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John's Journal: The Toughest Player In The State Tournament

Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa’s Roering Returns Despite Injured Knee

Posted: Friday, March 17, 2023 - 5:47 PM


Mountain Iron-Buhl bench players watch free throws (Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa’s Harley Roering is in blue at right).

Reporters gathered in the interview room after the first Class 1A girls basketball state semifinal Friday at Williams Arena, where the team from Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa would be first to meet with the media. The fifth-seeded Jaguars had led by 11 points with less than 12 minutes to play before falling to top-seeded Mountain Iron-Buhl 61-57.

One reporter asked another, “Do you know why number 25 for BBE didn’t play yesterday?” At that moment, BBE coach Kris Anderson and three players walked into the room.

Number 25 is senior Harley Roering. She had indeed not played in the Jaguars’ 60-44 quarterfinal win over Underwood on Thursday at Maturi Pavilion. But in Friday’s game, Harley came up big off the bench, playing more than 13 minutes, hitting four of five three-point shots and scoring 12 points.

Before any questions were asked, Anderson sat down and got right to the point as tears came to her eyes. “I'd like to start first with Harley,” she said, looking at number 25, who was seated at the other end of the table, with teammates Allison Dingmann and Abby Berge between her and the coach.

Kris talked about Harley’s toughness, about how she suffered a torn ACL in her left knee – for the second time in less than two years – more than a month ago. How she had not played since that injury on Feb. 3 in a game against Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City. And how earlier in the week, still hobbled and knowing her knee will require TWO surgeries in the coming months, Harley came to the coach and said, “I want to try to play.”

“This girl hasn't practiced in three, four weeks,” the coach said. “And on Monday, she said, ‘Hey, Coach, they said I can play.’ I honestly thought she was kidding.”

Harley was not kidding. She came to practice, got loose and began moving around the court. The coach thought, “Gee, she looks pretty good.”

Harlee originally injured the knee in May 2021 and had surgery in July that year. She will go back to the operating room in early April for a bone graft procedure to prepare for a later surgery, she’ll wear a brace for four to six months and then have that second surgery … or third, depending on how you look at it.

“For her to step on this court today with her teammates, and hit four threes,” said Anderson. “That was one of the coolest moments I've had as a coach.”

Harley wore a brace on her knee Friday. Asked why she hadn’t played in the quarterfinals, she smiled and said, “They didn't need me. The team was doing just fine.”

Anderson added, “She’s one of the toughest kids I've ever coached. Did you see that today? It was pretty cool.”

Mountain Iron-Buhl had defeated Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa 84-62 on Dec. 29. That loss gave BBE a record of 2-2; they will take a 26-5 mark into Saturday’s third-place game against Hayfield at Concordia University in St. Paul.

Even when trailing by a good margin Friday, the Rangers of Mountain Iron-Buhl stuck to their game plan.

“The message was just to stay calm,” MIB coach Jeff Buffetta said. “We have enough experience on this team and in the last 11 minutes we basically went with our experienced five and just took it one possession at a time. We told them to be disciplined on defense and get after it and if you do that, you're going to give yourself a chance. And these guys knew all along that they had a chance and they just kept after it.”

Mountain Iron-Buhl is one win away from its first state title in girls basketball; they finished as state runner-up in 2012 and 2017. They will meet BOLD on Saturday at noon at Williams Arena.

“I feel like this is everything that we've worked for all year,” said MIB junior Hali Savela before being interrupted by teammate Sage Ganyo, who interjected, “… our whole lives.”

Sage added, “We want to win a state title. This is our dream. So we're going to give it our all.”

BOLD Holds Off Hayfield

A stout defense by BOLD held Hayfield to 36.7-percent shooting as the Warriors advanced to the Class 1A title game with a 58-46 win. BOLD will be making its first appearance in a state championship game.

Bold, the third-seeded team, led 33-28 at halftime over second-seeded Hayfield. The Vikings made only seven of 20 field-goal attempts in the second half under the pressure defense of the Warriors. Hayfield’s only lead in the game was 1-0.

“Hayfield is a very nice basketball team,” said BOLD coach Brian Kingery. “They’ve got a couple of really good players and one of our big goals was to try to shut down 25 (Natalie Beaver) and 3 (Kristen Watson) because they're very good basketball players. And our girls were up to the task today.”

Beaver, who finished with two points, was weakened by illness but made no excuses. “I had a little bit of energy but I definitely got more tired faster,” she said after playing only 10 minutes of the 36-minute game. Watson was held to three points in 35 minutes. In Thursday’s quarterfinals, Beaver scored 31 points and Watson had 10 in a 63-58 win over Badger/Greenbush-Middle River.

Class 2A girls basketball semifinals

Providence Academy 83, Minnehaha Academy 63

Ninth-grader Maddyn Greenway led the defending state champion Lions with 35 points and Grace Counts added 20 points and 14 rebounds. For Minnehaha Academy, Addison Mack had 19 points.

Albany 48, Goodhue 45

The Albany Huskies earned the right to play for their fifth state title, edging Goodhue in Friday’s final game. Albany owns four state championships (1980, 1983, 2008 and 2021) and was the state runner-up in 1979 and 2007.

Tatum Findley had 13 points for Albany and Kylan Gerards had 12. The Huskies made one fewer field goal than the Wildcats, but went 6-for-11 from three-point range as well as the free throw line. 

Kendyl Lodermeier led Goodhue with 19 points and Jada Scheele added 14. Goodhue won state titles in 2016 and 2017 and was the state runner-up in 2010 and 2019.

--MSHSL media specialist 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, Class AA semifinals: Providence Academy 83, Minnehaha Academy 63