Sunday, March 29, 2009

All-State Sub

To the best of my knowledge, Aaron Anderson of Osseo and Mike Weah of St. Bernard's are just the second and third boys in 97 years of state high school tournament play to win all-tournament honors without starting a single game for his team. 

The first was Loren Stadum, back-up forward for Thief River Falls' 1938 state champs. He wasn't even the first forward off of the Prowlers' bench, but he led Thief with 12 points in their 31-29 championship game win over Mpls. North. 

It all happened because star forward Clark Mickelson badly sprained a knee in a first round 37-29 win over Faribault and future Heisman Trophy winner Bruce Smith. Mickelson started the Prowlers' semi-final game against Crosby-Ironton but couldn't play and quickly came out of the game. Mel Haugham was Thief's first front-court sub and scored a big bucket at 3:30 to bring the Prowlers back within 25-24. Stadum played a good long spell, too, and scored five points.

Mickelson came back into the game in overtime, however, and scored the game-winning bucket. In those days, overtime was a race to two and both teams had shot two free throws, making one. Thief ran (or, I should say, hobbled) a play for Mickelson, who swished a long set shot to win the game.

Mickelson didn't even dress for the final, and Haugham started in his place. But it was Stadum who mostly battled North's all-state forwards Dick Burk and Dick Hallman. 

Thief surprised by returning to the 1939 state tournament--they had lost all five of their starters, though they returned an all-state sub. Stadum won all-tournament honors a second time, now as the Prowlers' starting center. Thief slipped to sixth place, however. Stadum went on from there to a career as a high school coach.

About Anderson and Weah

Anderson, a 5-10 junior, is Osseo's back-up point behind 5-7 senior D. J. Philips though, through two games, Anderson had played 48 minutes to Philips' 33. Against Hopkins' defensive pressure in the championship, coach Tim Theisen played the two together for a fair stretch of time. Anderson finished with 71 minutes played, 27 points and a team-high seven assists.

St. Bernard's Coach Ed Cassidy brought Weah off the bench in each game for some instant offense and for  a total of 68 minutes of play. He made 4-for-5 field goal attempts in all three games, and he also made 4-for-5 free throws in a first round victory over Triton 67-48. Nine of his 15 field goal attempts were threes, and he made six of those. He scored in double figures every game with 16 against Triton, 13 in a 68-61 semi-final win over Plainview-Elgin-Millville, and ten in an 80-68 championship game defeat at the hands of Pelican Rapids. 

Part-Time Subs

Other players have made all-tournament without starting all of its team's games, but all of these other examples started at least one. Just the previous week Justine Dammerman and Cassie Ziemer of New London-Spicer earned all-tournament honors while starting two of three tournament games. And in 1962 Dave Meisner of Cloquet didn't start for his team in a first round loss to North St. Paul. Meisner started the next two tournament games as Cloquet came back to win the consolation championship. The following year Meisner led his team to the championship final and he made the all-tournament team for a second time. 

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hopkins: Best Ever? Part II

Some have said that the 2009 Hopkins Royals are the best Minnesota boys high school team ever. Such judgments are in the eye of the beholder, of course. But there is one objective measure, at least, on which the Royals hnow share a place at the top of the list.

Prior to the 2009 state tournament, Mpls. Patrick Henry had more boys state championships than any Minnesota high school, with titles in the single class tournament in 1944 and 1945, and a four-peat in Class AAA of the four class era in 2000-2001-2002 and 2003 for a total of six.

Hopkins, meanwhile, also won back-to-back titles in the single class era in 1952 and 1953. (See below for a post about that team.) More recently the Royals won Class AAAA championships in 2002, 2005 and 2006. And, now, the 2009 title makes for a total of six.

The DeLaSalle Islanders and Mpls. North are next with five MSHSL titles each. DeLaSalle's came in 1985, 1988, 1998-1999 and 2006. DeLaSalle also won ten Catholic state championships between 1927 and 1962, plus a national Catholic championship in 1931. North won their titles in 1980, 1995-1996-1997 and 2003.

Several schools are next with four boys titles each:

Bloomington Jefferson--1976, 1982, 1986 and 1987
Chisholm--1934, 1973, 1975 and 1991
Duluth Central--1950, 1961, 1971 and 1979
Red Wing--1915, 1920, 1922 and 1933
Southwest MN Christian--1999-2000-2001-2002

With its Class AAA title, Mpls. Washburn joins a group of schools with three titles each. Washburn won its three titles in 1955, 1994 and 2009. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hopkins: Best Ever?

Hopkins is Minnesota's best boys high school basketball team ever, or so they said.

The year was 1953, as the Royals became only the third team ever to win back-to-back state championships. In fact, Hopkins came within a few points of the first three-peat, losing to the eventual runner-up Canby 45-43 in the first round in 1951. Two wins and a consolation title followed, and then six more wins and the Lake Conference's first two state titles. Hopkins beat South St. Paul 42-29 and Hibbing 58-49 in the two finals. Forward Dave Tschimperle became only the second boy to earn all-tournament honors three times and also the third to lead the tournament in scoring twice (in 1951 and 1953).

