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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MINNEAPOLIS – Three seasons ago, Mitch Marien was a undersized, slightly-unsure freshman getting vaulted onto the Lake City varsity lineup for the first time. “Freshman year I came in as a reserve and that's when Brady (Kuchinka) had an injury so I got a lot of playing time early in the season,” Marien said. “Then my sophomore year when I became a starter and had a bigger role. (That first game) was nerve-wracking.”
MINNEAPOLIS – Lake City's margin for error was razor thin if it wanted to play spoiler for the second straight week. At state for the first time since 1990, the Tigers had already knocked off second-ranked Caledonia in the Section 1AA finals. Unseeded in the state tournament, Lake City looked to shock Class 2A again by beating top-ranked and top-seeded Minnehaha Academy on Wednesday.
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.