John's Journal
What A Crazy Game: Maranatha Christian Wins In The End 3/18/2016
“It was like the most crazy.”

That statement right there, out of the mouth of Maranatha Christian Academy senior guard Alaina Jarnot, is a very apt description of what transpired at Williams Arena on Friday afternoon.

The third-seeded Mustangs defied the odds and somehow, some way, came out on the top end of a 75-74 overtime decision against Mountain-Iron-Buhl. With three seconds to play in overtime, it looked for all the world like second-seeded Mountain Iron-Buhl would win the game and advance to Saturday’s Class 1A state championship game against top-seeded Goodhue.

But … stuff happens.

Four starters fouled out, two from each team. The score was tied 10 times. The Mountain Iron-Buhl Rangers held a nine-point lead with 6:29 to play in the second half, but after that everything got tossed in a dryer and tumbled around until the outcome was decided.

“It was crazy but I’m so happy we won this game,” said Jarnot, who made eight field goals (half of them from three-point range) in scoring a game-high 21 points.

The crazy train really slipped off the tracks at the end of overtime. The Rangers, trailing by two, were working the ball around the perimeter, looking to make something happen as the clock ticked under 10 seconds. Ninth-grader Allie Negen put up a three-point attempt and was fouled by Maranatha sophomore Jayzryn Thompson. Uh oh.

That foul gave Negen three free throws and she hit them all, putting Mountain Iron-Buhl ahead 74-73. Game over, right?

Wrong. The crazy continued on the other end of the court. After a Ranger foul, Maranatha’s Kylie Post stood at the line with three seconds left in overtime. And she missed ‘em both. And then came the Crazy with a Capital C. Thompson, fresh off the foul that gave the Rangers three free throws and the lead, stood tall.

Jayzryn, who is all of 5 feet, 8 inches and was the third and last player off the bench for the Mustangs, wiggled between the Rangers, grabbed the rebound and returned it skyward.

Basket. Horn. Game over. Pandemonium.

“Incredibly, this is the type of emotion we’ve been playing with for about a month now,” said Maranatha coach Chris Buerman, whose team will take a 26-6 record into the title game with Goodhue (29-4).

Chelsea Mason led Mountain Iron-Buhl with 17 points before fouling out with 35 seconds left in overtime. She wears No. 14 and the Mustangs – especially Jarnot -- will not soon forget her.

“It was really tiring,” Jarnot said. “Fourteen is an amazing player. She can knock down any shots. She’s so phenomenal, she made me really tired.”

Mountain Iron-Buhl had won at Maranatha Christian (in Brooklyn Park) 69-53 in mid-December. Facts like that, of course, go out the window in the state tournament.

“These girls gave it their all,” Rangers coach Jeff Buffetta said. “It was an emotional game with a lot of energy. They did everything we could ask of them. The game came down to somebody making the last play, and they had the last play and we didn’t.”

One year ago, Maranatha Christian lost to Ada-Borup 82-65 in the Class 1A state championship game. The Mustangs have not forgotten about that result, especially the way Ada-Borup piled on the points.

“To reverse last year we’ve got to play some defense,” Buerman said. “We packed it. We’re going to play some defense.”


The Wildcats took the game to running time for the second time in as many games in the tournament. In the quarterfinals, Goodhue beat East Grand Forks Sacred Heart 77-46. Against Wheaton/Herman-Norcross, Maddy Miller scored 24 points for Goodhue and Sydney Lodermeier had 18. Jordan Stafford led the Warriors with 12 points.



The top-seeded Bulldogs advanced to Saturday’s title game by holding off the fourth-seeded Rams. Chloe Holtz led P-E-M with 20 points, Sarah Hart had 14 and Emmaline Polson 12. Roseau was led by the Borowicz sisters, who combined for 62 points: junior Kiley had 35, ninth-grader Kacie had 23 and seventh-grader Katie had four.


The unseeded Wildcats (25-6) overcame a three-point halftime deficit and will play in their first state championship game since 2002. Shea Oman scored the winning points with 4.5 seconds to play when she drove the lane, hit the layup, was fouled and made the free throw to make it 49-46. She finished with 10 points and teammates Megan Thorson and Kabrie Weber each had 12. Maesyn Thiesen scored 20 for second-seeded Sauk Centre (30-2).


1A/ Goodhue vs. Maranatha Christian, noon
2A/ Plainview-Elgin-Millville vs. New London-Spicer, 2 p.m.
3A/ Holy Angels vs. Winona, 6 p.m.
4A/ Hopkins vs. Minnetonka, 8 p.m.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 596
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 8,968
Cheering For Goodhue … From Far, Far Away3/17/2016
When top-seeded Goodhue rolled to a girls basketball state quarterfinal victory on Thursday at Mariucci Arena, everybody was there. The band sounded fantastic and the student section was filled with kids wearing the school colors, with faces painted, homemade signs displayed and enjoyment all around.

