"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Friday, March 16, 2018

Minnewaska Area ascends to state tournament!

The Minnewaska Area Lakers are in a pattern of coming from behind. They exhibited the pattern again Thursday night (3/15). We're at a high level of post-season play now. Minnewaska's success on Thursday elevated the BBB squad to state. March Madness truly takes hold in Glenwood and Starbuck now.
'Waska has its first state berth since 2001. This is the third state tournament appearance as the combined Minnewaska entity. Glenwood High School made the climb in 1956 and 1985. I remember watching the Lakers in state when they had coach Starns.
Maybe the Lakers can catch a break and coast with a lead for a while. It would help their fans relax a little. But those fans are now accustomed to being on edge of seats, watching as their team escapes deficits in a dramatic way. The team certainly did that against Morris Area Chokio Alberta. We've seen second half comebacks in three straight games now. The Lakers did it to New London-Spicer as well as our Tigers, and now we can add Pipestone to the list of the vanquished.
The Lakers defeated Pipestone 56-54 at Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall. My goodness, the Lakers trailed nearly the entire game. I remember listening to the radio for a short time in the second half of the game vs. Morris, and I thought Morris had things pretty well in hand. I shut off the radio and attended to other matters. And then the next morning, making my usual arrival at DeToy's Restaurant, Tom Carrington just made a discouraged expression when I asked him how the game turned out. The message was that things went south for our Tigers. No team can feel confident when owning the lead on the scoreboard vs. the Lakers. Tom Carrington's granddaughter is Maddie Carrington who is a 3-point shooting whiz for the MACA girls team.
Three minutes were left to play in the 'Waska vs. Pipestone game when Shawn Carsten scored for 'Waska to get the score tied. It was 49-all. 'Waska now sought its first lead since the scoreboard showed 9-8 numbers early-on. Garrett Jensen gave 'Waska their much-sought late lead. Garrett was composed at the freethrow line to make two shots. The time remaining is just over two minutes. Matt Gruber and Jackson Johnsrud pushed the lead to 55-51. Now only 19 seconds are left and you can imagine the exhilarated atmosphere among the large Minnewaska fan turnout.
'Waska's Thursday success was in the section finals. The climb to the top of 3AA is done, so now all eyes turn to the prestigious state level. We learn that prior to Thursday's game, the Lakers led for fewer than ten minutes throughout the playoffs. Let's note that Jackson Johnsrud was at the fore keeping 'Waska's attack stable in the first half, in which he scored 14 points. 'Waska trailed Pipestone by four at halftime, 29-25.
The Lakers now own an overall season record of 21-7. Pipestone ends its season with a 19-11 mark.
Johnsrud topped the scoring vs. Pipestone with his 25 total points. The other double figures achiever was Matt Gruber with ten. Here's the rest of the list: Shawn Carsten (7), Garrett Jensen (6), Grant Jensen (4) and Luke Barkeim (4). 'Waska needed every point, so it was important that Johnsrud connected three times from 3-point range. Gruber made two 3's and Grant Jensen made one.
The rebound leaders were Garrett Jensen (8), Gruber (7) and Johnsrud (5). The assist leaders were Gruber and Garrett Jensen with five and four respectively. Grant Jensen and Gruber each had two steals.
My friend Randy Olson typed some informative paragraphs about the game on his blog which emphasizes BBE sports. Randy covers a wider geographic area for post-season, just like my blog does. Randy is the enterprising owner of the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper in Brooten. He's a very fired-up newspaper operator in outstate Minnesota. He definitely is doing more than just "holding on" in this age of general newspaper decline (according to popular perception). Our Morris newspaper is 100 percent in the "holding on" mode.
We have a chain paper here in Morris. We'd be fortunate having someone like Randy or the Elbow Lake newspaper people. But we don't. Things don't always go our way, just like they didn't go our way in the MACA vs. 'Waska basketball game. Nor did things go our way when Maddie Carrington and her Tiger mates lost in the first round of post-season.
I'm pleased to share what Randy wrote on his "Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Jaguar sports" blog:
In the Section 3AA boys basketball championship game in Marshall, the Minnewaska Area Lakers trailed 29-25 to Pipestone Area at halftime. . .but late in the final minute the Lakers pulled ahead 51-49. Senior Matt Gruber was fouled with about 45 seconds left for a bonus opportunity. He made the first one, then made the bonus to make it a 53-49 game. The Arrows actually fouled him seven seconds earlier, but the referees didn't call it right away.
Pipestone Area then went to the freethrow line with 38.8 seconds left and got a bonus opportunity. They made both, making it a 53-51 game.
Then with 36.2 seconds left, senior Jackson Johnsrud was fouled and hit the front end of a bonus opportunity. He made the second one for a 55-51 lead. The Arrows missed on their next possession, but then with 19.6 seconds left, the Lakers threw the ball away. Pipestone Area then dilly-dallied after a timeout! Crazy! They literally walked the ball up the court, trailing by four points. . .and with five seconds left after missing on a shot, they fouled Grant Jensen. He made the front end of a bonus shot for a five-point lead. Jensen's second freethrow was no good, and the Arrows called their last remaining timeout with 4.2 seconds left. 

The Arrows made a three-point shot as the final seconds ticked off. . .it was meaningless! (Nice effort, but it didn't matter!) 
Minnewaska Area (21-7 overall) advances to the Class 2A state tournament, which opens next Wednesday in Minneapolis. I believe that Minnewaska Area hasn't played in the state tournament since 2001. In 2003, they lost 63-37 to Pipestone Area in the Section 3AA championship game. They went 15 years without playing in a section title game.  
