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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In basketball, whether it’s an organized five-on-five game or a pick-up game of one-on-one, there’s always a winner and a loser. Unless you watched Goodhue twin brothers Nicholas and Lucas Thomforde. Their one-on-one games would end another way.
MINNEAPOLIS – There was some doubt in Goodhue that the team could actually knock off Mountain Iron-Buhl. Losing by 44 points to the Rangers back on Dec. 3 at the Breakdown Tip-Off Classic, it's easy to get why the Wildcats would be worried. “I doubted us,” guard Maddy Miller said candidly before a chorus of laughs. “Me too,” teammate McKenzie Ryan chimed in. But that was months ago. And this time, in the Class 1A championship on Saturday, the Wildcats had a title to defend.
MINNEAPOLIS – Haley Lexvold is Goodhue's pest. And it's a role she takes on with pride every time on the court. One of the first players off the bench for the second-seeded Wildcats, the 5-foot-4 senior guard has become one of the most infuriating defensive players in southeast Minnesota and possibly all of Class 1A with her blazing speed and tenacious acumen guarding the ball handler.
MINNEAPOLIS – Attack, attack, attack. No matter the opponent, Goodhue wants to come at everyone as aggressively as possible. In the Class 1A state quarterfinals, it was in an effort to slow down post players by flustering ball-handling guards. Then in the state semifinals Friday at Williams Arena, it was all for shutting down a near-record 3-point shooting squad.
MINNEAPOLIS – Goodhue's defense is a sort of anomaly. After every bucket, the Wildcats make teams have to sprint down the floor to counter the full-court press. And because they can go deep into its bench without much of a drop-off defensively, playing against Goodhue can feel like a marathon condensed into 36 minutes.
By Joe Brown email@example.com When Goodhue needed a spark during last year’s state championship run, Emily Benrud was ready to go. The Wildcats needed a fresh body to swarm teams on the press? Benrud was there. Need some inside scoring, go to Benrud. Who can come down with a key rebound? That’s Benrud’s bread and butter.
ROCHESTER – Tuesday in the sub-section semifinals, shooting was a struggle for Goodhue. Four days later, it was like the Wildcats couldn't miss. With a 69-47 victory in the Section 1A-West title game against Bethlehem Academy Saturday, Goodhue is back in the section championship game for the fourth straight year.
ROCHESTER – Try as Kenyon-Wanamingo did, the Knights' defense couldn't take everyone away. The focus on defense coming into Friday's Section 1AA championship game against Rochester Lourdes started with Alyssa Ustby and Wynter Bergner. In the second half, that opened things for Grace Rogers. And with all of her 15 points coming in the second half – including a perfect 6-for-6 effort at the free-throw line in the final minute – the third-seeded Eagles left the Mayo Civic Center as section champions with a 67-61 victory over the fourth-seeded Knights.
ROCHESTER – Ugly, pretty, doesn't matter. Goodhue just needed to move on. Fourth-seeded Randolph took the top-seeded and defending Section 1A champion Wildcats out of their comfort zone, resorting to outside shots and man-to-man defense. But eventually, Goodhue found a way and advanced to the Section 1A-West finals with a 59-43 victory over the Rockets Tuesday at the Mayo Civic Auditorium.
ST. PAUL – Bailee O'Reilly soaked in the moment. His final high-school match ended in victory with a 13-11 decision over Jackson County Central's Dalton Wagner for the Class 1A 160-pound championship Saturday. O'Reilly won his second state title, becoming the first Goodhue wrestler to win a pair of state titles. With a heavy heart, O'Reilly went to his knees and pointed to the heavens, honoring the person he wanted to win a state title for.