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

Focus of pride in Morris MN: our school! - morris mn

Focus of pride in Morris MN: our school! - morris mn
Our school in Morris is a hub of community activity and enrichment. (B.W. photo)

Monday, February 28, 2011

MN prep playoffs keep seeking perfection

Change happens often in high school sports. The idea is to promote fairness while keeping the turnstiles spinning.
When I was a kid, the idea of "fairness" was to let the very small schools compete for the "sub-district" trophy because they might not have much hope after that. After a couple of wins against comparable-size schools, they'd come up against the inevitable barrier of a big school with its well-oiled program and numbers superiority.
"Hoosiers" was just in the movie. It was like winning the lottery. The associations that oversee these things decided that wasn't very fun.
We're headed into March Madness now in which our state's teams have quite the level playing field. You can't make a movie about it but it's fair. What we lose is the mass interest created by a small, easy to understand field of teams. I'm focusing on basketball here but let's shift to football.
Our Big Cat Stadium might seem like the most cold and desolate place in the world now. But our Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) is putting plenty of attention on football now. For one thing, they're considering the creation of a seventh class. A seventh class!
When I was a kid there were no post-season football playoffs. I did a post a few months ago in which I recalled Stan Kent, a 1960s football coach here, saying he didn't like the idea of playoffs. He said playing for the conference title was good enough.
"When you win the conference title, it really means something," he said.
He further explained that with the playoffs, a conference champion will end the season with a loss unless it's so fortunate as to win the state title. That's part of the deal with playoffs: Everyone ends with a loss except the champion. If you can accept that, it's OK.
Coach Kent was a little dubious. He didn't talk about the weather but he could have. The weather sure becomes a factor in late fall in Minnesota. It looks like the state High School League is thinking about this.
Not only do the playoffs end with a loss for most teams, they can end in a state of misery with winter-like conditions prevailing. That's what happened to Benson last fall. The Benson Braves came to our Big Cat Stadium under conditions that actually prompted me to call the school to see if there would be a postponement.
I was fully aware that football is played under nearly all conditions. I know that lightning is probably the only factor that can cause the field to be cleared.
But holy cow, the weather for the Morris vs. Benson playoff game was going to be abominable! There was a thumbs-up and I attended. Fortunately I have outerwear that might enable me to climb Mount Everest. I strongly recommend a "mad bomber" hat. Yes, that's the commonly accepted term. This and the proper liners go a long way toward protecting you in abominable conditions.
The weather threw everything at us it could. The game got played but I doubt anyone has fond memories. You can really feel the wind out there at Big Cat.
Big Cat Stadium was sold to us partly because it could be a venue for high-level post-season games. But right now it sounds like our High School League is trying to scale back the football post-season.
Have they gotten disheartened because of the potential for unpleasant weather (for the fans if not the players)? Do they feel the season just goes too long? Aren't the turnstiles spinning well enough? Is the current system a problem for teams that advance a long ways and then get hardly any preparation for winter sports?
The MSHSL in its most recent meeting suggested a big change in football section games and the playoffs. It's looking for feedback so get online if you wish. The board approved a motion that may mean a vote on a new playoff concept. That vote could be made on April 7.
A task force (shudder) has studied the issues. We now have a proposal called "section football." The MSHSL calls this a "marked departure."
Coach Kent might shudder because section football would replace conference football. Actually he might not shudder because the section concept would simply replace conference. They would in effect become the new conferences.
Teams would play regular season games mainly against teams in their section to determine champions. A team would have the breathing room to schedule one or two games outside of that.
