John's Journal
Moments To Remember On Championship Saturday3/15/2014
The final day of any season is special for lots of reasons. Yes, state champions are crowned, but many other great things take place. This was certainly the case Saturday at Target Center, where the boys basketball season came to a glorious conclusion.

We had typical storylines …

--Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa winning its second Class 1A title in three years with a victory over Rushford-Peterson.

--Esko defeating Annandale for the 2A championship in the first boys basketball state title game for either school.

--Lakeville North, in a miracle finish, defeating Hopkins to take home the 4A title.

But there was more to see and enjoy. Example: Before their teams took the court for the Class 3A championship game, the bands from Austin and DeLaSalle joined forces and played the Ozzy Osbourne classic “Crazy Train.” Solid stuff.

One of my favorite moments came at halftime of the 2A title game, when statewide recipients of the MSHSL Triple-A Award (Academics, Arts, Athletics) were recognized on the court and on TV.

Thirty-two students from around Minnesota are honored at a luncheon as Triple-A finalists, and four of them receive four-year $1,000 college scholarships from the MSHSL. The four winners this year are Taylor Kraemer of Osakis, Dillon John of Adrian, Shaelyn Sorensen of Tartan and William Dudley of Worthington.

After the on-court awards ceremony, Annandale recipient Matthew Fliegel dashed to his spot in the pep band. That is the epitome of the Triple-A Award!

--After the Esko fans finished celebrating their boys’ state title, they had to scoot north to Duluth to watch their girls basketball team play Barnum in the Class 2A Section 7 title game.

--My favorite quote Saturday came from Rushford-Peterson coach Tom Vix. After losing to Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, Vix was philosophical, saying “That’s the way basketball is.”

--DeLaSalle and Austin met in Saturday night’s 3A title game. It's 99.9 miles from Austin High School to Target Center. From DeLaSalle to Target Center ... 1.1 miles.

CLASS 1A: BELGRADE-BROOTEN-ELROSA 52, RUSHFORD-PETERSON 40

The Jaguars were severely tested by Rushford-Peterson, which relied on a strong defense. The only lower offensive total of the season for B-B-E came in an 83-47 loss to Class 4A Apple Valley.

B-B-E was the state runnerup in 2011 and won the title in 2012. Rushford-Peterson reached the title game for the second time in history; the Trojans were the champions in 2006.

Brian Goodwin led B-B-E with 24 points and 10 rebounds and James Kuefler had 10 points. Rushford-Peterson was led by Alex Vix with 12 points and Cole Kingsley with 11.

B-B-E had 42 rebounds to 20 for the Trojans, to which Vix said, “I just think we were vertically challenged.”

CLASS 2A: ESKO 60, ANNANDALE 41

The Eskomos shot 54 percent for the game (68 percent in the second half) and made six of 12 three-point shots in beating the Cardinals. Marc Peterson led the Eskomos with 16 points, Kory Deadrick had 14 and Casey Staniger 13. Annandale was led by Matt Miller with 10 points.

The game was a rematch of last year’s third-place game, where Annandale beat Esko 59-58.

CLASS 3A: DELASALLE 60, AUSTIN 40

The Islanders won their third consecutive state championship with a dominating performance. DeLaSalle jumped out to an early lead and was in front 33-20 at halftime. Reid Travis led the Islanders with 16 points and Sacar Anim had 13. Ajuda Nywesh scored 24 points for Austin. DeLaSalle finished with a 32-17 rebound edge.

CLASS 4A: LAKEVILLE NORTH 84, HOPKINS 82

J.P. Macura had 43 points and 10 rebounds for Lakeville North, which came from behind in the final minute to win the state championship. Macura made 15 of 30 field-goal attempts, five of 13 three-point shots and eight of 11 free throws. Bronson Bruneau added 16 points for the Panthers. Hopkins was led by Kamali Chambers with 24 points.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS

1A/ Davonte Williamson, Trevontae Brown, Fond du Lac Ojibwe; Jeremiah Hanson, Josh Goldschmidt, Maranatha Christian; Brian Goodwin, Billy Borgerding, James Kuefler, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa; Cole Kingsley, Austin O’Hare, Alex Vix, Rushford-Peterson.