The top-seeded Wildcats’ 77-46 victory over East Grand Forks Sacred Heart moved them into Friday’s Class 1A semifinals against Wheaton/Herman-Norcross. That game will be played at noon at Williams Arena.

The contingent of Goodhue supporters, however, will be much smaller. That’s because the tournament conflicts with a school trip to Florida involving students from grades nine through 12 involved in band and choir. Those kids will board buses at 5 a.m. Friday and head to Florida.

That means the Wildcats will have no band at Williams Arena and the student fans will be much smaller in number, if not enthusiasm.

Goodhue music and band students take such a trip every four years. Fourteen of the 15 girls on the basketball roster are also involved in band and/or music, so they will fly to Florida on Sunday morning.

“It’s going to be a little weird tomorrow,” Goodhue coach Josh Wieme said. “Our whole high school’s going to be gone. It’s too bad but it’s another great thing that’s happening in our school. They just happen to overlap. There are only so many days in the year.”

The girls basketball tournament caps a wild winter season for the Wildcats. Three wrestlers qualified for state and Bailee O’Reilly won a state championship in Class 1A at 152 pounds, Goodhue’s first title in wrestling since 1998. Last week the Goodhue boys basketball team placed second in the state in Class 1A; their semifinal victory at Target Center was played the same day the girls team won the Section 1 championship in Rochester.

All in all, Goodhue has been a very busy place in recent weeks.

“It seems like we don’t have school anymore,” joked senior Taylor Larson, who scored 11 points for the Wildcats on Thursday. “We’re to the point that we don’t learn anymore (she was smiling and kidding). The boys went to state, we had a state champion wrestler, football went to state. It’s crazy, we’ve got a good group here.”

Wieme, who also is Goodhue’s athletic director, said the environment at school and around the community is special.

“It’s such a buzz. It’s really neat,” he said. “What’s special is that no one’s overlooked and one (team) is not more important or more valued than another. The fans come out for everything. It’s really, really neat. There’s just a buzz and an energy around the whole community.”


The Mountain Iron-Buhl girls basketball team is no stranger to the state tournament, qualifying for the big show six consecutive years. The second-seeded Rangers defeated Sleepy Eye 70-37 on Thursday to advance to Friday’s Class 1A semifinals against Maranatha Christian.

Mountain Iron-Buhl finished third at state in 2011, lost to Maranatha Christian in the 2012 championship game and bowed out in the quarterfinals the last three years.

Thursday’s starting lineup included only one senior (Tatum Primeau) alongside juniors Mya Buffetta, Patty Overbye and Chelsea Mason, and sophomore Mary Burke. So the prospects for the future are bright, although the Rangers are not looking past the next game.

“We needed to act like the veteran team and I think we did that today,” coach Jeff Buffetta said.

“I’d like to think (experience at state) helps but we lost here the last three times. We just needed to play like we’ve been playing in the section tournament. Everybody thinks it’s different when you get down here. It’s not different; we have five, they have five. We’ve just got to play the same way we play at home. And I think we did that today.”

Mountain Iron-Buhl had defeated Sleepy Eye 92-70 in a holiday tournament, and that may have been a factor in Thursday’s rematch.

“I think our girls have more confidence when they play people they’ve already seen,” Buffetta said. “But you’ve got to be ready for anybody.”


Holy Angels 55, Thief River Falls 42
Winona 37, Becker 33

Hopkins 85, Eastview 67
Minnetonka 70, White Bear Lake 55


Goodhue 77, East Grand Forks Sacred Heart 46
Wheaton/Herman-Norcross 70, Cromwell-Wright 55
Mountain Iron-Buhl 70, Sleepy Eye 37
Maranatha Christian 91, Southwest Minnesota Christian 79


Noon/ Goodhue vs. Wheaton/Herman-Norcross
2 p.m./ Mountain Iron-Buhl vs. Maranatha Christian

6 p.m./ Plainview-Elgin-Millville vs. Roseau
8 p.m./ Sauk Centre vs. New London-Spicer

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 596
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 8,924
Marshall Basketball: Winning Off The Court, Too3/16/2016
Every member of the Marshall High School girls basketball team will tell you the same thing: Tuesday night’s opening-round loss in the Class 3A state tournament was a real bummer. The fourth-seeded Tigers lost to fifth-seeded Holy Angels 69-47 at Target Center, shooting only 33 percent from the field and committing 17 turnovers as their season came to an end.