Final score: Minnewaska Area 56, Pipestone Area 54. The Lakers went 12-of-18 at the freethrow line in the game and overcame 14 turnovers. A fun sidebar: the Lakers are also the Section 3AA academic champions.  
Fun fact: Grant Jensen's dad is Eric Jensen, a 1987 graduate of Brooten who played for the Buccaneers boys basketball team. As a senior in the 1986-87 season, Eric's Buccaneers team went 12-1 in the Prairie Conference to win the title under the head coaching of Brad Goodwin. 
Thanks Randy for the interesting background.
Fans might be tempted to think that 'Waska is "lucky" getting so far, as if the prospects might not be good for state. Hooey. Often we see teams dodge bullets as the season progresses and the caliber of their play actually seems to get better. The message here is: don't bet against the Lakers against anyone!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Re. school bus crash: can kids stay at home?

I just recently wrote about how maybe kids 15 and older could stay at home and develop their school studies using the Internet. This was in response to the school shooting in Florida. Maybe kids younger than 15 could do this too.
Now, we here in Stevens County are reminded of an additional danger when getting kids to school: having them out on the road. School attendance is compulsory. Kids have to be transported to school. We are now reminded of the basic risk of being out on the roads in a motorized vehicle. We learn of the serious accident involving a school bus or van.
Kids weren't seat-belted in? And it's a gray area whether that was legally required? I actually doubt if it is a gray area. Perhaps some powers that be are hesitant to proclaim that the school bus service was negligent. Maybe some sort of insurance settlement is at stake with this. I know that my family members must be buckled in at all times. I felt startled the first time I was pulled over for no other reason than no seat belt. I figured this was during one of those enforcement crackdowns, you know, where you see PSAs on TV warning "click it or ticket" etc.
I got pulled over a second time when I figured there was no such crackdown in effect, so lesson learned: just put on the (expletive) belt and don't give it a second thought. (BTW I got a ticket the first time, a warning the second.)
If any of the overweight and bald-headed local law enforcement people are reading this - some of you look like neo-Nazi skinheads - you needn't stare to see if my family have our seat belts on - we do.
The driver of the semi in the crash said it appeared the van was going to yield. This brought back a memory for me. This was from the days when I hopped around town on my bicycle a lot. It was at night. Yes, a time to be extra careful. I was heading south on the street next to the (old) Sun Tribune building and First Lutheran Church. A car was stopped at the intersection and remained there long enough that I assumed the driver saw me. So I proceeded without hesitation. Then he applied the accelerator.
I tried making a sudden turn to avoid the car but the car did make contact with the rear of my bike, and I ended up on the pavement. The driver stopped upon making contact. You'll laugh at this as I share with you that I was actually more worried about my camera being damaged, than about my body. Joyce Van Eps was in a car behind the one that struck me, and I was pleased that she was concerned about my welfare. Of course my bike was totaled. These days I only see Joyce at Thrifty White Dug occasionally. I am concerned about her welfare too: I hope she has quit smoking.
Two interesting things about "the old days": We tolerated smoking everywhere, and we weren't required to wear seat belts. A theory on the seat belt crackdown: it may have grown from our tech-filled society wherein all our gadgets are disrupting our normal attention span. Our brain gets filled with lots of data, much of it probably of questionable value. Do you really need to be reading this blog? Just kidding. We can forget where we put our keys. Just think, in the old days we lived our lives without Instagram.
Seriously, think about how different life was in pre-digital. Can you imagine yourself living that way? People my age did. And we had to combat boredom and ennui in our lives. The digital world has not only conquered boredom, it has gone beyond to where we are surely over-stimulated. I have my laptop on in front of me. I can check the stock market futures any time I want.
A need to drive, really?
I have read that young people approach adulthood with some skeptical thoughts about whether a car is even necessary. They view cars as dangerous. The school bus accident locally reminds us vividly of that. We should be especially upset that these kids had no choice but to be on that trip. They are required to go to school. Why hasn't our education developed more to being independent of the old school building model, a model that can seem almost like prison? All the information in the world is online.
Everyone has easy access to the Internet and if certain people don't, the government should help them. Staying at home protects kids from bus crashes and school shootings. Yes there's an issue of proper supervision. But we can progress toward a more sensible model. Home schooling is already pretty well established. When I was in high school, there'd be hell to pay if you were even caught in the hallway without a "pass." How draconian. I must have had a much stronger bladder back then. A loud bell or buzzer would be heard to signal us to change classrooms. No freedom or discretion.
Does anyone realistically worry about a school shooting? Even though these horrible events are reported on the news from time to time, in a sensational manner, we all know the odds of such a thing happening in your town are very remote.
When a shooting happens, the stage is set for lots of hindsight. So, we think that having an armed teacher is the answer? Intelligent and thoughtful people feel this is no answer. These are people not influenced by NRA money. Wherever there is a gun, there is potential for trouble. Suicides are more likely to happen in households that have guns.
"Have gun, will teach?" Can we trust the armed teachers to always show the best judgment? Can we be certain they won't pull out their firearm if there is a simple disturbance in school, not involving a firearm? How can the teacher be certain that an actual shooting event is underway? Is a loud popping noise good enough? What if such a sound occurs minus a gun?
These teachers are going to know that if a shooting in fact happens, they will be obligated to run directly toward the shooter to neutralize him, whereupon the risk of the teacher getting killed will be very high. What will this do to the state of mind of the teacher? Hardly anyone can be a match for an assault rifle. We should ban such rifles. The biggest impediment is campaign money from the NRA for politicians, nearly all Republicans.