2A/ Mitch Pfingsten, Josh Eversman, Fairmont; Austin Bauer, Kyle Sorenson, Caledonia; Chase Knickerbocker, Matt Miller, Andrew Fort, Annandale; Casey Staniger, Kory Deadrick, Marc Peterson, Esko.

3A/ Cole Hennings, Orono; Justin Dahl, Brent Hentges, Holy Family Catholic; Zach Wessels, Ajuda Nywesh, Bret Lukes, Austin; Sacar Anim, Reid Travis, Geno Crandall, Jarvis Johnson, DeLaSalle.

4A/ Joe Rosga, Donnell Gresham, Cretin-Derham Hall; Tyler Weiss, Steffon Mitchell, Shakopee; J.P. Macura, Connor Flack, Bronson Bruneau, Lakeville North; Jacob Wright, Kamali Chambers, Amir Coffey, Hopkins.

THIRD-PLACE GAMES

1A/ Maranatha Christian 103, Fond du Lac Ojibwe 87: Josh Goldschmidt led Maranatha with 45 points. Fond du Lac Ojibwe set a tournament record by making 19 three-point shots and Trevontae Brown tied the single-game record with 10 made threes.

2A/ Caledonia 79, Fairmont 65: Caledonia’s Austin Bauer had a game-high 21 points, and Kyle Sorenson added 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Warriors. Fairmont was led by Mitch Pfingsten with 16 points, Jay Ruen with 15 and Josh Eversman with14.

3A/ Holy Family Catholic 56, Orono 35: Brent Hentges led Holy Family with 13 points and Justin Dahl had 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocked shots. Orono’s Ethan Larson had 10 points.

4A/ Shakopee 62, Cretin-Derham Hall 56: Tyler Weiss led Shakopee with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Joe Rosga had 22 points for Cretin-Derham Hall.

GIRLS STATE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

The girls tournament will begin Tuesday at Target Center, and beginning Wednesday all game will be played at Williams Arena and Mariucci Arena. The pairings are set in all classes except 2A; because of the Esko-Barnum section final Saturday night, that field will be finalized Sunday.

CLASS 1A
#1 seed Minneota vs. Browerville
#4 seed Goodhue vs. #5 seed Ada-Borup
#2 seed Maranatha Christian vs. Mankato Loyola
#3 seed Mountain Iron-Buhl vs. Win-E-Mac

CLASS 3A
#1 seed Park Center vs. Simley
#4 seed Minneapolis Washburn vs. #5 seed Monticello
#2 seed Fergus Falls vs. Kasson-Mantorville
#3 seed Marshall vs. Chisago Lakes

CLASS 4A
#1 seed Eastview vs. St Paul Central
#4 seed Eden Prairie vs. #5 seed Anoka
#2 seed Centennial vs. Lakeville North
#3 seed Bloomington Kennedy vs. St. Michael-Albertville

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 379
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 8,879
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Familiar Teams In Class 1A Basketball Championship Game 3/14/2014
When the Class 1A boys basketball state championship game tips off Saturday at noon at Target Center, the teams will be very familiar to fans who have been paying attention in recent years. The pedigrees of Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa and Rushford-Peterson are flush with state tournament experience, making Saturday’s matchup intriguing.

B-B-E was the 1A runner-up in 2011 and state champ in 2012; Rushford-Peterson has played in the state semifinals three of the last four years. The teams advanced with semifinal victories Friday: B-B-E beating Fond du Lac Ojibwe 76-58 and Rush-Pete defeating Maranatha Christian Academy 53-51.

The motivations are similar, with a slight twist. B-B-E didn’t make it to state last year, leaving a foul taste that has lingered throughout this season.

“A state championship was our goal from the start,” said Jaguars senior James Kuefler.

Rushford-Peterson, meanwhile, is tired of playing in third-place games at Concordia University in St. Paul. The Trojans (celebrating in this photo) finished third at state last year, losing to Maranatha in the semifinals. Two years ago they also were third, losing to Southwest Minnesota Christian in the semis. They also played at Concordia in 2010, losing to Ellsworth in the third-place game.