Hopkins' accomplishment was all the more remarkable because they had to come through the toughest region in the state, old Region Five, to do it. From its establishment in 1933 through 1949, only one non-Minneapolis school had ever won a Region Five title and that was Hopkins in 1942 and again in 1948. In 1950 Robbinsdale won it, and then Hopkins came back in 1951 through 1953. Hopkins had become an athletic powerhouse in basketball and football under legendary coach Butsie Maetzold. Maetzold himself had won two state basketball titles at Red Wing in 1920 and 1922, and was all-MIAC all four years at Hamline. At Hopkins, his football teams went 88-6-5 over 18 years. They won ten conference titles, were unbeaten nine times and unscored upon in 1933 and 1937. 

Maetzold's basketball teams went 508-62 over 29 seasons, with 19 conference, five region and two state titles. His 1952-1954 teams had a then-record 65 straight wins, with the two losses that bracketed the streak both coming in overtime. His other star players included brothers Junior ("Spike") and Stewart Skoglund in the early 1940s, both of whom went on to play at Gustavus Adolphus; Virgil Miller of that 1948 state runner-up; and guard Jerry Porter, who won all-tournament honors in the two state championship seasons. 

Mpls. Edison's 1937 state champions had long been regarded as legendary--as the greatest team to have played in the state tournament. But the game had changed dramatically in the years during and after World War II, with the introduction of the fast break, the jump shot and low post play. So, finally, in 1955, at least one newspaper columnist opined that Mpls. Washburn's state champs were the best ever. "What previous champions could do more things well?" he asked, "could beat you so many different ways?" Then, the very next year Mpls. Roosevelt demolished Blue Earth in the state final 101-54, and in 1957 the Teddies repeated as state champs with an unbeaten record, and the consensus was that Roosevelt was "the best ever."

Then in 1961, the same fans and reporters christened Duluth Central the best except, some said, for Hopkins in 1953. The Royals had now surpassed Washburn and Roosevelt in tournament legend. 

Since 1961 the state tournament has seen its first three- and four-peats. The two greatest teams are probably those two that have won three straight state titles at the very highest level. Those would be the Edina Hornets of 1966-1967-1968 and the Mpls. North Polars of 1995-1996-1997. There are, of course, a couple of four-peaters--Southwest Minnesota Christian of Edgerton 1999-2002 in Class A, and Minneapolis Patrick Henry 2000-2003 in Class AAA--but neither played at the very highest level. 

But, now, the Hopkins Royals, rated number four in the nation, are again regarded at least by some as the best high school basketball team ever to come out of the Gopher state. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Class B

In 1971, after 58 years of single-class state tournament play, the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL), initiated play in two classes for larger and smaller high schools. The fact is that the smaller schools had complained about the difficulty of competing with larger schools right from the first year of state tournament play in 1913. Over the years, a variety of strategies was attempted to address this problem. 

From 1923 through 1927, a Class B tournament was held--without sanction by the Minnesota State High School League, actually--at Hamline University. The tournament was for "high school departments" in "graded schools." These were not high schools at all, but schools that offered some, limited high school curriculum to older students. The tournament was sometimes referred to as the "graded" tournament or the "department" tournament. So it didn't really address the complaints of the smaller high schools. 

Initially the tournament was open to every "graded" school that wanted to compete. Later, when the fields got too large, regional play-offs were initiated, just like for the larger schools.

Following are the championship game scores for the five Class B tournaments:

1923--East Chain 35 Raymond 26
1924--Stewart 12 Brewster 7
1925--Chisago City 17 Ceylon 11
1926--Brewster 24 Hitterdal 22
1927--Henning 28 Chisago City 18

The highlight was Henning's win in 1927 behind "giant center" Otto Rortvedt, as he was described. Rortvedt went on to play college ball at Augsburg.

In 1928, Hamline's Class B tournament came to an end, and the MSHSL adapted the idea of Class B play to its member schools. Districts were authorized to hold  a Class A and a Class B tournament, with the Class B champion advancing to Class A district play. Smaller schools, in other words, played among themselves to crown a Class B district champion. But there was only one overall champion of each district, one champion of each region, and one state tournament. Only one Class B champion ever advanced even to a district final, that being Columbia Heights, who lost to defending state champion Excelsior.

Still later, in the 1940s, regions won the right to hold a Class B tournament if they liked, but there would still only by one regional champion and one state tournament. Region Eight held a Class B tournament from 1944 through 1946, with first round games matching a Class A team versus one from Class B. Five of twelve first round winners were the smaller schools from Class B.

Region One had one two-class, eight-team tournament in 1948. District Four Class B champion Kenyon was the only Class B first-round winner, and went on to lose to District Four Class A champion Waseca 50-25 in the regional final. 

