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Hopkins, Osseo Advance to 4A State Title Game
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/15/2012 9:01:13 PM

Click here to read about the victories by Hopkins and Osseo

A Toothy Smile And Love For Her Teammates
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/15/2012 6:30:14 PM

Fergus Falls senior Haylie Zenner was emotional after the Otters lost to DeLaSalle in Thursday’s Class 3A state basketball semifinals at Target Center, but she still managed to flash a smile … despite a missing front tooth.

The tooth was knocked out in the second game of the season, when a player from Providence Academy swung an elbow that landed on Haylie’s face.

“I know, right?,” Hayle said with a smile as we chatted outside the locker room. “It fits my personality, to be honest.”

She’s right about that. I have interviewed Haylie several times, usually during the track season, and she is a real treat. She also is one of the top runners in Minnesota history, winning state championships in the 800 meters as an eighth-grader, ninth-grader and junior (she was the state runner-up as a sophomore).

She has one more track season left before she begins her collegiate running career at the University of Minnesota. But first, she will play her final basketball game against Hutchinson on Saturday at Concordia University in St. Paul. The winning team will take home a third-place trophy.

“It’s going to be fun,” said Haylie (she is No. 30 in this photo). “We’re going to bring some heart, play for the lord, give it all we’ve got. If we play together and win together, it’s going to be so much more than just a third-place title. It’s going to be super fun.”

Track is an individual sport and basketball is a team sport, so I asked Haylie about the differences.

“Oh my gosh,” she said. “First my girls; I might cry because I’m so proud of them. We are a team and we’re all friends off and on the court. We get along so well, track included. But basketball’s so different. Basketball has something special that I’ve been blessed to be a part of. And these girls are all amazing athletes.

“In basketball it’s a whole different level of, like, love and team spirit and togetherness; in school, after school, sleepovers, all that jazz. It’s definitely really fun. I absolutely love this.”


When Ada-Borup meets Mountain Iron-Buhl Friday in the Class 1A semifinals, a familiar coach will be on the Ada-Borup sideline. David Smart coached the Cougars to state appearances in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 (including state titles in 2008 and 2009) before resigning as coach in order to watch his two daughters play college basketball. He intended to remain a non-coach, but he only stayed away for one year.

When he stepped down, his daughter Kelli was playing at Mayville (N.D.) State and Nicole was at North Dakota. Kelli has now finished her college career and Nicole is a junior.

“I chased Nicole and Kelli around for a year and had every intention to stay out,” David Smart said. But school officials wanted him back.

“They said, ‘What would it take to get you back?’ I said I didn’t want to miss my kids’ games. And they said, ‘How about if we let you go to your kids’ games whenever you want to go?’ That intrigued me and conversations went back and forth.”

Smart has been able to watch most of his daughters’ games, but he was too busy with the state tournament Thursday and unable to get to Seattle, where North Dakota played at Seattle University in the Women’s Basketball Invitational.


Richfield coach LeeAnn Wise is not just a basketball coach, she’s also the principal at Centennial Elementary in Richfield. When the Spartans defeated Red Wing in the Class 3A quarterfinals Wednesday at Williams Arena, the place was packed with kids from the high school, the coach’s school and tons of other fans. In fact, 40 buses were needed to transport Spartans fans.

The outing was treated like a field trip. Students from each classroom wore matching t-shirts, so teachers and staff could keep track of them. They cheered wildly for the Spartans and for Mrs. Wise.

Two field trips in two days was a stretch, so the Centennial students were unable to go to Target Center on Friday for Richfield’s semifinal game against Hutchinson. But the students still had a fun day: A big-screen television was placed in the school gym, a popcorn popper was brought in for the occasion, and the kids cheered for the Spartans just like they were at the game. And the Spartans won 45-28 to advance to Saturday’s 6 p.m. state championship game against DeLaSalle.


Nick Wagner, a student at Ada-Borup, is a member of the MSHSL Student Sports Information Directors program. When I joined the MSHSL staff, I started the program as a way to give students opportunities to gain journalism experience.

