Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.
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LAKE CITY - In order to pick up a win on Thursday, Lake City had to shut down one of its own. Playing Mid-Pacific Institute, a private school based in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Tigers' goal was to shut down Owls senior forward Ryan Swanson, who was averaging 21 points per game entering Thursday's game. Ryan, along with his brother Ben, grew up in Lake City before the family moved to Hawaii.
LAKE CITY - Coming back from Christmas break, Lake City sophomore guard Breanna Gates admitted there were some nerves about the long layoff. But after practice on Wednesday, the Tigers' concerns were alleviated. "We work really hard at practice to make sure we're always working running and keeping conditioned, and we were worried we weren't going to be in shape after the five-day break," Gates said.
LAKE CITY - Although his team had averaged 67.7 points over its last three games, Lake City boys basketball coach Shawn Sweeney knew his team could be in for an entirely different kind of game Friday against Cannon Falls. "I knew if both teams were up to snuff on defense, it'd be a low-scoring game, and that's fine," Sweeney said. Holding the Bombers to 23.7 percent shooting, the Tigers moved to 2-0 in the Hiawatha Valley Blue division with a 45-34 home victory. "I thought the kids played very well defensively from start to finish," Sweeney said.
Things got out of hand in a hurry for the Red Wing boys hockey team against Rochester Mayo. Trailing 4-2 in the middle of the second period, Michael Bigelbach got a five-minute major and a 10-minute misconduct for checking from behind. Then, more than four minutes later, Taylor Hanson got the same penalties.
A day after losing by a goal to No. 5-ranked (2A) Eden Prairie, the Blake School's girls hockey team had a bit of a gut check. After such a tough loss Friday, the No. 3-ranked (1A) Bears didn't have much time to dwell when they traveled to No. 2 Red Wing on Saturday. "I think (the Eden Prairie loss) gave us a big shot of reality," said Blake head coach Shawn Reid. "We're not as good as we thought we were. Eden Prairie outplayed us, and we knew we had to be ready for (Saturday) because Red Wing is very powerful.
CANNON FALLS - Last year was a trial by fire for the Cannon Falls wrestling team. Going 12-15 a year ago, early on in the 2012-13 season, Bombers head coach Dudley Flodeen has seen his wrestlers step out of the flames with a different fire in their eyes. "It's worked for these guys," Flodeen said of using the younger wrestlers last year. "Sometimes it backfires, but it's good for these guys. ...
In a matter of days, the Missota Conference stands on shaky ground. The Shakopee school board gave Activities Director John Janke the go-head to apply for the South Suburban Conference on Monday night. Then on Tuesday night, the principals of the 10 South Suburban Conference voted unanimously to accept Farmington's application to the conference. Pending its board of education's approval, Farmington could join the South Suburban in the 2014-15 school year.
The road was unkind to the Red Wing boys hockey team as they began the season 0-5 away from Red Wing. Playing in their home opener Tuesday against unbeaten Tartan, the Wingers looked rejuvenated through the first two periods, keeping the score tied at 0-0. But a quick goal 19 seconds into the third period by the Titans' Brady O'Sullivan kick-started a four-goal output in the final 17 minutes for Tartan, who left Prairie Island Arena with a 4-0 victory. In five of their six games this season, the Wingers have hung close with teams, outscoring its opponents 8-7 through two periods.
The Red Wing girls basketball team came onto the court angry on Saturday. After a second-half collapse on Friday led to a home loss against Lakeville South, the Wingers felt like they had something to prove more than 12 hours later when Minneapolis Roosevelt came to Red Wing. "In a positive way, we played a little angry," said Wingers head coach Dave Muelken, "which was really good to see, especially with the quick turnaround.
For five years, Shakopee's Lauren Hespenheide and Amy Menke have been one of the top duos in the Missota Conference. Building up to Thursday's conference opener, Red Wing head coach Scott Haley admitted he was nervous. "It was probably one of the most stressful weeks I've had trying to stop No. 6 (Hespenheide) and No. 9 (Menke)," he said. But with outstanding play at the blue line and a 29-save night by goaltender Ashley Corcoran, the No.