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.

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