Joe Brown is a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia. Prior to becoming regional editor, he was the sports editor of the Red Wing Republican Eagle from 2012-2018. He also worked as the sports editor for the Marshall Independent (2010-2012) and as a sports/news clerk for the St. Cloud Times (2008-2009). He graduated from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication.
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Even with his final days as Red Wing’s head boys’ basketball coach looming, Doug Toivonen won’t make anything about himself. He already had his moments in the spotlight as a player at Minnewaska High School (formerly Starbuck, class of 1985) and at Concordia College-Moorhead (class of 1989), where he is a Hall of Famer at both schools. He has the Wingers at state for the first time in his 12-year stint as head coach, and he hopes to lead the team to its first state championship since the Great Depression (1933).
The Class 3A tournament is there for the taking. DeLaSalle is the top-ranked and top-seeded team in the state field as the Islanders will try to win their fifth straight state title. Red Wing is ranked No. 2 and seeded No. 2 as the Wingers return to state after a 12-year hiatus. After that, there are no ranked teams in the field, and there are two .500 teams in Simley and Fridley. So, things, on paper, appear to be wide open.
MINNEAPOLIS – Hunter Connelly was ready for a good nap after becoming a state champion once again. Looking to defend his 100-yard backstroke title in the Class 1A boys' swimming championship meet Saturday, Connelly was second after prelims to Orono junior Will Brenton by .05 seconds.
ROCHESTER – There was no more sulking on the court. No bitter taste of defeat. No disappointment. Instead, the Red Wing boys' basketball team was jovial. They were able to walk on the hardwood with their heads held high. Because after three straight years of heartbreaking losses at the Mayo Civic Center, the Wingers were finally walking away as Section 1AAA champions on Friday.
ROCHESTER – The Mayo Civic Center locker room has been a dreaded place for Goodhue. In 2014 and 2015, the Wildcats were the ones with their dreams shattered in the Section 1A finals, trying to hold it together in the Civic Center locker room after consecutive title game losses. “Two years of heartbreak and we're always the ones that are in the locker room moping around after the game and hearing the other team cheering,” said Goodhue junior post Jacob McNamara. As Jacob McNamara finished that sentence, the smile on his face grew wider.
NORTHFIELD – Red Wing and Northfield had the same idea on Wednesday night: attack the hoop. The difference was, the Raiders managed to draw fouls and the Wingers weren't. And because of that, Red Wing's season came to a close in the Section 1AAA quarterfinals after a 50-39 loss in Northfield.
For a second straight year, Hunter Connelly has a little adversity to face at state.
ROCHESTER -- With a 12 seed and a 13 seed squaring off in the Section 1AA quarterfinals Monday, someone’s days of bracket busting was coming to an end. Thirteenth-seeded Cannon Falls stayed within three points of No. 12 Rochester Lourdes at halftime, but the Bombers’ shooters went ice cold in the second half with just two field goals in a 48-33 loss at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.
ST. PAUL -- Pine Island’s Noah Bauer was a defending state champion and the top seed in the Class 1A 120-pound bracket. Pipestone’s Michael Suda came in with an undefeated record. Something had to give in the 120 finals. Ultimately, Bauer was in too deep a hole, down 11-4 after two periods, to win his second title, falling in a 15-10 decision to Suda.
ST. PAUL -- His knees were aching. His nose struggled to stop bleeding during his final match. And his cauliflower ear needed to be drained. Cannon Falls’ Ryan Epps did not concern himself with the pain. His wounds would heal. All he was concerned with was a state title.