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John's Journal: Thousands Of Reasons To Celebrate For Goodhue

Fans Erupt As Wildcats’ Gadient Becomes Second In School History With 2,000 Points

Posted: Friday, March 15, 2024 - 6:27 PM


Goodhue teammates embrace Elisabeth Gadient (25) as fans celebrate her 2,000th career point.


Elisabeth Gadient.

When Goodhue senior Elisabeth Gadient scored two of her team-leading 22 points in the second half of the Wildcats’ 63-53 win over Underwood in the Class A girls basketball state semifinals Friday at Williams Arena, the Goodhue fans – who obviously are very good at math -- were ready. It seemed like almost everyone in the crowd immediately held up identical signs with a simple message: “2000”

Gadient became the second girls basketball player in school history to reach 2,000 points. The first was 2014 graduate Makayla Miller.

Elisabeth wasn’t tracking her career points, but when she hit the shot and the signs went up she realized what was happening as her teammates surrounded her.

“I knew I was close,” she said. “I didn't know how close but it was a goal I wanted to reach for sure.”

Goodhue coach Josh Wieme joked about the points margin between Miller and Gadient; the Wildcats will meet Mountain Iron-Buhl for the state title Saturday.

“Liz is going to need about 300 points tomorrow to catch her,” he said, looking at Gadient and smiling. “You are more than welcome to go for it, Liz.”

Gadient is one of two players in the state tournament who will continue their basketball careers at Minnesota State Mankato. The other is St. Peter’s Rhyan Holmgren, another 2,000-point scorer.

Win The Game, Hit The Road

Jeff Buffetta was ready to get on the highway right away after the Mountain Iron-Buhl girls basketball team he coaches defeated Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart 69-50 on Friday. The Rangers will play in Saturday’s noon title game against Goodhue, but Buffetta had another game to coach in between.

Because he’s also the head coach of the MIB boys team, he needed to get to Hibbing – a three-hour drive from Williams Arena – where the boys were facing Cherry in the Class A Section 7 title game. That game was originally scheduled for a 7 p.m. start but it was moved to 7:30 allow Buffeta more time.

The girls game ended at 3:41 p.m., and Buffetta huddled with the team briefly on the court before jumping in a vehicle driven by his brother Brian.

Understandably, he missed the postgame news conference, with assistant coach Dawn Savela handling that duty.

In the postgame huddle, “He said that he's super proud of us and he actually teared up a little bit, and he said that he has another game to go to,” said senior Hali Savela.

Senior Jordan Zubich, who led the Rangers with 31 points and will continue her basketball career at the University of North Carolina, said, “I think he's kind of taking it super hard, like his brain went to, ‘What if you guys lose and the seniors are just really upset,’ and he doesn't really have time to be there for us. But luckily that’s not what happened.

“I mean, it's the price he pays for being a little bit crazy, coaching both teams, but obviously both programs have been super successful this year, so it's worth it.”

Cherry defeated the MIB boys 99-55, sending the Tigers to state for the third year in a row.

--Goodhue and Mountain Iron-Buhl are very familiar with the state tournament, and neither team is surprised to see the other in the championship game. They faced off in the 2017 title game, with Goodhue winning 73-51. In the 2019 state quarterfinals Goodhue defeated MIB 50-48.

Mountain Iron-Buhl is the defending state champion and both teams have been frequent tournament participants. Goodhue has played at state nine times since 1996, winning titles in 2016 and 2017 and finishing second in 2010 and 2019. MIB has been at state 13 times since 1994, finishing as state runner-up in 2012 and 2017 and winning it all last year.

Don’t Underestimate Underwood

For some teams, getting to state becomes seemingly routine. It’s always exciting, however, when new teams reach the big stage. Underwood had played at the girls state basketball tournament in 2004 and 2005 and finally made it back a year ago.

The Rockets lost to Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa in the 2023 quarterfinals at Maturi Pavilion before defeating Minneota and Badger/Greenbush-Middle River in the consolation bracket at Concordia University in St. Paul. When Underwood returned to state this year, they took another big step forward by reaching the semifinals, where they lost to Goodhue in their first game at Williams Arena.

“It’s our first time here and before the game we talked about enjoying the experience,” Rockets coach Brian Hovland said. “I told them how it's going to be when you walk out there, we talked about all that stuff. … And even at the last timeout, when we were down by eight or whatever, I said, ‘Keep your chins up. There are only four Class A teams that get to play on this floor. It's a great accomplishment for us.”

Junior Kallyn Grove said, “We knew it was going to be loud and there were going to be a lot of people and cameras. But it was pretty amazing.”

“It was one of our goals,” said senior Elizabeth Lukken, who had a game-high 24 points and nine rebounds. “We wanted to get here so we could play in Williams Arena.”

Mission accomplished.

The Champions League

The Hiawatha Valley League in southeast Minnesota is unique in that the schools in the conference are in three different classes. Three HVL girls basketball teams made it to state this year … in three different classes.

--In Class 1A, Goodhue will meet Mountain Iron-Buhl in Saturday’s championship game at Williams Arena.

--In Class 2A, Rochester Lourdes defeated New London-Spicer 45-38 in Friday’s fifth-place game at Concordia University in St. Paul.

--In Class 3A, Stewartville will play Alexandria in the third-place game at 2 p.m. Saturday at Concordia.

--MSHSL senior content creator John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at [email protected] 

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Girls Basketball State Tournament 2024: Consolation Day 2