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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Fresh faces will be a consistent theme for the Red Wing boys’ tennis team this spring. With four players gone from last year’s team and a move to Section 4A, there will be an adjustment period for the Wingers throughout the year, starting with Tuesday’s home opener against Rochester Century. “We’ve managed to put together a fairly competitive lineup against other teams,” said Red Wing head coach Matt Kavanagh. “It’s similar to last year where we lost a lot of players and everyone had to move up a bit. We just have to keep doing that.”
It seems that every spring brings with it the inevitability of several Red Wing girls qualifying for the state track and field meet. Sure, there is a whole season between the opening practices of March, and the final gun in June, but it’s almost like a three-month warm up. This year is no different. The Wingers bring back all six of their state qualifiers from 2015, and all but one of the key pieces of the Big Nine Conference and Section 1AA True Team championships squad.
That familiar uneasiness was creeping up on Red Wing. Up by just two points against Northfield in the Section 1AAA finals on March 4, the Wingers hadn’t played their best basketball and were dreading a fourth straight trip to the section finals without a victory. “We knew we weren’t playing as well as we could have in the first half, so we kind of went into the locker room and said, ‘This isn’t going to happen again,’” said Red Wing senior forward Travis Toivonen. “And we made sure of that.”
(In alphabetical order) FIRST TEAM Broc Finstuen (jr. guard/forward, Pine Island) 19.9 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 4.8 apg, All-HVL, career leading scorer at Pine Island (1,265) and career assist leader at Pine Island (300). From Pine Island head coach Jim McNamara: “Broc is among the conference leaders in scoring, rebounding and assists and is a threat to the defense whenever he touches the ball.”
MINNEAPOLIS – From the first tip-off in the quarterfinals until the final horn in the state championship, Goodhue proved beyond a reasonable doubt it was the top team in Class 1A. Winning their first state championship in school history with an 89-64 victory over third-seeded Maranatha Christian Academy on Saturday, the top-seeded Wildcats did not trail once over the three-game tournament.
MINNEAPOLIS – Goodhue was going to need an extra bit of grit down low to slow up Wheaton/Herman-Norcross on Friday. And Lexie Lodermeier was set on being one of the girls to aide the Wildcats' post defense. The tallest Goodhue player at 6-foot-2, Lodermeier has come on late in the season to become an anchor on defense for the team's second unit.
MINNEAPOLIS – Goodhue thrives in chaos. With a pressing defense that makes life hectic for ball-handlers and a zone that makes everything a battle down low, the Wildcats are more than happy to cause some panic. “It’s kind of fun guarding them and see they’re getting frustrated,” said Goodhue junior guard Maddy Miller. “When (our guards) go and you go behind (the ball-handler), they’re like, ‘Oh no’ and they freak out. It’s kind of fun.”
MINNEAPOLIS – Sacred Heart’s record heading into state was 28-1. But Goodhue was convinced that the Eagles had not seen anything like the Wildcats. “Looking at their record, it made us a little nervous looking at 28-1,” said Goodhue sophomore forward Sydney Lodermeier. “We just talked about the teams we’ve played like Lakeville North and Kasson-Mantorville helps us prepare for a game like this. They have a very good record, but they haven’t seen teams like we have.”
MINNEAPOLIS – Goodhue’s boys’ basketball team liked to stay loose this season with a little music. Not from the pep band or from speakers. The music came from the team itself. And it came from one of the most unlikely of places. Up until Saturday’s Class 1A state championship game against Minneapolis North, the Wildcats would sing “Mockingbird” by Carly Simon and James Taylor, sung in the style of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in the 1994 buddy comedy “Dumb and Dumber.”
ST. PAUL – Anyone who thinks a third-place game at state doesn’t matter didn’t tell Red Wing or Monticello. Down 23 in the second half, the Magic pressed and trapped the Wingers on the way to cutting the deficit to double digits. But, Red Wing managed to keep Monticello at arm’s length on the way to a 75-59 victory in the Class 3A third-place game at the Gangelhoff Center at Concordia University-St. Paul.