Nick is one of many outstanding students who are involved in the program. He is skilled and learning more every day. He is the go-to media person for coverage of activities at Ada-Borup and his horizons are expanding. He also is making some money as a journalist; the Fargo Forum hired him as a freelancer to shoot photos and write about Ada-Borup’s state tournament appearance.

Once the winter state tournaments have been completed, Nick and several other members of the Student SID program will join me for a trip to a Timberwolves game. The students will receive media credentials, sit in media seats at Target Center, chat with media professionals and have a great experience.


--Ada-Borup junior Megan Kolness was absolutely perfect in the Cougars’ 67-63 victory over Minneota in the 1A quarterfinals at Williams Arena. Kolness was 7-for-7 from the floor, including 4-for-4 from three-point range, and she made all seven of her free throws for a team-high 25 points.


--“Could I get the password for the (wireless network) please?” That Tweet came to me from a media member who was trying to get online at Target Center. I was happy to provide him with the password … from my courtside seat at Williams Arena.


--The first pep band songs of the day were “Crazy Train” by the Sleepy Eye Symphony Orchestra, followed by the Mountain Iron-Buhl band knocking out “Smoke on the Water.” Mighty fine.

--The Ada-Borup band, which has a unique sound that is unlike any other, put on a great show at Williams Arena. Years ago at a state tournament, I handed band director Richard Tuttle one of my business cards. I had written on it “Best band ever.” I have since visited the band room in Ada and I always look forward to seeing the students perform. Tuttle told me Thursday that he still has that old business card.

--During the evening session at Williams Arena, the Hopkins Orchestra played Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” about as well as it can be played.


--Every so often a friendly person will hand me a Diet Coke. Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch sports writer Josh Doughty did just that Thursday morning at Williams Arena, starting my day out right.

--Thursday marked my second anniversary as an employee of the MSHSL. Very cool deal.

--Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 6 for the tournament, 56 for the winter tournaments.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 425
*Miles John has driven: 6,826

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn

Welcome To The Big Stage, Carlie Wagner and NRHEG
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/14/2012 3:13:13 PM

Since late January, I have been telling people to get ready to see the next wave of big-time talent strike Minnesota high school girls basketball. My eyes were opened on Jan. 28 when I ventured to Carleton College in Northfield to watch a game between teams ranked No. 2 in Class 2A and No. 2 in Class 1A.

The 2A team was New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva, also known as NRHEG. That day in Northfield, the Panthers beat 1A No. 2 Goodhue 76-67 with a blonde, 5-foot-10 sophomore named Carlie Wagner (pictured here) scoring a career-high and school-record 39 points.

Which brings us to Wednesday’s 2A state tournament quarterfinal game at Target Center between NRHEG and Braham. Much of the pregame hype was centered on Braham junior Rebekah Dahlman, and rightfully so. She came into the game needing only 23 points to set a new girls basketball career scoring record. That mark of 3,888 points was set in 2009 by Tayler Hill of Minneapolis South.

And Dahlman indeed broke the record, scoring 29 points to push her career total to 3,895. Rebekah has another season to go at Braham, so that record will be into the stratosphere a year from now.

But the biggest story from the game was twofold: NRHEG knocked off the defending state champs from Braham 75-45 and Wagner scored 43 points. The state tournament single-game scoring record is 47, and Wagner came awfully close before coach John Schultz put in reserves and Carlie went to the bench with 90 seconds to play.

Late in the game, the score was NRHEG 64, Braham 39 … and Wagner had 39 points.

As the media waited outside the NRHEG locker room, the players began filing out and Carlie was trying to sneak past the reporters. But pretty quickly people began saying, “Carlie! Carlie!” She smiled, turned around and said, “Oh crap.”

Get used to it, young lady. University of Minnesota coach Pam Borton – who would love to have Dahlman and Wagner on her team -- watched the game from a floor-level seat just off one corner of the court. Borton, in fact, was in the NRHEG gym to watch the team’s first practice this season.