The MSHSL withdrew its authorization of Class B tournaments shortly thereafter, and smaller schools would renew their agitation for a tournament of their own.

Back-to-Back Championship Match-Ups

Many boys basketball fans anticipate an Ellsworth-Minnesota Transitions match-up in the Class A title game this year (2009). Of course, the other six Class A entrants--and, perhaps, especially unbeaten Granada-Huntley-East Chain (GHEC)--will have something to say about that. But if such a match-up should emerge, 2009 would mark the second straight year to feature a championship game rematch from the previous year.

This previously was an exceptionally rare occurrence. It first happened only in 1967-1968, after more than 50 years of boys tournaments, when the Edina Hornets twice dominated the Moorhead Spuds 72-55 and 70-45 to complete their three-peat.

It happened again in 1984-1985 when White Bear Lake knocked off Mpls. North in two closely contested Class AA finals 51-47 and 67-62.

Then, in 1992 and 1993, Anoka and Cretin-Derham Hall traded victories in Class AA. Anoka upset Cretin's defending state champs 50-47 in 1992, but Cretin turned the tables the following year 56-44. 

Mpls. Henry then swept St. Thomas in 2000 and 2001 by scores of 59-45 and 74-61, the first two of what would become a four-peat for the Patriots.

So, through 2007, there had been but four boys championship game rematches in 95 years and 152 championships. Then, in 2007 and 2008, St. Thomas again appeared in back-to-back Class AAA finals--this time against Benilde-St. Margaret's. St. Thomas won the first of those battles 56-40, but Benilde got its revenge last year 58-52. Ironically, not a single private school made the 2009 Class AAA tourney field that the private schools have so dominated with ten finalists and five championships in 12 years of four-class ball.

The Ellsworth-Transitions match-up is the only potential repeat final, as only Henry Sibley (AAAA) and New London-Spicer (AA) have returned to the state tournament among the other six finalists. But there are other potential repeat match-ups in Class A as well. If Cass Lake-Bena and Ellsworth both win the the first round, their semi-final match-up will be a repeat of the 2007 Class A final. And if Cass Lake should get to the final against Minnesota Transitions, theirs would be a repeat of last year's exciting semi-final game won by Transitions. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

All-State Snub

Fans were surprised Saturday night (2009) at the Target Center when St. Michael-Albertville guard Brittani Wiese failed to make the Class AAA All-Tournament team. She was, after all, the leading scorer for a state championship team. How often, fans wondered, does that happen?

We're not aware that it has ever happened in the girls tournament. But the fact is that it happens all the time in the boys tournament. Following are the boys who led their state championship team in scoring without being selected to the All-Tournament team (each played in 3 games unless otherwise indicated).

1923--Matt Turk, Aurora 45 points (4 games)
1939--Harry Franz, Mountain Lake 30
1956--Bob Freund, Mpls. Roosevelt 57
1959--Bo Vanman, Wayzata 43
1999--Mark Wingo, St. Paul Highland Park 49

Wiese finished with 43 points in three tournament games in leading her Knights to the state title while teammates Courtney Barthel, Carly Rothstein and Anna Valerius, all of whom won All-Tournament honors, were next with 34, 33 points and 25 points for the tournament.

There are a couple of explanations for Wiese's oversight. The All-Tournament team was selected, like all such teams, at half-time of the championship game. Mpls. North had run out to a 20-5 lead in the game, and there may have been a presumption that North would win the game and the championship. Thus, the Polars placed four players on the All-Tournament team to the Knights' three. And, at that time, Wiese was not the Knights' leading scorer. She finished the night with 19 points, 15 of them after half-time. At the time the vote was taken, Rothstein was St. Michael-Albertville's leading scorer with 31 points to Wiese's 28. Still, in addition to being the Knights' leading scorer, she as also its principle ball-handler and clearly deserved to make the All-Tournament team.

Girls State Tournament Scoring Records

Kelly Skalicky held the two most prestigious MSHSL girls tournament scoring records for more than 25 years. Now, within the space of two short years, both of these records have been eclipsed by Brittney Chambers and Tayler Hill. Chambers, Jordan, scored 47 points in a Class AA semi-final game against Crookston last year (2008) to break Skalicky's record of 45 points in a single tournament game. Then, this year (2009), Tayler Hill, Minneapolis South, matched Chambers record and broke Skalicky's record of 102 points in a tournament.

One record from the tournament's early days remains unbroken, however--and it's a record that does not appear in the MSHSL yearbook or basketball tournament program. Janet Karvonen scored 329 points in four state tournaments during her illustrious career. Hill fell short with 248 points. Skalicky scored more than 250 points to remain ahead of Hill in second place. 

Here is the evolution of these three major girls state tournament scoring records.

