John's Journal
Red Lake: A Team With Heart, Having Fun At State 3/11/2016
The journey from Red Lake to Target Center is a lengthy one, 249 miles of southbound Minnesota highway. Despite the distance, however, the Red Lake boys basketball team is the toast of downtown Minneapolis.

They brought a massive throng of fans with them to this week’s state tournament. Williams Arena was awash in Ogichidaag (“Warriors”) red and white on Thursday when Red Lake defeated Browerville/Eagle Valley 66-52 in the quarterfinals. The fans were at Target Center for Friday’s semifinals, where Red Lake lost to top-seeded Minneapolis North 82-61.

The game was not exactly a thing of beauty (the teams combined for 49 turnovers), but the Red Lake players, coaches and fans were more than a thing of beauty. The kids never stopped hustling, the fans never stopped cheering, the fun never stopped.

The finest moments came after the outcome was decided but before the clock ran out. Reserves were on the court for both teams, and the Red Lake starters cheered and smiled and yelled encouragement to their backups. Baskets on the court were followed by fist pumps on the bench.

And after the teams shook hands, the love shown between players and fans was as sweet a thing as you’ll ever see in our world of high school sports. I feel fortunate to have witnessed it.

“I want to win. I don’t like to lose. But at the same time this is special for these boys,” Red Lake coach Roger White said in a postgame media session that will long be remembered for its honesty and grace.

“You can’t take the fun out of it. That’s what it’s about, having fun. There’s more to life than basketball. Sometimes basketball brings us together, it brings our community together.”

White and his players have been playing for reasons that go beyond basketball. The coach’s son Aaron was 15 when he died on November 1, eight days before the first basketball practice. Aaron had cancer, and dealing with something like that can add perspective to what’s truly important.

“Being through what I’ve been through as a coach, losing my son, things that really, really are important sometimes don’t seem as important,” Roger White said. “When we got here it’s all about these boys and what they do, using basketball as an instrument for life.

“It’s special for me, it’s special for our boys. It’s more than basketball. We’re just having a great time. These boys deserve it. They’ve worked hard and it’s fun.”

Jamil Jackson scored 21 points for Minneapolis North. Will Morrison led Red Lake with 19 points and junior Rob McClain scored 14. McClain’s total pushed him past the 1,000-career-point mark.

“I liked that I got my 1,000th point at Target Center,” Rob said. “But I would rather have a win than 1,000 points any day.”

Aaron White was Rob’s cousin and Rob called him “the heart of the team.” Most of the Red Lake players were in a fall league tournament – three hours away from home – the day Aaron died. They forfeited their final game and raced back to Red Lake when they heard the news.

“It was heartbreaking,” Rob said. “When he passed I think that pushed us harder. He would be the one trying to outwork everyone. That’s what I go in the gym knowing. He was smaller than me but he had the biggest heart. He was just a terrific kid and an amazing cousin.”

The Ogichidaag will face Central Minnesota Christian in the third-place game on Saturday morning at Concordia University in St. Paul. The team will then return to Target Center for the 11 a.m. championship game. There surely will be more cheers of appreciation for a job well done and a community well represented.

1A/ GOODHUE 41, CENTRAL MINNESOTA CHRISTIAN 38

The Wildcats advanced to their first state championship game appearance with a grinding victory over the Bluejays. Goodhue shot only 38.7 percent to Central Minnesota Christian’s 39 percent; the winners made 12 field goals to the Bluejays’ 16 but Goodhue made 11 free throws and CMC made just three. Jacob McNamara led Goodhue with 14 points and nine rebounds. Taylor Slagter scored 11 for the Bluejays.

2A STATE SEMIFINALS

BRAHAM 86, ST. CROIX LUTHERAN 77

The fourth-seeded Bombers made 21 free throws in beating the top-seeded Crusaders. Braham went 21 of 24 at the line; St. Croix Lutheran made 34 field goals to Braham’s 30, but the Crusaders made only five of 11 free throws. Chris Olson led Braham with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Ade Murkey had 26 and 12 for the Crusaders.