The state quarterfinal games are not televised or webcast. But the semifinals and finals are. The Panthers will meet Sauk Centre in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday. It would be worth tuning in.


If there is a first family of winter sports in Minnesota, it might be the Thorns of St. Michael-Albertville. When senior Christine Thorn scored a game-high 19 points in the Knights’55-41 loss to Eastview in Wednesday’s Class 4A girls state basketball semifinals at Target Center, it marked the 29th state tournament appearance for the Thorn kids.

If you follow wrestling, you already know the name. Christine’s brothers Michael, David and Tommy (the first two have graduated and Tommy is a sophomore) all have won state wrestling championships. Christine (pictured here) has now played in two state basketball tournaments and has also participated in the state cross-country and track meets.

Here’s the rundown on the Thorn family’s trips to state…

--Michael four individual state wrestling appearances (three championships) and four team appearances (three championships).

--David: four individual state wrestling appearances (four championships) and five team appearances (three championships).

--Christine: One individual state appearances in cross-country, one in track, three trips to state basketball tournament (one state championship) and two appearances in state cross country.

--Tommy: two individual state wrestling appearances (two championships) and three team appearances.

I asked Christine, the only girl among the children, if she had ever wrestled. She smiled and said, “I asked my dad when I was in kindergarten and he said no.”

Conversely, her brothers have played basketball only on the driveway.

Christine, who played on the Knights’ 2009 3A state championship basketball team, was downcast after Wednesday’s loss but grateful for the experience.

“I’ve grown up with all these girls, and over the season we came to be such a close family,” she said. “Honestly, there’s nobody else I’d rather be sharing these experiences with. As much as this hurts, this last game, there’s nobody else I’d want to be here with.””


The big news for Vikings fans Wednesday came when free-agent tight end John Carlson, a 2003 graduate of Litchfield High School, signed with the team.

Reading that news while sitting at the state basketball tournament brought back memories of when Carlson was a high school basketball star. He played football at Notre Dame and spent the last three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.

Here is an item I wrote for the Minneapolis Star Tribune on March 23, 2003…

The most poignant moment after Litchfield's victory over DeLaSalle in Saturday's Class 2A title game came when John Carlson and John Carlson - coach and player, father and son - shared a teary-eyed embrace. The 51-33 victory was Litchfield's third state title in four years, and young John Carlson was a part of them all. He is headed to Notre Dame on a football scholarship, so Saturday's game was the final time he was coached by his dad.

"That was the toughest part, being done," the son said. "It's been unbelievable, the last four years. I can't describe how much fun it's been."

Coach Carlson said his son - one of five senior starters for the Dragons - has accomplished everything a high school athlete could, and it's time for him to move on.

"I'm just excited for him, because he's really done everything he can here," he said. "When he was a freshman and we won the state in 2000, he was our big guy and he was a good big guy. He continued to be our big guy for four years. You're hoping seniors at about this time of the year are ready to move on to college, and he's ready. And so are his teammates."


--The Eastview band was outstanding. My favorites were the Mighty Mighty Bosstones song “The Impression That I Get” (the Osseo band played the same tune very well later in the day) and the Kansas classic “Carry on My Wayward Son.”

--The Edina band performed a very fine rendition of “Hot Stuff,” which was made famous by Donna Summer in 1979.


--“Fergus Falls pep band is the best around, and it’s not close!” That didn’t come from a fan in the stands at Williams Arena, but from one of the coaches. Minnehaha Academy coach Josh Thurow sent me that Tweet while watching Fergus Falls play Chisago Lakes in 3A and waiting for his team to meet Providence Academy in 2A.

--Diet Coke Count: 2 for the day, 2 for the tournament, 51 for the winter tournaments.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 417
*Miles John has driven: 6,801

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn

Minneapolis Is Home To Hoops And History This Week
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/14/2012 11:22:12 AM

Hello from downtown Minneapolis. We have shifted to the west this week, moving from the boys state hockey tournament in St. Paul to the girls state basketball tournament in Minneapolis.

