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
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