Talented girls basketball teams provide state tournament excitement

By : 
Bill Bentson
Wheelin' With WEB

Here’s the big question this week. Do you use water or milk to make your tomato soup? Growing up, I’m positive that my mother used water, and of course a can of Campbell’s soup. When she made homemade tomato soup, with real tomatoes, she would use milk. I wasn’t a real fan of the homemade stuff. My wife, Carol, grew up on a dairy farm in South Dakota. You know they NEVER used water. It was always fresh-from-the-cow milk.

It’s not a real controversy in our house, but if I make the tomato soup, it’s with water. If my wife makes the soup, it’s with milk. But now I’ve noticed that my wife is using two pans to make the soup, one using water and one using milk. So, if there was a problem, it has now been solved!           

This past Monday, my wife and I headed down to Grove City to visit our daughter Roberta’s family. Payton is a ninth grader and had a band concert Monday night. We took in the concert and then Tuesday I headed to St. Michael to spend a few days with daughter Jacquie, and of course, take in the state girls’ basketball tournament.

Neither of the Gopher basketball teams, men’s or women’s, are hosting any post-season tournaments, so “The Barn” (Williams Arena) is available for full-time play. And, they’re using Maturi Pavilion for games, which is attached to Williams Arena. It makes for a nice set-up. The first day I saw 24 different teams play, just by walking back and forth between the Maturi building and Williams Arena.

On Thursday, the Class A games were played in Maturi, while the semi-finals for AAAA and AAA were going on at Williams Arena. They’re still using Concordia University, St. Paul, for the consolation games and the third-place games.

I’ll have all the first-round results for the AA, AAA and AAAA games in the upcoming girls basketball segment. I know, of course, that by the time you read this article, all the results for all the contests will be done.

John Millea, of John’s Journal fame, had a nice piece this past Wednesday-Thursday, on a gal from Marshall High School. That’s Marshall, Minn., as opposed to Rochester John Marshall, or Marshall School in Duluth.

Kaia Sueker is a senior at Marshall High School and is making her tenth trip to a state tournament. Sueker is a rare, four-sport, athlete, competing in volleyball and cross-country in the fall, basketball in the winter and track and field in the spring. Millea asked head girls’ basketball coach Dan Westby, “Have you had any other athletes like Kaia Sueker in your coaching career?” The answer, like the question, was very straightforward, “No, no, no.”

Millea continues, Kaia, a 5-foot-5 senior is a rarity for several reasons. She’s a four-sport athlete, which we’ve already mentioned; she plays the marimba in the school band and violin in the school orchestra; and, she’s been involved in so many other school clubs and events that it is hard to keep track. “I don’t know where she gets the energy,” said Westby.

We could add to the state-tournament trips if you include her trip to the state basketball tournament as a manager back when she was an eighth grader and we’re not counting out a future trip to another state track meet this spring. “She’s quite a kid,” added Westby.

Kaia will be attending the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D., this coming fall and will be running cross-country and track.

I think all of us have had a “Kaia Sueker” in our schools, that rare student-athlete that will be nearly impossible to replace. Congratulations, Kaia, and thanks, John and Wes, for this great story.

Girls basketball

I put together some information on our state entrants for this year. I showed how the different teams were ranked from several different sources: Minnesota Basketball News (MBBN); Minnesota-scores (QRF) and the state-entrant coaches. The rankings are how they compare to each other, just the eight teams, not their actual ranking from the different sources.

Class A

Section. Team             MBBN  QRF     State     Section

                                                         Tour.    seed

1. Goodhue                 2          3          2          2

2. BOLD                    7          7          6-8        1N

3. Minneota                 1          5          1          1N

4. Heritage Chr                        5          1          4          1

5. Menahga                 3          4          3          1N

6. Ada-Borup,West       4          6          5          2N

7. Mt. Iron-Buhl          6          2          6-8        2

8. Red Lake                 8          8          6-8        1E

I know the tournament will be over, but look at the rankings, and see if the pundits got it right. I see Minneota and Goodhue as the teams to beat, with Heritage Christian and Menahga “standing in the wings.” Keep in mind that Class A teams generally don’t play each other as much as the AAA and AAAA teams do, so ranking teams is a lot harder. Many times they don’t even have common opponents. Ada-Borup/West is making its third straight trip to the state, so they do have state-tournament experience. They beat a pretty good Pelican Rapids team in the section semi-finals.

Class AA

Section. Team             MBBN  QRF     State     Section

                                                         tour.      seed

1. Caledonia                4          5          4          2

2. St. Peter                  6-8        7          6-8        4S

3. Redwood Valley       6-8        8          6-8        2S

4. Minnehaha Acad.      2          2          3          1

5. Holy Family                        3          1          2          1

6. Albany                    6-8        6          6-8        4

7. Proctor                    5          3          5          1SS2

8. Roseau                    1          4          1          1N

Looks like Roseau and Holy Family have the numbers, but here’s some help for you. Caledonia beat Proctor, 56-44, in the first round. Albany didn’t have a whole lot of trouble (in the end) with Holy Family (60-49), Minnehaha Academy breezed by St. Peter, 56-37, and Roseau squeaked by Redwood Valley, 75-74. The Borowicz girls in Roseau combined for 70 of the 75 points for the Lady Rams in their one-point win. I’m really looking forward to watching the match-up between Katie Tornstrom (Caledonia) and the Borowicz girls (Roseau).

Class AAA

Section. Team             MBBN  ORF     State     Section

                                                         tour.      seed

1. Austin                    6-8        8          6-8        4

2. Marshall                  7          7          6-8        3

3. Holy Angels                        4          4          4          1

4. DeLaSalle                1          1          1          2

5. Becker                    3          3          3          2

6. Cooper                    2          2          2          1

7. Hibbing                  6          6          6-8        2

8. Fergus Falls             5          5          5          2

DeLaSalle, Robbinsdale Cooper and Becker, 1-2-3? They all won their first round games: DeLaSalle, 61, vs. Hibbing, 53; Holy Angels, 58, vs. Fergus Falls, 57; Cooper, 72, vs. Austin, 40; and Becker, 68, vs. Marshall, 67, in a buzzer beater.

Class AAA

Section. Team                         MBBN  QRF     State     Section

                                                         tour.      seed

1. Lakeville North        8          7          6-8        2

2. Shakopee                 7          8          6-8        3

3. Eastview                 3          3          3          1

4. Stillwater                2          2          2          1

5. Centennial               4          4          4          2

6. Hopkins                  1          1          1          1

7. Forest Lake              5          6          6-8        1

8. Maple Grove            6          5          5          2

If you picked Hopkins, you joined everyone else in that choice. Paige Bueckers, Hopkins junior, has had about nine visits from the UConn coaching staff, including multiple visits from Geno Auriemma himself. Quarter-final scores: Hopkins, 68, vs. Lakeville North, 46; Centennial, 74, vs. Maple Grove, 64; Stillwater, 73, vs. Shakopee, 48; and Eastview, 48, vs. Forest Lake, 39.

Here are the coaches’ picks for All-state, not all-tournament. We’ll have that next week.

 Class A All State: Lydia Sussner-Minneota; Lexie Lodermeier-Goodhue; Alyssa Peterson-Menagha; Allie Negen-Mt. Iron-Buhl; Mariah McKeever-Ada-Borup; Taya Hakamaki-Cromwell-Wright; Shaily Hakamaki-Cromwell-Wright; Adrianna Torres-Pelican Rapids; Jordyn Glynn-Grand Meadow; and Taylie Scott-Heritage Christian. If you were at the state tournament, you didn’t get a chance to see the gals from Cromwell-Wright, Pelican Rapids or Grand Meadow. Their teams didn’t make it to the big dance, even though their teams were seeded in the top spot. Making the honorable mention team were Riley Queensland (Grand Meadow), Alyssa Rostad (Houston) and Haley Hungerholt (LeRoy-Ostrander).

Class AA All State: Kacie Borowicz-Roseau; Katie Borowicz-Roseau; Olivia Lane-Pequot Lakes; Tori Peschel-Sauk Centre; Hannah Purcell-Annandale; Emma Schultz-Eden Valley-Watkins; Alyssa Ustby-Rochester Lourdes; Mia Curtis-Minnehaha Academy; Haley Jansen-Eden Valley-Watkins; and Abby Mackenthun-Norwood-Young America. You only saw the players from Roseau and Minnehaha Academy. Where’s Katie Tornstrom, Caledonia? She didn’t even make the honorable mention list.

Class AAA All State: Joey Batt-New Ulm; Lariah Washington-St. Cloud Apollo; Madison Gehloff-Waseca; Aja Wheeler-Robbinsdale Cooper; Hannah DeMars-Grand Rapids; Hannah Johnson-Willmar; Delaney Runyon-Hill-Murray; Abbey McDonald-Hibbing; Lindsey Reps-Red Wing; and McKenzie Duwenhoegger-Alexandria. Eight of the AAA-teams DID NOT make it to the state tournament.

Class AAAA All State: Paige Bueckers-Hopkins; Sara Scalia-Stillwater; Lauren Jensen-Lakeville North; Frannie Hottinger-Cretin-Derham Hall; Kallie Theisen-Wayzata; McKenna Hofschild-Prior Lake; Macy Guebert-Eastview; Adalia McKenzie-Park Center; Taylor McAuley-Centennial; and Tori Nelson-Henry Sibley. Only half of the AAAA gals were seen by the state tournament crowd.

It’s not unusual for top players to not make it to the state tournament. It happens every year. I really hope John Marshall gets to the boys’ tournament. Everyone should have a chance to see Matthew Hurt!

Boys basketball

Spring Grove will take on Randolph in the 1A finals. Spring Grove beat Randolph, 66-45, back in December. I think the game will be a lot closer this time. Time will tell.

St. Charles (No. 6) upset Caledonia (No. 2), 65-63, and faced Lake City in the finals. The Saints have Drew Leistikow back now, and he will make a big difference in the outcome of the game. The teams were scheduled to play each other on Feb. 5, but that game was cancelled. Shucks! I’m sure it would have been a great game.

Did you know that last week was National Math Week? Math matters, and so do English, history, science, ag mechanics, woodworking and all the other subjects our students have a chance to take. They’re all important, maybe not in the same degree to everyone, but we love them all!

That’s it for this week. Spring is coming, but so is Christmas! Hasta la vista, my friends.

Hey to my wife, Carol, the Great 8, my Fab 4, Melissa and, to you, the greatest Readers in the world. Have a great week, one day at a time. WEB