This is a very busy Wednesday, with six games played at Target Center and six others at Williams Arena. I am stationed courtside at Target Center today, but tomorrow I will be hopscotching a little between the two sites.

Today’s games at Target Center are the four Class 4A quarterfinals, followed by two Class 2A quarterfinals. At Williams Arena, the focus is on four 3A quarterfinals and the other two 2A games. The Class 1A quarterfinals will be played Thursday at Williams Arena, with the 3A and 4A semifinals at Target Center.

Friday will see the 1A and 2A semifinals at Target Center, and Championship Saturday will feature all four state title games here at Target Center.

This is the 100th year for boys state basketball tournaments in Minnesota, and we are celebrating both boys and girls tourney history. If you’re coming to Target Center, be sure to visit the Skyway level of the arena, where a large display of historical items can be seen. It’s very cool stuff.

And away we go!

--Diet Coke Count: 0 for the day, 0 for the tournament, 49 for the winter tournaments.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 417
*Miles John has driven: 6,801

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn

Sportsmanship, Friendship Trump Winning And Losing
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/12/2012 2:24:27 PM

Basketball player Mackenzie Gerber of Worthington High School is pictured here assisting Tara Roelofs of Lake Crystal-Welcomme Memorial after Tara was injured during Friday's Section 3AA championship game in Marshall.

Mackenzie's mother, Julie Gerber, provided the photo and sent along this note…

"My daughter Mackenzie played AAU two years ago with Tara Roelofs. Tara tore her ACL about a month ago during a regular-season game. She was able to play the section playoff games wearing a brace. During the section final game she injured her knee again, she went down and tried to get up but could not so she was helped off of the court. My daughter Mackenzie rushed over to her and assisted her coach in getting her off of the court. I posted this picture on Facebook stating 'My daughter's character never ceases to amaze me.' I have had so many people comment and like this picture and several post on how impressed they were by this."

That is sportsmanship at its finest! Well done!

Mackenzie and her Worthington teammates will meet Sauk Centre in the Class 2A state tournament quarterfinals Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Target Center.

The girls state tourney will begin Wednesday with games at Target Center and Williams Arena. One of the most anticipated quarterfinal games is in Class 2A, with Braham (29-1) and New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva (30-0) meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Target Center.

Braham is led by junior Rebekah Dahlmann (who averages 35 points per game) and NRHEG’s star is sophomore Carlie Wagner (28).

Here’s the quarterfinal schedule for all four classes…

Class 1A
Thursday at Williams Arena
Mountain Iron-Buhl (29-1) vs. Sleepy Eye (19-10), 11 a.m.
Ada-Borup (26-2) vs. Minneota (29-1), 1 p.m.
Isle (25-5) vs. Maranatha Christian (25-5), 3 p.m.
Warren-Alvarado-Olso (26-4) vs. Spring Grove (27-3), 5 p.m.

Class 2A
Wednesday at Target Center
Braham (29-1) vs. New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva (30-0), 6 p.m.
Sauk Centre (25-4) vs. Worthington (20-7), 8 p.m.
Wednesday at Williams Arena
Providence Academy (24-4) vs. Minnehaha Academy (20-8), 6 p.m.
Pequot Lakes (19-11) vs. Zumbrota-Mazeppa (17-11), 8 p.m.

Class 3A
Wednesday at Williams Arena
#1 seed Richfield (25-4) vs. Red Wing (19-10), 10 a.m.
#4 seed Hill-Murray (22-7) vs. Hutchinson (25-3), noon
#2 seed Fergus Falls (28-1) vs. Chisago Lakes (24-5), 2 p.m.
#3 seed DeLaSalle (25-3) vs. Monticello (17-12), 4 p.m.

Class 4A Pairings
Wednesday at Target Center
#1 seed Hopkins (28-1) vs. Lakeville North (21-8), 10 a.m.
#4 seed Eastview (24-5) vs. St. Michael-Albertville (22-7), noon
#2 seed Edina (25-4) vs. Duluth East (22-5), 2 p.m.
#3 seed White Bear Lake (23-6) vs. Osseo (24-5), 4 p.m.

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