Marshall is accustomed to deep tournament runs; the Tigers were 3A state runners-up the last two years. But the team members also know that there is much more to life than basketball.

Which takes us to the morning after … Wednesday morning at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. The entire Marshall team spent a couple of hours with young patients, delivering smiles and love.

“We went there to give back and it was really fun,” said senior Lexi Saugstad.

There are personal connections at work, as well. Saugstad’s sister Morgan, who was a senior on last year’s Marshall team, was treated at Children’s Hospital and has been cancer-free for six years.

The Tigers brought autographed basketballs to the hospital, which will be used for prizes. They hung out with “The Dude” … he hosts an in-house television program, geared for patients and their families, who can win prizes. Two dozen Marshall Tigers basketballs will be used as prizes.

“When we were sitting in the studio room, there was a little girl who was really shy,” senior Emily Buysse said. “She didn’t want to take (a basketball), but she said she would give it to a friend, for later.”

No one will mind at all if that little girl keeps it for herself.


Before the state tournament begins, coaches of the participating teams use an electronic process to seed five teams, with the remaining three teams drawn at random to determine the pairings. In Class 3A this year, the seedings were basically thrown out in the first round.

On Tuesday evening at Target Center, unseeded Thief River Falls beat top-seeded Hutchinson 61-59 and fifth-seeded Holy Angels defeated fourth-seeded Marshall 69-47. On Wednesday at Mariucci Arena, second-seeded Winona held firm with a 76-56 win over unseeded Grand Rapids, and unseeded Becker beat third-seeded St. Paul Como Park 62-57.

Thursday’s semifinals pairings at Williams Arena will be interesting: unseeded Thief River Falls vs. fifth-seeded Holy Angels, followed by second-seeded Winona vs. unseeded Becker.


Plainview-Elgin-Millville is the top seed in the Class 2A tournament, and the Bulldogs rolled past Holy Family 59-38 in Wednesday’s first round at Mariucci Arena.

Other than the first poll of the season, P-E-M has been ranked No. 1 in Class 2A. Defending 2A state champion Dover-Eyota, which was top-ranked at the start of the season, lost to P-E-M in the Section 1 championship game.

“Well, there is (pressure),” Bulldogs coach Jason Melbostad said. “We’ve been ranked No. 1 the whole season, so they kind of know the feeling. But up here, I think there’s less pressure.
Everyone’s good.”


Winona 76, Grand Rapids 56
Becker 62, St. Paul Como Park 57

Plainview-Elgin-Millville 59, Holy Family 38S
Roseau 78, Pequot Lakes 65
Sauk Centre 70, Norwood-Young America 51
New London-Spicer 58, Minnehaha Academy 44


Noon/ Thief River Falls vs. Holy Angels
2 p.m./ Winona vs. Becker

6 p.m./ Hopkins vs. Eastview
8 p.m./ White Bear Lake vs. Minnetonka


11 a.m./ East Grand Forks Sacred Heart vs. Goodhue
1 p.m./ Wheaton/Herman-Norcross vs. Cromwell-Wright
3 p.m./ Sleepy Eye vs. Mountain Iron-Buhl
5 p.m./ Southwest Minnesota Christian vs. Maranatha Christian

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 588
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 8,880
Experience At State Can Be A Great Teacher3/15/2016
In the biggest surprise of Tuesday’s first-day Class 4A action at the girls state basketball tournament, unseeded White Bear Lake upset second-seeded St. Michael-Albertville 72-69 in overtime. The Bears came to state with a record of 22-7, compared to the Knights’ 27-2.

White Bear Lake’s seven losses included defeats to the teams seeded second, third, fourth and fifth in the 4A state tournament. So the fact that the Bears were unseeded was probably no shock. But they did come to state with some important experience gained a year ago.

In the 2015 state tourney, a young White Bear Lake team lost to Shakopee 62-56 in the quarterfinals. With six seniors among 10 players who saw action Tuesday at Target Center, the Bears were not going to be surprised.

“It’s huge,” Bears coach Jeremy Post said of having experience under the bright lights of state. “The first time it’s like an event. It becomes a game the second time. And the second time, you understand the event and you play the game. So it’s huge.”

Last year the Bears were seeded fourth and lost to fifth-seeded Shakopee. They shot only 38 percent from the field last year at Target Center; they shot 51 percent against St. Michael-Albertville on Tuesday.

Five players scored in double figures for the Bears on Tuesday, including senior Kate Brabenec with 13.

