John's Journal
Hockey Rankings: Class 1A Girls1/12/2017
The latest Associated Press Class 1A poll for Minnesota girls hockey, provided by Let's Play Hockey newspaper

Rank Team Record Last Week
1. Blake (10) 15-2-1 1
2. Breck 12-4-2 2
3. St. Paul United 13-3-1 3
4. Proctor/Hermantown 13-4-0 4
5. Thief River Falls 12-5-0 5
6. Warroad 9-7-1 6
7. Delano/Rockford 14-3-0 8
8. New Prague 7-7-3 7
9. Princeton 15-3-0 9
10. Red Wing 10-4-2 10
11. Alexandria 6-6-1 11
12. Hibbing/Chisholm 9-7-0 12
13. Moose Lake Area 12-4-1 14
14. East Grand Forks 7-4-2 15
15. South St. Paul 7-9-1 13
16. Mound Westonka 10-4-0 16
17. Northfield 9-6-2 17
18. Hutchinson 8-4-0 19
19. Orono 4-10-1 18
20. Owatonna 9-5-1 NR
Receiving votes: New Ulm, Fergus Falls, Mankato East/Loyola
Roseau: Where Girls Basketball Stands Tall 1/10/2017
ROSEAU – Yes, of course, hockey is big in this little town near the Canadian border. Roseau boys hockey teams have gone to the state tournament a record 34 times and own seven titles, while the Rams girls have skated at state four times.

This winter, however, the hottest team in town wears sneakers instead of skates. These are the glory days for girls basketball in Roseau; the Rams have been to state in Class 2A the last two years, placing fourth in 2015 and third last season. They are currently ranked No. 1 in 2A and ran their record to 12-0 with an 86-61 home victory Monday night over Thief River Falls, which played at state in Class 3A the last two seasons.

The Rams wear warmup shirts that have the word “UNITED” on the back. They hustle, they dive for loose balls, shoot threes, drive to the hoop and use in-your-face, quick-handed defense to spark fast breaks. In other words, they play basketball the right way, the entertaining way. They have a deep bench and lots of experience in big games on big courts.

In other words, they would very much like to finally win their school’s first basketball state championship. And this could be the year.

“They have so many weapons, including girls coming off the bench,” said Thief River Falls coach Jeff Loe. “They have that outside-inside, that balance that teams love to have, and they’re so athletic and aggressive. This is probably the best team they’ve had.”

The marquee players for the Rams are the Borowicz sisters. Kiley is a senior, Kacie is a sophomore and Katie is an eighth-grader. Kiley and Kacie have played at state twice and Katie made her debut on the big stage last year (pictured, left to right, are Kacie, Katie and Kiley). Roseau coach Kelsey Didrikson calls the trio “the horses for us.” But the Borowicz sisters (their name is pronounced “BRAH-vitch”) are complete and utter team players.

“We’re deep and the supporting cast is strong and knows their roles so well,” Didrikson said. “I don’t have to put pressure on (the sisters). We don’t run a single thing for any of them. There are plays that work because we have them, and if the game is on the line everybody knows they’ll probably have the ball in their hands.

“They make their teammates better and their teammates make them better. They all own their roles and execute their roles so well.”

The Borowicz sisters do know how to skate, thank you very much. But they have been hoop-heads for life. Their mom, Tracy, is a former head coach of the Rams girls basketball team and their dad, David, is heavily involved in the game. There are a couple of Borowicz brothers, too: Jake is 10, Jordan is 8 and they also know how the basketball bounces.

Kiley Borowicz leads the Rams with a 26.4-point scoring average. Kacie is next at 18.8, followed by 6-foot-2 senior Victoria Johnson at 12.2, senior Ivy Braaten at 10 and junior Mya Hough at six points per game. Kiley Borowicz and Johnson are the top rebounders, averaging eight boards per game.

The Borowicz sisters get much of the acclaim, but they know how valuable their teammates are.

“It’s more than just us,” Kacie said, to which Kiley added, “Vic really does a lot, Katie (Hulst), Ivy, Morgan (Groenhoff), Mya, one of them will have double figures in a game. This year people are more confident. Our juniors are way more confident to shoot and drive.”

The Rams are undefeated despite dealing with some injuries. They have outscored their opponents by an average score of 81-58. Their narrowest victory came against Barnesville by a score of 74-68 in a holiday tournament. Roseau and Barnesville (11-2) may end up as the top two teams in the Section 8 postseason playoffs.

Among the big regular-season contests remaining on the Rams’ schedule is a Feb. 3 game in Roseau against Mountain Iron-Buhl, which is currently 11-0 and ranked No. 1 in Class 1A. Facing motivated competition is part of the formula for Roseau.

“In every game we have to play harder than we should have to because everyone brings their best game,” Katie Borowicz said.

Kiley said, “You just can’t think you’re the best. I know we are probably the best team but I never think that. I get nervous before every game, I don’t get cocky.”

