John's Journal
Class 3A Boys Basketball Rankings2/9/2017
From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. DeLaSalle 15-2
2. Marshall 19-1
3. Delano 15-3
4. Mahtomedi 17-1
5. Orono 14-4
6. Austin 18-1
7. Totino-Grace 11-8
8. Waseca 19-1
9. Big Lake 14-4
10. Alexandria 12-4
11. Fergus Falls 15-3
12. Columbia Heights 15-5
13. Minneapolis Henry 13-7
14. St. Paul Highland Park 14-5
15. Zimmerman 14-5
16. Grand Rapids 14-5
17. St. Thomas Academy 12-7
18. Faribault 11-6
19. Northfield 10-8
20. Bemidji 12-5
Class 2A Boys Basketball Rankings2/9/2017
From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Minnehaha Academy 16-5
2. Caledonia 13-4
3. Melrose 20-0
4. Crosby-Ironton 18-1
5. St. Cloud Cathedral 17-4
6. Esko 17-2
7. Watertown-Mayer 17-2
8. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 14-3
9. New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva 18-2
10. Eden Valley-Watkins 14-2
11. Annandale 15-4
12. Lake City 16-3
13. Perham 16-2
14. Jordan 17-3
15. Holdingford 14-3
16. Jackson County Central 17-3
17. Breckenridge 13-2
18. Virginia 18-1
19. Pine Island 16-3
20. Minneapolis Roosevelt 13-6
Class 1A Boys Basketball Rankings2/9/2017
From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Minneapolis North 19-1
2. Heritage Christian 17-2
3. Central Minnesota Christian 18-3
4. Nevis 18-1
5. Red Lake 17-3
6. Goodhue 19-2
7. Springfield 17-2
8. Red Rock Central 18-1
9. Spring Grove 18-3
10. Ada-Borup 16-2
11. Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdahl 14-2
12. Cleveland 19-1
13. Lake Park-Audubon 14-4
14. Cass Lake-Bena 14-6
15. North Woods 18-1
16. Browerville-Eagle Valley 15-3
17. Cedar Mountain-Comfrey 17-2
18. Battle Lake 15-3
19. Cristo Rey Jesuit 13-5
20. Prairie Seeds Academy 12-3
A Special Night In Annandale: Hope For Henry 2/8/2017
ANNANDALE – Two comments overheard during a grand Tuesday evening of basketball in a packed gymnasium do a pretty good job of telling the story.

Quote No. 1: “This is just a game. There’s a little kid fighting for his life.”

Quote No. 2: “Those were two dang good teams going at it.”

Both quotes are accurate. These were just games, with the girls and boys basketball teams from Hopkins heading to Annandale for a varsity doubleheader. The overall focus was on a little boy who is in the minds and hearts and prayers of everyone who attended.

Henry Dolan is the grandson of Annandale boys basketball coach Skip Dolan. Henry was born with heart defects and given a two percent chance to survive for a week after birth. That was nine months ago. Henry, who has undergone a heart transplant, remains hospitalized and hopes are high for his long-term health. But the road will be long for Henry, his parents, Sam and Mollie Dolan, and his two big sisters.

There were signs on the gym walls proclaiming it a “Night of Hope.” Hope For Henry t-shirts, hats and bracelets were sold. The teams wore Hope For Henry shirts during warmups.

The girls game was, well, one-sided. The Hopkins girls are the top-ranked team in Class 4A and ran their record to 22-0 with a 79-35 victory over the Class 2A Cardinals. The boys game was not like that at all. Here were the mighty Hopkins Royals, longtime power in Class 4A and currently ranked No. 6 in that class with a pregame record of 14-5, and the Annandale Cardinals, unranked in Class 2A and holding a record of 15-3.

Between warmups and tipoff of the boys game, Skip Dolan and Cardinals senior guard Connor Magrum each spoke to the crowd.

Magrum and his teammates have made Henry part of the team. He is an honorary Cardinal, with a number 13 jersey dedicated to him (that’s the number Henry’s dad wore). The players all wear Hope For Henry wristbands, which they hang on a makeshift wooden tree during games. The Hopkins players did something special, too, writing personal notes to the Dolans and hanging them on the tree before warmups.

“Tonight we would like to draw attention to a special little boy who has been in our hearts since long before the season began,” Connor said. He stressed the importance of organ donation, saying, “One way we can all be heroes in our community and beyond is by considering becoming an organ donor.”

Coach Dolan thanked the Hopkins teams for coming to Annandale, and thanked all the people behind Tuesday’s events. It was clear that Skip and his family have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. (Skip is pictured here with the Hopkins girls team.)

“We are truly, truly thankful to this community, to this student body, to this school district,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder of a community and what you’ve done.”

The longest ovation of the night came when Skip introduced Sam and Mollie, who were in the stands while grandma was with Henry for a few hours.