I wait nervously to see if the Democrats can get some standing back, to win one of the two houses of Congress at least. The special election in Pennsylvania had the Republican candidate saying that you "hate God" if you vote Democratic. Such pronouncements can put Democrats on the defensive. We need to get over this mindset of Democrats feeling they have to be on the defensive. One-party rule by the Republicans could virtually destroy America.
Previously in this post I noted that so many law enforcement people have shaved heads - I should allow for the possibility that these people simply have a medical condition. But a lot of them ought to lose weight.
A little head-scratching
A news report on the accident says the students "were apparently not wearing seat belts." I'm amused by the word "apparently." Oh I think we can be certain they weren't. If they were, that sentence wouldn't be in there. The Swift County sheriff is quoted saying it was "uncertain if it was illegal to not wear seat belts in school vans equipped with them." I chuckle a little because I'm certain the facts about that were probably gained pretty quickly.
If a bozo like me gets pulled over for no seat belt, I'm quite certain that students en route from school in a van would be too. Again, maybe there's fear of an insurance judgment or fear of real legal consequences - just a theory.
If the sheriff (John Holtz) is unsure about the legality, he could certainly pick up the phone. People in this community screamed at me about how I should have "picked up the phone" after the UMM goalpost incident, to talk to the coach about some things. I was supposed to find out the meaning of a certain hammer. I just think the sport of football is more trouble than it's worth. I should have just left town, the family with me, on the weekend of the goalpost incident. Fundamentally it was UMM's problem, not mine.
The Hancock superintendent gave a quote that disturbs me. Loren Hacker said "We have a really strong faith-based community here." "Faith-based?" Is this in a religious context? The quote echoes all the sermonizing Republicans telling us we "hate God" if we vote Democratic. I don't see why religion needs to be invoked at all, certainly not by a public school superintendent. He further says "I really believe this will draw us closer together."
And all I'd like to say is: let the kids stay at home. There's a quote about how the Hancock school is "the heart of the community." Maybe it should not be.
And it's not as if Republicans love God, they really love tax cuts for the very wealthy.

Addendum: I'm told that the van driver in the accident is Judy Van Eps, formerly the UMM music department secretary. We learn that she's 68 years old, getting me to think immediately: might this be too old for such a job? I'm 63 now and I'm not sure my reflexes are going to be the same five years from now.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, March 12, 2018

Minnewaska reaches 3AA championship contest

March Madness continues without the MACA Tigers. On Saturday the Minnewaska Area Lakers, fresh from eliminating our Tigers, won again at Southwest State University, Marshall. Us orange and black fans are left pondering the "might have beens." We led 'Waska much of the way in our game vs. the Lakers. We faded in overtime.
The rejuvenated Lakers rose to the occasion Saturday at SSU. They defeated New London-Spicer 68-66. So congratulations to the Lakers. Again they overcame a deficit. All that matters is the final score of course.
Jackson Johnsrud made a layup to give 'Waska the initial lead. The Wildcats promptly snatched the momentum, good enough to hold the lead for over 30 minutes. Brandon Adelman was in top offensive form for the Wildcats. But Adelman's 35 points wasn't enough to put his Wildcats on top at the end. No, it was 'Waska ultimately showing the winning form. Thus they have the opportunity now to play Pipestone for all the Section 3AA marbles.
The Willmar paper reported that Adelman "found stretches of metaphorical unconsciousness with a combination of impressive three-point shooting and efficient floaters in the lane."
"Metaphorical unconsciousness?" As someone who has been judged to be a little unconventional in word choice through my career, I must say this description is quite weird. I wouldn't gravitate to such words.
'Waska coach Phil Johnsrud observed that his team had gotten away from its desired offensive philosophy of late. It certainly didn't hurt them when they defeated our Tigers. Against NL-Spicer the Lakers got back more to their comfortable groove with what the coach called "a lot of dribble-drive and kicking (the ball) out." The coach also credited his team's sheer drive and determination.
Indeed there was potential for the Lakers to fold when they sagged to a 26-9 deficit. At halftime the Lakers had righted themselves some as they trailed 31-25. Adelman kept the wind in the Wildcats' sails through much of the second half. He got help from Ander Arnold who scored in double figures.
But on the Lakers' side, Jackson Johnsrud and sophomore Grant Jensen gave fuel for what would prove to be a winning effort. This they did with 3's and with effective penetration. Jensen exceled in the paint and put in 21 points. Johnsrud was a cog with his outside shooting. Coach Johnsrud said of Jensen that he had a "monster game."
The coach was delighted with Jackson Johnsrud's clutch second half showing. The ingredients were in place to delight the devoted Minnewaska fan following.
Host school has name tweak
I refer to Southwest as "SSU" from the old days but I guess it's "Southwest Minnesota State University." I don't like this "Minnesota State" stuff. Mostly it reminds me of the old Jerry Van Dyke TV sitcom. Did you know that Jerry was considered for the role of "Gilligan" in "Gilligan's Island?" That TV show is often cited as an example of trashy TV from the '60s, devoid of substance or artistic merit. Criticizing the old TV is like criticizing country music: it may seem shallow but it takes genius to create. So it really is art, high art actually.