“Last year we were kind of just happy to get here, because none of us had ever done it before,” Brabenec said. “I feel like we got a little satisfied. This year we definitely really didn’t want to be done any time soon, so that helped calm the nerves a little bit for most of us, because most of us were on the team last year. Already knowing what to expect is helpful.”

Post said, “We talked about today just being a second chance. We got a second chance to show what we think we are. We think we’re pretty good. They’re great, and we think we’re pretty good. They were just determined today.

“These kids just didn’t get rattled. They’ve been here before, and they’ve been through a lot of adversity this year.”

--Unseeded Thief River Falls pulled off the first day’s biggest shocker in Class 3A, defeating top-seeded Hutchinson 61-59. The Prowlers came to state with a 25-3 record, with fewer losses than any of the five seeded teams. Hutchinson ended its season with a 23-6 record.


After conducting several rounds of one-on-one interviews following his team’s quarterfinal victory Tuesday, Hopkins coach Brian Cosgriff (pictured) noticed something on the floor. It was a penny.

“I’m going to take this,” he said, looking at the coin. Noticing that it was a Canadian penny, he wondered what the quotient of good or bad luck may be with such an object. He pondered that for a second and then stuck the penny in his pocket. The message from the coach? Better safe than sorry.

Cosgriff is admittedly superstitious. (Which brings to mind a quote from Michael Scott -- played by Steve Carell -- on The Office: “I'm not superstitious, but I'm a little stitious.”

Cosgriff is more than a little stitious. He never wears the same shirt twice while coaching. He always hands out Life Savers mints to his assistants, stat crew and athletic trainer before games. He has done so for a long time and he really has no definitive explanation for it.

“I don’t know what it is, but here’s the thing,” he said, smiling. “We’ve done it, we’ve done it, we’ve done it.”

Cosgriff works as the announcer at Hopkins baseball games, and the mints have become a staple there, too. Although the timing of the mint distribution is crucial

“They were down 5-3 to Edina,” Cosgriff said, “and you don’t want to give them out too early. I gave them to the coach and the kid who was about to bat. He cranked out a home run, they won 6-5. It’s the power of the mint, I’m telling you.”

With Tuesday’s 81-69 victory over Park Center, top-seeded Hopkins advanced to Thursday’s Class 4A semifinals at Williams Arena against White Bear Lake. This is not new ground for the Royals, who have played in seven state championship games since 2004 and own six state titles (including last year’s).

Cosgriff's career record is 447-61 (25-3 at state) in 17 years at Hopkins and this is his 10th state tournament appearance as a head coach.


St. Michael-Albertville was attempting to become the first school to win state titles in three different classes. The Knights won the Class 2A crown in 2001, Class 3A in 2009 and are now in 4A. In 2006 the graduating class consisted of approximately 240 students; the class of 2016 has 427.

--Hopkins 81, Park Center 69
--Eastview 52, Lakeville North 35
--White Bear Lake 72, St. Michael-Albertville 69 (overtime)
--Minnetonka 71, Anoka 40

--Thief River Falls 61, Hutchinson 59
--Holy Angels 69, Marshall 47


10 a.m./ Grand Rapids vs. Winona
Noon/ Becker vs. St. Paul Como Park

2 p.m./ Holy Family vs. Plainview-Elgin-Millville
4 p.m/ Pequot Lakes vs. Roseau
6 p.m./ Norwood-Young America vs. Sauk Centre
8 p.m./ New London-Spicer vs. Minnehaha Academy

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 578
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 8,838
The Bombers Are Back: Braham Celebrates A State Title 3/12/2016
It doesn’t seem like 10 years, but when the Braham boys basketball team won the Class 2A state championship Saturday, it ended a 10-year period between titles for the Bombers.

This year’s team finished 31-2, defeating Jackson County Central 96-90 in the gold-medal game at Target Center. If you were following the sport a decade ago, you remember Braham’s dominance.

The Bombers won state titles in 2004, 2005 and 2006, stringing together a three-year record of 95-4 that included 65 consecutive wins. That’s the second-longest winning streak in Minnesota boys basketball history; Edina (1965-68) and Hopkins (1951-54) share the top spot at 69.

The coach of those teams was Bob Vaughan, who retired after the 2014-15 season. He was the coach for 30 years. Among the stars of that 2004-2006 championship run were Vaughan’s son Josh and the Dahlman brothers, Isaiah and Noah.

Josh Vaughan played basketball at North Dakota State and is now an assistant coach at the University of Mary in North Dakota. Isaiah Dahlman was the state’s career scoring leader when he graduated. He played at Michigan State and now lives in Michigan. Noah Dahlman played collegiately at Wofford and currently plays professional basketball in Romania.

