Sports briefs: Basketball's done, tennis practices in the cold
Boys basketball in the books
Happily, the semi-annual winter blizzard did not materialize in the Twin Cities last week during the 2022 Minnesota boys state basketball tournament. Meanwhile, four champions were named.
In Class A, a powerful Hayfield squad successfully defended its 2021 championship with a 51-49 win over Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa. Hayfield defeated Section 3 champion Russell-Tyler-Ruthton 66-49 in the first round, leading 37-20 at halftime.
Darrick Baartman scored 14 points to pace R-T-R.
The Knights, who finished the season 23-8, went on to beat Nevis 74-71 in the consolation bracket before losing to Sacred Heart 63-54 in the consolation championship game.
In other state tournament title games, Annandale defeated Minneapolis North 60-49 in Class AA, Totino-Grace topped DeLaSalle 50-44 in Class AAA and Park Center beat Wayzata 58-53 in Class AAAA.
Mankato East, which eliminated Worthington in the Section 2AAA tournament, outplayed Princeton 77-74 for third place in AAA.
Spring contests around the corner
Some Thursday inter-conference high school baseball games are on tap on Thursday, weather permitting.
The Worthington Trojans open at 4:30 p.m. in Heron Lake -- possibly. If the conditions are predicted to be better on Friday, the game will be played then.
Also Thursday, Luverne is at Adrian/Ellsworth (Adrian) and Murray County Central is at Pipestone. On Friday, MACCRAY is at Adrian/Ellsworth (in Adrian again).
At this time of year, every high school spring sport experiences high hopes along with an air of unpredictability. The Luverne baseball team has a new head coach, Phil Paquette, who is also the LHS head boys hockey coach. We know Paquette knows baseball; he’s been one of the mainstays of the Luverne Redbirds for many years.
He is taking over for a legend, Mike Wenninger, who retired after the 2021 campaign.
Veteran baseball coach Joe Kruger leads the Adrian/Ellsworth Dragons after a 2021 season that can only be described as one that was sprinkled with pixie dust. The Dragons struggled in mid-season but came around just in time to qualify for the state Class A tournament. They finished the year with a 14-13 record.
Tennis team proves its toughness
As if to prove that Worthington High School boys tennis players are the toughest spring sports athletes of them all, the Trojan netmen were out on the middle school courts Monday afternoon on the first day of practice.
It took a little while for coaches Mike Marquardt and Matt Fletcher to get everything in working order. Some of the nets had to be adjusted, and at least one first-year player forgot to bring a racket. But a racket was found, and the Trojans spent the afternoon swinging at elusive yellow balls while a cold wind whipped around them.
This being Minnesota, the boys can assume that they might have to play in this kind of weather once or twice. On Monday, several of them donned long pants and warm sweats with head coverings. Practices like that should only make them better.
All-Area teams coming
The Globe will be trotting out its All-Area girls and boys basketball teams soon. As usual, the girls will be featured first (April 6 is the scheduled date) and the boys selections appear one week later.
There’s a lot that goes into deciding which athletes make it onto the All-Area squads, and whether those that are chosen should go on the first, second or third teams. First, they must pass our eye test. But Globe sports reporters see only a small percentage of most area teams’ games, so we ask area coaches to educate us with their own opinions. Statistics matter, but statistics don’t tell the whole story. Wins matter, but some players stand out on their own. Strength of schedule matters, too, to a certain degree.
Leadership qualities and consistency are pluses. And it’s always a strong stamp of approval when our All-Area nominees make their all-conference teams.
But on rare occasions, we’ve chosen all-conference honorable mentions, too. That may not please everyone, but we consider All-Area picks to be a serious business not to be taken lightly.