The Trojans are 31-1 this season, losing only to Class 2A state semifinalist Caledonia. Rushford-Peterson’s last appearance in the state championship game was in 2006, when the Trojans beat Ellsworth 55-52.

“One of this team’s goals was to be in the state championship game,” said Rushford-Peterson coach Tom Vix. “Our message was we don’t want to play at Concordia.”

Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa is an experienced team, with three starters and a sixth man who played on the 2012 state championship team. The Jaguars have won 71 home games in a row (one short of the state record), 69 consecutive Central Minnesota Conference games and six conference championships. They are 30-1 this season, with their only loss against Class 4A power Apple Valley.

“We’ve been super-motivated all year,” said Jaguars coach Dave Montbriand. “We just kept playing really, really hard.”

Asked if this year’s team is the best B-B-E has had in this lengthy run of success, Montbriand smiled and said, “This team could be our best. I’ll tell you tomorrow.”

Brian Goodwin led B-B-E with 25 points Friday, and Vix specifically mentioned the 6-foot-4 senior when asked about playing the Jaguars.

“They’re very good. I don’t know how we’re going to stop Goodwin.”

Let’s see what happens.

73 VARSITY SEASONS AND COUNTING

Annandale coach Skip Dolan has been around the block, coaching much more than boys basketball for the Cardinals. He has also coached girls basketball, football and softball, and this is his 73rd varsity season in Annandale. His teams have won conference titles in all four sports.

The Cardinals defeated Caledonia 81-76 Friday night in the Class 2A semifinals, and will meet Esko in Saturday’s 2 p.m. state championship game. The Eskomos beat Fairmont 56-43 in Friday's second semifinal.

It will be the first time in a boys basketball title game for Annandale. Dolan (pictured) played in the state tournament for Renville in 1971 and 1972 at Williams Arena.

“That’s kind of where I get the drive, from Renville,” he said. “I love what I do.”

Almost a year ago, Rutgers University basketball coach Mike Rice was fired after a video surfaced of him hitting, shoving and berating players. A few days after Rice was fired, Dolan spoke at a Kiwanis luncheon. He was asked about Rice and what he did in his practices. His comments included …

“Coaches getting intense is part of the nature of the beast, but what made me truly sick about the Rutgers situation is that I truly believe one of the best classrooms in our schools is the athletic fields and courts. Mike Rice did not take advantage of the opportunity to teach these young men of our future so many things that are going to help them be successful in life. Instead he destroyed a golden opportunity to be a quality teacher which had nothing to do with coaching.

“Many of you sitting out in the audience listening to me either have hired young people or will be hiring them in the future. Wouldn't you like to hire a young man or woman that was taught the following qualities every day while they were in school?

* You need to show up every day
* You need to be on time.
* You need to be accountable.
* You need to work even harder today, to be better than you were the day before.
* You need to learn to work with a group of people and tolerate all of the differences. Be a team!
* You need to learn to be confident, and yet be humble.
* You will learn to respect authority.
* You will learn how to show gratitude.

“I tell you and my players, if these traits are instilled, whether a young person goes on to college or joins the work force, they will be successful. That player will have pride in themselves and their life.

“Shame on Rutgers for destroying such a classroom. It makes me sick that we have people who don’t get the real meaning of what we are trying to accomplish in the coaching profession.”

CHAMPIONSHIP SATURDAY SCHEDULE
Noon/ Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa vs. Rushford-Peterson, 1A title game
2 p.m./ Annandale vs. Esko, 2A title game
6 p.m./ DeLaSalle vs. Austin, 3A title game
9 p.m./ Hopkins vs. Lakeville North, 4A title game.

--And let’s end the day with a note about something very special that took place a couple weeks ago at the state wrestling tournament. St. Michael-Albertville wrestler Mitchell McKee, whose father Steve is dealing with cancer, won a state championship. But the story goes much further.