There's another big departure: Classes would be defined in a different way, other than by just drawing lines according to school enrollment numbers. School size would still be the basic criterion. But there would be a designated number of teams in each class. An exemption would be made for nine-man.
Still another proposal would call for that seventh class. I had to laugh when reading about that. No one wants to be in with the truly elite programs like Cretin-Derham Hall or Eden Prairie. So the large schools that might end up with them are always clamoring for a new class to get separation.
I heard long ago that this explains the existence of the AAA class for basketball. The AAA schools are quite large but they want to be insulated from the biggest and baddest (as in good) programs. I also heard that attendance for AAA games was poor relative to other classes. The schools are too big to engender real grassroots "school spirit," but they don't have marquee status like Cretin-Derham Hall might. We all want to maximize the odds.
It's a far cry from the days when people didn't seem to care about giving an "equal shot" for everyone. The old concept of letting the small schools try for that "sub-district" trophy seems quaint now.
But maybe in the old days, people felt it really wasn't that important for kids to be tied up for so long in post-season athletics. Let a few elite teams do this, like Edina in basketball, while the vast majority of kids could get on with the other business in their lives. Maybe there was in fact some wisdom behind that.
You could argue we had the best of both worlds: Kids could emphasize their priorities and not get obsessed with sports, and an exclusive "upper crust" of teams could entertain us on TV. The top basketball teams (only boys of course) would play at Williams Arena, which was like a shrine in March. Sid Hartman certainly savored it.
It sounds like the MSHSL's proposed changes would mean a shortened post-season for football. There would simply be no section playoffs.
And this after Big Cat Stadium was sold to us as a playoff venue, attracting lots of people to town for these games. I would say Big Cat has had mixed success accomplishing this anyway. Last fall there was one weekend - I can't specify which exact one - when Big Cat would have seemed a prime candidate for hosting a playoff game (or games), but it didn't.
Big Cat was sure "sold" to us in a number of ways, along with the new elementary school. And of course the new elementary includes a lot more than just the elementary. We now have a truly sprawling campus and no one would argue that it isn't "nice." But is it all sustainable?
Will the numbers add up over the long-term future? What direction is the economy of this area headed? Years hence, will part of our public school campus be leased to private interests?
Instead of building a football stadium, why couldn't we have built a fine arts hub that would include the concert hall, that would be fully shared between the public school and UMM?
I have been told that the reason UMM doesn't arrange to use the concert hall more, is that UMM is still trying to sell "Humanities Phase III." The availability of the concert hall might put a damper on potential donors' enthusiasm, or so I'm told.
What folly! The good economic times made us so gluttonous. Well let me tell you, a new austere reality is setting in. Look at Wisconsin.
If Tom Emmer had gotten elected here in Minnesota, the Republicans could mount an overpowering charge like in Wisconsin. And it might be a very good thing!
Conquering the unions would create a landscape where state resources could be distributed more effectively.
Our Governor Mark Dayton is talking about eviscerating Health and Human Services. He has to apply the scalpel somewhere. And pigs will fly before he takes on any labor union. It'll be a mess.
We'll see heart-rending conflict in Minnesota before it's all over.
Anyone who has spent time on my website knows I'm generous when talking about Democrats, but I draw the line where public unions are concerned. Never in my life have I benefited from a union. I believe in advocating for "common folks" but I don't see unionism as synonymous with that - hardly. Unions are a very narrow special interest that are separated from reality.
Let's get on with the belt-tightening. And let's get on with March Madness!
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, February 26, 2011

