The celebration of 100 years of state basketball tournaments continues with the announcement of the top games in the history of the boys' state tourney. These lists (links at the bottom of this installment) have been compiled with the assistance of a committee of basketball historians and experts from around Minnesota. These announcements and other activities related to 100 years of state tourneys lead into this year's tournaments — the girls played last week at Williams Arena and Target Center, March 14-17, and the boys will do the same this week, March 21-24.
TOP BOYS' GAMES
|Wabasso 117, Red Lake 113 (OT) -- 1997 Class A Semifinal|
The aptly-named Wabasso Rabbits came into the 1997 Class A tournament averaging nearly 100 points a game. They scored 99 points in a first-round win over Bloomington Trinity. Then came the semifinal against Red Lake. Wabasso led 29-23 after one quarter, 53-47 at the half, and 81-62 after three periods. The Rabbits still led by 14 with 1:15 left. Then Red Lake guard Gerald Kingbird scored 13 points in 57 seconds, including a three at 0:17.7 to tie the score at 105. In overtime Red Lake took its first lead, 111-109, since the game was just 10-8, but it wouldn’t last. The Rabbits pulled away to a 117-113 win. Kingbird scored 37 points overall. This game still stands in the record book under several categories.
|Edgerton 63, Richfield 60 (OT) -- 1960 Semifinal|
Edgerton was the smallest school from the smallest city ever to win a Minnesota boys’ single-class title. But you already knew that. Edgerton also was the greatest free-throw machine in tournament history. "Field goals are important," one newspaper reported. "But Edgerton wins without them." Edgerton made just one field goal in the final 11 minutes—the fourth quarter plus overtime. Fifteen times in the game, Edgerton went to the free throw line for a one-and-one opportunity. Twelve times they came away with two points. "I kept looking at (Edgerton guards Leroy) Graphenteen and (Darrell) Kreun to see how nervous they were while shooting those free throws," Edgerton star Dean Veenhof said. "But they never moved a muscle or batted an eye." Graphenteen later offered, however, that "I’d rather not have to shoot those free throws again." Edgerton finished with 35-of-43 free throws for the game.
|Marshall 75, Cloquet 74 -- 1963 Championship|
Bloomington came into the 1963 tournament as a heavy favorite, touted as "the best defensive team ever," but promptly lost to fast-breaking Cloquet 87-67 in the first round. So, the Lumberjacks assumed the favorite’s role. The final was a see-saw affair: Marshall led 22-21 at the quarter, but it was tied at 43-all at halftime. Early in the fourth quarter, Marshall took the largest lead of the night at 66-59. A pair of Dave Meisner field goals gave Cloquet the lead again at 70-69 and then extended it to 72-69 with 1:42 remaining. A basket by Marshall’s John Nefstead brought the Tigers within 74-73 with 51 seconds left. With 15 seconds remaining, Marshall’s Sandy Johnson sank two free throws for the Marshall win. The outcome confirmed how difficult it is for a run-and-gun team to win three straight state tournament games. Lynd couldn’t do it in 1946, Wabasso couldn’t do it in 1997, and Cloquet couldn’t do it in 1963. And, for the second straight year, missed free throws were crucial to the result. Cloquet made just 16-of-28 (.571) while Marshall was making 15-of-22 (.682).
|Lynd 58, Crosby-Ironton 47 -- 1946 Quarterfinal|
Most Minnesota basketball fans had never seen a modern fast-break. Lynd took everyone — especially the number-one rated Crosby-Ironton Rangers — completely by surprise. Lynd ran on every possession and forced the Rangers to take three timeouts in the first period just to catch their breath. As the C-I players sat, resting, Lynd players were "standing there waiting to run some more." Jim Malosky, Crosby-Ironton’s star, thought that Lynd would "peter out" in the second half. Instead, he said, they were running faster at the end than at the start of the game, despite the fact that coach Chet Bisel used only one substitute the entire game, proving, as center Duane Londgren said, "We never get tired." The final score was 58-47, and one sportswriter called it "the greatest game ever played in the Minnesota state tournament."