JACKSON COUNTY CENTRAL 63, ANNANDALE 46

Jackson County Central became the only unseeded team to advance to the championship round, protecting the ball and outscoring a poor shooting Annandale team. The Huskies, who will meet Braham in Saturday’s title game, had only six turnovers while shooting 46 percent. Annandale shot just 30 percent, making 16 of 53 field-goal attempts. Bodey Behrends led Jackson County Central with 20 points and eight rebounds. Alex Hohenstein had 12 points for the Cardinals.

FRIDAY’S STATE SEMIFINALS

CLASS 1A
Minneapolis North 82, Red Lake 61
Goodhue 41, Central Minnesota Christian 38

CLASS 2A
Braham 86, St. Croix Lutheran 77
Jackson County Central vs. Annandale

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 566
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 8,796
A ‘Statement Game’ At State By Minneapolis North 3/10/2016
This is what you call a concise, accurate scouting report: “They’re a big, good defensive team and they move the ball really well, attack the basket, good rebounders and they get out in transition. They’re a really good team.”

Those are the words of Red Lake boys basketball coach Roger White talking about Minneapolis North. Those two teams won quarterfinal Class 1A state tournament games Thursday at Williams Arena, albeit in varying manners, and will meet in Friday’s semifinals at Target Center.

North, which is the top seed, cruised past St. Clair 80-27, with running time used for the final nine minutes (by rule when the margin is 35 points or more). The Polars are everything White described, too.

They had 16 offensive rebounds (and 23 on the defensive end), and North’s belly button-to-belly button defense helped them pile up 21 steals (and contributed to St. Clair’s 32 turnovers). Five Polars scored in double figures, led by future University of Minnesota football player Tyler Johnson and Jamil Jackson with 18 each.

“I think this is kind of a statement game, to make teams a little bit worried,” Johnson said. “Whether they’re worried or not, we’re just going to come out day by day and just come out pretty strong.”

St. Clair coach Charlie Freitag said his team practiced against eight defensive players in preparing for the Polars. The Cyclones shot only 24 percent in the loss.

“It’s hard to replicate,” he said. “Even if you have speed, you’ll never duplicate their length and athleticism. Preparation only goes so far. You still have to knock down shots.”

Part of North’s preparation included a strong schedule. Yes, their enrollment puts them in Class 1A, but their regular-season schedule was loaded with larger schools.

North is 27-5 with losses to 4A state tournament contender Hopkins, 4A Champlin Park, 4A Wayzata, 4A Minneapolis Washburn and a team from Georgia. Teams the Polars have defeated include St. Croix Lutheran (the top-seeded team in 2A at state), Fridley (a 3A state tourney team) and Central Minnesota Christian (the No. 2 seed in 1A).

North nearly defeated Hopkins on Jan. 19, losing 98-96 in the Polars’ gym.

“Hopkins, that was a pretty good team,” Johnson said. “We played a pretty good game that day. Even though the outcome was a loss, I feel like that was one of our best games of the season. We learned a lot from that game. We learned how to play with a big crowd on a big stage. That pushed us for the rest of the season.”

Red Lake advanced with a 66-52 victory over Browerville/Eagle Valley. Four players scored in double figures for the Warriors, led by Kendall Whitefeather’s 18.

There surely will be a big crowd at Target Center for the semifinals. Red Lake fans nearly filled half the lower bowl at Williams Arena on Thursday to watch the Warriors (27-4), while North brought an equally enthusiastic contingent.

“It should be an up-and-down game,” Red Lake’s White said. “I don’t think our guys know how to slow down. It’s going to be a good game and hopefully we can play defense and get some rebounds and hit some shots.”

--One of the great scenes Thursday at Williams Arena came after St. Clair’s loss to Red Lake. The Cyclones were playing at state for the first time in school history and they finished with a record of 22-8.