Individual Scoring Records

Most Points in a Game

1975--Jen Savage, LeSueur 32 vs. Luverne 1st round*
1976--Isabella Ceplecha, Redwood Falls 26 vs. SW Christian A semi
1977--Jayne Mackley, Hibbing 27 vs. Benilde-St. Margaret's AA 1st round
1977--Deanna Reyerson, Alden-Conger 27 vs. Redwood Falls A consolation semi
1978--Janet Karvonen, New York Mills 31 vs. Fertile-Beltrami A 1st round
1978--Karen Swanson, Mountain Iron 31 vs. Albany A consolation semi
1979--Karvonen 34 vs. Brady A semi
1979--Karvonen 38 vs. Albany A final
1980--Karvonen 40 vs. Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunberg A 1st round
1981--Kelly Skalicky, Albany 45 vs. Bagley A consolation semi
2008--Brittney Chambers, Jordan 47 vs. Crookston AA semi
2009--Tayler Hill, Mpls. South 47 vs. Centennial AAAA final

Points in a Tournament

1975--Jen Savage, LeSueur 60 points*
1976--Isabella Ceplecha, Redwood Falls 53
1977--Janet Karvonen, New York Mills 59
1978--Laura Gardner, Bloomington Jefferson 78
1979--Karvonen 98
1981--Kelly Skalicky, Albany 102
2009--Tayler Hill, Mpls. South 106

Career Points in the State Tournament

1975--Jen Savage, LeSueur 60 points*
1976--Isabella Ceplecha, Redwood Falls 53
1977--Lisa Lissimore, St. Paul Central 78
1978--Laura Gardner, Bloomington Jefferson 141
1980--Janet Karvonen, New York Mills 329

* For more than a quarter-century, the MSHSL regarded the 1974 and 1975 tournaments as "unofficial," and did not include them in its record books. Now it does, and so Savage's records from the 1975 tournament are included, thus superceding the records shown in italics.

Team Scoring Records

When Chambers scored her 47 points, she did so in the highest scoring game (both teams) in tournament history. Here is the evolution of the team scoring records.

Most Points in a Game, One Team

1974--Glencoe 71 Granada-Huntley 51 1st round*
1974--Glencoe 76 Kasson-Mantorville 36 semi*
1977--New York Mills 68 Buhl 43 A 1st round
1978--New York Mills 80 Fertile-Beltrami 33 A 1st round
1979--Albany 80 Moose Lake 47 A semi
1981--Albany 82 Bagley 35 A consolation semi
1984--Eden Valley-Watkins 88 Cass Lake 54 A 1st round

Most Points in a Game, Two Teams

1974--Glencoe 71 Granada-Huntley 51 1st round*
1976--Glencoe 53 Mpls. Marshall-U 51
1977--New York Mills 78 Buhl 43 A 1st round
1978--New York Mills 80 Fertile-Beltrami 33 A 1st round
1978--New York Mills 64 Redwood Falls 55 A final
1979--Moose Lake 64 Fertile-Beltrami 61 (ot) A 1st round
1979--Albany 80 Moose Lake 47 A semi
1979--SW Christian 66 Redwood Falls 65 A consolation final
1981--Albany 76 New York Mills 70 (ot) A consolation final
1997--Rochester Mayo 78 Bloomington Jefferson 70 AA semi
1999--Southland 80 Waubun 68 A 3rd place
2008--Jordan 79 Crookston 75 A semi

Most Points in a Tournament

1974--Glencoe 193*
1976--Mpls. Marshall-University 159
1978--New York Mills 203
1995--Rochester Mayo 205
1997--Rochester Mayo 241

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fifty Years Ago--1959

The 1950s had been a pretty good decade for Minnesota basketball. The greatest player and the greatest team ever assembled had played weekly at the old Minneapolis Auditorium. Hamline had won a third national championship, and the Gophers remained in contention for a Big Ten title right down to the final game of the year. But the fact was that all of that had happened by 1955, and Minnesota's signature programs were all in decline by the time the decade of the 1950s was drawing to a close. The Lakers had had a 19-53 record in 1958 and the Gophers, at 9-12, had had their first losing season since 1945. They would decline further to 8-14 in 1959. Hamline had won just one MIAC title since 1953. And, so, the highlight of the year was the performance of a team that won 33 games while losing 39.

Story #1--Minneapolis Lakers bounce back behind Elgin Baylor

Their 19-53 record in 1958 won the Lakers the first draft pick and they used it wisely, choosing Elgin Baylor from Seattle University. The Lakers still finished 16 games behind the St. Louis Hawks in the Western Division, and lost one game to the Boston Celtics 173-139--those 173 points remaining to this day the NBA record for points in a game. But the Lakers shocked the Hawks four games to two in the division finals. They then were swept by the Boston Celtics in the NBA finals, but the season was nevertheless accounted as a success.

Story #2--Wayzata wins state high school title

Wayzata defeated Carlton High School 55-41 to win the MSHSL state championship. Because Wayzata had finished third in the emerging powerhouse of the Lake Conference, Wayzata was widely described as a Cinderella. Ironically, Carlton was a real Cinderella. Had they won the title, they would have been the smallest school ever to do so. Instead, Edgerton would win that honor the very next year. A better game than the final, however, had been played in Wayzata's semi-final victory over defending state champion Austin 55-52.