Current Bombers coach Jeff Eklund, a 1995 Braham grad who played under Bob Vaughan and was an assistant before being hired as the head coach, said he heard from some of those former players during the state tournament, including an email from a world away.

“Noah sent me an email this morning from Romania, saying how proud he was of the team and wishing them luck,” Eklund said. “He said, ‘Bring one back to Braham. The tradition’s alive.’ ”

Indeed it is. Four Bombers scored in double figures Saturday, led by Chris Olson with 33 and Ryan Larson with 28. Fourth-seeded Braham led 50-29 at halftime and held off a frantic finish by unseeded Jackson County Central (25-6) as the Huskies scored 61 second-half points.

The Braham players don’t need to be reminded of their school’s basketball tradition, Eklund said.

“We walk in the gym every day and we see those three banners hanging up there on the wall,” he said. “And this group, they’ve been playing together for a long time. Some of them are four-year starters.

“They’ve been building for this. They’ve put an incredible amount of time into the game, in the gym in the summer. They work so hard.

“I’m a first-year coach, but I’ve known them for a long time because I’ve been in the program,” said Eklund, the Braham elementary principal. “From seventh grade up, practice ends with one word: ‘Family.’ ”


The top-seeded Polars (29-5) broke open a close, low-scoring game in the second half to defeat third-seeded Goodhue. The Wildcats (24-10) led 26-25 at halftime before North outscored them 43-19 in the second half. Isaac Johnson had 15 points for North and Ben Opsahl led Goodhue with 12.


Top-seeded DeLaSalle became the first boys basketball team to win five consecutive state championships, ending their season with a 24-4 record. Minneapolis Henry (2000-03) and Southwest Minnesota Christian (1999-2002) each won four titles in a row. Gabe Kalscheur led the Islanders with 27 points. Harrison Christensen scored 22 for the third-seeded Otters (28-4).


The second-seeded Royals completed a 31-1 season by holding off the fifth-seeded Panthers (26-6). Amir Coffey led Hopkins with 19 points. Nathan Reuvers had 16 for Lakeville North.


As the Jackson County Central Huskies were posing for a team photo after their loss to Braham, junior Jacob Christopher held up the proceedings for just a moment. He stepped out of the picture, placed his All-Tournament team trophy out of range and returned to his spot. The lesson: The team is more important than individual accomplishments.


Goodhue coach Matt Halverson on his undersized team facing Minneapolis North: “I think we should have dunked it more on them.”


CLASS 1A/ Central Minnesota Christian 79, Red Lake 45
CLASS 2A/ St. Croix Lutheran 81, Annandale 45
CLASS 3A/ Red Wing 75, Monticello 59
CLASS 4A/ Apple Valley 93, Osseo 82


CLASS 1A/ Will Morrison, Rob McClain, Red Lake; Ethan Brouwer, Taylor Slagter, Central Minnesota Christian; Ben Opsahl, Jacob McNamara, Jacob Pasch, Goodhue; Tyler Johnson, Jamil Jackson Jr., ODell Wilson IV, Minneapolis North.

CLASS 2A/ Jarod Wilken, Annandale; Trenton Krueger, Aage Rovney, Ade Murkey, St. Croix Lutheran; Matt Ringkob, Bodey Behrends, Jacob Christopher, Jackson County Central; John Larson, Chris Olson, Ryan Larson, Braham.

CLASS 3A/ Matt Todd, Monticello; Travis Toivonen, Joe Sevlie, Ben Munson, Red Wing; Nathan Rund, Matthew Monke, Harrison Christensen, Fergus Falls; Gabe Kalscheur, Goanar Mar, Samm Jones, DeLaSalle.

CLASS 4A/ Allan Anderson, Osseo; Tre Jones, Gary Trent Jr., Cameron Kirksey, Apple Valley; Carter Brooks, Nathan Reuvers, Nick Fossey, Lakeville North; Xavier Johnson, Amir Coffey, Vinnie Shahid, Hopkins.


North Suburban captured the CI division state title with a 6-5 victory over Anoka-Hennepin in the championship game at Bloomington Jefferson. Josh Hamann had a hat trick for North Suburban and Anthony Bengtson had two goals. Cole Denny scored all five goals for the Mustangs.

In the PI division, Dakota United won the state championship with a 3-2 win over Anoka-Hennepin. Grayson Nicolay led the way for the winners with two goals (including the game-winner) and goaltender Johnathan Lyons made 26 stops. Scoring for Anoka-Hennepin were Joey Manion and Tyler Ezell.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 566
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 8,838