After the teams shook hands, Freitag and his players gathered for a quick huddle. As they broke formation, the players and coaches all turned to face their fans and began applauding. The crowd returned the applause and cheered loudly for their boys.

“Our fans, they were amazing,” Freitag said. “They almost filled the whole side of Williams Arena. It was great to see and we had to show appreciation back. Hopefully they know our community knows how much we value them and their support throughout this. I hope they enjoyed what we’ve done throughout the year and even enjoyed the experience here today.

“This (loss) doesn’t define our team or our season at all,” he said. “Our season’s already been defined. We wanted to go out and enjoy this experience. I hope they did. We told them to keep their heads up and understand what they’ve accomplished. In no way does this define what our seniors have done. Basically it’s just a bad draw. I can’t be more proud of them.”

THURSDAY’S STATE QUARTERFINALS

CLASS 1A
--Minneapolis North 80, St. Clair 27
--Red Lake 66, Browerville/Eagle Valley 52
--Central Minnesota Christian 50, Mountain Iron-Buhl 32
--Goodhue 54, Lake Park-Audubon 29

THURSDAY’S STATE SEMIFINALS

CLASS 4A
--Lakeville North 60, Osseo 56
--Hopkins 84, Apple Valley 59

CLASS 3A
--DeLaSalle 59, Monticello 45
--Fergus Falls 58, Red Wing 55

FRIDAY’S STATE SEMIFINALS

CLASS 1A
Noon/ Minneapolis North vs. Red Lake
2 p.m./ Central Minnesota Christian vs. Goodhue

CLASS 2A
6 p.m./ St. Croix Lutheran vs. Braham
8 p.m./ Jackson County Central vs. Annandale

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 566
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 8,796
Coach Is Stepping Down, But Not Quite Yet 3/9/2016
Everyone in Red Wing knew how big Wednesday’s game at Williams Arena was. The Wingers boys basketball team has made it to the state tournament for the first time since 2004 and the first time under head coach Doug Toivonen.

Toivonen will step down from that position when this season ends. The journey will live on for two more games, thanks to Red Wing’s 73-51 victory over Simley on Wednesday. The Wingers will meet Fergus Falls in Thursday’s Class 3A semifinals at Target Center, and then will play in the state championship game or the third-place game.

Doug’s youngest child, Travis, is a senior on the team. Travis was one of four Wingers who scored in double figures Wednesday and he also had a game-high 13 rebounds.

I attended a game in Red Wing in early February and was not aware then that Toivonen (pictured) was resigning. After Wednesday’s game I asked him when he had made that announcement. Turns out he never really made an official announcement. The news just sort of came out.

“I really didn’t tell any of our guys,” he said. “I told my juniors probably about three or four weeks ago. Basically what I said was, ‘You guys all know I’m stepping down, right?’ They knew. It wasn’t a secret. I had talked to other coaches and they said, ‘Hey, is this your last year?’ I said yes. I don’t need to make a big announcement. I’m a high school basketball coach.”

He also said he won’t allow his impending resignation to get in the way of what has become a season to remember.

“This is about them,” he said, looking towards his players. “This is their senior year. I’m going to live in Red Wing for many, many years to come. This is their senior year and this is about them getting to enjoy the state tournament experience.

“One thing we talked about is if we come up here and lose the first game, we’re done. Let’s win that first game. And we did. Now you never know what’s going to happen. We’re just excited to move on and that was the biggest thing. We’ve guaranteed ourselves two more games.”

--In a surprise announcement after Fergus Falls defeated Waseca 70-63, Waseca coach Todd Dufault told his players that he was stepping down. Dufault, a Waseca graduate, brought the Bluejays to state for the first time since 2002. In five years he had a record of 91-47.

THE DYNASTY VS. THE NEWCOMER

One of Thursday’s Class 3A semifinal games will be an interesting matchup between what some might call David and Goliath. David is the team from Monticello, which came to state – for the first time in 10 years -- with a 19-10 record and No. 5 seed. Their opponent is top-seeded DeLaSalle (22-4), which is trying to become the first boys team in state history to win five consecutive championships.

