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Feb. 5: Here's What's Happening

Posted: Friday, February 5, 2021 - 7:41 PM

State tournaments are set

The MSHSL board of directors has formally approved plans for winter state tournaments, which is great news.

The biggest changes are in hockey and basketball, with girls and boys state tournaments being held at the same time instead of separate weeks. Their venues will be Xcel Energy Center for hockey and Target Center for basketball. State basketball quarterfinals will be held at other sites, around the state and the metro, with state semifinals and championship games the following week.

G/B hockey

Quarterfinals March 26-27 (girls), March 30-31 (boys), semis/finals April 1-2-3

Quarterfinals/semis/finals at Xcel Energy Center

G/B basketball

Quarterfinals March 30-31, semifinals April 6-7-8, finals April 9-10

Quarterfinals at various sites, semis/finals at Target Center

There are some venue changes for other state tournaments; gymnastics will be at Champlin Park High School, dance at Edina High School and wrestling will be held at three high schools to be named later.

Milestone at Hopkins

Ken Novak Jr. of Hopkins on Tuesday became the third boys basketball in state history to win 900 games. The Royals won at Chaska 59-54 in overtime. Novak, who is in his 39th season as a high school coach, joins Bob McDonald of Chisholm (1,012 victories) and Bob Brink of Rocori (936). Novak has a 900-158 career record and a .851 winning percentage.

I wrote about Ken a few days before Tuesday’s game, focusing on the relationship between him and his dad, Ken Novak Sr. Ken Sr. is 91 years and in failing health, and it’s strange to attend a Hopkins game and not see him on the bench. Ken Jr. played at Hopkins Lindbergh when Senior was the coach there, including a state tournament team in 1974 when Junior was a senior.

Very classy move by Chaska, with a PA announcement that Novak is now third boys basketball coach in Minnesota history with 900 wins, followed by a standing ovation by fans and teams from both schools.

Thank A Ref

Greg Snow, who lives in Olivia, was enjoying some postgame downtime with fellow officials Rick Marks and Brian Fredrick; they are members of the Western Minnesota Officials Association. They were dining at a restaurant in Willmar after working a basketball game there, and another group paid their check, telling them, “Reffing’s a thankless job, so thank you.” Greg said that was the first time in his 20-year officiating career that happened.

Congrats to Lisa

MSHSL associate director Lisa Lissimore has been selected as the 2021 NFHS Citation recipient for Section 5, representing ND, SD, NE, KS, MO and MN. Lisa has been with the MSHSL since 1988, making her the longest-serving member of the staff. Lisa was a standout athlete at St. Paul Central High School, where she was part of the first Minnesota girls basketball state championship team. Only eight people are honored with this award each year, so this is a big deal.

Highlighting the good stuff

Star Tribune sports columnist Chip Scoggins wrote about two great things that happened in St. Charles and Pine City. Back on Jan. 21, contact tracing from exposure to COVID-19 forced the St. Charles boys varsity basketball team, including every coach, to quarantine for 14 days. A few players weren't required to quarantine because they tested positive for COVID in November. Senior Harper Schaber and junior Noah Disbrow were in that group.

The JV and freshman teams had players available but no coaches, so Harper and Noah filled that role, running practices, dressing like coaches and doing everything to fill the gap.

Also, Pine City hosted Duluth Marshall in girls basketball with Marshall’s Gianna Kneepkens on the brink of becoming the 21st player in state history with 3,000 points. Because of spectator limits, her parents were not going to be able to watch the game in person. But they found a way, with mom and dad traveling with the team and being allowed into the gym as part of the staff.

--Windom girls basketball seniors Allison Letcher and Delaney Smith each hit the 1,000 point milestone, just two possessions apart, on Tuesday night.

--This week’s MVT is Trent Bowe from the Mound Westonka boys hockey team.


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