M-CA cagers go on road with mixed results

Boys basketball: Tigers 65, YME 43
Friday was a night of celebration at Granite Falls as a member of the boys hoops Sting, Taylor Olson, reached a big career milestone. This was a consolation for YME because this team came up short on the scoreboard. They came up short vs. the visiting Morris Chokio Alberta Tigers. Cole Riley poured in 25 points for coach Mark Torgerson's Tigers as the orange and black crew won 65-43.
It was the 16th win for M-CA against six losses. In conference play the squad came out of the night at 11-4.
The Sting's Olson reached 1,000 career points early in the second half. Congratulations are due this talented player. The basket that brought Olson to the milestone also kept Yellow Medicine East close on the scoreboard. It trimmed the M-CA lead to three.
The Sting trailed by eight at halftime (30-22).
There was a brief ceremony to honor Olson. The hearty applause was followed by an intense resumption of the action, and the Cole Riley-led Tigers surged. They outscored the Sting 35-21 in the second half.
Cole complemented his 25 points for the game with nine rebounds. The other double figures scorer for M-CA was Cody Cannon with ten points.
YME's Olson didn't make all that much noise in scoring on this night. The Morris Chokio Alberta defense tightened on him and he scored but nine points. Dylan Lindstrom was YME's top scorer with 13 points.
It has been a rough season for the Sting as their win total coming out of Friday was just five (and three in conference).
The Tigers made 31 of 56 field goal attempts and connected on two of nine three-point tries. The two long-range makes were by Dan Tiernan and Alex Erickson.
Cole Riley and Mac Kampmeier were the rebound leaders with nine and seven, respectively. Erickson led in assists with four and in steals with two. The Tigers survived an off night in freethrow shooting: one of eight.
Cole Riley with his 25 points and Cody Cannon with his ten were followed on the scoring list by Kampmeier, Tiernan and Riley Arndt each with six. Erickson and Tyler Roske each put in four points, and Jacob Torgerson and Austin Dierks each scored two.