Story #3--Duluth Branch emerges as MIAC powerhouse

Yes, the so-called Duluth Branch of the University of Minnesota, now the University of Minnesota-Duluth, was a member of the MIAC in those days, and in 1959 they won the second of what would become four championships in five years under coach Norm Olson. And, for the second straight year, the Bulldogs defeated St. Cloud State in their post-season playoff 67-65 (in overtime) to advance to the NAIA national small college tournament. 

Player of the Year

1. Elgin Baylor, Minneapolis Lakers, forward
2. Dave Baker, Duluth Branch, forward
3. Ron North and John Pierson, Carlton, forwards
4. Ron Johnson, Minnesota Gophers, center
5. Tom Kezar, Austin, guard

Coach of the Year

1. Jack Thurnblad, Wayzata
2. John Kundla, Minneapolis Lakers
3. Norm Olson, Duluth Branch
4. Dick Nielsen, Carlton
5. Bill Reinhard, DeLaSalle

Top Teams

1. DeLaSalle--5th state title in 6 years
2. Duluth Branch
3. Minneapolis Lakers
4. Wayzata
5. St. Cloud State

Games of the Year

1. Minneapolis Lakers 98 St. Louis Hawks 97 (game 5)
2. Boston Celtics 173 Minneapolis Lakers 139
3. Duluth Branch 67 St. Cloud State 65 (ot)
4. Wayzata 55 Austin 52, state tournament semi
5. Minneapolis Lakers 106 St. Louis Hawks 104 (game 6)

The Aftermath

After 1959 a new decade dawned and change overtook the Minnesota basketball landscape. Kundla left the franchise he had led to seven world championships, and moved across the river to the University of Minnesota. The Lakers themselves would play just one more year in Minneapolis before high-tailing it to Los Angeles for the 1960-1961 season. The Duluth Branch would win two more MIAC titles, but would eventually return to its roots in the Northern conference. Hamline and legendary coach Joe Hutton won one last conference title in 1960 but never again, to this day, have the Pipers claimed another.

Only Wayzata's performance was in any way prophetic. Only the second Lake Conference team ever to win a state title, they would be followed by five more in the first nine years of the new decade. The dominance of the Lake Conference was so dispiriting to Minnesota's other high schools that it was, in effect, the last nail in the coffin of the single-class tournament format. So Wayzata's performance was of a piece with the Lakers' and Duluth's after all. It promised change, whether we recognized it in 1959 or not.

Monday, March 16, 2009

2006 Season Recap

Story #1--Winona State men win NCAA D2 championship

Winona State under coach Mike Leaf won the first national championship by a Minnesota men's four-year college team since Hamline in 1951. The Warriors defeated defending champion Virginia Union in the NCAA D2 final 73-61. Winona entered tournament play with a 15 game winning streak, but went to overtime to beat South Dakota. Then, with eight minutes left to play, Minnesota State-Mankato led the Warriors 64-48. But David Zellman poured in 14 points in a 23-7 run to tie it up at 71. Then, with just 21 seconds remaining, Zellman stole the ball and scored the winning lay-up. Zellman scored 26, while John Smith had 19 and 16 boards for Winona. 

Story #2--Gopher women collapse down the stretch

Optimism ran high for the Gopher women under Pam Borton for the 2005-2006 season. The team sported six Minnesota Ms. Basketballs--Shannon Bolden, April Calhoun, Leslie Knight, Katie Ohm, Liz Podominick and Kelly Roysland--and started out 14-4 and 9-1 in the Big 10. The Gophers went 2-6 from there, however, with upset losses in the first rounds of the conference and NCAA tournaments. Things then went from bad to worse as Jamie Broback, Brittney Davis, Lauren Lacy, Podominick and Natasha Williams all quit the team. Instead of contending for the Big 10 title, it now looked like the Gophers would contend for the cellar.

Story #3--Hopkins sweeps boys and girls AAAA titles

The Hopkins girls upset defending state champ Bloomington Kennedy 65-48 to win their second state title in three years. The boys successfully defended their 2005 title--and won for the third time in five years--by beating Robbinsdale Cooper 69-54. Both teams finished 30-2.

Story #4--Isaiah Dahlman finishes record-setting high school career

The Braham Bombers won their third straight state AA title behind record-setting scorer Isaiah Dahlman. Dahlman set a new boys career scoring record, then led the Bombers over Breck 72-53 in the final. He fell short of two state tournament scoring records, however, finishing with 236 career points in the state tournament, just two short of Khalid El-Amin's record 238. And, he was out-scored in the tournament by Ellsworth sophomore Cody Schilling, 87-73, and thus failed to become the first boy ever to lead the state tournament in scoring three times.

Story #5--St. Cloud State women get to D2 Final Four

The St. Cloud State women, led by center Erika Quigley, were 25-4 going into NCAA tournament play, and won their first two tournament games with relative ease. Then came a Central Region final at North Dakota, NCC regular season champ and then rated #2 in the country. The result was a shocking 75-69 St. Cloud victory as guard Sascha Hansen contributed 28 points and six assists. The Crusaders went on to defeat Shaw 78-71 in the Elite Eight, before losing to American International 70-58 in the Final Four. 

Player of the Year

1. Isaiah Dahlman, Braham, senior, guard
2. David Zellman, Winona State, senior, guard
3. Erika Quigley, St. Cloud State, junior, center
4. Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves, forward
5. (tie) Blake Hoffarber, Hopkins, senior, guard
    Jenna Smith, Bloomington Kennedy, senior, center

Coach of the Year

1. Mike Leaf, Winona State men
2. (tie) Brian Cosgriff, Hopkins girls
    Ken Novak, Jr., Hopkins boys
4. Steve Fritz, St. Thomas men
5. Bob Vaughan, Braham boys

Top Teams

1. Winona State men 32-4
2. St. Cloud State women 29-5
3. Hopkins boys 30-2
4. Braham boys 31-2
5. Hopkins girls 30-2

Games of the Year

1. Winona State 74 Minnesota State-Mankato 71 after trailing by 16
2. Winona State 73 Virginia Union 61 in NCAA D3 final
3. Hopkins girls turn tables on Kennedy 65-48 in AAAA final
4. St. Cloud State 75 North Dakota 69 in D2 region final
5. Kennedy girls 53 St. Paul Central 51 in AAAA semi

Sunday, March 15, 2009

2007 Season Recap

Minnesota's signature basketball programs--the Gopher men and women, and the Timberwolves--struggled in 2007. Still, it was a big year in Minnesota hoops as the St. Paul Central girls and Winona State men made history. Then, the hiring of Tubby Smith rekindled interest in the Gopher men's program.

#1 Story--St. Paul Central girls are just too good

The Central girls, led by four recent transfers, waltzed to the state AAAA title and a 32-0 record. The Minutemen scored 90 points or more 14 times, but coach Willie Taylor never allowed them to score 100 points. There was enough animosity toward his program as it was. Still, most observers agreed it was the greatest girls basketball team in Minnesota history. State tournament victims were Roseville 76-58, Edina 79-41 and Mpls. South 81-63. The Central-South championship match-up was the first in 95 years of MSHSL tourney play between schools representing Minnesota's largest cities. Central's magical point guard, Angel Robinson, later was selected Minnesota's Ms. Basketball. 

#2 Story--Winona State wins 57 in a row

The Winona State Warriors seemed to have an unbeaten season and a second straight NCAA D2 title well in hand, leading Barton 74-67 with 45 seconds to go in the national final. Instead, Anthony Atkinson of Barton scored 10 points in those 45 seconds to lead Barton to a shocking 77-75 victory. The loss broke a 57-game Winona winning streak, and the Warriors finished at 35-1. Winona's John Smith was chosen as the NCAA's D2 player of the year.

#3 Story--Monson out, Tubby in

The Gopher men started out 2-5 with losses to Marist and Montana--not to even mention an embarrassing exhibition loss to Winona State--when athletic director Joel Maturi decided that he'd seen enough. Coach Dan Monson was fired on December 1. The Gophers and interim coach Jim Molinari struggled to a 9-22 record, the most losses in Gopher history. Then on March 22, Maturi injected a dose of enthusiasm into a moribund program by hiring Tubby Smith away from the University of Kentucky.

#4 Story--Buffalo surprises in AAAA

The first big surprise was Minnetonka's 55-53 win over two-time defending state AAAA champ Hopkins in a 6AAAA semi-final. Then, 'Tonka lost to Bloomington Jefferson 84-76 in OT in the section final, Jefferson lost to Apple Valley 68-66 in the first round of the state tournament, and Apple Valley lost to Armstrong 70-67 in the semis. Finally, it was Buffalo's turn to surprise Armstrong 67-65 in the final. Buffalo won despite a severely sprained ankle by leading scorer Josh Ortmann, who hobbled his way to nine points. Darrin Olmscheid picked up the slack with 25 points, including the game-winning floater at 0:02.4.

#5 Story--Anoka-Ramsey women win again

Anoka-Ramsey won its sixth--and the Minnesota Community College Athletic Conference's tenth--national championship, beating Mohawk Valley CC 52-44 in the national final. Sonja Ellingson of Maple Grove was the tournament MVP, and first-year coach Dave DeWitt led the Rams to a 26-4 record.

Player of the Year

1. Angel Robinson, St. Paul Central, senior, guard
2. John Smith, Winona State, junior, center
3. Erika Quigley, St. Cloud State, senior, center
4. Kelly Roysland, Minnesota, senior, guard
5. Cole Aldrich, Bloomington Jefferson, senior, center

Coach of the Year

1. Nicholas Guida, Buffalo boys
2. Justin Hegna, Becker girls
3. Mike Leaf,  Winona State men
4. Steve Fritz, St. Thomas men
5. Matt Marthaler, Mankato State men

Top Teams

1. St. Paul Central girls 32-0, MSHSL AAAA state champion
2. Winona State men 35-1, NCAA D2 runner-up
3. Buffalo boys 28-3, MSHSL AAAA state champion
4. Anoka-Ramsey CC women 26-4, NJCAA D3 national champs
5. Hopkins boys 26-2

Game of the Year

1. Winona State 69 Minnesota 64 in men's exhibition game
2. Barton buzzer-beater shocks Winona 77-75
3. Central girls complete perfect season, 81-63 over Mpls. South
4. Buffalo 67 Armstrong 65 on buzzer-beater for AAAA state title
5. Ellsworth 74 Cass Lake 73 for A title on Adam Van Der Stoep's tenth 3 of the day

Fact-Checking Is for Sissies?

First, congratulations to Tayler Hill, who most assuredly now holds the all-time Minnesota high school scoring record regardless of gender.

But, second, could her record-setting performance have been handled any more poorly by the adults? South High sources claimed that she had broken Katie Ohm's record on Feb. 17 in a game against Mpls. Roosevelt, but could not provide the evidence to support that claim. A review of published box scores showed that she was, in fact, 103 points short of the record at that time. Some leaped to Hill's support, saying that it was possible that some of the published box scores might be incorrect. But aside from the fact it was theoretically possible for some box scores to be incorrect, there was no actual evidence that any of them were.

A week or so later, the MSHSL ruled that indeed Hill was still short of the record. So she broke it (some would say, again) in the Twin City game against St. Paul Central. 

What was really troubling in all of this was the role of the mainstream media. Several prominent media outlets simply reported that Hill had broken the record on Feb. 17. One reporter responded to an email by saying, Well, we're in a tough position here. South High says she broke the record, so that's what we reported. And this was after the records of every game from Hill's illustrious career had been compiled and published in widely available sources.

But, what was worse were the subtle attacks upon those who had the ambition (or the gall, depending on your point of view) to do the media's job for them--that is, to check the facts. Pioneer Press columnist Bob Sansevere (or, rather, his headline writer) wrote, "Just give her the record, already." Sansevere chastised the "historians" (his quotation marks, as if to say "so-called historians") who actually looked up the records for being spoil sports. And he jumped all over the "the published box scores could be wrong" bandwagon. He said, well, what if somebody transposed a 1 and a 2, and a 2 and a 3, or dropped a digit. I've already accounted for 36 points in errors, he said, and that's just three games.

Forget, of course, that he had imagined and invented these errors out of whole cloth. But, c'mon, he seemed to say, she's just a kid. Give her a break. Besides, it's just sports. And it's just high school sports at that. Who cares?

Well, fortunately, some people cared. Kevin Anderson and Matt Peterson, who researched the box scores. The MSHSL, which had the courage to make the call. But no thanks to the mainstream media and to those "sports reporters" whose attitude seems to be that, where sports is concerned, fact-checking is for sissies, and why let the facts get in the way of a good story?

2008 Season Recap

#1 Story: Winona State men win 2nd NCAA title in 3 years

The Winona State men started their 2007-2008 season inauspiciously enough, with an 83-82 overtime loss to D3 St. Thomas that ended a 36-game home winning streak. Four months later, the Warriors found themselves on the wrong side of a 73-57 to Augusta State at 17:25 of the D2 title game. But Jonte Flowers scored 25 second half points, and Winona came back to win 87-76. Senior center John Smith was named D2 player of the year for the second time, and the Warriors ran their three-year record to 105-6.

#2 Story: St. Paul Central repeats as girls AAAA champion

After losing three regular season games, plus the Twin City game to Mpls. South and guard Tayler Hill, Central came into its state championship rematch against the Tigers as a decided underdog. And, though the Minutemen led early, the Tigers were up 33-24 at 13:23. But, Central stormed back to tie it up at 34, and it remained tight through 44. Then, at 1:00, Kyana Johnson scored her only two points of the night to give Central the lead for good. The final was 49-44.

#3 Story: Jordan's Brittney Chambers explodes for 47

Chambers electrified girls hoops fans with a historic 47 point effort in a AA semi-final upset of Crookston, 79-74 in the highest scoring game in girls tournament history. But, Chambers and Jordan had nothing left to give on Saturday and fell to Albany 62-50. Ironically, Chambers' 47 points broke the tournament record of 45 set by Albany's Kelly Skalicky in 1981.

#4 Story: Minnetonka takes boys AAAA title

For the second straight year, Minnetonka knocked Hopkins out of the section 6AAAA tournament, this time 74-71 in overtime. Unlike 2007, however, the Skippers themselves made it to the state tournament and came into the final as a heavy favorite. Henry Sibley shocked Minnetonka by running out to 12-0, 30-9 and 33-11 leads, but by half-time it was down to 33-20. The second half was all Minnetonka. They took their first lead at 43-42 when a pair of steals led to a stuff by C.J.Erickson and a three by Anthony Tucker. The final was 68-59 as Tucker scored 27.

#5 Story: Gopher women contend for Big Ten title

The Gopher women surprised their fans by contending for the Big Ten title. Iowa tied Ohio State for the title at 13-5, and the difference between the Hawkeyes and the 11-7 Gophers was 3 points and then 2 in overtime. Still, poor shooting haunted the Gophers who made 1 of their first 23 shots in the Big Ten tournament and 5 of 28 in their NCAA tournament loss to Texas. 

Player of the Year

1. John Smith, Winona State, senior, center
2. Cody Schilling, Ellsworth, senior, guard
3. Emily Fox, Minnesota, junior, guard
4. Jordan Taylor, Benilde, senior, guard
5. Tayler Hill, Mpls. South, junior, guard

Coach of the Year

1. Paul Fessler, Concordia (St. Paul) women
2. Mike Leaf, Winona State men
3. Willie Taylor, St. Paul Central women
4. David Smart, Ada girls
5. Tubby Smith, Minnesota men

Top Teams

1. Winona State men 38-1, NCAA D2 national champions
2. St. Paul Central girls 28-4, MSHSL girls AAAA champions
3. Minnetonka boys 28-3, MSHSL boys AAAA champions
4. Concordia women 29-4, NSIC regular & post-season champs
5. Minnesota women 20-12

Games of the Year

1. Jordan 79 Crookston 74, as Brittney Chambers explodes for 47 points
2. St. Thomas 83 Winona State 82, stopping the Warriors' 36 game home winning streak
3. Minnetonka 74 Hopkins 71 (OT), section 6AAAA semi, en route to state title
4. Minnesota 59 Indiana 58, in Big Ten tournament on Blake Hoffarber's buzz-beater
5. New London-Spicer 50 Maple River 49, on Wade Powers' put-back and block at the buzzer

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Career State Tournament Scoring Record

Every Minnesota high school basketball fan knows that Cody Schilling of Ellsworth broke Isaiah Dahlman's career scoring record in 2008. But most fans are probably unaware that he also broke the boys' career record for most points scored in the state tournament, because this record is not included among the scoring records published in the MSHSL tournament programs each year.

In fact, Dahlman probably would have set a career tournament scoring record in 2006 if there had been an awareness of it. But no one knew that Isaiah was closing in on Khalid El-Amin's record of 238 points, and so Dahlman came out of the championship game (won by Braham over Breck 72-53) just two points short of the record. Schilling, on the other hand, only needed two points in last year's A final against Minnesota Transitions to break El-Amin's record, and he scored 30. In so doing, he also became the only boy in history to lead the MSHSL tournament in scoring three times. 

Evolution of Boys' Career Tournament Scoring Record

1913--Peter Guenther, Mountain Lake 71 points, 17.75 points per game. 

1914-1915--Gerhard Hiebert, Mountain Lake 76 points, 15.2 ppg. Hebert scored 12 points in 2 games in 1913 (and no box scores exist for 2 other Mountain Lake games in 1913). If Hebert and Hiebert are the same, he scored at least 88 points and more likely another few points in those 2 games with the missing box scores.

1918-1919--Gordie Malmer, Albert Lea 83 points, 11.86 ppg. Sources disagree whether Malmer scored 64 or 65 points for Albert Lea's 1919 state champs. Box scores also attribute 18 points in 2 games to him in 1918, while there is no box score for a third game. And, there is confusion both years between Gordie and his brother Clarence. Bottom line, Gordie scored at least 83 points and probably more.

1944-1945--Jim McIntyre, Mpls. Patrick Henry 186 points, 31.0 ppg. Broke the record by almost 100 points.

1955-1956--Ron Johnson, New Prague 203 points, 33.83 ppg.

1972-1973-1974--Mark Olberding, Melrose 228 points, 22.8 ppg.

1995-1996-1997--Khalid El-Amin, Mpls. North 238 points, 21.64 ppg

2006-2007-2008--Cody Schilling, Ellsworth 267 points, 29.67 ppg.

Top 10 in Career Points

1. Schilling 267 points
2. El-Amin 238 
3. Isaiah Dahlman, Braham 236, 26.22 ppg
4. Olberding 228
5. Ben Johnson, DeLaSalle 227, 25.22 ppg
6. R. Johnson 203
7. Erik Kelly, Staples 200, 18.18 ppg
8. McIntyre 186
9. Bob Zender, Edina 184, 20.44 ppg
10. Randy Breuer, Lake City 181, 30.17 ppg

The next five on the list are Ray Cronk, Bemidji; Chris Heier, Staples; Jabbar Washington, Mpls. North; Dave Tschimperle, Hopkins; and Arvesta Kelly, Cretin.