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Les Knutson: Gehrke, Behrends, Gehl among league leaders

Les Knutson

Daily Globe sports columnist 

In recent Red Rock Conference basketball statistics released by league commissioner Bryce Pack, Red Rock Central’s athletic director, a trio of girls and Hills-Beaver Creek senior boy Dylan Gehrke were all averaging more than 20 points per game.

Murray County Central’s Morgan Behrends was leading the girls in rebounding with 15.8 boards per game, while Mountain Lake Area senior Carter Kirk was at the top of the boys’ list with an average of 13.6 rebounds per conference game.

Gehrke’s points per game average of 21.2, included 191 points in nine games. Westbrook-Walnut Grove’s Shane Buchman (19.8) was second, followed in the top five by Adrian’s Taylor Recker (18.3), Kirk (17.6) and Southwest Christian senior Leighton Sampson (17.6).

Fulda senior Melissa Gehl was leading the girls with a 22.9 ppg average, followed by SWC’s Tianna Top (21.8) and Fulda junior Sariah Cheadle (20.9). Three others — Ellsworth’s Alexa Huisman (18.9), Adrian’s Elizabeth Thier (18.1) and W-WG’s Elizabeth Woelber (18.0) — were averaging at least 18 points per game.

MLA’s Andrew Hempeck and W-WG’s Alex Knutson shared the conference lead in assists, each averaging 7.2 per game, while Ellsworth’s John Kramer was a solid third an average of 6.8.

Southwestern United senior Autumn Hinkeldey was at the top of the girls’ assist list with an average of 4.5, followed by a pair of Adrian girls — Thier (4.1) and Jodi Bents (4.0).

MCC sophomore Grant Rohrer was second on the boys’ rebounding list (11.7) and Buchman (11.2) was third. Gehl (11.9) and SWU junior Courtney Place (10.9) were ranked second and third, respectively, on the girls’ list.

Gehrke also topped the boys’ free throw percentage list with a sparkling mark of 86.7, having made 39-of-45 shots from the line. Recker (83.8, 31-of-37) and Hempeck (74.3, 26-of-35) were second and third.

Thier (85.2, 46-of-54), Red Rock Central’s Brooke Rasmussen (77.8, 21-of-27) and MLA’s Stacy Harder (76.5, 26-of-34) were the top three girls in free throw shooting percentage.

W-WG’s Brody Williams was leading the conference in boys’ overall field goal shooting percentage (62.5), having made 20-of-32 shots. SWU senior Zach Schumacher was second (61.4, 27-of-44), followed by Luke Nibbelink of SW Christian (60.0, 30-of-50).

The top three on the girls’ list were MLA’s Madelyn Regier (60.0, 18-of-30), RRC’s Olivia Bittner (56.7, 17-of-30) and Edgerton’s Tanner Gunnink (53.5, 17-of-30).

Nibbelink leads the boys’ list in three-point shooting percentage, having connected on 11-of-21 shots for 52.4 percent. Teammate Nate Pfeifle (45.7, 21-of-46) and SWU junior Trey Cranston (43.8, 14-of-32) ranked second and third.

Rachel Dukes of MLA (47.6, 10-of-21) was leading the girls’ three-point shooting percentage list, just ahead of Place (47.1, eight-of-17) and Ellsworth’s Brenna Kramer (46.2, 12-of-26).

As the season continues to unfold and more games have been played, these statistics have certainly already seen some adjustments, but that’s how things were when Pack compiled the statistics at the season’s midpoint. He will have a whole new set of complete stats at the end of the campaign — which is fast approaching.


Future state champs were

sixth in SW conference

standings this week in ’64

Exactly 50 years ago today — Feb. 6, 1964 , which was also a Thursday — the Daily Globe ran the standings of the four Minnesota high school conferences, which included schools in the “coverage” area.

The “old” Red Rock Conference — which included the Storden Tigers, Jeffers Wolves, Sanborn Panthers, Comfrey Rockets, Butterfield Indians, and three others (I think) from more to the northeast — was not included.

The four leagues were the eight-member Southwest (the largest schools, each town was (and still is) a county seat, the seven-member Seven Star (medium-sized schools) and the two small-school conferences — the 10-member Southern Star and the eight-member Tri-County.

Of course, this was just boys’ basketball. Title IX and high school girls’ basketball in Minnesota didn’t come about until the middle 1970s — about the time that Slayton withdrew from the Southwest Conference.

In 1964, the Wildcats were tall and good. On the sixth of February — three days before the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and ended their five-song performance with “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” which was the nation’s top song for an amazing 15 weeks — Slayton was second in the league standings with a 6-3 conference record.

Only defending state champion Marshall (6-2) was ahead of the Wildcats in a tightly-bunched title chase.

Jackson, Pipestone and Worthington were each tied for third (5-4), while Luverne was sixth with a 4-5 league mark. Redwood Falls (3-5) and a rebuilding Windom squad (1-7) trailed LHS, which later would give the Southwest a second straight state championship.

I chronicled Luverne’s remarkable turn around in a “Blast” written back in March of 2005, which started on Feb. 7 with the Cardinals’ impressive 87-45 victory over a Jackson squad that had defeated them earlier in the season.

That same evening — two nights before Beatlemania struck in America — Worthington improved to 10-4 overall with a 68-64 win over an improving Windom team, Pipestone defeated Slayton (66-53) and Marshall moved two games in front with a 75-61 win over Redwood Falls.

The Fulda Raiders (6-0) were undefeated in the Seven Star, followed by the Mountain Lake Lakers (5-1), Springfield Tigers (6-2), Westbrook Wildcats (2-4), Lakefield Panthers (1-5), Lamberton Blackhawks (1-5) and Walnut Grove Loggers (1-6).

In the Southern Star — which had five western schools and five eastern teams — the Welcome Wildcats (11-1) were in first place, followed by the Ceylon Huskies (9-2), Sioux Valley Warriors (8-2), Granada Eagles (7-4), East Chain Chainers (6-5), Brewster Bulldogs (4-6), Round Lake Thunderbirds (4-6), Huntley Black Knights (2-7), Okabena Bluehawks (2-8) and Heron Lake Falcons (0-11).

The five eastern teams were all in District 5, while the five from the west — Brewster, Heron Lake, Okabena, Round Lake and Sioux Valley — were all in District 7, along with Butterfield, Comfrey, Jackson, Jeffers, Lakefield, Mountain Lake, Storden, Westbrook and Windom.

Edgerton was going for a fifth straight Tri-County title, as the Flying Dutchmen were a perfect 12-0. The Magnolia Bulldogs and Hills Bluejays were tied for second (both at 7-3), while the Lake Wilson Raiders (6-4) were in fourth. The Adrian Dragons (4-6), Chandler Eagles (2-7), Beaver Creek Beavers (2-8) and Ellsworth Panthers (0-10) completed the standings.

It was two years before the area’s first consolidation (Hills-Beaver Creek in’65-66) and all eight Tri-County teams played in District 8 with Fulda, Jasper, Luverne, Pipestone, Slayton and Worthington.

Coming soon, a closer look at many of the games from 50 years ago Friday, as very likely there were 16 conference games played between the 33 schools which participated in those four conferences —back in the “good old days.”