Girls basketball: ACGC 59, Tigers 46
Chastity Pautzke was a force for the opposing team as the M-CA girls came out on the short end in Thursday WCC-South hoops play. Pautzke treated fans at her home gym to 17 points as her ACGC Falcons defeated our Morris Chokio Alberta Tigers 59-46.
The Falcons wrapped up the WCC-South slate in third place. Pautzke had six steals to go with her substantial offensive output. Teammate Chelsea Jans put in 14 points.
Coach Dale Henrich's Tigers faded to 8-15 in overall won-lost but they'll have a chance to find new life in the post-season. Yes, that unique time of year is almost upon us.
It can be a headache getting all the terminology straight for the post-season. Jot down a note that the Tigers are in Section 6AA-West. "West" denotes the sub-section. It makes sense if you follow it for a while. The sub-section championship games are in effect the section semi-finals.
The Morris Chokio Alberta girls are seeded in the middle of the pack. They'll be an oh-so-slight underdog in round #1 of the playoffs. It's really a negligible difference vs. the higher seed.
The Tigers are seeded fifth and will play fourth-seeded Osakis at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, at Osakis. Coach Henrich will seek to coax his Tigers into the West semis. Benson owns the top seed and Staples-Motley is No. 2.
Erin Schieler led the Tigers in scoring in the ACGC game. Erin put in eleven points and had the same number of rebounds, leading in that department too. Beth Holland scored nine points, Shadow Olson seven and Erica Domnick six. Continuing with the scoring list we have Katie Holzheimer (4), Sarah Kuhn (3), Liz Helberg (2), Holly Amundson (2) and Kelsey Loew (2).
A bright spot on the night was three Tigers each making a three-point shot: Olson, Kuhn and Holland.
Schieler's eleven rebounds were followed by Kuhn's six. Schieler dished out three assists.
ACGC led 29-22 at halftime.
The Tigers made 19 of 47 field goal attempts and were three of five (quite proficient) in those long-rangers.
Viva Morris Area Chokio Alberta basketball for 2011! March Madness nears.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hoops vs. Monte: boys prevail, girls defeated

Boys basketball: Tigers 54, Monte 53
Cody Cannon and Eric Riley made the key baskets at the end as the Tigers treated their home fans to an unforgettable win over the Montevideo Thunder Hawks Tuesday. Montevideo came here as a top-flight team and showed those qualities in the first half.
Buoyed by four three-pointers, the Thunder Hawks worked to a 29-23 lead at halftime. Jacobey Johnson and Colton Vien each made two of those long-rangers to build Monte's stock in first half play.
Those 3's may have quieted the M-CA fans a bit. But there was a whole half of basketball to come. And what a half that second half was!
Coach Mark Torgerson applied his sharp judgment to call for more of a "motion" offense. This seemed to have the effect of creating fatigue among the Thunder Hawks.
Of course the Tigers needed to score points. In this respect their charge was led by Cole Riley. Cole poured in 17 of his game-total 21 points in the second half. His 21 points were tops for either team.
The last minute of play was one of those classic "sweaty palm" episodes. It's fun when you come out of one of these episodes the winner, heartbreaking if you lose.
Monte entered the night with fresh memories of a one-point loss. They were dealt defeat by Minnewaska Area 59-58 in overtime on Thursday, Feb. 17.
Thunder Hawk fans had to be thinking "here we go again" on Tuesday.
Tiger Cody Cannon made a big statement with a field goal that came with 24 seconds left. This made the score 53-52 with the Tigers shy by a point. They needed another statement. They got it when Eric Riley connected on a shot, seven seconds after the Cannon success.
A Monte turnover helped the Tigers in this frenetic series of events.
In the wake of the Eric Riley basket, Monte failed to get a good last-gasp shot opportunity.
Morris Chokio Alberta fans felt exhilarated as they heard the final horn sound with their team owning 54 points and the Thunder Hawks 53.
Monte has had some luster go off its conference campaign. There's lots of luster left, though, as they came out of Tuesday with a 12-2 conference record and 17-4 overall. They trailed conference leader Minnewaska Area by one game.
The Tigers outscored Monte 31-24 in the second half Tuesday. For the game they made 24 of 49 field goal attempts. They survived a dismal night of three-point shooting as the stats here were one of eight. Chalk one up for Alex Erickson who had the lone success.
Cole Riley complemented his team-leading point total with eight rebounds. Eric Riley contributed seven assists. Eric Riley and Mac Kampmeier each had two steals.
Here we go with the scoring list: Cole Riley (21), Alex Erickson (8), Eric Riley (8), Cody Cannon (7), Mac Kampmeier (6), Dan Tiernan (2) and Riley Arndt (2).
Jake Douglas led Montevideo in scoring with 17 points.

Girls basketball: Montevideo 43, Tigers 31
The M-CA girls didn't fare as well as the boys when playing Montevideo on Tuesday. Playing in Thunder Hawk country (previously Mohawk country), coach Dale Henrich's squad did manage a tied score at halftime, 15-all, but faded in the second half.
The Tigers were outscored in the second 28-16 and fell in the 43-31 final.
Amber Barnes gave lots of fuel for Monte's success. This Thunder Hawk was aggressive in blocking seven shots and stealing the ball three times, plus she scored 17 points and gathered 12 rebounds.
The Tigers missed a good opportunity on this night because Monte came in with just three wins. The home crowd along with Barnes' particularly inspired play might have made the difference.
Morris Chokio Alberta came out of the night with an 8-14 overall record and 6-9 showing in conference.
Erin Schieler had impact with her play, scoring 15 points for the M-CA cause. Erica Domnick attacked the boards for eleven rebounds.
Ouch! The Tigers made just one of 14 three-point attempts. Coach Henrich might want to encourage a little extra drilling in that department. Chalk one up for Hannah Sayles who had that one good "three."
The Tigers were 10 of 35 in overall field goal shooting. In freethrows: 10 of 16.
Domnick with her five points put her second-best on the team behind Schieler. A little more output is needed.
Sayles and Sarah Kuhn each scored four points. Beth Holland scored two points and Kelsey Loew one. Holland also had two steals and two assists. Schieler came through with two steals.
Viva Morris Area Chokio Alberta basketball for 2011! The post-season is getting near.

