Bentson: ‘Eye’ in ‘sports sky’ gives update on basketball powers

By: 
Bill Bentson

I’m staying pretty close to home for the next two weeks, or so. I think I’ve been averaging about 622 miles per week for the past six weeks or so.  Time to slow down a bit.

Our granddaughter’s dance team will be advancing to the state contest in both kick and jazz.  They got first place in both events at the Section 4 meet in Forest Lake last week.

Last week I got a call from Everett Johnson from Whalan.  He saw La Crosse Central beat Minnehaha Academy last week and had to let me know.  He also gave me the lowdown on the Caledonia loss to Minnehaha.  Now I have another “eye” in the southeast Minnesota “sports sky.”

I was reading John Millea’s (John’s Journal) column and found out that Joel McDonald, Hibbing coach, is doctoring at the Mayo Clinic for bladder cancer. Here’s a part of what Millea reported.

“Joel McDonald isn't asking for your sympathy, but he wouldn't mind if you kept him in your prayers. The 47-year-old boys basketball coach at Hibbing, who was the state's all-time scoring leader when he finished his Chisholm High School career in 1991, is being treated for bladder cancer.

“His mother, Darlene, died of bladder cancer in 1997, three weeks before the wedding of Joel and his wife Carrie. McDonald was 24 years old, a St. Cloud State graduate in his first year teaching and coaching in Hibbing when his mom died. Hearing the words ‘bladder cancer’ from his doctors was difficult.

“That was easily the hardest thing I had ever done, watching my mom pass away from bladder cancer,” Joel said during a Wednesday phone conversation while returning to Hibbing from a weekly visit for treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

“There hasn't been anything tougher for all of us. With a diagnosis of bladder cancer, you’re instantly afraid. Once you hear that, your world changes. But you give it time to process, and I know I’m in good hands and it’s in God’s hands, too.

“After seeing blood in his urine last year, tests found a tumor on his bladder in October. Surgery to remove the tumor was done on Nov. 1. While returning home he had complications, including severe bleeding, and was in critical condition back in Rochester. A follow-up surgery was performed. Wednesday’s treatment was the fifth in a six-round weekly regimen of what’s called BCG. Bacillus Calmette-Guerin is an immunotherapy plan in which a form of tuberculosis bacteria is inserted into the bladder in the hope that the body will build up immunities to the cancer cells.

“The McDonalds are the first family of Minnesota basketball. Joel is the youngest of six children of Bob and Darlene McDonald; all six became basketball coaches. Bob retired from coaching in 2004 after 53 years on the job in Chisholm and a state-best 1,012 victories. Joel scored 3,292 points playing for his dad, besting the previous state record of 2,852 set by Foley’s Norm Grow in 1958. McDonald’s record was eclipsed by Braham’s Isaiah Dahlman in 2006, and six others have set new records since then. Joel and Carrie – who is the principal at Greenhaven Elementary in Hibbing — have two kids. Abbey is a freshman at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth and Ayden is a sophomore on his father’s basketball team.

“Finding out it was cancer and having to break that news to your kids is a pretty tough thing,” Joel said. ‘I like to believe I’m still relatively young at 47. The first time I found out it was a cancerous tumor, you shake your head and wonder how could this happen? My kids took it pretty well. They took it as 15- and 18-year-olds would, I think. At the same time I’m sure they were scared to death just because it’s that word.’”

All our prayers go out to Joel and his family.

Another topic in one of John’s articles dealt with the Tri-state Tigers (three states, three teams, four towns, one team), a team consisting of players from Campbell-Tintah (Minnesota), Fairmount (North Dakota) and Rosholt (South Dakota). Rosholt is the largest community with about 423 residents and Tintah is the teeniest with 63.  One of my principal friends, Al Jensen, was at C-T for years (and years, and years).

It’s about a 12-mile trip from Campbell to Fairmount, and another 19 down to Rosholt.  During the regular season the basketball teams compete in a conference consisting of all South Dakota school, and come playoff time, they “bounce” into the North Dakota scene.

“There is tremendous history to be found in the hallways of the century-old school in Campbell, including trophies from both the MSHSL and the NDHSAA,” Millea commented. “There are displays honoring Campbell native Errol Mann, a kicker who was a member of the Oakland Raiders’ winning Super Bowl XI team; Mike Cannon, another Campbell product who now lives in Hutchinson and is a high-ranking NCAA football official; and Eugene McCarthy, who taught social studies in Campbell in 1939-40 and went on to a political career that took him to the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate and five presidential campaigns.

The C-T players are the only Minnesota athletes who play a game with the shot clock, as both of the Dakota’s now employ the shot clock, and eight-minute quarters. 

Interesting, huh?

Basketball, boys and girls, standings and rankings.

2019-20 Southeast Conference BBB

through Tuesday, Feb, 4

East division

Schaeffer Acad.      10-2       15-4

Houston                    9-3       14-9

Spring Grove           7-5    11-10

Lanesboro                3-9       8-12

Mabel-Canton       1-12       3-17

West division

Grand Meadow     10-2       15-5

Randolph               10-2       14-6

Lyle/Pacelli             9-4       13-6

LeRoy-Ost               6-8    10-12

Kingsland                4-9       6-16

Glenville-Em        0-13       2-18

2019-20 Three Rivers Conference BBB

through Tuesday, Feb. 4

East division

                          TRC    reg. s   vs West

Caledonia        11-0     18-1          6-0

La Cres-Hok   10-1     14-4          6-0

L-A                      8-3     16-3          5-1

R-P                      3-8  10-10          1-5

FC                      1-10     3-17          0-6

Cotter               0-11     1-19          0-6

                                                      18-18

West division                         vs East

St. Charles         8-3     12-7          4-2

PEM                    7-4     13-6          3-3

Dover-Eyota     7-4  10-10          3-3

Southland          4-7     8-10          2-4

Chatfield            4-7     6-12          3-3

W-K                    3-8     9-11          3-3

                                                      18-18

State boys’ rankings for AA and A

Class AA

1. Caledonia (1) 18-1

2. Waseca (2) 16-5

3. Lake City (1) 18-1

4. St. Croix Prep (4) 19-0

5. Minneapolis North (5) 11-5

6. Perham (8) 16-0

7. Minnesota Valley Lutheran (2) 20-1

8. East Grand Forks (8) 16-1

9. Osakis (6) 17-1

10. Eden Valley-Watkins (6) 17-1

11. La Crescent-Hokah (1) 14-4

12. Stewartville (1) 17-4

20. Goodhue (1), 15-3

Lake City takes top billing in the QRF rankings.

Class A

1. BOLD (2) 19-0

2. Henning (6) 18-1

3. Ada-Borup (8) 15-1

4. Southwest MN Christian (3) 18-0

5. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (2) 18-1

6. New Ulm Cathedral (2) 19-1

7. Springfield (2) 17-2

8. West Central Area (6) 16-2

9. Fertile-Beltrami (8) 19-1

10. Mountain Lake-Comfrey (2) 16-2

11. Blooming Prairie (1) 15-2

12. Hayfield (1) 15-4

2019-20 Southeast Conference GBB

through Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020

East division        SEC          reg. s

Houston                    9-0           16-5

Lanesboro                5-5           8-13

Mabel-Canton         5-6           8-13

Schaeffer Acad         3-8           6-16

Spring Grove           3-8           5-17

West division

Kingsland              10-0           14-9

Grand Meadow       9-2           14-8

Randolph                  6-5           9-13

Lyle/Pacelli             3-8           5-17

LeRoy-Ostrander 0-11           0-21

        

2019-20 Three Rivers Conference GBB

through Tuesday, Feb. 4

East division                            vs W

Cotter             11-1     19-3         4-1

FC                      8-4     16-7         2-3

L-A                    4-7     7-14         1-3

Caledonia        4-8     6-15         1-4

La Cres-Hok   3-9     7-14         1-4

R-P                  0-12     2-19         0-5

                                                      9-20

West division                            vs E

Dover-Eyota 11-1     16-6         5-1

PEM                  8-2     12-8         5-0

Southland        6-6  10-10         3-3

St. Charles       5-7  10-12         4-2

Chatfield          4-7     9-14         3-3

                                                      20-9

Class AA

1. Sauk Centre (6) 18-1

2. Fergus Falls (8) 18-1

3. Rochester Lourdes (1) 18-2

4. New London-Spicer (3) 19-1

5. Providence (5) 18-4

6. Goodhue (1) 20-2

7. Pelican Rapids (8) 20-0

8. Proctor (7) 18-2

9. Pine City (6) 18-1

10. Albany (6) 17-2

11. Lake City (1) 18-4

16. Cotter (1), 19-3

19. Stewartville (1), 14-8

 Class A

1. Minneota (3) 21-1

2. Cromwell-Wright (7) 18-2

3. Henning (6) 19-1

4. Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (5) 18-2

5. Mountain Iron-Buhl (7) 14-5

6. Mayer Lutheran (4) 16-4

7. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (2) 18-3

8. Blooming Prairie (1) 17-3

9. Cherry (7) 17-3

10. Hills-Beaver Creek (3) 17-1

20. Fillmore Central (1), 16-7

Tournaments for wrestling start next week.  Check out the rankings in the Guillotine magazine.

Hey to the Great 8 and my Fab 4.  Congratulations to Roberta Jo on her 14th anniversary.  Thanks to my wife, Carol, Dave, and to you, the greatest READERs in the world.  It never gets old, does it?  Have a great week everybody, one day at a time.  I’m going to slow down, some day!