out some emotions, before the game as well as after.

Barnum senior Sarah Myhre, the daughter of coach Randy Myhre, said, “Emotions were everywhere. These are great girls and I’ve loved every minute of it. We wanted to go out and finish strong.”

Senior Katrina Newman scored 16 points, and Goodhue coach Josh Wieme said the Newman sisters – who combined to make 13 of 28 shots -- did most of the damage for the Bombers.

“Those are the two that really hurt us, with their athleticism and skill,” he said.

*It probably wasn’t very visible on TV and it was hard to see in person, as well, but the Braham players all wore small temporary tattoos on their left shoulders. The tattoos were two initials wrapped in a heart; the first letters of the names of two brothers in Barnum who lost their father this week.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

1A All-Tournament Team
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 2:36:45 PM

Members of the Class 1A all-tournament team

--Liza Hoglo and MacKinzie Magner, Northern Freeze
--Sari Noga and Madison Dorn, Parkers Prairie
--Laura Watson, Grace Majerus and Courtney Hinsch, Goodhue
--Katrina Newman, Jessica Newman and Sarah Myhre, Barnum

Barnum wins 1A state title
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 1:48:15 PM

Barnum made a pretty good case for the importance of state tournament experience this afternoon at Target Center.

The Bombers, playing at state for the fourth time in five years, rolled past Goodhue 43-31 to capture their first championship. Barnum lost to Ada-Borup in last year’s semifinals and also fell to Ada-Borup in the championship game two years ago.

Defense was a major factor in this one. Goodhue shot 46.7 percent (7 for 15) in the first half, while Barnum shot just 34.8 percent (Barnum made 8 of 23). When you hold a team to 15 field goal attempts in a half, you are doing something very, very right on defense. (We’re waiting for the final statistics.)

*A cool sight: The Barnum starters, sitting on the bench during the final seconds, applauding for their band.

*The old standby, side-to-side cheer raised its enthusiastic head in the final minutes of the Barnum-Goodhue game. Say it with me now, “We’ve got spirit, yes we do! We’ve got spirit, how about YOU!?”

*Goodhue coach Josh Wieme wore fingernail polish on several of his nails today. The story is that for every game the Wildcats won at state, they would paint a few of his fingernails. And if they won the state title, he would let them paint all 10 nails.

*One of the day’s early highlights: The Barnum band rocking “Sweet Caroline.”

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Boys’ State Tournament (2A and 1A)
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 12:36:33 PM

Here are the quarterfinal pairings for 2A and 1A (which are not seeded) in next week’s boys’ state basketball tournament…
Wednesday at Target Center

Plainview-Elgin-Millville vs. Jordan, 6 p.m.
Minnehaha Academy vs. Crosby-Ironton, 8 p.m.
Wednesday at Williams Arena
Braham vs. Sibley East, 6 p.m.
Windom vs. New London-Spicer, 8 p.m.
Thursday at Williams Arena

Rushford-Peterson vs. Springfield, 11 a.m.
Minnesota Transitions vs. Cass Lake-Bena, 1 p.m.
*Mesabi East or AlBrook vs. Sebeka, 3 p.m.
Ellsworth vs. Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, 5 p.m.
(*Mesabi East and AlBrook play tonight)
*1A girls update: Goodhue leads Barnum 12-11 with 5:25 left in the first half.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn      

Boys’ State Tournament
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 12:21:10 PM

The seeding procedure has been completed for the 4A and 3A boys’ state basketball tournament. Here’s how next week’s brackets in those classes look…

Boys’ state basketball quarterfinal pairings
4A (# seedings)
Games at Target Center next Wednesday

#1 Hopkins vs. Forest Lake, 10 a.m.
#4 Henry Sibley vs. Eastview, noon
#2 Eden Prairie vs. Owatonna, 2 p.m.
#3 Champlin Park vs. St. Cloud Tech, 4 p.m.
3A (# seedings)

Games at Williams Arena next Wednesday
#1 St. Paul Johnson vs. Hutchinson, 10 a.m.
#4 Winona vs. Orono, noon
#2 DeLaSalle vs. Little Falls, 2 p.m.
#3 Benilde-St. Margaret’s vs. Grand Rapids, 4 p.m.
*Barnum and Goodhue are in the early minutes of the 1A girls’ title game. Tune in on Channel 45.
*The referees did a quiet little fist pump right before assuming their positions for the opening tip. Neat.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

The Big Day is About to Begin
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2010 11:56:04 AM

The bands from Barnum and Goodhue are cranking up the noise and the fans are wound up for the first game of girls' state basketball championship Saturday.