Boys hockey: St. Cloud Apollo 4, Storm 3
The MBA Storm boys were defeated by St. Cloud Apollo on Saturday, Feb. 19, in Section 6A play. The score was 4-3 as the Storm boys saw the curtain close on their exciting season. Click on the link below to read Gary Hansen's game summary from the MBA Storm site:
http://www.mbastorm.com/news_article/show/79495?referrer_id=217802-morris-benson-area-storm-hockey-news

- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reflecting on winter and Rileys' travails

I backed out of the driveway Saturday morning knowing I'd hear crunching under my tires. The slush created by the recent thaw had frozen. We all had our fingers crossed that the thaw could last longer.
Weather is so central in our thoughts but we're helpless in the face of it. We talk and speculate but in the end we just adapt. I knew those crunching sounds were coming.
I drove to the restaurant which is where a lot of shiftless people like me congregate. I purchased my Star Tribune from that green vending machine and soon discovered that two pages were blank - no ink! One of these pages had the continuation of the Wisconsin kerfuffle story from page 1 - the main reason I bought the paper.
So, not a very good start to the day. I could have brought this matter to the attention of the restaurant proprietor, Boe DeToy, but I'm sure he would've just felt like sighing.
Newspapers know that most people aren't going to take the trouble to rectify something like this. I'm sure I could have arranged something. But Boe needs to concentrate on his stock and trade.
I exchanged hand gestures with my favorite waitress to make sure I'd sit in her section. During the NFL season we squeeze in as much football talk as possible while she (sometimes feverishly) makes her rounds. This UMM student (from Elk River) has a talent for this calling.
When I first quoted a football thought from her on this site, I assumed her name was spelled "Felicia." As an old newspaper person I should have realized you never assume anything.
This past Christmas the names of DeToy's employees were posted and I was astonished to discover that an "x" was in the name. It's "Felixia" which is a quite appealing spelling but one that probably calls for an explanation once in a while.
Now that we're into the wasteland of the post-Super Bowl period, there's less for us to talk about. We'll have to shift gears somehow.
On Saturday morning it wasn't hard to come up with conversation fodder at DeToy's. My ripoff blank pages in my Star Tribune did not include pages 1B and 2B. I believe I hadn't even gotten my reading glasses positioned when my friends in the next booth gave me a heads-up as to the paper's contents.
There was a very large headline at the top of page 1B that was going to generate buzz in ol' Motown. The headline itself didn't refer to Morris but the subhead did.
We always get goosebumps out here when our little burg gets into the "city paper." Of course, the media often gravitate toward subjects that aren't flattering toward their principals. Here's a case in point: "Tax cheats defended at home."
Those are the words that jumped out at us from the top of 1B. Then we had the subhead that identified Morris. As an aid, the Star Tribune (condescendingly) had a little Minnesota map graphic with a dot so the readers would know where Petticoat Junction, I mean Morris, is.
At this point in the morning I didn't need coffee to wake up anymore. I had thought this whole matter of the Rileys had blown over. I thought that whatever penalties applied had been paid. I knew there was still a suspension period where the firm couldn't work for government entities. But I certainly thought we were past the "bombshell news" period.
Back in the days when I was active in this community, I always had the most favorable impression of Joe and John Riley. I wasn't alone.
When the spectre of legal problems arose, though, I thought it was important that we "compartmentalize." It was fine to retain those favorable impressions while acknowledging that some untoward stuff might have been going on.
I hate saying "I told you so," but when the legal issues first starting coming to our attention, I warned people about Morris giving the impression it was "rallying" behind the accused parties.
People were having trouble compartmentalizing.
Because the alleged wrongdoers had done good things, a lot of people wanted the bad stuff to be swept under the rug. The name of Riley Brothers Construction is on the Big Cat Stadium scoreboard. The company and its owners came to have iconic stature here.
Morris is a small town and somewhat isolated - circumstances that I sometimes think promote a strong "party line" way of thinking here. We can also overestimate our importance, because when town leaders reach a consensus on something, we hammer away at the merit we see behind it. We put aside the intellectual rigors of analysis.
We fail to take that proverbial "deep breath."
Worst of all we can fail to recognize minority opinions. People who dissent can get pounded down like a nail into a board. The problem is that when an issue goes beyond our boundaries, i.e. when it gets the attention of people with no parochial bias, the whole town risks getting pounded into that board.
Put in a nutshell, the theme of the Star Tribune article (continued onto page 2B) was the irony of wrongdoers whose missteps seemed pretty significant, getting zealously defended in their town.
How did the Star Tribune reporters, Randy Furst and Paul Walsh, develop this angle? They must have gotten tips from people in the legal system that the accused individuals were the subject of a rallying cry from their town.
I know firsthand that there was a "lobbying effort," as it were, because I received an email from someone well-connected to UMM that gave the impression (accurate or not) that UMM was putting its muscle behind the effort. Soon thereafter I shared a strong concern in some informal conversations that this might not be a wise course either for UMM or the town's leadership network in general.
It might be best in these sensitive economic times for UMM to steer clear of controversy.
I told people that I wished the Rileys themselves would make a public statement, that they were going to accept the legal system's judgment and that Morris officials shouldn't have to squirm or go into contortions with arguments on their behalf.
I don't think such a statement was ever made.
We learn from the Star Tribune that Joe and John are each sentenced to three and a half years in prison. The sentencing judge, Patrick Schiltz (not Schlitz like the beer), was quoted saying the brothers "committed as serious a tax offense as one can imagine."
The judge said cheating was "a way of life" for the defendants.
The brothers were also fined $250,000 each. Their guilty pleas were made in November. Judge Schlitz, I mean Schiltz, said "the brothers sat in my courtroom under oath and lied."
For you legal neophytes, let me just inform you that lying under oath is a pretty bad thing - real bad. Don't ever do it.
As the TV character Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors) once said in an episode, with conviction: "What a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive."
I wonder if the Rileys will end up in a country club prison. Maybe they'll get to know Denny Hecker.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wisconsin strife overshadows Packers now