"Gilligan's Island" as art? I would argue yes, because the show had a message of how we're all really kin in our diverse American society: though we seem different, we can easily bond in situations where we have to. Here's this disparate group of tourists on a cruise, they get stranded and they end up with endearing bonds. I think it's very moving. Years later when a show was done showing the group escaping the island, they had adjustment problems. They missed each other.
You gotta believe (in the Lakers)
Coach Johnsrud said "everybody believes in this team." The Lakers crept up on New London-Spicer and took a much-sought lead with 3:33 left. Ryan Christianson showed deft form to sneak in for a layup, so the score is now 60-59 with 'Waska tasting victory. It seemed like a repeat of the Morris game where the final score was 58-51 as Morris scored zero points in overtime.
The Lakers applied the defensive clamps after Christianson's layup. The Lakers scored again and now they seemed within easy reach of victory. Coach Johnsrud loved his team's defense and rebounding in the second half. All that defense still couldn't contain Adelman very well. The Lakers simply had to survive Adelman's onslaught. The clock ended up working against the Wildcats. Coach Johnsrud could not fault his team's defense vs. scoring terror Adelman. Adelman just showed he was a monster player.
Pipestone owned the No. 2 seed in the South Sub-Section. Pipestone beat Windom 78-53 in the game preceding 'Waska vs. NL-Spicer. The Lakers and Pipestone will clash beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday in Marshall (at SSU or whatever it's called).
Almost an "iron man" effort
Just six players scored for Minnewaska on Saturday, led by the 1-2 punch of Grant Jensen (21 points) and Jackson Johnsrud (20). The other four point-scorers were Matthew Gruber (12), Garrett Jensen (8), Ryan Christianson (5) and Luke Barkeim (2). Johnsrud made three 3-pointers while Christianson and Gruber each made one. Garrett Jensen attacked the boards to collect 13 rebounds. The assist leaders were Johnsrud with four and Gruber with three.
The only other scorer of note besides Adelman (35) for NL-Spicer was Ander Arnold with 14 points. Here's the rest of their list: Tristan Thompson (4), Brandyn Harlow (4), Ryan Wyganowski (3), Jonathan Kaelke (2), Jake Schmidt (2) and Caleb Maxwell (2).
Adelman with his three 3-pointers topped that list. His mates Wyganowski and Arnold each made one '3'. The NL-Spicer rebound leaders were Adelman and Thompson with eight and six respectively. Three Wildcats each executed three assists: Adelman, Wyganowski and Thompson. Kaelke and Arnold each stole the ball twice.
Maybe us Tiger fans could pretend this week like we're on the Minnewaska Area bandwagon.
On the structure of post-season now
I'd like to comment on how the post-season structure can be confusing to the average fan. Even when I was a press writer I could feel confusion sometimes. For much of my life we had the district/region format which was easy to understand. In my elementary school years we'd get excused to go to the cafeteria and watch the state tournament when it really was a statewide focus for all! It was the days of the storied one-class format, which today inspires nostalgia just like when we watch Gene Hackman in the movie "Hoosiers." Nostalgia yes, drippingly so.
Of course those were not the good old days. The one-class system was ridiculously unfair. We later learned that even the two-class format was unfair, so a complete egalitarian mentality took over. It's a good thing but on the other side of the coin, the new system does not appeal to the broad public. There is complexity.
The current Morris newspaper has a headline saying the Tigers lost in the "semis." But, the semis of what? The reference is to the sub-section semis. Problem is, the sub-section finals are effectively the section semi-finals. The "sections" are really just one game. The headline in the Monday Willmar paper says the Lakers won in the "3AA semis." But it really was the sub-section championship game. We can scratch our heads.
Some get out "talking points"
I find that the usual suspects in Morris who try to give cover for our coaches all the time, are eager to use the "semis" language for our loss - the paper echoes that. We in fact hear "talking points" about this, so to pull the wool over numerous eyes. Hey, we lost in the "semis." Just look at the headline in the Morris paper. But what does it mean to lose in the sub-section semis? All it means is that you won one game - in our case, over ACGC - and then we lost.
We did not reach a high level at all. I am accustomed to coming up against "talking points" in this community. But the irritation remains. Coach Torgerson has gotten through his whole lengthy career with this kind of "cover."
A former school board member tells me that the sports constituency of our school is pretty assertive these days when it comes to facilities and resources. I wonder how all those people feel about our basketball teams combining for one win in the post-season this year. I have always tried to be an advocate for Tiger athletics but too often I'm perceived as "the bad guy." Well, you all made your bed, now you can sleep in it. Go Lakers! My late father was a 1934 graduate of Glenwood High School. Those were the days of John Dillinger.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, March 9, 2018

Tigers wilt and die in OT against Minnewaska

'Waska 58, Tigers 51
Oh no! The MACA boys have been pushed to the end of post-season play. There was no repeat of the explosive offense the Tigers exhibited against ACGC. The Tigers' second post-season game had them matched against rival Minnewaska Area. The site was an unusual one for our post-season games: Willmar.
Had we won, we would have moved on to the very familiar court at Southwest State U, Marshall. And for much of Thursday's game against the Lakers, prospects for victory looked very good. I listened to the broadcast via live stream on my new laptop. It seemed we were en route to victory in the second half. I switched away, thinking things were in hand. I knew there was an outside chance for things to go south. Upon entering DeToy's Restaurant this morning, I got the surprising news that we headed south indeed and ended up losing to the Lakers.
Oh no! The season is done prematurely, in the view I'm sure of Tiger fans, and we're on the sidelines with the girls team. The girls lost in the first round of play. One consequence of these early exits is a very long break between the winter and spring seasons. It's hard to think of spring sports now. The break will be so long, maybe the athletes will develop different habits and not see sports as being so essential. I wouldn't blame them.
Had I stuck with the Thursday radio broadcast, I would have listened into overtime. Overtime was a disaster for our Tigers as we scored zero points. We fell in the 58-51 final. This was after we'd held the lead for the vast majority of the game.
Garrett Jensen of the Lakers did much to keep his team in position to win. Jensen is one of three seniors who have been at the fore of the 'Waska effort. He's joined by Matthew Gruber and Jackson Johnsrud. Jensen was truly at the fore Thursday with 27 points, the game-high figure. His layup with 25 seconds left in regulation tied the score. "He's the type of guy you want in your foxhole," coach Phil Johnsrud was quoted saying of Jensen. (I'm not real fond of war analogies for sports.)
We need to credit the 'Waska defense in a big way. Indeed the Lakers applied the clamps, limiting the Tigers to seven points over the last 5:15 and overtime. Meanwhile the Lakers surged to score 21 points. I missed all that in my radio listening. OT saw the MACA offense virtually die.
The first half story had Camden Arndt looking good for the orange and black as he put in ten points, helping us assume a 25-22 lead. He scored ten of our first 17 points but slowed in the second half. His game total was 14. Jackson Loge came on strong for second half play, scoring ten of his team-best 18 over that period.
'Waska coach Johnsrud praised his junior guard Ryan Amundson for coming off the bench to inject some valuable sheer energy.
So now the Lakers and not the Tigers will make the trip to Marshall for the 8 p.m. game on Saturday. Again coach Johnsrud will be depending on that triumvirate of seniors in a big way. The Lakers will play New London-Spicer. Johnsrud described his team as "a big family." Based on W/L records, Thursday's outcome really was not surprising. By beating MACA, 'Waska owns a 19-7 record. And let's not forget the Lakers beat MACA twice in the regular season. The Tigers end the season with a record of 13-14.
Our three double figures scorers Thursday were Loge (18), Arndt (14) and Jaret Johnson (12). Just five Tigers scored points. Connor Koebernick scored four points and Tate Nelson three. Arndt made two 3-pointers while Nelson and Johnson each made one.
Loge was a monster for rebounding with his 16 followed by Johnson with five. Koebernick showed deft passing to get six assists. Arndt and Nelson each stole the ball twice.
Jensen's name jumps out at you from the 'Waska scoring list: 27 points. Here's the rest of the list: Matt Gruber (9), Jackson Johnsrud (7), Jaeger Jergenson (6), Grant Jensen (5) and Shawn Carsten (4). Garrett Jensen connected twice from three-point range, while Johnsrud and Gruber each connected once. Garrett Jensen snared nine rebounds. Gruber dished out five assists. Johnsrud stole the ball twice.
Tiger fans can plan different things to do in the evening now. Sigh.
Owls 80, Ashby 54
Section 6A play opened for the Hancock boys on a most upbeat note. How pleasing to see that the Owls' next game will be at our UMM P.E. Center. It seems so logical. So convenient for the Hancock fans. Presumably we'll see plenty of Morris fans turning out at our local facility too. The MACA teams have been eliminated from the post-season. Go Owls!
Special attention will be paid to Noah Kannegiesser, a superstar type of player for coach Cory Bedel's Owls. Kannegiesser scored 34 points and grabbed six rebounds in Thursday's 80-54 win over Ashby. It was Hancock's 23rd win of the season. The Owls raced out to a 38-29 halftime lead. The advantage was 42-25 in the second half. The Owls will play at 1 p.m. Saturday vs. Battle Lake at the UMM court.
Bennett Nienhaus scored ten points and Cole Reese put in nine. Daniel Milander and Peyton Rohloff each scored six. Jordan Peterson added five points to the mix and Connor Reese added four. The Schmidgall boys, Mason and Parker, each scored two as did Tyler Timmerman. Kannegiesser brought waves of cheers from the Hancock partisans with his seven 3-pointers! Nienhaus had two long-range makes and Cole Reese had one.
Kannegiesser and Nienhaus each collected six rebounds. Nienhaus and Connor Reese each picked up four assists. Nienhaus led in steals with three.
For Ashby, Dakota Ecker and Scott Johnson each made three 3-pointers. Johnson was team-high in scoring with 19 points. Jaden Norby was No. 2 with his 14 points, and Ecker's point total was nine. Three other Arrows scored: Jacob Rein (6), Noah Johnson (4) and Ashton Ecker (2).
Here's hoping the bleachers will be filled Saturday at our P.E. Center! I can close my eyes and still remember the electric guitar sounds from the late Roger Clarke's son for Hancock! I also remember the giant scissors brought as a prop for Hancock to taunt Morris. Did someone need a haircut? These memories need to be preserved.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Can MACA boys turn tables vs. Minnewaska?

The MACA boys are seeking to extend their campaign, having advanced quite routinely through the first round of post-season. The girls are done. So the boys carry the MACA Tiger basketball banner now, trying to advance step by step, fresh from a dominating win over Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City.
The Tigers will have their next challenge on Thursday, March 8, against Minnewaska Area. The site will be neither Morris nor 'Waska, it will be Willmar for this 6 p.m. game. We're in Section 3AA.
If we look back on regular season scores, the challenge will probably be pretty substantial for us. February 2 saw the Tigers fall to the Lakers 59-47 at home. Then on December 14, the Tigers lost to 'Waska 52-41 on the road. Can coach Mark Torgerson get the tables turned on Thursday? That's the question we're all awaiting the answers to.