During Friday’s CBS Evening News, an “On The Road” segment with Steve Hartman focused on the McKees. It’s very touching and emotional. I have posted links to the story on the MSHSL Facebook page and my Twitter profile (@MSHSLjohn). You can also find it by Googling “Teen wrestler sets sights on championship win for dad.”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 379
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 8,837
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Old Coach, New Team: Park Christian Makes History 3/13/2014
Erv Inniger was a contented coach on Thursday at Williams Arena, despite the fact that his Park Christian Falcons lost to top-seeded Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa 85-50 in the Class 1A boys state basketball tournament.

Inniger, 69, was joyous because he had experienced a wonderful journey this season, a journey that he never knew was coming until he decided to take over the Falcons. He had never before coached a high school team, despite a basketball resume that’s hard to match.

Inniger played at Indiana University in the 1960s and with the ABA’s Minnesota Muskies in 1967-68. His coaching career began at Golden Valley Lutheran College, followed by five years at Augsburg College and then a lengthy career as the coach at North Dakota State from 1978 to 1992. When Inniger retired at NDSU, he was the program's all-time winningest coach.

He accepted the job offer at Park Christian (which is in Moorhead) last year on a single-season basis. The team needed someone to guide them for a year, and the expectation is that assistant coach Josh Lee will succeed Inniger.

After being out of coaching for 22 years, Erv turned to his son Bart for help. Bart, who is the former head girls coach at Minnetonka, helped his dad learn what needed to be done.

“I didn’t know any of the kids, so we started completely from scratch,” Erv said. “Bart was the biggest help, because he told me we had to do open gyms and things like that. During the first month I said to my wife, ‘What am I doing here?’ ”

What he was doing was mentoring young athletes and helping guide them on their path, on and off the court.

Senior Matt Moberg, who led the Falcons with 15 points Thursday, said, “It’s been amazing, absolutely wonderful. He’s helped us play as a team and helped us play to our potential.”

Park Christian had never before played in the state tournament, so Inniger’s first and only team made history. And the coach had as much fun as anyone.

“It’s been a ball,” he said. “Who gets an opportunity like this? It’s been so special.”

THREE OVERTIMES AND MORE HISTORY IS MADE

Fond du Lac Ojibwe, a school in Cloquet with an enrollment of 34 students, also was playing at state for the first time Thursday. And in a wild 1A quarterfinal, the Ogichidaag defeated Canby 85-82 in three overtimes.

Fond du Lac Ojibwe led by 17 points early in the second half before the Lancers rallied to send the game into overtime tied 67-67. Two more extra sessions followed before the issue was decided. And everyone was exhausted.

Fond du Lac Ojibwe coach Earl Otis, who has a flaming, feathered basketball tattooed on his left forearm, said he had never before experienced such a game.

“Never. Not even as a player,” he said. “I’m at a loss for words. It’s an unbelievable feeling, especially since this is our first time down here.”

The Ogichidaag average more than 90 points per game, playing a fast-paced style. As Thursday’s game wore on through the three four-minute overtimes, conditioning was a factor, Otis said.

“That’s all we do at practice: run, run, run, run.”

OTHER CLASS 1A QUARTERFINALS

--Maranatha Christian 95, Red Lake 67: Jeremiah Hanson, the youngest of eight Hanson brothers to play for Maranatha Christian, led the Mustangs with 31 points. His brother Daniel is a Maranatha assistant coach and his brother David, who was a Mustangs assistant last year, is now a graduate assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh. The Hansons also have two sisters, and Jeremiah is the youngest of them all.

--Rushford-Peterson 71, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City 63: Cole Kingsley had 18 points for Rushford-Peterson, which will meet Maranatha Christian in Friday afternoon’s semifinals at Target Center.

CLASS 4A: FOUR OVERTIMES AND ONE MIRACLE SHOT

Hopkins defeated Shakopee 49-46 in four overtimes Thursday night at Target Center, advancing to Saturday’s Class 4A title game. This game was, uh, interesting for how some of the overtimes played out. It went like this: Hopkins wins the tip, holds the ball for nearly the entire four-minute overtimes, calls a timeout with 19 seconds or so left and tries to make a shot at the horn. The first and second overtimes were scoreless.

A 55-foot miracle basket wasn’t in the plans, but that’s how the Royals won the game. Amir Coffey threw up a prayer from behind the center line and swished it. The officials checked video replay to be sure the shot counted; I took this photo of the shot and it was clearly off before the red lights around the backboard flashed.

--Lakeville North 55, Cretin-Derham Hall 52: North’s J.P. Macura scored a game-high 33 points and hit the game-winning three-point shot at the horn. The Panthers will meet Hopkins for the 4A state title Saturday at 9 p.m.

CLASS 3A: CHAMPIONSHIP REMATCH IS SET

DeLaSalle and Austin will meet in Saturday’s 3A title game for the second year. DeLaSalle won 50-33 a year ago, and the Islanders are seeking their third consecutive state championship. In Thursday’s semifinals, DeLaSalle beat Orono 67-41 and Austin defeated Holy Family Catholic 70-42.

TOURNAMENT TIDBITS

--The Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa students dressed in Duck Dynasty style, wearing camo and fake beards and blowing on duck calls.

--B-B-E has won 71 straight home games. The state record is 72 by Walnut Grove from December 1952 to February 1960. B-B-E’s last home loss was to Benson on Jan 30, 2009.

--Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City fans are mourning Zach Junkermeier, a senior at ACGC who was killed Tuesday during an avalanche in Montana. He was stuck on a slope and trying to start his snowmobile; another snowmobiler was riding above him on the mountain when the avalanche was triggered.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 379
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 8,792
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Big Court, Big Coaching Lead To Big Victory For DeLaSalle3/12/2014
When DeLaSalle opened Class 3A play in the boys state basketball tournament Wednesday, everything seemed to fall into place. One key to the Islanders’ 81-48 victory over St. Paul Central was the combination of the Williams Arena court and the coaching of former Gophers player Quincy Lewis, now an Islanders assistant.

DeLaSalle, which is gunning for a three-peat state title, was not troubled in the least by playing on the court at Williams Arena, which is 10 feet longer than high school courts. In fact, the Islanders relished the chance to run free with some specialized coaching by Lewis, who played on the Gophers' 1997 Final Four team.

“I thought we were able to attack in transition in a way that hasn’t happened in the last couple of games because Central wanted to play a more up-tempo game,” said head coach Dave Thorson (pictured). “So I thought we had more opportunity to run. ... Quincy Lewis has done a great job of not only educating me but doing a great job teaching our kids how to play in the open floor. And I thought you really saw that today.

“There’s no question that our guys love to be on the bigger floor. It’s a big difference; going from a high school floor to a big floor is three hard strides. For us that’s important, that means we can probably get the ball up the floor a little bit faster.”

The Islanders led 18-3 after seven minutes and cruised into Thursday’s noon semifinals against Orono at Target Center. By the game’s end, DeLaSalle had scored 50 points in the paint and 16 on fast breaks. It didn’t hurt that the Islanders also shot better than 70 percent from the field. Sacar Anim led DeLaSalle with 21 points and Reid Travis had 20.

ALL’S RIGHT WITH WRIGHT COUNTY CONFERENCE

There are 11 boys basketball teams in the Wright County Conference and four of them qualified for this week’s state tournament. The number might have been six if two section title games hadn’t been matchups of WCC teams.

Here’s the rundown: New London-Spicer and Annandale made it to state in Class 2A, with Holy Family Catholic and Orono qualifying in 3A. Orono defeated conference rival Delano in the Section 5 championship game and Holy Family beat Waconia (another WCC team) to win Section 6. Another WCC team, Glencoe-Silver Lake, lost in the 2A Section 2 semifinals.

In Wednesday’s 3A state quarterfinals, Orono beat Marshall 67-60 and Holy Family defeated Cloquet 63-41. In an evening 2A quarterfinal, Annandale beat New London-Spicer 76-70.

“Every night in our conference, you just battled,” said Orono coach Barry Wohler. “It’s physical. Our conference really gets us ready for tournament time.”

--Wohler was the head coach at Marshall from 1999 to 2004 before he went to Orono. He continues to have strong ties to Marshall and recognized some of the names on the Tigers roster. Those included three of the Tigers starters Wednesday: Reece and Connor Winkelman and Riley Sharbono.

“(Marshall assistant coach) Mike Christianson is one of my closest friends in the world,” Wohler said. “And I’ve gotten to know (head coach) Travis Carroll through him. When I was living in Marshall, the Winkelman boys were in first, second grade, three houses down, always on the court, and the Sharbonos lived behind us. I coached Sharbono’s older brother and he was a heck of a player, so I knew were in for a mess against those guys. They can play and I know how competitive Marshall kids are. I was hoping we could find a way.”

--The Marshall team wore warmup T-shirts that read “Team Carter/Carter Strong” in honor of Carter Boerboom, a Marshall eighth-grader who is dealing with cancer.

--In the other 3A quarterfinal, Austin beat Alexandria 61-50.

--Class 4A results: Hopkins beat Tartan 70-58, Shakopee beat Osseo 54-51, Lakeville North beat Buffalo 59-47, and Cretin-Derham Hall beat St. Francis 69-53.

--Class 2A results: Annandale beat New London-Spicer 76-70, Esko beat East Grand Forks 57-54 in overtime, Caledonia beat St. Paul Academy and Summit School 73-53, and Fairmont beat St. Peter 58-54.

TOURNAMENT TIDBITS

--The first pep band song out of the chute at Williams Arena on Wednesday morning was Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke" by the DeLaSalle Orchestra. Like me, that tune is from the 70s.

--Since before the boys state hockey tournament, I had been hoping to hear a pep band play “Happy” by Pharrell. The Mighty Mighty Orono band came through for me Wednesday at Williams Arena. I love it when bands take requests.

--Sign carried by a student from St. Paul Central: “DeLaSalle warms up to Nickleback.” (We forgive the spelling error in Nickelback.)

--Lakeville North has been wearing blue socks all season in honor of Alyssa Ettl, a North student who died in a December auto accident on her way to school.

--This is Shakopee coach Bruce Kugath’s 30th year with the Sabers. Kugath recorded his 500th victory this season.

--John’s Journal correspondent Luke Sleeper contributed to this report. Thanks Luke!

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 363
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 8,742
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

East Grand Forks And Hermantown: Pride All Around 3/8/2014
Bruce Plante, who Friday had joked about not being able to go out in public if Hermantown lost in the Class 1A boys hockey state championship game for the fifth year in a row, delivered a strong postgame message Saturday. The message came after the second-seeded Hawks indeed lost the title game for the fifth consecutive year, a 7-3 defeat to top-seeded East Grand Forks at Xcel Energy Center.

But the message was resounding.

“I’m totally and completely OK because our kids played so hard, the best they could,” said Plante (pictured), who has been coaching for 25 years. “This was kind of a rebuilt team and they went this far. You have to be proud of what they’ve done. I love them to death because they gave everything they had. We ran into a better team.”

East Grand Forks won behind an attack that was balanced as well as relentless. The Green Wave’s goals came from seven players: Dixon Bowen, Eddie Eades, Jace Pesch, Grant Loven, Reed Corbid, Cale Mack and Tanner Tweten.

“It just doesnt seem to be our deal,” said Plante, whose team lost to Breck in the 2010 title game and to St. Thomas Academy the previous three years.

“It feels a lot better losing to East Grand than anybody else we’ve lost to, I’ll tell you that,” Plante said. “They’re the same kind of program we are.”

East Grand Forks was making its ninth trip to state and played in its second championship game. In 1999 the Green Wave lost to Benilde-St. Margaret’s 4-2 in the 1A final.

This time, the Green Wave defeated Orono 5-1 and St. Cloud Cathedral 2-1 in reaching Saturday’s game. Hermantown led 1-0 after the first period on a goal by Scott Wasbotten and appeared to be in control. But things changed in the second period, when East Grand Forks scored five times and outshot the Hawks 15-6.

“After the first period we came into the locker room and we knew it was going to be a tough period,” said Green Wave junior defender Tye Ausmus. “It was the state championship game. Nothing is given to you. We were quiet, just got ready for the second, we went out there and did our thing and had a really good period.”