DeLaSalle beat Fridley 65-52 Wednesday and Monticello defeated Chisago Lakes 60-55.

“Both teams are showing up tomorrow at the Target Center at noon for a showdown,” Monticello coach Jason Schmidt said. “Both teams want to win. I’ve said it a few times, we only have to beat them once. That’s the deal. Why not us? We’re excited for the opportunity. That’s why you’re here, the chance to have that storybook season.”

Islanders coach Dave Thorson, who needs to win two more games to reach the 500-victory mark, said his team is not under any pressure to extend their streak.

“There’s no question that this time we’ve talked about it more than we have in the past,” Thorson said. “It’s something that has never been done before in the state. There’s no way you can say we’re not thinking about it. We are. I wouldn’t call it pressure, I’d call it opportunity.

“We love the legacy and tradition of DeLaSalle. And for this team, and these seniors in particular, to write their own chapter in what we think is one of the best programs in state history would be really special.”

--Schmidt was a player on the first Monticello team to play in the state tournament in 1995. That gives him two perspectives on playing at state.

“The biggest difference is I’m actually on the court now,” he said with a laugh. “I was on the bench before. We had some pretty good players back then

“From a similarity standpoint, we’ve seen the community get behind us. It’s huge for the school. These kinds of things do so much for a community. They do things for other athletic programs, it’s a ripple effect. That’s what’s so cool for me, being a kid who grew up in Monticello, now getting to coach. Man, it’s really special. I didn’t realize how special it would be, but it’s really special.”

--Cooperation At State: While Hopkins was defeating North St. Paul 74-42 in the Class 4A tournament at Target Center, the Class 1A team from St. Clair was practicing in the Hopkins gym. The Cyclones will meet Minneapolis North in the quarterfinals Thursday at Williams Arena.

--History at State: For the first time, a female official was assigned to work a game in the boys state basketball tournament. M.J. Wagenson, a veteran official from Pine Island, was one of the three officials for the Fergus Falls-Waseca game.

WEDNESDAY’S STATE QUARTERFINALS

CLASS 4A
--Osseo 85, Eden Prairie 73
--Lakeville North 60, Maple Grove 49
--Hopkins 74, North St. Paul 42
--Apple Valley 77, Blaine 57

CLASS 3A
--DeLaSalle 65, Fridley 52
--Monticello 60, Chisago Lakes 55
--Red Wing 73, Simley 51
--Fergus Falls 70, Waseca 63

CLASS 2A
--St. Croix Lutheran 86, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 51
--Jackson County Central 79, Caledonia 74
--Annandale 52, Esko 40
--Braham 67, Maple River 58

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 556
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 8,752
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Counting Down To The End Of A Long Streak 3/5/2016
The gold medals, the championship trophy, the triumphant team photo with index fingers raised? They were all yet to come for the Hermantown Hawks on Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.

The opening phase of the Hawks’ long-awaited championship celebration took place directly behind the Hermantown bench. The Hawks held a 5-0 lead over Breck and a small band of elementary-age boys swung into concerted action as the final 30 seconds counted down.

“30! 29! 28!” The kids, dressed in Hermantown blue and gold, waving signs, kept counting. “27! 26! 25!”

There was a stoppage at 13 seconds, giving the countdown team time to catch their breath. During those final 13 ticks, everyone on the Hermantown bench did what you would expect. They went nuts. After losing in six consecutive state championship games, they had every right to.

The horn blew, the players on the bench flew over the boards and everyone piled on goaltender Luke Olson, who pitched a shutout against a talented Breck team that won its two previous state tournament games by a combined score of 12-0.

And then there was Bruce Plante. He’s the face of Hermantown hockey, and for six years running his face had been a little droopy when the tournament ended.

