Les Knutson: Lots of great memories watching state tournament basketball

Les Knutson

Remember Jeff McCarron, Tom Mulso, John Tirevold, Paul Krohn and Pete Eiden? Those were the five starters for Sherburn High School’s 1970 basketball team, which capped a perfect 26-0 season with a dominating 78-62 victory over South St. Paul in the championship game of the last one-class state tournament, viewed by more than 18,000 fans at jam-packed Williams Arena.

While I was not one of those at “The Barn” on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, I was watching at home -- with my dad and brothers -- as was our custom, and I vividly recall how much we all wanted Sherburn to win. After all, it was small-school vs. big-school and we always rooted for the “hicks from the sticks” to knock off the larger schools from the Twin Cities.

Sherburn’s victory was led by the towering M & M boys -- Mulso and McCarron, both senior veterans. Mulso, a lanky 6-5 forward, was on fire that night from long range. He scored 39 points, and this was 18 seasons before the 3-point shot became a reality of high school basketball in Minnesota. McCarron, a 6-5 post, was a rugged rebounder and played so well on the inside. Tirevold, the 5-10 point guard, was also a senior, while Eiden (6-4) and the athletic Krohn (6-0) were sophomores.

The Raiders were coached by Dennis Christofferson and had won Middle Eight Conference, District 5 and Region 2 championships before defeating Melrose (65-54) and Marshall (71-60) in the state tournament to advance to the title game against the Packers of highly-favored South St. Paul -- the state’s top-ranked team most of the season.

Sherburn’s state title was special because it was the last one-class state championship. But somehow, it never has become as famous as the one claimed 10 years earlier by Edgerton’s legendary 1960 one-class champions. Both Edgerton and Sherburn, similar-sized towns, finished undefeated and both beat big schools along the tournament trail. And each of them beat the Packers in the title game (Edgerton topped the Austin Packers, 72-61).


In 1970, I was a freshman at what was then known as Worthington State Junior College (WSJC) and watching Sherburn’s triumph was one of my most memorable televised state tournament games.

There were others, including Marshall’s one-point victory (75-74) over “my” Cloquet Lumberjacks in the 1963 championship game. Windom’s one-point loss (60-59) to mighty Edina in the 1966 quarterfinals is a lasting memory. There was Danube’s heartbreaking overtime loss to St. Louis Park in the 1962 semifinals (I just a fifth-grader then) when future Gopher football star and NFL linebacker Bob Bruggers received a standing ovation after fouling out.

Then how about Wabasso’s high-scoring 117-113 overtime win over Red Lake in the 1997 Class A semifinals, the first year of the current four-class system? Westbrook-Walnut Grove head coach Derrick Jenniges was a senior starter for that fast-paced Rabbit squad.

Speaking of Jenniges, what about his team’s thrilling one-point triumph (73-72) over Southwest Minnesota Christian in last year’s Section 3A South (sub-district) championship game at SMSU in Marshall? That was an exciting game from start to finish.

There are so many memorable games. I remember well the atmosphere and intensity in the Ellsworth gym in the middle of January of 2010 when Hills-Beaver Creek and Ellsworth battled each other in a high-quality regular-season game between two exceptional teams. The Panthers, who finished the season 27-6, won the thriller 66-64 over the Patriots, who finished 25-4.

And, of course, there was Worthington’s Southwest Conference title-clinching victory over Windom in a double-overtime thriller (at Worthington) in February of 1966.

Yes, there’s nothing quite like high school basketball . Let the good times roll.

Drealan completes 38th Twin Cities Marathon

Fulda native and longtime Worthington accountant Wayne Drealan completed his 38th consecutive Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 5, running the 26.2 mile distance in four hours and 21 minutes, which placed him right in the middle (3,713th out of 6,747 total finishers).


Wayne finished in the upper fourth of the men’s 65-69 age group, placing 18th out of 71.

Now living in Belle Fourche, S.D., Wayne was a bit disappointed in his time, which was 16 minutes off his goal.

“It wasn’t my day,” he said. “I was shooting for a 4:05 which would have qualified me to run at next year’s Boston Marathon. But there will be another day.”

By completing the race, Wayne became one of just 14 of the original charter club members who have ran all 38 TCMs. Prior to this year, there were 17 who had run the event every year.

Wayne’s son, Anthony -- a 2006 graduate of Fulda High School -- recently returned from Vancouver, Wash., where he coached a pair of Dakota State University (DSU in Madison, S.D.) cross country teams in the NAIA National Meet.

The DSU men, led by the All-American run of Braden Curnow -- a senior from Hibbing -- placed 21st out of 37 teams with 533 points. Curnow was an impressive sixth, out of 335 total finishers, with an 8K (five miles) time of 25:04, improving upon his 19th-place performance in 2018. DSU placed 30th as a team in last year’s national meet.

The DSU women finished 31st (also out of 37 teams) with 782 points. Leading the Trojans was Mountain Lake’s Christianna Green, a 2017 graduate of Windom Area High School who qualified for three straight state meets as an Eagle. A sophomore at DSU, she placed 172nd (out of 340 finishers) with her personal-record 5K time of 19:56.6.

Drealan, for the second year in a row, was honored as the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year. DSU won both conference team titles this season, qualifying each squad for the trip to Vancouver.


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