The outcome of the ACGC game was heartening. Take a look at the halftime score: 53-26. And then look at the final: 89-44. What a robust offense the orange and black displayed. Our overall record is 13-13 coming out of this game. ACGC closed things out with an 11-15 mark. We had balance and quality among a number of individuals. Let's look at our top four scorers, all in double figures. Here we see Jaret Johnson leading the way with 24 points. Camden Arndt poured in 18. Tate Nelson produced 13 and Connor Koebernick 12.
This foursome was complemented by: Chandler Vogel (8), Kyle Staebler (7), Jaden Maanum (3), Mace Yellow (2) and Jackson Loge (2). The Tigers enjoyed good productivity in three-point shooting. Arndt put the ball through the twine three times from beyond that arc. Koebernick, Nelson and Johnson each had two 3-point makes. Maanum made one long-ranger. Koebernick led in rebounds with seven followed by Arndt and Loge each with six. Loge and Nelson each produced five assists, and Arndt led in steals with six.
The double figures scorers for the Falcons were Josh Kinzler (16) and Jaren Kaddatz (12). Their list continues with Kobe Holtz (5), Dawson Miller (4), Brayden Hedtke (3), Steven Lawver (2) and Michael Lambert (2). Kinzler succeeded three times from 3-point range. Holtz, Hedtke and Kaddatz each made one long-ranger. Holtz and Lambert each collected five rebounds. Kinzler and Holtz each executed two assists. Lawver stole the ball three times.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta is in the 3AA quarter-finals now. I sometimes get confused with the post-season structure and terminology. You see, the sub-section finals game is the same as the section semi-finals. I think it's hard for the casual fan to grasp the post-season organization. You really have to be a parent or a very committed fan. The destination will be Willmar on Thursday, 3/8.
Gage Wevley in state wrestling
MAHACA ended its season with Gage Wevley's appearance in the prestigious state tournament in St. Paul. The state's elite wrestlers assembled following tradition at Xcel Center, St. Paul. Wevley vied among the "big guys" in the 220-pound class (Class AA). He squared off against a Totino-Grace grappler, Nate Schultz. The bout didn't go well for the Tiger as he dropped a 10-1 major decision.
Wevley might have been done under these circumstances, but he was able to get another bout thanks to Schultz winning his next match. Schultz beat Reed Rasset of Annandale-Maple Lake. So Wevley bounded out onto the mat again, this time to take on Rasset on Friday evening (3/2). Again Wevley was unable to summon winning form and he fell vs. Rasset 7-2.
Wevley supplied lots of excitement with his MAHACA Tiger mates through the course of the 2017-18 winter. Fans will be ready and enthused for a new campaign next winter!
Hancock boys in action too
The exciting Owls of Hancock wrapped up their regular season on February 27 with a 75-50 win over Underwood at home. The home gym will be the site again when action resumes for Section 6 post-season play. Noah Kannegiesser and his high-flying Owl mates will play at the friendly Hancock gym on Thursday, March 8, against an opponent that was not yet announced as of Wednesday morning (according to the Pheasant Country Sports site). Game-time is 7 p.m.
Kannegiesser put in 21 points when the Owls took care of business against the Rockets of Underwood. The Owls had a triumvirate of high scorers. The record-setting Noah was complemented by Bennett Nienhaus with 18 points and Connor Reese with 17. Also in a complementary role were Cole Reese (9), Daniel Milander (4), Peyton Rohloff (4) and Colton Crowell (2). Kannegiesser made three shots from three-point range. Nienhaus, Connor Reese and Cole Reese each made one 3-pointer.
Rebound leaders were Connor Reese (9), Nienhaus (7) and Kannegiesser (6). The assists list was topped by Nienhaus (6), Milander (5) and Kannegiesser (4). Three Owls each had three steals: Kannegieser, Connor Reese and Cole Reese. The Owls led 36-28 halfway through. Hancock enters the post-season with a glittering 22-2 record. Underwood's record was left at 7-18.
Here's the Underwood scoring list: Camen Andrews (16), Winston Heifort (12), Levi Blaskowski (9), Canaan Kugler (8) and Nicholas Seiple (5). Andrews made three 3-point shots and Kugler made two.
Hancock girls end season
Unfortunately for Owl fans, their girls hoops squad had a one-and-done story for the post-season. The end came on Thursday, March 1, at the hands of Underwood in a 59-50 final at Underwood. The Rockets left the launching pad quite fine in the first half, gaining a 28-16 lead. The Owls had a slight edge in the second half but the damage had been done.
Underwood had a 1-2 punch in scoring that they applied en route to victory. Brenna Tinjum and Sydney Hovland each put in 17 points. Corina Mark scored 14, Ally Johnson eight, Kayla Rocholl two and Montana Evavold one. (You know you're covering Underwood when you type the "Evavold" name.)
Ashlyn Mattson spurred the Owls with her 20 points but it wasn't enough. Here's the rest of the HHS list: Lexi Staples (9), Katelynn Jepma (6), Tess Steiner (6), Reegan Hanson (6) and Haley Mattson (3). Ashlyn Mattson was on fire from three-point range, making five long-rangers! Staples made one '3'. Ashlyn Mattson with her seven rebounds led in that category. Haley Mattson contributed two assists and Ashlyn Mattson had two steals. Hancock finishes the season with an above-.500 record at 13-11. Underwood upped its W/L numbers to 18-7.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Misbehavior leaves Hollywood folks reeling

I always have to be reminded when it's the Oscars time of year. I remember when a character in the "Doonesbury" comic strip referred to those celebrities as "tinsel-crazed morons." The strip had a celebrity at the podium telling a lame joke. John Wayne got in a little trouble with the law, we learned. "He double-parked his horse outside," the celebrity said, drawing affected laughter. The strip was from when Doonesbury had a heady and fresh air about it, appealing to youth who didn't feel in the mainstream yet.
I remember a few years back when the strip seemed to do something provocative and someone wondered why we weren't hearing more about it. A Star Tribune letter writer said "it's because no one reads (the strip) anymore." Well, George Burns kept going until he was nearly 100.
The Biblical epics were a big deal when I was a kid. There were a number of "robes and sandals" movies. The peak of that was with Moses holding up that big staff or baton or whatever it was, and parting the sea. The good people streamed through. And then I wanted to warn the chariot drivers: "I wouldn't go in there if I were you." That line was redux for the "Rambo II" movie where we saw a bad guy commander telling his charges to go somewhere where we knew they'd be goners. "I wouldn't go in there if I were you." Del Sarlette thought the sequel should be called "Second Blood" (after "First Blood").
Hollywood sequels are more effective than they used to be. In a previous time, they were considered risky to do. I have read that when planning a sequel, just take whatever ingredient that made the first movie successful and overdo it. An example of that was the "Jaws" sequel. The shark attacks got so passe, I heard a smattering of laughter in the theater. As time passed, Hollywood grabbed ahold of the "franchise" concept and realized that if a particular movie grabbed the audience, like "Batman," work hard at subsequent movies to make them truly as appealing as the original. Go back and re-make the very first installment. This would have been unthinkable when I was a young adult (attending movies at the twin theaters outside Crossroads Center, St. Cloud MN).
Fast-forward to today: Hollywood is panicked and paranoid in the year 2018. We should accept all sorts of foolishness and ungainly behavior among the Hollywood crowd when it comes to seeking sex or romance (sex to be prioritized, I assume). I'm sure there were unwritten rules for years, rules calling for young attractive women to be passive in the face of drooling powerful men. The "boys will be boys" ethos has gotten wiped out quickly. There are men rising every morning worried that some past untoward behavior will come to light, to an extent their professional existence could get wiped out.
Here in Minnesota the toll has been enormous for the iconic Garrison Keillor, someone who we'd all like to be proud of for his folksy and thoughtful humor. Keillor has been thrown virtually on his heels. Unlike many others in his position, he isn't taking it sitting down. He's fighting back even though his past emails definitely leave one squirming a little.
You know, when it comes to Keillor and Hillary Clinton and others, I am amazed at the sheer quantity of emails these people leave behind to be sifted through. My God, tens of thousands of emails or hundreds of thousands? Did they just sit around all day typing emails? How did they get by in the pre-digital age? A city manager somewhere in Minnesota has been quoted saying email "is a time eater." He had concerns about the time investment. Can each email really be justified in terms of something getting accomplished?
In my early days of emailing at the Sun Tribune newspaper, I began wondering about such issues. Turns out my email quantity was dwarfed by what Clinton and other celebrities do.
Keillor may be starting a somewhat successful pushback on the sexual harassment phenomenon. There are legitimate issues to weigh here. I speak as someone who was once in a workplace where two individuals, one of them married, began one of those "lovebird" things and ended up announcing their intention to get married. It had to begin as one of the two making an advance. My own theory, just a theory, is that the woman made the primary advance. It ended up not being harassment because the male was receptive. What if he was not receptive? Is this how we define sexual harassment? By whether the target of the overture is receptive or not? Our legal system usually wouldn't follow such logic. The behavior would have to be judged by consistent standards, or ought to be. There should be no natural bias toward the woman.
We all know that workplace relationships can get well outside the bounds of "work" objectives. If I were to live my life over, I'd make a resolution to develop no personal affinity with anyone in the workplace, no matter how harmless it might seem.
Keillor warns of an overreaction to a pattern of romantic overtures that can happen in the workplace. Will people be bludgeoned into fearing any sort of scent of romance in the workplace? Will the legal repercussions be too severe? But isn't it true that numerous married couples came together because of workplace affinity? If these are to be snuffed out, what is to become of our society? Where is someone supposed to meet a prospective mate? Only at church? I don't go to bars so that's no option for me.
So Hollywood is gripped by paranoia related to the Weinstein scandal and other such dirty laundry (Charlie Rose etc.). Studios are trying to ban the press from their parties at Oscars time. Banning the press!
I remember that after the goalpost incident at UMM in 2005, certain people close to administration tried banning "the media" from even being present for the memorial program held for the deceased UMM student, Rick Rose. "No media" is how the memo came down. Once someone on our staff made an issue of this, another communications person at UMM got involved. This second person knew full well you couldn't ban the media. At the same time, she argued "we don't want any TV trucks here." Today I doubt very much that "trucks" are needed for media people to get video of something. And of course, the most problematic angle is trying to define what "the press" is. Anyone can be press or media. Aren't I showing that right now?
I have a grin a little like the cat that ate the canary as I ponder all the nuances of the sexual harassment topic. And that's because I have never even asked a woman on a date. I once queried my friend and co-worker Howard Moser how the people at DeToy's Restaurant would react if I entered the place with a female companion sometime. He said: "They all know you're too smart to do that."
Addendum re. the movie "The Ten Commandments": Us fans of Maynard Ferguson the trumpet player have read all our lives that Maynard played with the orchestra in the soundtrack of that movie. We're non-plussed as we realize we simply cannot pick out the sound of his trumpet, try as we might, repeatedly.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Girls exit from post-season too fast

Well, that was fast. The MACA girls basketball team, capable of supplying lots of excitement through the 2017-18 winter with three-point shooting and other attributes, exited from the post-season quickly. It's discouraging. We fell to the Minnewaska Area Lakers in a 58-44 final. The game was played on Monday, Feb. 26, at 'Waska. We're in Section 3AA.
Depressing also was the next day's Willmar sports section which had two sentences of coverage. The second sentence was this: "No other details about the game were provided by press time." Is the sports editor spending too much time smoking cigarettes or what?
The season did in fact have its highlights for the orange and black. Often we'd make three-pointers. We had post talent with Malory Anderson. I never personally watched the team play but I enjoyed following them. Now that MACA is done, how can we properly acknowledge "March madness?" We can hope for some success by the MACA boys. Unless the boys surprise us, don't expect their post-season to last too long either.
The boys did impress on Monday with a 56-39 win over Montevideo on the road. Will that presage things? The win left our W/L record just under .500 at 12-13. Monte struggles with a 3-20 mark. Jaret Johnson made two 3-pointers and led us in scoring with 16 points. Jackson Loge and Connor Koebernick each made one '3'. Camden Arndt came through with ten points. Koebernick and Loge each put in nine points. Tate Nelson added six points to the mix and Kyle Staebler scored four.
(The individual totals in the Willmar paper add up to 54 points, not 56.)
Loge and Arndt led in rebounds, each with six. Arndt with his eight assists led there. Johnson was tops in steals with three. The Tigers led at halftime 27-25.
For Monte, Jackson Snell and Cole Sandven led in scoring with 13 and 10 points respectively. Adam Root scored four points. These Thunder Hawks each scored two: Blaine Sederstrom, Christian Riley, Isaac Hoogeveen, Thomas O'Malley and Josh Kinman. The list wraps up with Hunter Ward and his one point.
(These individual totals from the Willmar paper add up to 38 points, not 39.)
Sandven connected twice from three-point range and Snell made one long-ranger. Snell and Henry Strunc each had five rebounds. Snell executed two assists. Sederstrom stole the ball three times.
What about girls' future?
Any time a prep team loses in the first round of post-season, the conversation should be wide open for speculation on whether the coach should stay or step aside. No one should feel inhibited. I felt we were underachieving when Lauren Reimers was playing, and now we have some quite impressive individuals making their mark. But losing in the first round? It certainly seems deflating. Could someone else be given a shot at coaching this team?
I remember in the 1980s, how slow the Morris girls athletic programs were in getting up to snuff. It was like molasses. There are always exceptions to a general rule, and in the '80s we had a softball program coached by Mary Holmberg that could reach great heights. Holmberg could not duplicate that success in basketball. Our girls volleyball was lagging too. Basketball and volleyball are the highest profile sports.
We saw some small schools in the Morris area set very high standards in the high profile girls sports. We saw massive fan turnouts at the P.E. Center for teams other than Morris, teams like Wheaton and Hancock. Hancock was a story unto itself. A whole book night be written about that. Actually one was, by the coach who made his unique mark on Stevens County athletics. That coach/scribe was Dennis Courneya who wrote "Sudden Death Overtime." He praised that Halvorson guy of the Alexandria paper but didn't mention me. Oh, I'm so hurt! But I'd rather be in my shoes than in Courneya's, because I have no prison record in my personal background. Yes, Courneya was found to have crossed quite the line, Roy Moore style. Moore hasn't spent time in prison. In fact he came rather close to getting elected to the U.S. Senate. Congratulations Republicans, you almost got him pushed over the top.
The Stevens County Museum should ensure that the heyday of the Hancock girls basketball program gets preserved in an effective way. Regardless of the coach's misadventures, which were substantial, the Owls were rather a phenomenon with their nonstop running and pressure approach. Wheaton under coach Earl Steffens made its mark too, supported by that "sea of red" of fans. I used that term more than once and then I heard Janet Karvonen use it on TV, making me wonder if she'd read my work!
Wheaton had Sondra Weick who'd end up coming to UMM and playing very well. At that time I covered the UMM women. There was no UMM website with its high standards for coverage and PR. Those were different times. They were actually more relaxed times. I miss some of it.
Morris girls athletics in the 1980s needed a jump start. If we weren't going to win, we at least needed hope. Hope seemed elusive. Finally Chris Baxter came along and generated a 15-10 record with the volleyball team. This success made many Morris faculty members nervous. Fans needed patience but we finally righted ourselves. Today if Morris plays Wheaton in girls basketball or volleyball, it's just an ordinary game and either team can win - and that's the way it should be! In the 1980s such a matchup might have ended up as a political spectacle.
I was troubled that Morris community leaders, however you might want to define that network, didn't apply pressure to achieve progress faster. I was there and watched it all along. Mary Holmberg was great for advocating for equal resources for girls athletics. She didn't seem as committed, in my eyes, to setting high standards for competitive advancement. Dennis Rettke was a leader when the turnaround came, but even that turnaround was halting at times. Politics, friendships and political bonds had to be overcome.
Today the environment seems quite acceptable. But losing in the first round of post-season is never something we should feel comfortable with. If one thing doesn't work, try something else. It's just sports, it's just fun. In some years when Morris loses early, I start writing about New London-Spicer, that great program coached by Mike Dreier. I'll see what I feel like doing.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com