The Bombers and Wildcats will tip off shortly after noon.

Championship Lineup is Set
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/19/2010 10:05:14 PM

The girls’ basketball state championship lineup is all set, with Braham just wrapping up an exciting 51-47 victory over Pipestone in the Class 2A semifinals here at Target Center.

The Bombers will meet Minnehaha Academy for the title Saturday afternoon.

Braham employed an interesting tactic, freezing the ball while holding a two-point lead in the final three minutes; that’s normally quite a long time to ice the ball. They dribbled and passed around the perimeter until Pipestone fouls put Braham into the bonus.

A missed Braham free throw gave Pipestone the ball with 1:47 left, a turnover put it back in Braham’s hands and Rebekah Dahlman made one free throw with 1:32 remaining for a 46-43 Bombers lead. Liz Anderson made two foul shots for a 48-43 Braham lead with 1:20 to play, and more free throws sealed Braham’s first trip to the title game.

Here’s what Saturday will look like…

Noon: Goodhue (25-7) vs. Barnum (30-2) for the 1A title.

2 p.m.: Minnehaha Academy (23-9) vs. Braham (28-4) in 2A.

6 p.m.: Hill-Murray (25-5) vs. Benilde-St.Margaret’s (29-2) in 3A.

8 p.m.: Lakeville North (31-0) vs. White Bear Lake (29-2) in 4A.

All the games will be televised by Channel 45. Watch at home if you must, but there’s no place like the heart of the action.

*Both teams in the day’s final game wore black socks. And the Braham players all wore thick black headbands in the first half before switching to thinner, light-colored hair bands (is that what you call them? Hair bands? I’ll consult my stylist…).

*Pipestone, which has an outstanding marching band program (believe me; I’ve seen the Marching Arrows perform many times), has an equally strong pep band. They played the theme song from “The Office” during the second half.

*I’ve decided that my favorite uniforms of the tournament are both green (yes, I’m Irish). Hill-Murray and Pipestone wear sharp-looking green uniforms, and Hill-Murray’s green shoes cap off the look; even though the Pioneers will be wearing their white uniforms on Saturday.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Minnehaha Reaches Title Game
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/19/2010 8:29:00 PM

Tonight’s first game of the Class 2A girls’ basketball semifinals probably can’t be called a changing of the guard, but it’s safe to call it a shifting of the sands.

Minnehaha Academy’s 65-50 victory over Rochester Lourdes was a first for Minnehaha.
The Redhawks had been to state the past two years in 3A, but never cracked the final two. After moving to 2A this season, they will play in their first championship game Saturday night.

Minnehaha awaits the winner of tonight’s second semifinal between Braham and Pipestone.

Lourdes, meanwhile, has been a regular visitor to state under coach Myron Glass, who has a 27-year record of 659-94. The Eagles won eight state titles between 1987 and 2005.

“Myron Glass is one of the best coaches in the state of Minnesota,” said Minnehaha coach Josh Thurow. “If he’s not the best, I don’t know who is.”

Minnehaha has a record of 23-9, but their losses are deceiving. The only 2A team to defeat the Redhawks was St. Croix Lutheran, and five of their losses came against teams that qualified for the state tournament.

“We knew we could play with just about anybody,” Thurow said.

*Braham assistant coach Nate Dahlman (see previous post) is dressed in the colors of the two colleges his oldest sons attend. His shoes are green and white (Michigan State) and he’s wearing a Wofford jacket. Nate caught my eye from across the court just now, and clearly wanted me to give him a thumbs up or down (again, see previous post). Michigan State and New Mexico State were tied, which spoiled our predetermined signals. I tried to form a “T” with my fingers, but that didn’t work. Then I pointed to the tie being worn by a guy sitting next to me. And then the Spartans went up by two, so I gave Nate a thumbs up followed by two fingers.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Big Day for the Dahlmans
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/19/2010 6:27:50 PM

Few basketball families have their focus spread around the country today like the Dahlmans of Braham. Let’s count down the day’s activities…

*Oldest son Isaiah, a senior at Michigan State and a former all-time scoring leader in Minnesota boys’ basketball, is in Spokane, Wash., where the Spartans are playing New Mexico State in the NCAA tournament tonight.