“Imagine being told that there’s a two percent chance at birth that your child will live the first week,” Skip said. He ended his comments with this: “Let’s play basketball!”

And oh did they play basketball. The Royals shot the lights out early and led 29-11 midway through the first half. The Cardinals began finding the range and were only behind by five at halftime, 45-40.

The halftime entertainment included a free throw contest. The hopefuls paid a dollar for the chance to sink a shot and win a two-liter jug of pop. The 50-50 raffle winner also was announced. The pot was north of a thousand dollars and the winner would take home more than $500. But, as expected, the holder of the lucky ticket simply said, “keep it all” and the money went toward Henry’s care. Huge round of applause.

The boys from Annandale did not waver in the second half. The score was 50-50 with 14 minutes to go and the atmosphere was electric. After that? Bedlam.

A three-point play by Trent Pepper and a three-point field goal by Jarod Wilken gave Annandale a 61-57 lead with 8:56 left. The crowd was screaming and that never changed. Joe Hedstrom, Hopkins’ 6-foot-11 junior center, powered to the hoop to give the Royals a two-point edge and Wilken tied it with a layup. There were missed shots and turnovers in the final minutes, and the verdict was finally sealed with Hopkins senior Ishmael El-Amin making two free throws to give the Royals a 72-71 win that they will long remember.

The postgame scene was just as special. There were handshakes and hugs, “thanks for coming” and “wow, what a game!” Skip Dolan posed for photos with Hopkins players and coaches, big smiles on every face. It was truly a night to remember.

Someday, Henry will hear all about it.

--To see a photo gallery, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 349
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 7,815
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Everybody Wins During Wrestling Night In Perham 2/4/2017
PERHAM – Friday was big here in Perham, which if you aren’t familiar with Minnesota geography is on U.S. Highway 10 between Frazee and New York Mills. And if that doesn’t help then you need to look at a map. Because Perham is a special place.

Here’s a fact that tells you how special this community is: Last November the voters approved the construction of a new high school. So in a couple years there will be a major celebration when those brand-new doors swing open.

Friday night’s focus was wrestling and the festivities were held in the gymnasium at the eloquently named Prairie Wind Middle School, a modern structure where the Yellowjackets basketball teams also play. On Friday the girls team had the night off and the boys hoopsters made the 80-minute drive to Breckenridge to meet the Cowboys in a game between the top two teams in Section 8AA. In that game, Perham sophomore Jenson Beachy became the first boys player in school history to score 1,000 points as the Yellowjackets defeated Breckenridge 64-48.

Among the Perham basketball players is senior Reid Moser. His father, Robb, and sophomore brother Ty couldn’t make it to Breckenridge because Robb is the head coach of the wrestling team and Ty is the varsity 195-pounder. What an exciting household that must be.

Wrestling Night in Perham was spectacular. The Yellowjackets, who are ranked sixth in Class 2A, hosted Frazee (No. 2 in 1A) and St. Michael-Albertville (No. 5 in 3A). At last season’s state tournament, St. Michael-Albertville and Frazee were team runners-up while Perham placed fifth. What all that means is there is a very thin sliver of daylight between these teams and the very tip-top of their sport.

During the triangulated festivities, Perham defeated Frazee 34-21 in the lid-lifter and St. Michael-Albertville beat Frazee 61-18. Those matches were held on one mat while junior-varsity wrestlers battled on a second mat. The finale came after one mat was removed, the other mat was yanked to the center of the gym and the lights over the bleachers were dimmed. The focus was on Perham vs. St. Michael-Albertville, towns that are separated by 147 miles and linked by a love of high school activities.

The Knights won at seven of the first eight weight classes and led 29-6 before the Yellowjackets triumphed in four of the final six (three by fall) for a final count of St. Michael-Albertville 39, Perham 27.

The competition closed with Perham senior Jonathan Staebler getting a pin at 285 pounds. Shortly after, the house lights were raised and the mat was razed (meaning it was rolled up into sections until next time).

What a night it was. There were walking tacos and walking mascots; the Perham Yellowjacket and Wiley the Wallaby representing KLN Family Brands, the legendary civic-minded Perham employer that makes candy and pet food. On behalf of KLN, little kids handed out box after box of sweet goodies to the fans between matches.

Someone from nearby Wadena won the 50-50 raffle, and that fine citizen donated the winnings back to the cause. If you aren’t familiar with this concept, a 50-50 raffle means fans buy tickets (usually for a dollar each), and at a certain point in the proceedings a drawing is held, with half the dough going to the winner and the other half going to whatever that night’s cause is; it can be a wrestling program, a school project, etc. There were several cash drawings, as well, with folks taking home prizes of $50, $100 and one lucky lady winning one thousand American dollars.

Candy or cash or thrills on the mat. During Wrestling Night in Perham, everybody went home a winner.

--To see a photo gallery, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 347
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 7,730
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn