I have this theory about the state basketball tournaments, both girls and boys. To me, the toughest spot to be in is exactly where the girls team from Braham High School found itself this weekend.
The Bombers played in the final game of the day on Friday night at Target Center, and their 59-50 victory over Providence Academy didn’t end until around 10 p.m. That victory put them in Saturday’s title game against Minnehaha Academy, with tipoff scheduled for shortly after 2 p.m.
For teams that normally play two games -- maybe three -- in a week’s time, this short turnaround is a real challenge. The Bombers didn’t leave the arena until almost 11 p.m. Friday. My question to coach Tim Malone: What happened then?
“We got a little bit of a snack in them last night, filled up a whole bunch of bath tubs with ice and they just laid in that ice bath for a while, resting some of those legs. And then we got them to bed as quickly as we could.”
The Bombers met for breakfast at their hotel at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, had a team meeting at 11 and left for the arena at 11:30. There wasn’t need for much scouting, since they had met Minnehaha Academy in last year’s title game.
Minnehaha won the 2010 contest 64-46, and Braham turned the tables Saturday with a 68-61 victory.
“I had last year’s tape with us, in my back pocket, and we knew what to expect,” Malone said. “They have a great, great program over there. We knew it was going to take everything we had and then some.”
The key moment in the game came with 10 minutes left in the first half when Minnehaha senior guard Jana Halstensgard suffered a serious knee injury. She left the arena in an ambulance.
(Later Saturday, during the 4A game, I received this note from Minnehaha coach Josh Thurow via the MSHSL Facebook page: “John - Jana's knee was too swollen for an MRI today, we appreciate all the warm wishes we have received. She's at home and medicated right now. Thanks, Coach T.”)
Something to remember: Last year Halstensgard defended Braham’s dangerous Rebekah Dahlman,who scored just seven points in the title game. This time, Dahlman (now a sophomore) scored 23.
“The exact difference to me was last year Jana Halstensgard held Dahlman to seven points and kept her off the free throw line,” said Thurow. “But credit her, she used her body well and to get refs to call fouls for you, you’ve got to do things the right way. She’s a heady player.”
Hannah Dahlman, Rebekah’s senior sister, scored six points and ended her career with a gold medal. You surely recall the oldest Dahlmans, Isaiah and Noah, helping the Bombers boys win state titles in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
“We don’t take it as a (family) competition, we take it as a challenge to be the next one to do it,” Hannah said. “This experience is unbelievable. It’s what we’ve wanted since second grade. We’re on top of the world right now.”
Asked about winning a championship with her sister, Hannah said, “I have all these sisters; there’s not just one, there’s about 20. This is so emotional.”
HOPKINS WINS THIRD 4A CHAMPIONSHIP
Hopkins claimed its third state championship since 2004 with a 67-45 victory over Eden Prairie in the third meeting between the teams this season. During the Lake Conference season Eden Prairie beat Hopkins 71-65 and Hopkins won the rematch 49-44. Both won on their home courts.
The Royals also won titles in 2004 and 2006, finishing second in the state in 2005. Hopkins and Eden were the No. 1 and No. 2 seeded teams in the girls tournament, and their boys teams will fill those same roles next week.
DeLaSALLE WINS CLASS 3A TITLE
DeLaSalle claimed its first girls basketball state title with a 63-43 victory previously unbeaten Hill-Murray in the 3A final. DeLaSalle was the state runner-up in 2007 and 2008; that’s also where Hill-Murray finished last year.
BEHIND THE SCENES
All kinds of interesting, entertaining and enlightening things happen behind the scenes at Target Center. After Maranatha Christian Academy defeated Nicollet 59-52 in the Class 1A title game Saturday, I witnessed two very memorable scenes …
After leaving the court carrying the championship trophy and wearing gold medals around their necks, the Mustangs waited in the corridor while someone found the key to their locker room.
They grinned, they laughed, they hugged each other. And then they decided to do their favorite chant: “We Are ... Mus-Tangs! We Are … Mus-Tangs!”
Assistant coach John Carpentier leaned into the middle of the scrum and whispered something. Then, following the same cadence, the Mustangs inaugurated a brand new chant: “We Are … State Champs!”
A few steps down the hall, Mankato Free Press reporter Shane Frederick was interviewing Nicollet senior Kasslin Swenson,who had scored 15 points in the Raiders’ loss.
Here’s what Kasslin said about the experience: “To play in the state finals, no matter the outcome we all had fun.”
That right there is what it’s all about.
ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS/CONSOLATION GAMES
1A All-Tournament : Ashlynn Muhl, Minneota; Kendra Schmidgall, Hancock; Charlotte Overbye, Dakota Winans, Mountain Iron-Buhl; Kayla Wenner, Anna Skrien, Kasslin Swenson, Nicollet; Onye Osemenam, Alexis Long, Madison Lee, Maranatha Christian.
1A Consolation: Mountain Iron-Buhl 61, Hancock 45.
2A All-Tournament: AnnMarie Healy, Leah Szabla, Providence Academy; Kali Peschel, Macy Weller, Sauk Centre; Sarina Baker, Katelyn Adams, Gabbi Stienstra, Minnehaha Academy; Rebekah Dahlman, Kelsey Sorenson-Giffrow, Hannah Dahlman, Braham.
2A Consolation: Sauk Centre 58, Providence Academy 57.
3A All-Tournament: Lauren Trumm, Sam Trumm, Alexandria; Khadijah Shumpert, Grace Coughlin, Benilde-St. Margaret’s; Tyseanna Johnson, Mariah Adanene, Allina Starr, DeLaSalle; Claire Van Dyk, Corrine McCallum, Bethany Doolittle, Hill-Murray.
3A Consolation: Benilde-St. Margaret’s 54, Alexandria 51
4A All-Tournament: Rachel Banham, Apiew Ojulu, Lakeville North; Alexis Foley, White Bear Lake; Shayne Mullaney, Morgan VanRiper-Rose, Jackie Johnson, Eden Prairie; Ebony Livingston, Gracia Hutson, Brianna Williams, Hopkins.
4A Consolation: Lakeville North 68, White Bear Lake 50
--Best-Dressed Coach: Hopkins’ Brian Cosgriff is always nicely dressed on the sidelines, but he stepped it up a few notches Saturday. Coach Cos had on a very sharp double-breasted brownish suit, blue shirt and a tie that, uh, tied everything together. (No, I am not a fashion writer…)
--Pep Band Honors: There have been some dynamite musical performances during the tournament. Hill-Murray’s band grabbed the early frontrunner status, highlighted by “Time Warp” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Hopkins brought its usual energetic, solid wall of sound, with “I’ve Gotta Feeling” setting the bar high. But the nod for this tournament goes to Hancock from Class 1A, the little band with the big sound. My favorite tune performed by the Owls band was The Offspring classic “Pretty Fly.” For a high school with only 74 students, this band is sensational.
--Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 17 for the tournament, 61 for the winter tournaments.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 542
*Miles John has driven: 8,711