His assistant coaches surrounded him on the bench in a long embrace that said everything.

Finally. We won it.

Plante walked onto the ice and his players hugged him. During the awards ceremony, a gold medal was hung around his neck and he stuck out his tongue and grinned as the Hawks fan cheered for him. As the team gathered for a photo, Bruce used a cell phone to snap a few shots before joining the group.

“It’s wonderful,” he said afterwards. “Probably one of the greatest moments of my hockey life, to tell you the truth.”

People sometimes forget that Plante led Hermantown to the 1A state title in 2007. But everybody seems to remember that the Hawks lost championship games in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Yes, the Hawks had five goals against the brick Breck wall (three in the first period). But not allowing the Mustangs to score was maybe the biggest surprise of the day.

Olson seemed almost as surprised as anybody else.

“Our guys were blocking every shot possible,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

Defenseman Wyatt Aamodt, who assisted on goals by Cole Koepke and James Lindberg, said of Olson, “It was huge for us knowing we could count on him back there.”

Plante said he sensed something was different this time, well before game time. He knew the losing streak motivated them.

“They weren’t even nervous. They were going to get it. They were so determined. I could see it in their faces, I could see it in their eyes, I could see it in the locker room. … There was no fear at all. I just love how they presented themselves in this game.”

The Hawks went right to work, with goals by Koepke, Jesse Jacques and Lindberg making it a 3-0 game after one period. During Hermantown's six-year title-game streak, they had led 3-0 in the first period only once; they led St. Thomas Academy 3-0 at that point in 2011 and lost 5-4 in overtime.

History went out the window when Logan Judnick scored for a 4-0 lead at 7:03 of the third period. That was the first time in seven straight state title games that Hermantown held a 4-0 lead. The rewriting of the history book was complete when Ryan Sandelin scored at 14:50.

Breck had 23 shots on goal to 18 for the Hawks. The Mustangs went zero-for-three on the power play while Hermantown only had one power play.

“We thought there would be some chinks in the (Hermantown) armor. And I think every team has that,” said Breck coach Les Larson. “We just couldn’t capitalize. That doesn’t happen to us very often. … They were just the better team today.”

Plante said he had been receiving texts and emails from lots of former players, and not just those who were part of the last six teams.

“Guys who played 20, 25 years ago have been texting me,” he said. “They’re still Hermantown at heart.

“It’s nice to get it behind us.”

CLASS 2A CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Wayzata 5, Eden Prairie 3/ The third-seeded Trojans scored four unanswered goals, including the clincher by Logan Lindstrand with 11:25 remaining. After top-seeded Eden Prairie built a 3-1 lead in the second period on goals by Michael Graham and Jarod Blackowiak, the Trojans rallied. Billy Duma scored a short-handed goal late in the period and Matt Nelson added another with 1:10 left in the second. Wayzata opened the scoring on a goal by Jackson Carlson early in the first period. Five minutes later, the Eagles answered on a goal by Casey Mittelstadt.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS

Class 1A/ Brendan Bushy, Ethan Johnson, Thief River Falls; Chase Ellingson, Justin Paulson, Linden Olness, William Blake, Breck; Cole Koepke, Eric Gotz, Jesse Jacques, Luke Olson, Ryan Sandelin, Wyatt Aamodt, Hermantown.

Class 2A/ Class 2A/ Matt Fitzgerald, Nick Leitner, Alex Pollock, Bemidji; Alex Adams, Micah Miller, Grand Rapids; Jackson Cates, Stillwater; Casey Mittelstadt, Michael Graham, Nicky Leivermann, Eden Prairie; Alex Schilling, Grant Anderson, Hank Sorensen, Wayzata.

THIRD-PLACE GAMES

Class 1A/ Thief River Falls 4, St. Paul Academy 1
Class 2A/ Grand Rapids 3, Stillwater 2

FIFTH-PLACE GAMES

Class 1A/ St. Cloud Cathedral 4, Mankato West 2
Class 2A/ Bemidji 4, Farmington 1

CONGRATS TO BOYS STATE SWIM/DIVE CHAMPS

Class 1A/ St. Thomas Academy won the state title, followed by Breck/Blake and Simley in the top three. St. Thomas Academy's Warren Sexson set meet records in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle and was a member of the Cadets' record-setting 400 freestyle relay team. Red Wing's Hunter Connelly set a meet record in the 100 backstroke.

2A/ Eden Prairie won the team title, followed by Minnetonka, Eagan and Prior Lake. Eden Prairie set a record in the 200 medley relay, as did the Eagles’ Joshua Withers (100 butterfly) and Griffin Back (100 freestyle). Minnetonka’s Corey Lau set a record in the 100 breaststroke.

BOYS STATE BASKETBALL IS NEXT

The boys state basketball tournament will be held Wednesday through Saturday at Target Center and Williams Arena. The seeds and pairings in three classes were set Saturday; Class 1A seeds and pairings will be finalized Sunday (because one Class 1A section title game was played Saturday).
Here’s what we know…

CLASS 4A
#1 seed Osseo vs. Eden Prairie
#4 seed Maple Grove vs. #5 seed Lakeville North
#2 seed Hopkins vs. North St. Paul
#3 seed Apple Valley vs. Blaine

CLASS 3A
#1 seed DeLaSalle vs. Fridley
#4 seed Chisago Lakes vs. #5 seed Monticello
#2 seed Red Wing vs. Simley
#3 seed Fergus Falls vs. Waseca

CLASS 2A
#1 seed St. Croix Lutheran vs. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton
#4 seed Braham vs. #5 seed Maple River
#2 seed Caledonia vs. Jackson County Central
#3 seed Esko vs. Annandale

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 546
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 8,700
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Will The Seventh Time Be The Charm For Hermantown?3/4/2016
Say the words “Hermantown” and “hockey” and you’re likely to get a passionate response that could go one of two ways. The first is definitive: “Boy, they sure play some good hockey up there.” The second is definitively sillier: “Boy, they need to be forced to move up to Class 2A.”

That second theme is being heard once more as we await Saturday’s Class 1A boys hockey state championship game. Hermantown, which has lost that game for the last six years in a row, will meet Breck at noon at Xcel Energy Center. The Hawks (26-2-1) are seeded No. 1 and Breck (26-3-1) is No. 2.

So here we are, all eyes again on Hermantown and coach Bruce Plante (pictured). He joined the 500-victory club this season and is one of the seasoned greats of his profession. In 27 years he has a record of 513-196-22. He has seen a lot, and he sure would like to see his boys win their school’s first state hockey title since 2007.

One year ago, after Hermantown lost to East Grand Forks 5-4 in overtime in the title game, Plante said, “It’s not fun. I just don’t get it. It’s weird to me. The hockey gods didn’t work in our favor again. We had all kinds of chances to win this game.”

There were no surprises when Plante met with the media after Friday’s 7-1 semifinal victory over St. Paul Academy. It took about three preliminary questions before the Big One was broached: “How do you feel about this streak?”

“It’s pretty hard to block that out,” Plante said. “It’s on our resume, our legacy at Hermantown.”

Last year, Plante talked about “guys in the locker room bawling their eyes out.” He adjusted his strategy this time and has openly talked with the players about ending the streak.

“We’re trying something different and we hope we get some luck,” he said. “The message is, ‘We’ve got to get this thing off our back. We’ve got to get rid of it, it’s getting heavy.”

Plante said he hears about the championship-game streak everywhere he goes, all year round.

“I’ll go to Walmart and some guy 80 years old says, ‘When are you gonna win that thing?’ I go fishing or go to my duck blind and get away from it.”

The Hermantown players certainly know the story. And their goal is to rewrite the ending this time.

“We’re all excited to play tomorrow and hopefully get that off our backs,” said Cole Koepke. Ryan Sandelin added, “We wanted to get back to that game and break our streak. Now we’re here. We’ve just got to go out and play hard.”

Plante addressed the plea by some – especially hockey experts on Twitter, judging by what I see – that the Hawks have dominated 1A and should opt up to 2A. He turned that equation upside down, saying that some teams that have made the decision to opt up to 2A would be better served in 1A.

“I’ve been saying that for years,” Plante said. “Some of the teams that are in Double A and are A size, they’re just average. Maybe some of them should come down. It would be good for us.

“We get a lot of pressure to move up. It’s the same old thing.”

He didn’t rule it out, either, on the condition that his program someday has the kind of depth that teams from much larger schools often have.

“That could happen. I guess we’ve gotta win one of these to maybe take a look at it. Are we ready? Should we go? I guess we’ll just see.”

Yes, let’s see what happens.

ATTENDANCE RECORD

A total of 22, 244 tickets were sold for Friday evening’s Class 2A state semifinal doubleheader. That set a new record for any session of the state hockey tournament. The previous record was 19,547 for the Friday night session in 2008.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Thief River Falls coach Tim Bergland after the Prowlers’ 4-0 loss to Breck: “We needed that first goal and we never did get it.”

MY FAVORITE NICKNAMES OF THE HOCKEY TOURNAMENT
1. Thief River Falls Prowlers
2. Bemidji Lumberjacks
3. Stillwater Ponies
4. Litchfield Dragons
5. Burnsville Blaze

CLASS 1A SEMIFINALS

BRECK 4, THIEF RIVER FALLS 0

Tyler Scott’s two goals helped propel the second-seeded Mustangs (26-3-1) into the championship game for the first time since they won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. Breck held a 43-18 advantage in shots on goal over the Prowlers (23-7)

HERMANTOWN 7, ST. PAUL ACADEMY 1

The top-seeded Hawks (26-2-1) advanced to the title game for the sixth year in a row. They will meet Breck on Saturday; Hermantown’s title-game streak began with a 2-1 loss to the Mustangs in 2010. Ryan Sandelin scored two goals as the Hawks held a shots-on-goal edge of 35-20 over the Spartans (24-6).

CLASS 2A SEMIFINALS

WAYZATA 2, STILLWATER 1

In one of the most evenly matched games of the tournament, the third-seeded Trojans held off the second-seeded Ponies to advance to the title game. Wayzata (21-8-1) scored first on a goal by Logan Lindstrand in the first period and the score remained 1-0 until Griffin Ness scored in the final minutes of the second period for a 2-0 lead. Jackson Cates got Stillwater (27-2-1) on the board with one minute left in regulation and the game ended with Wayzata goaltender Alex Schilling covering the puck in the crease.

EDEN PRAIRIE 6, GRAND RAPIDS 2

Casey Mittelstadt had a hat trick and Cole Lawrence scored twice as the Eagles moved into the title game..

CHAMPIONSHIP SATURDAY SCHEDULE
Class 1A: Breck vs. Hermantown, noon
Class 2A: Wayzata vs. Eden Prairie, 7 p.m.

BOYS BASKETBALL UPDATE

All but one of the section tournaments wrapped up Friday and the teams have been nearly finalized for next week’s boys state basketball action. Here are the teams…

CLASS 1A: Goodhue, Central Minnesota Christian, St. Clair, Red Lake, Lake Park-Audubon, Browerville/Eagle Valley, Minneapolis North, Mountain Iron-Buhl or North Woods (they play Saturday),

CLASS 2A: Caledonia, Braham, Esko, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Jackson County Central, Annandale, St. Croix Lutheran, Maple River.

CLASS 3A: Waseca, Simley, Fridley, Monticello, DeLaSalle, Chisago Lakes, Fergus Falls, Red Wing.

CLASS 4A: Apple Valley, North St. Paul, Hopkins, Blaine, Maple Grove, Lakeville North, Osseo, Eden Prairie.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 546
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 8,658
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn