Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mankato East vs. Grand Rapids, Class AAA quarterfinals

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

LIVE CHAT: St. Peter vs. Plainview-Elgin-Millville, Class AA quarterfinals

LIVE CHAT: Mankato East vs. Grand Rapids, Class AAA quarterfinals

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Star-gazing at high-school basketball games

This is clearly the best time of the season for boys and girls basketball, with various playoff games bringing out the most dramatic performances by the top players.

On Monday night at Bresnan Arena, St. Peter and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown played a thrilling game of back-and-forth. The Saints took a shot early, the Bucs spent most of the game slowly getting back into the game and taking a 10-point lead in the final minutes, only to have St. Peter regain its mojo with an inspiring rally.

St. Peter's Joey Bartlett was clutch; he'll be attending Southwest Minnesota State in the fall. WEM's Grant Pope, who will walk on at Minnesota State, was his usual pesky self, making six steals that nearly propelled the underdog Bucs to a victory.

The second game between United South Central and Hayfield wasn't artistic, but you see what Winona State was looking at when they signed USC's Kyle Bauman. The 6-7 Bauman has a nice touch on a mid-range jumper, and he rebounds well.

On Wednesday, sophomore Carlie Wagner will lead New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva into the girls basketball state tournament. Though so young, she's already got the program scoring record and the eye of Division I coaches, who will also be present watching Braham's Rebekah Dahlman in the quarterfinal game.

Dahlman is averaging 35.5 points, Wagner is at 28.1 points. It should be a good team and individual matchup.

Come Thursday, the Mankato East boys will be looking to end a six-year absence from the state tournament. Waconia is a tough opponent, but East center Brody Ziegler, rumored to be headed to Gustavus Adolphus, leads a senior-dominated crew who will be trying to extend this memorable season.

At the end of every season, I try to take a few moments to reflect, and while I've usually seen quite a few entertaining games, it's usually the players that get remembered. This season, it's no different.

If you've spent any time watching the local boys and girls basketball playoffs, you've seen some impressive talent.

Monday, March 5, 2012

MSU women rewarded with tournament berth

The Minnesota State women's basketball team gathered in the Johnson Alumni late Sunday night to watch the NCAA selection show, and it didn't take long for the Mavericks to discover their fate.

Minnesota State was one of the first schools shown on the brackets, producing a small cheer from the players. Soon, it was obvious that the Mavericks would be facing powerful Wayne State for the fourth time, second time at Wayne.

The program's seniors Jennie Noreen and Laura Weber had to feel some satisfaction in helping the team get back into the national tournament. Both were reserves on the historic 2009 team that won the national championship, and both had survived the struggles of the last two seasons.

This season started with four nonconference wins against lesser competition, then losses at Wayne State and Augustana, correctly predicted to be the top two teams in the Northern Sun. Ali Wilkinson the team's best player, suffered a season-ending injury that seemed likely to torpedo another season.

But the Mavericks gained some momentum through eight straight wins, and it seemed probable that this team would be a threat in the conference and region. However, the Mavericks struggled over the last month, winning some key games just to get into the Northern Sun tournament.

The Mavericks will be decided underdogs at Wayne State on Friday, but last Saturday, the Mavericks had a good game plan in the loss to Wayne State, excpet for the 20-percent shooting.

Wayne State is the better team, but it wouldn't be as big of a shock here as it would be at Wayne State if the Mavericks pull the upset.