Democrats need to be very careful how closely they associate themselves with what is happening in Wisconsin. Wisconsin? Isn't that state pretty meek and low-profile? I suspect that culturally it mirrors Minnesota and yet you don't hear the term "Wisconsin Nice," you hear "Minnesota Nice."
How often does Wisconsin enter the national news for reasons other than sports? But even in the sports realm, Wisconsin has a curiously background role because its teams are named for cities, not the state.
I have written before about this big difference between Wisconsin and Minnesota. Wisconsin has a team at the top of the NFL firmament but it's not the "Wisconsin Packers." It's the "Green Bay Packers."
Green Bay ought to be a minor league city. Don Riley, whose idiosyncratic sports column graced the St. Paul newspaper for many years, wrote that there are two pastimes in Green Bay: watching football and watching haircuts.
Green Bay is "The Little Engine That Could" in major league sports. They also knew when it was time to jettison Brett Favre. Aaron Rodgers' indignity of being backup QB come hell or high water is over. Rodgers has the euphoria of being the most accomplished quarterback in the world.
Favre stayed at the dance too long and now his peccadilloes have come out. Such are the highs and lows of American life.
Now it's in Wisconsin, of all places, where we're seeing raw political conflict of the type that gets the whole country's attention. The meek Midwestern temperament is being tested. The scenes seem nearly identical to what we saw in Egypt very recently. Many observers and commentators can't help but draw parallels.
I would say the comparison is only a superficial one. It would be easy to get misled.
The young people who drove the Egypt protests were seeking liberation. They harnessed the new media to organize, reach a consensus and beat down barriers. Truly they represent a new wave of people empowerment.
What's happening in Wisconsin is the opposite of what it might seem. The people making all the noise, carrying banners and "calling in sick" are those representing the old staid order. They represent the regime under assault. They represent a system that people tolerated, with a grimace, for a long time.
But now, with the empowerment of new media, people can coalesce around ideas that truly make sense and beat down the barriers of entrenched systems.
The public has long been fed up with public employee unions. They have long been irritated by teachers unions and how their objectives can contradict the best interests of education.
People probably weigh their words when they're around teachers, but their feelings are unmistakable about this. I'm talking about the majority of people.
Most teachers are likable on a personal level and we don't want to make this personal.
Public employee unions have acquired leverage that defies fairness. It's an unfair fight.
Government is a monopoly. Unions don't lend themselves to a system like this. There's nothing at stake for the people who negotiate with unions on behalf of the public entities. They're guided into the path of least resistance. That is, until the excrement hits the fan with austere times setting in.
What we see happening in Wisconsin could easily be happening in Minnesota too. Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer came within a hair's breadth of winning. He surprised me because in the early stages of the campaign, he seemed like one of those marginal Republican candidates, too zealous conservatively to get broad support.
Emmer's strong showing really said something about the mood of the electorate. The public was tired of the old Democratic power players who are cozy with unions. Take away that TV commercial about Emmer's DUI problem and he probably would have won.
Mark Dayton is governor and he has said he's "miserable" looking at the state's budget situation. I wish he hadn't used that word. He wanted to be governor, didn't he? Does he not want to accept reality?
Unions aren't good at accepting reality. They are good at making noise like an inebriated heckler at a sports event.
Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin did not sound miserable at a press conference he conducted Friday. Dayton seems lucky compared to him, because Dayton is not (yet) at the vortex of a controversy that pits two sides vs. each other in a warlike way (almost).
But the Wisconsin governor in fact seemed cool as a cucumber. I'm sure he doesn't enjoy the conflict. but he acted in a calm manner suggesting that he's quite sure and firm about his ideas.
"Miserable?" Not at all.
Unions have become a festering issue in America. It's monumentally unfair that the public sector, where they don't belong at all, has become their last bastion.
Advocates say unions fight for the working class. Horse hockey. Unions fight for only one thing. And that is themselves.
We should be so fortunate that unions advocate for the broad working class. But if you exclude the public sector, only a sliver of American workers belong to unions and enjoy those benefits.
Unions should be universal if they're so great.
I became disenchanted with unions during my media career when I saw the extreme level of acrimony in union vs. management disputes. It's dysfunctional and rather scary, really. It's primal and not in a good way.
The vast majority of working people have to respect management. Certainly this is what we want in the public sector.
About a year ago, I wrote a post in which I noted that the "Morning Joe" TV program (with Joe Scarborough) was becoming a leader in expressing skepticism about teachers unions. I think I wrote that these unions were like the weather in that "everyone complains about it but nobody does anything about it."
Scarborough seemed to want to rattle cages. In the past, this kind of talk seemed rather taboo. It was intemperate. In the Upper Midwest especially, we frown on intemperate talk.
Being temperate is a trademark of ours, helping inspire the movie "Fargo," so it's ironic and significant that Wisconsin has emerged as the laboratory over whether public employee unions can truly be slayed.
I'm writing this on the weekend and as of now, it appears that the cool and collected Governor Walker and his advocates are standing firm on principle.
Again, Democrats need to be very careful about this. The broad swath of the general public has been pissed for a long time about public employee unions.
I have heard the argument that we need to support unions because they are the only major organizations left that can funnel money to Democratic candidates, whereas Republicans get all that money from big corporate interests.
We might be underestimating the wisdom of the American people here. People are fully capable of recognizing their own best interests. I totally advocate for the interests of the working class. But I reject the notion that unions are the only tool for accomplishing this.
Unions behave like cornered animals too often. They seem to reveal the worst of human nature. Oftentimes these animals get rabies. An observer just seeks escape.
In Wisconsin, the governor and those behind him aren't blinking (yet). There are money realities staring them in the face.
Actually I could develop an involved economics argument here, and assert that the conflict is really not to be laid at the doorstep of either labor or management. I could argue that the fundamental problem is the diminishing value of our money. This in fact could foment quite serious conflict down the road with Wisconsin just being a minor early hint.
In the meantime, we have to get real. Public employees need to shed some of their unreasonable privileges.
It's time we recognize teachers unions for what they are: advocates for teachers in the most parochial sense. That's what unions do. They aren't crusaders for humanity.
The public has long been aware of this but has just collectively shrugged, up until now. There's a new empowerment - no more mere resignation.
Perhaps because of the communications tech revolution, causes with merit like this one are pushing forward and not laying back in the weeds.
Egypt was lesson No. 1. Wisconsin is another exhibit and it's not the union activists setting the example, it's their critics. The union people are reactionary. The forces of our time are against them.
We can only hope that no one gets hurt now. But when it comes to union zealousness, nothing can be ruled out.
The glow of the Packers' Super Bowl win is receding fast now. And why can't they be the "Wisconsin Packers?" The baseball team is named for Milwaukee as is the basketball team.
What's wrong with Wisconsin anyway?
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tigers, Storm experience those ups, downs