*Son Noah, a junior at Wofford College in South Carolina, had 10 points and five rebounds in the Terriers’ 53-49 NCAA tournament loss to Wisconsin this afternoon in Jacksonville, Fla.

*Daughters Hannah (a junior) and Rebekah (a freshman) are here at Target Center, awaiting tonight’s second 2A semifinal in which Braham will face Pipestone.

Father Nate, an assistant coach for the Braham girls’ team, had some issues in trying to watch Noah’s team play this afternoon. The Dahlmans do not have a TV in their home. And Nate was teaching chemistry at Braham High School when the Wofford-Wisconsin game began. After school, he went to the office of principal Roger Jansen.

There is a TV in the principal’s office, but it does not get CBS (which is televising the NCAA tournament). But Jansen was able to find an internet feed of the game so Nate could watch.

Hannah is wearing a Wofford sweatshirt as she sits in the stands here at Target Center watching the game between Rochester Lourdes and Minnehaha Academy.

I told Nate that I would be watching the Michigan State-New Mexico State game on my laptop computer at courtside this evening. I offered to send him text messages with score updates … but he doesn’t own a cell phone. Hannah and Rebekah do have cell phones, but they have been put away until the basketball season is over.

Nate told me to convey Michigan State’s status by looking into the stands and giving him an occasional “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” signal.

My thumbs are ready for action.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Family Affairs in Class 1A
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/19/2010 4:51:49 PM

After Barnum defeated Parkers Prairie 61-52 today to advance to Saturday’s Class 1A girls’ state basketball championship game against Goodhue, Bombers coach Randy Myhre was asked about his team’s leading scorer in the game. That person is Sarah Myrhe, who scored a game-high 24 points and yes, just happens to be Randy’s daughter.

“I’m not very good at taking her to buy a dress or get her hair done, but we’ve spent a lot of time together in the gym,” the coach/dad said.

The 1A title matchup should be a good one. Barnum (30-2) is a tournament veteran and Goodhue (25-7) is at state for the second year in a row. Barnum played in the championship game two years ago, losing to Ada-Borup. The Bombers also lost to Ada-Borup in last year’s semifinals.

“Our kids have been around,” said Randy Myhre, whose team previously went to state in 1996, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2009. “They’re veterans; some of them have been here since eighth grade.”

*Barnum’s experience is backed by familiarity not only with postseason basketball, but with each other. The Bombers’ roster includes two Myhres, two Newmans and two Rodgers.

The Parkers Prairie roster is similar, with three Dorns and two Nogas, including future Gopher Sari Noga.

This was Parkers Prairie’s first trip to state, and Barnum’s experience atTarget Center certainly was a factor.

“We were nervous for a little bit there,” Noga said. “Target Center is a big place. But once the game got going we were OK.”

Noga’s sister, eighth-grader Micaela Noga, went down hard while being fouled with 9:12 left in the game. She banged her forehead on the court and left the game. Afterwards, she sat in the trainer’s room with a big red welt on her forehead.

*You’ve never seen as much maroon and gold as was in the building during the Barnum-Parkers Prairie game. Those are the school colors of both teams.

*It’s interesting how much media attention the small schools draw. Outstate TV and radio stations are here in force along with the hometown and regional newspapers. The crowd of media around coaches and players after games is generally much larger for the small schools than the Class 3A and 4A schools.

*Planning is underway for the boys’ basketball tournament next week, when the 1960 single-class championship game between Edgerton and Austin will be recalled. Players from both teams have been invited to the tournament, and a special ceremony will be held at halftime of the 4A championship game.

*Quiet has once again put its arms around Target Center as we are between sessions. But the insanity will return in full force before long. Coming up this evening are the 2A semifinals. The 6 p.m. game pits Rochester Lourdes vs. Minnehaha Academy, followed by Braham vs. Pipestone.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Hobbling, but Advancing
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/19/2010 2:56:15 PM

After Goodhue defeated Northern Freeze 51-44 in the first Class 1A girls’ basketball semifinal here at Target Center, Goodhue coach Josh Wieme picked up his crutches and used them to exit the arena floor.

Wieme trashed his right Achilles tendon playing basketball several weeks ago. His foot’s in a boot and the crutches are a constant companion.

“Maybe it’s time to just coach and quit playing,” he said with a chuckle.

There was no shortage of smiles and laughter for the Wildcats (25-7), who handed Northern Freeze its first loss of the season in advancing to Saturday’s noon championship game against Barnum or Parkers Prairie … who are playing right now.

Goodhue is making its third state appearance; the others were in 1996 and last year. The Wildcats lost to Bigfork in the quarterfinals a year ago. And now they’re on the doorstep of their first state title.

“To play for a state championship is beyond our wildest dreams,” Wieme said. “Coming in, we just wanted to win a game and stay up here. Now we’ll try to win one more, and we’ll give it our best shot.”

Wieme said he didn’t think his players were intimidated by Northern Freeze’s unbeaten record. That’s mostly because of the distance between the two teams.

Goodhue is north of Rochester and Northern Freeze – a co-op involving Marshall County Central in Newfolden and Tri-County in Karlstad – is tucked way up in the northwest corner of Minnesota. The driving distance between the two is about 450 miles.

“I don’t think there was much of an intimidation factor because our girls probably don’t know where [Northern Freeze] is," Wieme said. "And their kids probably don’t know where Goodhue is.”

*Parkers Prairie, which is at state for the first time, is led by 5-10 senior guard Sari Noga. She has signed with the Gophers, and U coach Pam Borton is sitting in one corner of the arena watching the Barnum-Parkers Prairie game.

*There’s something extra special when the small schools and their fans take over Target Center. The crowds are large and enthusiastic, and one of my favorite sights is seeing grade-school kids all dressed up in the school colors, wearing beads, headbands, goofy hats, holding up signs, cheering their heads off and having a good ol’ time.

*I introduced myself to Wieme by saying I used to work for the Star Tribune but now have joined the MSHSL. He replied, “We’re sure going to miss reading your stories in the paper.” No problem, coach … just click on mshsl.org

*Favorite Chant (Winter edition): “Let’s Go Freeze!”

*Today’s Diet Coke Count: (OK, sue me, but I have suspended the official rules to include Diet Pepsi in the count) Three.
John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/stribjohn

Representative Assembly Action
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/19/2010 12:36:50 PM

Here’s a quick summary of action taken this morning by the MSHSL Representative Assembly…

*Approved a change in the summer coaching waiver. Baseball and softball coaches will be exempt from the no-contact period between coaches and athletes from July 1 through July 7. The change takes effect this summer.

*Cut the maximum number of regular-season soccer games from 18 to 16. That change will be effective in the 2011-12 school year.

*Approved non-varsity football games to be played the Wednesday before Labor Day, if the varsity squad from the same school plays a game the Thursday before Labor Day.

A proposal to make changes in dance team bylaws -- including a shorter season, an extra week of preseason practice and elimination of spring tryouts – was not acted upon.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Another Day of Hoops!
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/19/2010 12:04:18 PM

Here we are, back at Target Center for the semifinals in 1A and 2A girls' basketball.

I just arrived after spending the morning at a meeting of the MSHSL Representative Assembly. Some changes in MSHSL bylaws were approved by the Assembly, which I will write about in a few minutes.

For now, I'm getting set up at courtside. Northern Freeze and Goodhue will tip off in a 1A semifinal shortly.

The games are being televised on Channel 45.

White Bear Lake Moves to Finals
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/18/2010 10:01:17 PM

The day has been wrapped up, with White Bear Lake defeating Wayzata 58-45 in the second Class 4A girls’ basketball semifinal.

The Bears (29-2) advance to Saturday night’s title game against undefeated Lakeville North.
Also Saturday night, Hill-Murray and Benilde-St. Margaret’s will decide the 3A championship.

The 1A and 2A schools will take over Friday’s schedule here at Target Center, while the 3A and 4A teams take a day off.

In the 1A semifinals, it will be Goodhue vs. Northern Freeze at noon and Barnum vs. Parkers Prairie at 2 p.m.

The 2A semis are Rochester Lourdes vs. Minnehaha Academy at 6 p.m. and Braham vs. Pipestone at 8 p.m.

My Friday will start with a meeting of the MSHSL Representative Assembly at 9 a.m., after which I will scoot back here to Target Center for another day of hoops.

Time to get home and sleep fast.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Right Between the Eyes
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/18/2010 8:35:09 PM

Chaska senior captain Ellen Degler took an elbow between the eyes in the first half, left the game, received six stitches and didn’t return to the court. That pretty much summed up how things went for the Hawks in their 76-46 loss to Lakeville North in the 4A semifinals at Target Center tonight.

The Panthers (31-0) now await the winner of tonight’s second semifinal between Wayzata and White Bear Lake. There will be no debate about North’s status as a heavy favorite to take the state title home on Saturday night, no matter the opponent.

North shot 46 percent to Chaska’s 25.5 percent. Things got out of hand quickly, and when Degler went down there was little drama left.

“She’s a trouper,” said Chaska coach Tara Seifert. “She’s a farm kid and a hard worker and you can see it on the floor.”

North coach Andy Berkvam called Degler “the glue to their team. I hope she’s OK.”

Berkvam said he hasn’t talked to his players about the pressure of being ranked No. 1 since the preseason, because no words have needed to be said.

“There’s been a target all year,” he said. “We have a lot of talent, but we haven’t talked about that with the kids

“They’re a confident group and they know they’ll have to play well Saturday night.”

*Downhome Ties (Cornbelt Conference Division): Somebody told me tonight that Seifert played six-on-six basketball in high school in Iowa. No way, I said, she’s not old enough to have played six-on-six, which I grew up watching in Iowa.

Turns out she did. Tara told me she went to Harris-Lake Park High School, to which I responded, “Did you ever go to Graettinger?”

“You bet I did,” she said. “That was a conference rival of ours in the Cornbelt Conference.”

Tara graduated from Harris-Lake Park in the ‘90s; I graduated from Graettinger in the ‘70s. And our plan to rule Minnesota is well under way…

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Very Neat Halftime Show
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/18/2010 7:34:17 PM

Lakeville North leads Chaska 59-29 with 8 minutes to play, and I’ll post more about this game following some postgame interrogations.

Fabulous halftime show, with the CPR demonstration mentioned in a post earlier today. The Chaska band, including one hugely talented guitar player, played “Stayin’ Alive” while members of the Lakeville North band performed CPR on practice “dummies” specifically designed to teach CPR. First responders from Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport led the drill.

The court was filled with heads bobbing up and down in rhythm with the music as the kids performed CPR.

*After all the pregame fuss, it turned out that only three of the Chaska players are wearing numbers that differed from those listed in the program.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Purple Uniforms in the House!
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/18/2010 6:16:16 PM

Lakeville North was on the court when the horn blew to signal the beginning of pregame introductions. Chaska came running out about 30 seconds after the horn, and what do you know…the Hawks are wearing purple uniforms.

Howard Voigt, MSHSL Director of Information, is handing media members a new list of numbers for the Hawks. So they didn’t get all the right uniforms to the game, but it was a heck of an effort nonetheless.

No matter what happens in the game, the kids will be telling this story and laughing about it for years to come.

*Before this game began, one of the officials said to me,” Hey John, what’s the Diet Coke count today?”

I was quite chagrined to tell him that Target Center is a Pepsi building and I can’t get my hands on a Diet Coke. The Diet Pepsi count is four, but that’s an unofficial count because they weren’t Diet Cokes.

Now, if either Coke or Pepsi wants to make me a paid endorser, then we can talk…
John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Uniform (and Music) Update
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/18/2010 5:59:48 PM

With 17 minutes left on the pregame clock, seven Chaska road uniforms were in the building. And according to athletic director Troy Stein, “We’ve got enough uniforms for a starting five.”

More uniforms should be here shortly, but the numbers listed in the program might not match the players. The Hawks are wearing their home white uniforms as they warmup, but there should be some quick changes made in the locker room before tipoff.

*The Lakeville North band just knocked out the Black Eyed Peas’ “Tonight’s Gonna Be a Good Night.” And here comes the Chaska band with “Zoot Suit Riot.”

Good times.
John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Pregame Drama… Uniform Division
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/18/2010 5:26:38 PM

As the clock ticks toward tipoff of the Lakeville North-Chaska game, there is a flurry of activity back in Chaska as people scramble to get the proper uniforms to Target Center.

The Hawks brought their white uniforms to the tournament today, but they are the designated home team, which means they need to wear their dark uniforms.

This mistake wasn’t realized until the team arrived. Chaska officials tell me that cell phones are buzzing; the players’ dark uniforms are at their homes, so parents, grandparents, neighbors and who knows who are swinging into action. A Chaska assistant coach, I am told, is standing out on the street outside Target Center, waiting for cars to pull up and deliver uniforms.

How much fun is this?
John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

All Quiet (but not for long)
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/18/2010 5:07:09 PM

The Target Center has been empty for the last hour or so, but the gates have reopened and people are arriving for tonight's Class 4A semifinals.

We'll have Lakeville North vs. Chaska at 6 o'clock, followed by Wayzata vs. White Bear Lake.

The bands from North and Chaska are setting up, so it won't be long before they blow the roof off the place, John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

3A Championship Game is Set
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/18/2010 4:28:10 PM

Benilde-St. Margaret’s coach Bob Lyons said the best may be yet to come for the second-seeded Red Knights, who defeated unseeded Sartell-St. Stephen 69-47 today in the 3A girls’ basketball semifinals.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s will face fourth-seeded Hill-Murray for the title on Saturday.

“It wasn’t pretty. We didn’t play our best basketball,” Lyons said. “Hopefully we saved that for Saturday.”

Itisha Alexander and Olivia Antilla each scored 18 points for Benilde-St. Margaret’s. The Red Knights took advantage of 22 turnovers by Sartell-St. Stephen. The Sabres outrebounded Benilde 34-31, with Andrea Whitney getting 16 points and 13 rebounds for Sartell. Haley Guetter had 17 points.

An obvious question for Lyons in looking ahead to the title game concerned defending Hill-Murray guard Tessa Cichy, who scored 34 against top-seeded DeLaSalle in the semifinals.

"We’re just going to have to contain her,” he said. “She can shoot from anywhere and she’s aggressive with the ball. And with [6-4 center Bethany] Doolittle, it’s a great 1-2 punch.”

*An obvious question for Sartell-St. Stephen coach Katie Martin concerned her pregnancy: When are you due?

The answer: March 10. It will be Katie’s first child.

*There was 3:09 left in the second 3A semifinal and Benilde-St. Margaret’s was leading Sartell-St. Stephen 60-43. That’s when the Hill-Murray team exited Target Center. Knowing who their opponent will be in the championship game, there’s not much left to do except get to work on the game plan.

Cichy Does it All for Hill-Murray
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/18/2010 3:26:14 PM

Tessa Cichy scored 34 points for Hill-Murray in the Pioneers’ 61-48 victory over DeLaSalle in the 3A girls’ basketball quarterfinals today at Target Center. The sophomore guard made 10 of 23 field goal attempts, 10 of 12 free throws and added six rebounds, four assists and four steals in playing 35 of the game’s 36 minutes.

The most incredible – not to mention heads-up – moment for Cichy, however, was not part of the stat sheet. Hill-Murray was icing the ball in the final minute when a pass to Cichy bounced off her fingers and into the backcourt. If she touched the ball, it would be an over-and-back violation. So she stayed in position close to the ball and waited until a DeLaSalle player grabbed it. And then Cichy pounced, getting a piece of the ball and forcing a jump ball call.

The arrow was pointing the Pioneers’ way, so they retained possession.

That’s a play you don’t often see in the college and pro ranks. To see a high school sophomore have that sort of presence of mind is really something.

“She has unbelievable court sense,” said Pioneers coach Erin Herman.

Cichy couldn’t really explain the play, which is another pretty good clue about her court sense. “I don’t know,” she said, smiling. “I just tried to be patient and wait for a DeLaSalle player to go after the ball.”

Cichy’s 34-point performance was a nice turnaround from Wednesday. Fourth-seeded Hill-Murray beat Annandale 66-44 in the quarterfinals at Williams Arena, but Cichy was ill and scored just nine points on 3-for-16 shooting.

“She can do everything,” Herman said. ‘It’s hard to believe she’s only a sophomore.”

Faith Johnson Patterson, coach of top-seeded and previously unbeaten DeLaSalle, said nothing worked in trying to stop Cichy. The Islanders used zones and man-to-man defenses to no avail.

“She had ice in her veins,” Johnson Patterson said. “She had an incredible game.”

*At a meeting Thursday morning of the Minnesota State High School League Foundation, $292,000 in grants was awarded to member schools. The funds will be used for a wide variety of purposes, including transportation, AEDs, coaches education, hall of fame celebrations.

Last fall, the foundation awarded $300,000 to assist schools in boosting participation in activity programs.

