Tuesday, March 24, 2009

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. 

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