As the 100th year of tournament basketball unfolds, I will reveal who I see as the 100 biggest stars to participate in the tournament, beginning today with #76.
76. Joan Kowalsky, Benilde-St. Margaret’s girls, G, 1974-77 and
Jordan Taylor, Benilde-St. Margaret’s boys, G, 2007-08. Kowalsky was a real pioneer, having played in the only private school tournament in 1974 won by St. Margaret’s Academy before its merger with Benilde High School. Then in 1976 and 1977 she led Benilde-St. Margaret’s to 2nd and 3rd place in the 1st 2 “official” Class AA tournaments. Taylor led the Red Knights to 2nd and then 1st in Class AAA. He led Class AAA scorers in 2008 with 82 points, 43 in a quarter-final rout of St. Paul Como Park.
77. Chet Bisel, Lynd boys, coach, 1946 and Lynd 1946. Lynd shocked Minnesotans with a then-unheard of fast break offense, which they rode to 2nd place, becoming the smallest school from the smallest town ever to play in a state tournament final.
78. Wayne Courtney, Mpls. Roosevelt boys, coach, 1956-57 and Minneapolis Roosevelt 1956-57. Roosevelt scored a still-record 101 points in the 1956 final, then repeated with an undefeated record in 1957. These were Courtney’s only 2 tournament teams, but his 1961 team won its regional tournament before being disqualified for the use of an ineligible player.
79. Hopkins boys, 2009. The Royals of 2009 are generally regarded as the greatest boys team in Minnesota history. They already had 4 D1 recruits when Royce White, rated the #1 player in the state, transferred in for his senior year. They won 3 tournament games by an average of 64-40.
80. Janice Streit, Eden Valley-Watkins girls, C, 1983-84. Streit led Eden Valley-Watkins to 5th and 2nd place in 2 state tournaments. In 1983 she led all scorers with 83 points, and set rebounding records that still stand of 27 in 1 game and 64 for the tournament. She scored 45 points in 2 games in 1984 before running into a buzzsaw in Chisholm in the final.
81. Jerry Cool, Little Falls girls, coach, 1980-91. Coach Cool led the Flyers to 7 state tournaments in 12 years, and state titles in 1980, 1984 and 1985.
82. Kiara Buford, St. Paul Central girls, F-G, 2006-07-08. Buford helped Central to 3rd place in Class AAAA in 2006, and then to back-to-back state titles in 2007 and 2008. She scored 33 points in the 3rd place game and led her class in scoring as a sophomore with 69 points.
83 (tie). Dave Preller, Woodbury girls, coach, 1989-2004, and Del Schiffler, Melrose boys, Woodbury boys, coach, 1972-1987. Preller led the Woodbury girls to 10 state tournaments, including the 2003 title and 1997 runners-up. Schiffler took the Woodbury boys to 3 tournaments and a state title in 1983 after having taken Melrose, likewise, to 3 tournaments and an overall title in 1974.
84. Como Pontliana, Duluth Central boys, C, 2001. Pontliana led Central to the 1st Class AA and overall titles, and led all scorers with 84 points in 4 games.
85. Arvesta Kelly, Cretin-Derham Hall boys, F-G, 1991-92-93. Helped Cretin to 3 straight Class AA title games, which the Raiders won in 1991 and 1993. Kelly led Class AA in scoring in 1992 with 67 points.
86. Joe Coleman, Hopkins boys, F-G, 2010-11. Coleman led the Royals to the 2010 and 2011 Class AAAA titles, leading all scorers in 5 of 6 games. He also led his Class in scoring both times with 70 and then 71 points.
87. Leslie Knight, Hopkins girls, F, 2004-05. Knight led Hopkins to 3rd place in Class AAAA in 2004 and then to the 2005 title. She led Class AAAA in scoring both times with 53 and 65 points.
88. Joel McDonald, Chisholm boys, F-G, 2010. McDonald scored 3,292 career points, a Minnesota record for almost 10 years,, and led Chisholm to the 1991 Class A title, scoring a tournament best 91 points in 3 games.
89. Jabbar Washington, Mpls. North boys, F, 1995-96-97. He may have been second fiddle to Khalid El-Amin, but this was 1 of the greatest orchestra’s of them all. They were the 1st boys ever to start on 3 state championship teams.
90. Joe Regnier, White Bear Lake boys, C, 1984-85. Unbeaten White Bear Lake and Mpls. North squared off for both the 1984 and 1985 state titles. The Bears won both times 51-47 and 67-62. Regnier led all scorers in 4 of the Bears’ 6 wins, including both title games with 19 and 23.
91. Frank Cleve, Mpls. South boys, C, 1920 ; Mpls. Patrick Henry boys, coach, 1944-45. Cleve won all-tounament honors in 1920, then returned as coach of Mpls. Patrick Henry’s 1944 and 1945 state champions. It was Cleve, the former center, who taught Jim McIntyre the fine points of playing the “modern” post.
92. Laura Gardner, Bloomington Jefferson girls, F, 1976-77-78. Gardner led Jefferson to the 1st 2 “official” girls tournaments in 1976 and 1977, with nothing to show for it except 1 win and a 6th place finish. In 1978 Jefferson took home all the marbles as Gardner led all scorers with 28, 26 and 24 points in the 3 games. Her career total 141 points was a record until broken by Janet Karvonen the following year.
93. Herman Woock, Crosby-Ironton boys, coach, 1932-45. Woock led the Rangers to 6 state tournaments in 14 years, including to a runner-up finish in 1944.
94. Ronnie Henderson, Mpls. Marshall-U, G, 1976. Henderson led Marshall-U to the 1976 Class A title. Henderson recorded a single game record of 14 assists in a semi-final win over Windom, and his 24 total assists in 3 games was 1 shy of the tournament record.
95. Don Dale, Robbinsdale, C, 1950. Dale led Robbinsdale to the 1950 state final, scoring 37 points in a semi-final victory and a tournament-high of 80 points in 3 games.
96. Ruben Epp, Mountain Lake boys, G, 1939. Epp led the Lakers to the 1939 state title.
97. Terry Hunst, Bloomington Jefferson girls, coach, 1993-2003. Took the Jaguars to 6 tournaments in 11 years, and to 1993, 1994 and 1998 state titles.
98. Blaine Joerger, Staples-Motley boys, F-G, 1995. Joerger led Staples-Motley to a runner-up finish in the 1st Sweet 16 tournament of 1995. He was just the 6th boy to score 100 points in a tournament.
99 (tie). Jessica Fiebelkorn, Osseo girls, C, 1989 and Hana Peltjo, Osseo girls, C, 2000. Fiebelkorn led Osseo to the 1989 Class AA title, leading her Class in scoring with 58 points in 3 games. Peltjo did the same but scored a tournament-high 78 points.
100. Lisa Lissimore, St. Paul Central girls, F, 1976-77-78. Lissimore scored 140 career points in 3 tournaments, 2nd by 1 point to Laura Gardner as the leader through 1978, before Janet Karvonen took over in that category in 1979. Lissimore later worked at the MSHSL and was the girls tournament manager for many years in the 4-class era.