CPR and Suicide Prevention Highlighted
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/18/2010 12:44:16 PM

Some very cool things -- in addition to basketball -- will take place here at Target Center later today.

At halftime of the 6 p.m. Class 4A semifinal between Lakeville North and Chaska, the importance of saving lives from sudden cardiac arrest will be highlighted. Teddy Okerstrom, a Wayzata High School football player, collapsed last summer and would have died if not for the quick action of coaches and teammates that saved his life. Teddy and his parents will be introduced to the crowd and a video about his experience will be shown on the Target Center video board.

In addition, first responders from the Minneapolis and St. Paul Fire Departments will lead 50 students from the Lakeville North band in CPR training on the court at halftime. The Chaska band will play the Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive.” The 1977 disco hit has 103 beats per minute, a perfect number to maintain — and retain — the best rhythm for performing CPR.

For more information, go to www.anyonecansavealife.org or www.takeheartminnesota.org

*Also during today’s games, Breckenridge High School will be presented with a first-prize check of $750 for winning a video competition aimed at preventing teen suicide.

Breckenridge’s video was one of 13 submitted from across the state; it was selected for its outstanding depiction of teens taking action to help a friend, for providing information and resources on suicide prevention and for its quality production. The video will be shown on the Target Center video board; it also can be seen at save.org

The competition was sponsored by Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, the Minnesota Department of Health and the MSHSL.

Thoughts of Summer
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/18/2010 12:24:49 PM

While I was walking in the skyway from the parking ramp to Target Center this morning, I could see the giant center field video board being tested inside Target Field (it was all lit up with a Land O’ Lakes ad). Made me think ahead to not only a season of outdoor baseball, but the three high school state championship games that will be played at Target Field on June 19. Can you smell summer?!

*First timeout of the day is being punctuated by the DeLaSalle band playing behind me. They are sweet.

Girls' Hoops, Day Two
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/18/2010 12:13:56 PM

Hello again, bloggerheads. I’m courtside at Target Center today, where the semifinals will be held in the Class 3A and 4A girls’ state basketball tournament.

The starting lineups for DeLaSalle and Hill-Murray are being introduced, and that 3A game will tip off shortly. The games are being televised on Channel 45, so tune in.

Wrapping up Day One
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/17/2010 9:44:48 PM

I don’t know many details of what took place over at Target Center on this first day of the girls’ state basketball tournament, but the action at Williams Arena was, pardon the obvious pun, a barnburner.

We had six quarterfinal games here Wednesday, four in Class 3A and two in 2A. Most of them were close finishes, and the crowds were large and exuberant for every game. There’s no place I’d rather spend 12-plus hours with several thousand of my close personal friends.

The 1A teams will play their quarterfinals at The Barn on Thursday. I’ll be at Target Center for the semifinals in 4A and 3A. Check back here for frequent updates, including the always-popular Diet Coke count. Wednesday’s total: 5 (and three bottles of water, which aren’t included in the official DC count).

Young Talent on Display
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/17/2010 8:14:55 PM

Tonight’s first 2A quarterfinal at Williams Arena was a matchup of two of the top young talents in the state. Braham defeated Watertown-Mayer 61-52, with ninth-grader Rebekah Dahlman leading the Bombers with 30 points. Watertown-Mayer sophomore Marissa Janning scored 27.

Janning made just 10 of 32 shots, including four of 15 three-point attempts. Watching Janning and Dahlman on the court made you think ahead to great things for them and their teams.

*Janning is clearly a cool customer. During a brief break in the action with 3:08 to play and Braham leading 55-47, current Osseo athletic director and former Watertown-Mayer AD Ray Kirch – a member of the MSHSL board of directors who was sitting at courtside – said to Janning, who was standing a few feet away, “Come on, Marissa, you can do this.”
Janning heard the familiar voice, saw Kirch, smiled and said, “What are you doing here?” The reply: “I’m watching you!”

*Good touch: The Sauk Centre pep band wore their marching band hats, complete with white plumes (technically they’re called shakos; yes, I am a band parent) sticking up. Nice going, Mainstreeters.

*Cardio time: I’ve been running (well, moving like a sloth to be truthful) from courtside up to the top level of The Barn at halftime and after every game, distributing statistics to the radio crews who are calling the action from on high. Makes me appreciate even more the friendly media stewards who have been handing me stats for many years. Now, where’s that oxygen?

*Diet Coke count: five.

A Tournament Veteran
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/17/2010 6:12:55 PM

Sartell-St. Stephen coach Katie Martin knows something about playing in the state tournament. Martin (then Katie Huschle) helped Eden Valley-Watkins reach the state championship game in 2001, where they fell to Fosston 50-45. Martin played collegiately at St. Cloud State.

*After Bemidji junior Kayla Hirt scored her first basket against Sartell, the Bemidji students chanted “She’s a Gopher!” Yes, the 6-3 Hirt has made a verbal commitment to play for the Gophers.

*We have completed the 1A games here at Williams Arena, and 2A will finish off the evening. Braham and Watertown-Mayer are on the court now and Pipestone vs. Sauk Centre will end the day.

*Diet Coke count through four games: 4 (plus a brownie and a cookie). I saw the Braham team as they entered the arena. Bombers coach Tim Malone has been tracking my intake today. He said, “What’s the Diet Coke count? It was two the last time I looked.”

Familiar Faces at The Barn
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/17/2010 4:07:21 PM

Several college basketball coaches have been sitting courtside at Williams Arena today, including the Gophers’ Pam Borton and an assistant coach from Indiana.

I had a nice chat with Kelly Roysland, who is familiar with The Barn on several levels. She played here for Fosston while in high school, spent her college career with the Gophers here and now is an assistant coach at North Dakota State. They don’t come any better than Kelly Roysland.

*The Willmar band, the largest band of the day so far at Williams Arena, can really belt it out. I especially liked the tune from “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.”

*The Sartell band kicked off the pregame music (before Sartell faced Bemidji in the final 3A quarterfinal) with “Crazy Train,” the Ozzy Osbourne metal-turned-pep favorite.

Best St. Patrick's Day attire
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/17/2010 2:04:18 PM

That award goes to Hill-Murray, which just defeated Annandale 66-44. The Pioneers wore their green uniforms, complete with shiny green shoes.

*Hill-Murray sophomore guard Tessa Cichy averages 19 points; she fouled out in the final three minutes with nine points. Senior Center Bethany Doolittle, who averages 13, finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

*Next up in the 3A quarterfinals it’s Benilde-St. Margaret’s vs. Willmar. The BSM band is belting out the 1970’s classic “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now).” I can relate, being that I come from the 70s.

The Annandale band is countering with the tournament classic, “Hey! Baby!”

Atmosphere? We got it at Williams Arena.

*The Diet Coke count still stands at two. In fact, DC is in a dead heat with bottled water, also standing at two. Oh the drama.

Title game atmosphere in 3A quarterfnals
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/17/2010 12:20:00 PM

The first game of the day at Williams Arena provided all the atmosphere - as well as the drama -- of a state championship game. DeLaSalle's 66-61 victory over New Prague opened the 3A girls' state basketball tournament in grand fashion.

DeLaSalle (30-0) is the top seed and New Prague (20-10) was not seeded. A common perception was that the winner would have the inside track to the state title. New Prague played a 4A-heavy schedule, including losses to 4A state qualifiers Lakeville North and Northfield.

New Prague coach Ron Gunderson expressed frustration at the current seeding system, in which four teams are seeded by participating coaches and their quarterfinal opponents are decided by a blind draw. Gunderson said he would prefer seeding all eight teams or using the system employed in the 2A and 1A tournaments, in which state quarterfinal matchups are determined on a rotating basis of section vs. section.

"In my opinion it ain't working so good," Gunderson said. "This might have been a championship game."

DeLaSalle coach Faith Johnson Patterson expressed similar sentiments, saying, "I think maybe they should look at it again."

Johnson Patterson's main emotion after the game, however, was relief. "That was a tough one for us," she said. "But the kids played well as a team and they played hard."

New Prague had its chances at the end. Hannah Strop, who had 18 points, scored on a layup and a 10-footer to bring the Trojans within four with under three minutes to play. The closest New Prague came was three points (64-61) when Tayor Rookaird made a free throw with 26 seconds to play. DeLaSalle sealed it with free throws of its own.


*Electric guitar count in the DeLaSalle band: eight.

*Best pregame music: The New Prague band playing "Hand Jive."

*Best Name (commuter division): DeLaSalle junior guard Diamond Lane.

*My Diet Coke count through one game: two.

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