BLAST FROM THE PAST: Coverage area boasts 8 past championsWORTHINGTON — Once again the Daily Globe coverage area is well-represented in the Minnesota State High School League’s (MSHSL) girls’ basketball state tournament which starts today at Williams Arena.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Once again the Daily Globe coverage area is well-represented in the Minnesota State High School League’s (MSHSL) girls’ basketball state tournament which starts today at Williams Arena.
Worthington and Pipestone Area play today, while Adrian takes the court tomorrow.
The Section 2AAA champion Trojans are making their seventh trip to the tournament, having played there in 1976, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2007.
This is the fourth time in the past seven years that Worthington has played in the “big show” during the 10-year coaching tenure of Eric Lindner.
Worthington’s most impressive finish came 10 years ago in 1999 when the Trojans, coached by Don Kuiper, capped a 27-1 season by bringing home the third-place trophy with a victory over Cambridge.
Section 3AA champion Pipestone Area is playing in its fourth tournament (third time in the past five seasons), as the Arrows previously earned their way to state in 1987, 2005 and 2007.
The Arrows claimed the area’s eighth state championships two years ago, winning the ‘07 AA title with a dramatic 50-49 victory over Albany, capped by a late-game (16 seconds left) 3-pointer by senior Steph Kocourek.
Adrian, the Section 3A champion, is making its first trip to the state tournament. But the perennial powerhouse Dragons have been close several times in the past decade, having fielded winning teams in 14 of the past 15 seasons, including eight 20-win campaigns (highlighted by a 23-2 mark in ‘96-97) and seven conference championships.
While both Worthington and Adrian have been matched-up against the top-ranked opponent in their class (New Prague in AAA and undefeated Barnum in A), don’t ever count out the representatives from southwest Minnesota.
Two years ago, both Fulda (Class A) and Pipestone Area won state titles, as Fulda repeated its 2006 state championship.
Tracy-Milroy won a trio of state championships in the last decade of the two-class system, winning Class A titles in 1988, 1992 and 1996.
Prior to that, the area won a couple of Class A championships, as both Heron Lake-Okabena (1981) and Storden-Jeffers (1989) capped undefeated seasons with a state title.
So, with three championships by Tracy-Milroy, two by Fulda, and one each by HL-O, S-J and PA, the area has claimed eight state titles in girls’ basketball.
The area has also claimed four runner-up trophies as Milroy (1985), Storden-Jeffers (1988 and 1990) and Red Rock Central (1999) all made it to the state championship game, but were defeated in the finals.
Red Rock Central, which is a combination of Storden-Jeffers and Sanborn-Lamberton, played in a total of three tournaments (1994, 1998, 1999) giving legendary coach Gary Gillis a total of eight trips (five with S-J; 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993).
Tracy — and its various combinations — leads the list of area schools with a total of 10 state tournament appearances (1981, 1982, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997).
Worthington is now a close third with seven (1976, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009).
Three schools from old District 8 — Fulda (2002, 2003, 2006, 2007), PA (1987, 2005, 2007, 2009) and Southwest Christian (1976, 1979, 1984, 1985) — now share fourth place with four each.
Heron Lake (1977), Heron Lake-Okabena (1981) and SSC (2008) give the Heron Lake district a total of three trips, while Jackson County Central (2000, 2004) played in a pair of recent state tournaments.
Luverne played in an early state tournament, in the fall of 1975, when the MSHSL actually had two tournaments for girls (one in the fall and one in the winter) during the ‘74-75 and ‘75-76 school years.
With Adrian’s 2009 appearance, the area boasts a total of 36 trips — spread among just 10 schools — with one-third of those (12) ending in a state championship clash and 22 percent (eight of 36) winding up with a state title.
Speaking of state titles, this column will take a closer look at the remarkable three-year run to the state finals by Storden-Jeffers that was capped in the middle by an undefeated 1989 state championship.
Look for that feature in the next two weeks — and also for a recap of Worthington’s high-scoring ‘98-99 campaign as we “blast” you back 10 years ago.