The Rams were certainly not cocky in Monday’s game against Thief River Falls. They came out flying fast and working hard, running the court and taking control in leading 52-21 at halftime. At game’s end, Kiley Borowicz had 34 points, Braaten had 14 and Kacie Borowicz 13, while Tiahna Nicholson led the Prowlers with 20 and Alexa Rogalla scored 17.

“I thought the first half was probably our best half, or one of our best halves, of basketball all season,” Didrikson said. “They played solid. It was a really good start for us, doing the little things we’re always talking about; playing better defense, ball movement. Our goal was 20 assists tonight and we had 13 at halftime, and I know they were excited about that. It’s fun to see them own that and understand how important ball movement is. They made some beautiful passes.”

Like most of their teammates the Borowicz sisters are involved in multiple sports, playing volleyball in the fall and participating in track during the spring. Kiley and Kacie have been members of relay teams that have qualified for the state championship meet, with Kiley laughing and saying, “That made me more nervous than (state) basketball, especially since track isn’t my best sport.”

After losing in the state basketball semifinals the last two years, the Rams are aiming higher this year. The first goal is to get to state, and if that happens they won’t be satisfied with another spot in the third-place game.

“It would be really upsetting,” said Kiley Borowicz. “Since elementary school everyone has been saying, ‘You guys will go to state when you’re seniors, this is your year.’ The third-place game is good I guess but not what we know we can do.”

“People in school and around town expect a lot from us,” Katie said.

Their coach agreed, laughing when asked if there was pressure on the team.

“It’s not wanting to let anybody down,” Didrikson said. “In a small town this is not just about our coaching staff and the girls on the varsity. It’s something the community is excited about and looking forward to.

“Going to state is special. It is a privilege and an honor. We wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on an opportunity they’ve been working so long for.”

--To see a photo gallery from the Thief River Falls-Roseau game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 316
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 6,632
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
A Night Of Pride And Dedication In Pelican Rapids 1/7/2017
PELICAN RAPIDS – Al Siegle would have loved the Al Siegle Activity Center. The breathtaking new facility was dedicated Friday night before the Pelican Rapids Vikings hosted the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Rebels in a boys basketball game, and one thing is for sure: Al would have loved it.

The activity center includes a spacious gymnasium, wrestling room, dance studio, weight room, walking track and other great touches. It is a showplace and will be a great source of pride in Pelican Rapids for years to come.

Al Siegle, who passed away in 2015, was a beloved teacher, coach and administrator in Pelican Rapids from 1964 to 1994. He is a member of the Minnesota High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Minnesota Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Hall of Fame. After retiring he worked as a substitute teacher, helped out at sporting events and remained very active in school and community events.

During the ceremony, former coaching colleagues Rex Haugen and Virg Kohler talked about their memories of Al. They told funny stories and touching stories. There were tears and applause.

Kohler asked any former students, former co-workers and friends of Al to stand, and darn near everybody in the gym did so. “Look at the lives he touched,” Virg said.

Honored guests at the ceremony were Al’s wife Faye, along with their children and grandchildren. Al’s son Tim, speaking on behalf of the family, said, “I think my dad is looking down with a gigantic smile on his face for a lot of reasons.”

Al knew that the activity center would bear his name, and he was stunned to learn this. The building was under construction at the time of his passing.

“Kids are going to have incredible opportunities here,” said Tim. “What an incredible gift for kids to have an opportunity to grow and learn inside these facilities.

“He was so honored and so touched by this. There are no words to describe the impact this has on my family and future generations of our family.”

Al’s family received a plaque bearing Al’s likeness and a few words honoring him and what he meant to Pelican Rapids. A replica of the plaque hangs on a wall inside the entrance to the activity center.

Tim talked about what Pelican Rapids meant to his father, who was a Montana native and graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead.

“My dad believed that he was a small part of a very big picture, and he believed that it takes a village to raise a child. And he was so happy and so proud to be a part of that village. He lived every day so thankful and so proud to be a part of this community.”

The ceremony ended with the outstanding Pelican Rapids pep band playing the school song as everyone stood and clapped along. And they smiled with pride.

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

As they should have.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 312
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 5,859
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Class 4A Girls Basketball Rankings1/6/2017
From Minnesota Basketball News

CLASS 4A
1. Hopkins (12-0)
2. Eastview (8-1)
3. Elk River (9-0)
4. Apple Valley (9-1)
5. Centennial (9-1)
6. East Ridge (7-2)
7. Lakeville North (8-2)
8. St. Michael-Albertville (7-2)
9. Cretin-Derham Hall (6-1)
10.Edina (8-3)
Class 3A Girls Basketball Rankings1/6/2017
From Minnesota Basketball News

CLASS 3A
1. Holy Angels (10-1)
2. Alexandria (7-2)
3. Kasson-Mantorville (7-3)
4. Winona (7-2)
5. Orono (8-3)
6. Grand Rapids (8-3)
7. Mahtomedi (8-2)
8. Northfield (8-2)
9. Hutchinson (6-4)
10.Zimmerman (9-1)