Friday, March 23, 2012

Fosston vs. Mountain Lake

Fosston vs. Mountain Lake? (Pardon my shorthand for Mountain Lake-Butterfield-Odin.) It's not going to happen. MLBO surprised #4 seed Browerville yesterday 73-61 while Fosston lost to #2 Southwest MN Christian 59-41. So MLBO plays this afternoon vs. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa in the 1st Class A semi-final at 12 noon, while Fosston's season has come to an end.

Fosston vs. Mountain Lake? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, they did play one another. 99 years ago. Everybody knows (I'm kidding) that Fosston won the very 1st state tournament in what was described as "a complete surprise." I mean, even then it was understood that a smaller school with fewer kids to choose from was at a disadvantage.

But who exactly did Fosston defeat in that 1st state final? Mountain Lake. The score was 29-27.

What are the odds that those 1st 2 finalists would both be here to help celebrate the 100th year of high school tournament basketball? Try slim and slimmer. These are no longer household names.

Since 1913, Fosston appeared in 5 more tournaments for a total of 6 of the 1st 9 through 1921. It had not appeared in the tournament for 90 years when the Greyhounds made it down last year. This year they made it 2 in a row as if making up for lost time.

Meanwhile, Mountain Lake became something of a fixture, appearing in 13 tournaments from 1913 to 1952, and winning the state title in 1939 with a huge upset over Minneapolis Marshall. But they had not appeared since 1952, for a period of 60 years. That they chose to return in this 100th year--and that Fosston is here to greet their old friends once again--is karma of the highest order.

It was deemed almost as unlikely that they would meet. Both were underdogs in yesterday's 1st round. And so indeed it will not happen. Except the MSHSL has been talking to the 2 schools about doing something today to honor the 2 and their predecessors from 99 years ago. The fact that MLBO is playing today complicates that a bit. But don't be surprised if there isn't some type of ceremony at half-time some time today with Fosston and Mountain Lake players taking the court together for the 1st time in 99 years.

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