(Note: This post includes updates on M-CA boys basketball, girls basketball, MBA Storm girls hockey, boys hockey and MAHACA wrestling.)

Tuesday, Feb. 15, brought an example of the up and down nature of prep sports. The M-CA boys basketball team absolutely breezed in a game that saw the opponent barely get out of the starting gate. It's almost sad and not very entertaining, really, to see a game like this. but a win got added to the M-CA total and in the long run that's gratifying for the orange and black faithful.
Coach Mark Torgerson's boys defeated Paynesville 82-33 at home.
You might remember that last fall, at Big Cat Stadium, the MAHS football Tigers scored 70-plus points in beating Paynesville. (In football we're still "Morris Area" but next fall we could get Chokio and Alberta tacked on.)
Paynesville Bulldog athletics are paying some dues this year.
While the Tigers had their most "up" night Tuesday, it ended up being a rather devastating day for the MBA Storm girls. The MBA girls took to the ice for the start of playoffs. It's not double-elimination. Therefore a loss spells a quick end.
Yours truly has been writing about some pretty dominating wins by the Storm girls this season. Coming down the home stretch, they had wins by scores of 10-0 and 14-0. The 14-0 win was against Windom in a game that couldn't have been very fun to watch. The Storm should have saved some of those goals for the playoffs.
Coach Jeff Mahoney's usually smooth-skating squad was stunned by Alexandria. The Cardinals downed the Storm 8-3 on the Benson (home) ice.
Early-on there were hopeful signs for the Storm in this Section 6A semifinal game. The Storm skated smoothly in taking a 2-0 lead. Two of the Storm scoring stalwarts, Dani Schultz and Sara Rajewsky, showed their well-known scoring prowess in giving their team that lead. Sam Falk had an assist on the second goal.
Just two minutes had elapsed, not enough time for the Storm's depth and stamina to be tested.
Alexandria is of course a large school and it's in the ranks of the Central Lakes Conference, where team depth is a common attribute. That depth was going to emerge as a factor as the Tuesday game progressed. The Storm's brilliant first line wasn't going to be enough to overcome the Cardinals.
Alex got the score tied but the Storm's Sara Rajewsky struck again, putting the blue and black squad up 3-2 with what the Willmar newspaper described as an "end to end rush." This Rajewsky goal came shorthanded at 12:58 of the opening period.
Alex drew up even again with a Becca Illies goal that came on a power play. Becca is Alex's top scoring threat.
MBA wasn't able to right its ship again. Alexandria began flexing its muscles with that Central Lakes depth. Kalley Kragenbring of the Cardinals, who has strong family ties to Morris, put her squad up 4-3 during the second period. (Her grandmother Bev and I once traveled far and wide following the Tigers!)
Kalley and her mates went on to own the third period, scoring the final four goals while turning the Storm away.
It was truly a bittersweet night for the Storm as they could reflect on a 21-4 season full of exciting memories. But alas, the game at the end put a bit of a damper on that.
One-and-out in the playoffs is hard to spin in a positive way.
The six Morris Benson seniors have now closed out their prep skating careers. There is a question mark hovering over the program as there are zero juniors or sophomores.
Might there be some juniors or sophomores who have been holding back until they can get more playing time? Who knows? But prep sports is by nature unpredictable.
Schultz recorded over 400 points in her stellar career. She led the state with 74 goals this past season.
Sara Rajewsky put the puck in the net 46 times and recorded 48 assists in her outstanding senior season. Sara is the granddaughter of Dave and Yvonne Evenson of the Morris area.
Morris Benson hockey is doing great helping this arduous winter seem shorter than it is! Is it global climate change? (We'd better not get political.)

Boys basketball: Tigers 82, Paynesville 33
The game was a yawner in terms of competitiveness but it was still a showcase for M-CA boys hoops talent. The Tigers downed the green-clad Bulldogs of Paynesville 82-33 to up their season record to 14-6. In conference: 9-4.
The Bulldogs have yet to win a game.
Coach Torgerson had to smile about his team's long-range shooting. The Tigers connected on six of 13 shots from beyond the three-point stripe.
Sebastian Sprouse led that barrage with three successes. This Tiger rarely gets his name into game summaries but he sure had impact Tuesday. Forrest Thielke, another Tiger who is generally low-profile, made two three-pointers, and Alex Erickson made one.
Sam Mattson and Mac Kampmeier each snared five rebounds to lead in that category. Eric Riley was the top assist producer with eight, followed by Cody Cannon with seven. Eric Riley topped the steals list with five followed by Cannon with three.
The Tigers made 36 of 55 total field goal attempts. Lots of individuals got into the act with scoring. Cole Riley led the charge with 17 points and he was joined by two other mates in double figures: Riley Arndt and Cody Cannon each with ten.
Kudos to the Willmar paper every time it has "Arndt" instead of "Ahrndt." We realize it's difficult for them.
Sprouse's three-pointers lifted his total to nine. Continuing with the scoring list we have: Kampmeier (7), Thielke (8), Eric Riley (6), Mattson (2), Dan Tiernan (4), Tyler Roske (4), Erickson (3) and Brody Bahr (2).
Paynesville actually had the game-high scorer: Josh Bungum with his 20 points. He needs a little more help.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta basketball is striving to sharpen for the post-season chapter.