|Buffalo 67, Robbinsdale Armstrong 65 -- 2007 Class AAAA Championship|
There are no real Cinderella stories anymore because everybody plays schools of roughly their same size. So it was that 12,861 fans — the second most to see any state tournament session in the four-class era — found their way into Target Center for championship Saturday night 2007 to see the closest thing to a Cinderella that they’re likely to see, the big school from the small town, the Buffalo Bison. The score was tied at 2, 4, 7, 9, 14, 16, 22, 40, 49, 52, 55, 57 and 65, although Armstrong somehow had fashioned a 38-28 lead with 14:30 to play. With the score tied at 55, a TV timeout intruded on the excitement. There was nothing for fans to do — including the partisans in the two end zones but also, amazingly, the unaffiliated in the reserved seats at sidecourt — but to rise and give both teams a standing ovation for the outstanding play. Buffalo roared back to lead 63-58, but Tom Knorr, Carter Biewen and Alex Rubin forged that 65-all tie at 0:18. That’s when Darrin Olmscheid drove into the lane and scored at 0:02.4 to bring the state title home to Buffalo.
OTHER NOTABLE GAMES
Hopkins 71, Eastview 60 (OT) -- 2005 Class AAAA Championsip
The 2005 Class AAAA final was already a classic before Blake Hoffarber’s famous shot. Alex White and Hoffarber traded three-point shots, the latter with 25 seconds left in regulation, to send it into a first overtime. Darrin Kent gave Eastview a 58-56 lead with an acrobatic put-back with just 2.5 seconds remaining in OT. But then Hoffarber happened.
Ellsworth 74, Cass Lake-Bena 73 -- 2007 Class A Championship
Ellsworth led by as many as 10 points in the first half, but Cass Lake-Bena battled back to lead 37-35 at the half. In the second half, Ellsworth led by as many as seven, but Cass Lake-Bena came back to lead 73-69 with 1:30 to play. Cody Schilling scored on a lay-up and then fed Aaron Van Der Stoep with just four seconds left to play. Van Der Stoep hit his 10th three-point basket of the day to win the Class A championship for Ellsworth.
Minneapolis North, 82 Osseo 73 (2OT) -- 2003 Class AAAA Championship
Osseo scored late in regulation and again in the first overtime to stay alive. North post James Davis took over in the second OT with two quick buckets, then a two-plus-one, and Osseo never again got closer than two points.
Blaine 60, Moorhead 56 (5OT) -- 1987 Class AA Championship
Never before had a tournament game gone more than three overtimes, but Moorhead scored at the end of regulation to force extra time and Blaine returned the favor at the end of the second OT. Finally, after four "careful,” ball control-oriented overtimes, Blaine coach Kenny Novak, Jr., told his team, "Let’s go after ‘em,” and the Bengals scored 10 points in the fifth OT to pull away.
Buhl 41, Minneapolis Edison 32 -- 1936 Quarterfinal
Edison was heavily favored to win the 1936 state title. Instead, Buhl shot 50 percent at a time when a field goal percentage of 20 was considered to be good.
Braham 60, Sibley East 59 (OT) -- 2010 Class AA Quarterfinal
Sibley East led Braham 49-29 with 6:01 to play when the Bombers went to full-court defensive pressure. The Wolverines turned the ball over on their next three possessions and Ben Thiry scored eight quick points to get Braham within 49-37. Sibley East then made just 2-of-9 free throws, and Thiry hit a three to force overtime. Again, Sibley East had the lead inside of a minute, but two free throws by Tyler Vaughan with just :03 on the clock were the difference.
Bird Island-Lake Lillian 78, Lake of the Woods 74 (2OT) -- 1980 Class A Championship
Barry Wohler made an 18-footer with 23 seconds left in regulation to force the first overtime. He and John Koller traded free throws inside of one minute to force the second. Wohler and John Clouse scored for Bird Island early in the second overtime, and Lake of the Woods never caught up. The final was 78-74 as Wohler scored 25 and Clouse 23 to offset Koller’s 33 points.
White Bear Lake 51, Minneapolis North 48 – 1984 Class AA Championship
White Bear Lake 67, Minneapolis North 62 -- 1985 Class AA Championship
Two undefeated teams had never before played in a boys’ state championship game. Then, in 1984 and 1985, both White Bear Lake and Minneapolis North came into the final with undefeated records. North was favored the first year, but the Bears narrowly defeated the Polars both years.