East Grand Forks coach Tyler Palmiscno said, 'There will never be a team from the East side better than this team. This senior class set this goal five or six years ago. And they worked for it. It’s special.”

Plante said he will take some time in deciding if he will continue coaching.

“That’s to be decided down the road a little bit. Maybe somebody can get them through the last game, I don’t know. It gets to be a pretty big sack of rocks on your back after a while. It gets heavy.”

CLASS 2A/ EDINA REPEATS AS STATE CHAMP

Edina won its ninth state championship, rolling to an 8-2 victory over Lakeville North. The No.1 seed in Class 2A, the Hornets were charged by a fast, physical and deep roster and stellar goaltending.

Though it was Edina’s high-flying offense that took over the title game, coach Curt Giles said his team was focused on defense.

“We’ve been preaching all year long that we need to commit to defense against teams deep and talented like Lakeville North,” he said. “When you’re committed to defense, the goals will come.”

Edina played like a team without any weaknesses in three tournament games at Xcel Energy Center, though, according to senior Tyler Nanne, this was a team that had its downs this season, particularly on one night in January.

“We got our butts kicked against Hill-Murray and our coaches skated us hard after the game when we got back to our rink,” he said. “It’s exactly what we needed, we deserved it. Without this coaching staff, we would be nothing.”

Casey Dornbach got the scoring going early for Edina, benefitting from precision passing from Garret Wait and Tyler Nanne. Lakeville North junior forward Max Johnson tied the score later in the first period, only to have Edina’s Ben Foley respond seconds later with a power-play score. Johnson scored the only other goal for the Panthers in the game.

Miguel Fidler scored the next two goals for Edina, followed by one by Parker Mismash. Kiefer Bellows scored the next two Edina goals and the celebrating began. Senior forward Cullen Munson capped the game off with a score of his own.

Consistent success like that of Edina’s requires strong leadership. Bellows, a sophomore, credited his older teammates with steadying the ship.

“The seniors settled our emotions down and led us all year long,” he said. “They have been here before and knew what to expect.”

Giles called this Edina squad “one of the best teams in the school’s history,” citing his belief that they committed to a true team concept. “Anybody on any night could step up for us,” he said. “We’ve had some high-end, talented kids come through here the past 15 years and on this team everyone was involved in our success.”

CONSOLATION BRACKETS

1A third-place game/ New Prague 5, St. Cloud Catheral 2: Austin Killian scored twice for the Trojans.

1A fifth-place game/ Totino-Grace 4, Luverne 3 (two overtimes): Joey Brey scored two goals for the Eagles, including the game-winner in the second overtime.

2A third-place game/ Eagan 6, Eden Prairie 4: A last-minute goal by Nick Wolff, plus an empty-netter by Wolff, carried the Wildcats past the Eagles.

2A fifth-place game/ Roseau 3, Duluth East 2: Alex Strand scored twice for the Rams, including the game-winner in the third period.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS

Class 1A/ Daniel Bailey, William Hammer, Zach Fritz, St. Cloud Cathedral; Ben Henderson, Totino-Grace; Gunnar Olson, Luverne; Austin Isaacson, New Prague; Nate Pionk, Zach Kramer, Hermantown; Colton Poolman, Tye Ausmus, Tanner Tweten, Josh Weber, Hermantown.

Class 2A/ Nick Wolff, Andrew Lindgren, Eagan; Alex Strand, Zach Yon, Roseau; Phil Beaulieu, Duluth East; Luc Snuggerud, Eden Prairie; Jack Poehling, Nick Poehling, Lakeville North; Miquel Fidler, Dylan Malmquist, Tyler Nanne, Andrew Rohkohl, Edina.

TOURNAMENT TIDBITS

--Ryan Clark, a former Fargo Forum sports reporter who has covered the state hockey tournament in the past, is now working in Florida at the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. On Saturday morning he was at a Florida Panthers practice, and people with the NHL team asked him if it was possible to watch the Minnesota state hockey tournament. He directed them to the prep45.com webcast.

--Written on a whiteboard in the East Grand Forks locker room: “All In – Together.”

--Total tournament attendance was 119,178 ... the second-largest total in last six years.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 353
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 8,692
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn