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Boys Basketball: Halverson, Vix meet in section title game

Rushford-Peterson head coach Tom Vix, left, and Goodhue head coach Matt Halverson chat before Thursday's Section 1A championship game at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. Vix and the Trojans beat Halverson's Wildcats, 38-31. Halverson is an R-P graduate, and played for Vix in high school. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)

ROCHESTER – “He was our ninth-grade coach for one year, and we just saw that he had it. We wanted him back, actually. We had a job opening, but he didn’t want to leave Goodhue. We knew he’s that good. He’s going to be great.”

Rushford-Peterson head coach Tom Vix, prior to Thursday’s Section 1A championship game, spoke those words. The topic of discussion was the man on the other bench: Goodhue head coach Matt Halverson. Vix and the Trojans would be held to their lowest point total of the year, but still came out on top of the Wildcats, 38-31.

Halverson, in his first season leading a program, is very familiar with Vix. A 2006 graduate of R-P, Halverson won a state title his senior season. And while he came up one win short of taking Goodhue to its third Class A state tournament, Thursday’s contest against his former coach said everything that one needed to know about the relationship between the two coaches.

“He’s done a great job,” Vix said. “I didn’t see them early in the year, but at the end of the year I saw how disciplined they were and how well taught they were and how well they play as a team. He’s doing all the right things.”

All of those things describe the Trojans as well. And the way the game played out is a testament to how Halverson was taught to play.

“I’ve always loved the game of basketball, and when you come through the program at Rushford-Peterson, you know the history of a guy who’s won a bunch of section titles,” Halverson said. “As an elementary kid, you’re watching these kids play at (Williams Arena), at Target Center, and you want to try to emulate that because there’s a guy that’s successful year in and year out. It would be stupid of me not to try and emulate some of his stuff.”

Maybe it’s the flattery of being imitated, but every time Vix was asked about Halverson, he ended his answer the same way, “He’s going to be great.”

On Thursday, the greatness stayed with the Trojans, who will appear in their 13th state tournament. But don’t be surprised if the section is dominated in the future by both teams. One coach may have established his legacy, but one learned directly from him.

“We obviously know each other very well,” Halverson said. “He’s a class guy, and he runs a great program. He’s not going to have discipline problems off the court or any of that. Going against him was tough. But I’ll tell you what, he wasn’t going to take it easy on me, and I wasn’t going to take it easy on him. We’re both competitors. We both wanted to win the section title. We went toe to toe.”

Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
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