Girls basketball: NL-Spicer 65, Tigers 41
The Morris Chokio Alberta girls became the latest team to succumb to a habitually winning New London-Spicer team Thursday night. The NL-Spicer Wildcats extended their winning streak to eleven at the expense of the Tigers. The score was 65-41 at the Tigers' gym.
The Wildcats' success was in spite of some struggling in three-point shooting in the face of the 3-2 defense that coach Dale Henrich had his team apply. The Wildcats shot often from beyond the three-point line but had only five successes. Fortunately for them, the Tigers were limited to 15 field goals.
The Tigers saw their season record drop to 7-13. The Wildcats, a traditionally very strong program, roll forward at 22-2.
The Wildcats led 39-18 at halftime Thursday.
Morris Chokio Alberta had one double figures scorer: Erica Domnick with eleven points, plus she snared 12 rebounds. Sarah Kuhn scored eight points and complemented that stat with seven rebounds. Beth Holland and Erin Schieler each put in seven points.
The scoring list also included Holly Amundson (3), Kelsey Loew (2), Hannah Sayles (2) and Elizabeth Helberg (1).
The Tigers came up empty on their six three-point shot attempts. In total field goals they made 15 of 50 shots. The freethrow numbers: 11-for-17.
Taylor Thunstedt scored 24 points to lead the Wildcats.

Boys hockey: a win and two setbacks
The MBA Storm boys hockey team defeated Wadena-Deer Creek in an 8-5 final on Tuesday, Feb. 15. Click on the link below to read Gary Hansen's game summary from the MBA Storm website:
http://www.mbastorm.com/news_article/show/78930?referrer_id=217802-morris-benson-area-storm-hockey-news

The MBA boys were edged by the Marshall Tigers 4-3 in Thursday puck action. Click on the link below to read Gary's game wrap-up:
http://www.mbastorm.com/news_article/show/79192?referrer_id=217802-morris-benson-area-storm-hockey-news

The Storm boys were defeated 7-2 by Detroit Lakes on Saturday, Feb. 12. Click on the link below to read Gary's summary from the Storm site:
http://www.mbastorm.com/news_article/show/78624?referrer_id=217802-morris-benson-area-storm-hockey-news

Wrestling: Tigers fourth among nine
Morris Area was "wrestling central" on Saturday, Feb. 12, as nine teams were in action for an invitational here. This much wrestling action always creates an atmosphere of excitement.
The MACAHA student athletes did fine with a fourth place showing. KMS was the champion team. This has been a banner winter for the KMS wrestling athletes, as they have now chalked up five titles in seven tournaments.
Joel Harrison at 215 pounds highlighted the day for MAHACA as he went 2-0 with a fall to garner No. 1.
The upper weights in general had the Tigers doing quite well. At the heaviest weight, 285, Tyler Moser had a fall win en route to placing fourth. Ryan Beyer at 189 won two bouts and lost one to finish third. Connor Metzger at 171 pounds had a 2-1 showing with a fall to place second.
Tim Ostby was the runner-up at his weight of 152, going 2-1 with a fall. Jordan Thooft had a pin en route to placing fourth at 145. Tony Domnick at 135 went 1-2 with a fall to place fourth. Seth Nelson had a 1-1 day with a fall and parlayed that into third place at 130.
Dillan Johnson at 119 went 1-2 to place fourth. Evan Nelson had a 2-1 showing with a fall to finish in third at 112.
These Tigers also wrestled but came up short of wins: Trent Ostby, Aaron Wehking and Jerid Berning.
Viva Morris Area Hancock Chokio Alberta wrestling for 2011!
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We used to talk about "tournament blizzards"

The topic is spring. I'd venture to say that never before have Upper Midwesterners looked so forward to springtime conditions. We pride ourselves on being hardy. More revealing, though, is the fact that many of us, if we can get the means and opportunity in retirement, become "snowbirds."
Bears hibernate and snowbirds go south. So desperate are we to throw off the shackles of winter, we become giddy over the prospect of a week of temperatures in the 40s. Incredible!
The wind is gale force as I write this but I don't care, as long as the temperature can stay above freezing a while longer. It's only mid-February which makes it certain that winter hasn't departed. But I've had it.
Once the Super Bowl has been played, winter's depths really dawn on us. The NFL is trying help us out by expanding the regular season schedule from 16 to 18 games. This won't stop the depths of winter from arriving.
The early signs of spring will tease us. We've been through this for the past week. Winter will make its triumphant return.
We used to hear in Minnesota that blizzards would coincide with the state basketball tournament. That has a quaint sound to it, because prep tournaments aren't what they once were.
To be sure, the changes have been for the benefit of the student athletes. The athletes have a wider variety of activities and there is a more level playing field.
Hockey has become "democratized" as small communities have the means for serious high school hockey rather than the old "sandlot" type. Morris is a perfect example. We pair with Benson but that's OK. Athletes can arrange to play here who don't live in either Morris or Benson.
When I was a kid, boys basketball was the marquee winter sport and wrestling was a secondary sport. Basketball players had the highest status in the school's social strata. The basketball cheerleaders basked in a similar type of glow.
Wrestlers seemed somewhat like ruffians. Promoters of the sport might actually suggest that it was an outlet protecting a lot of these kids from getting into trouble. Or shall we say, more trouble than they already might be in.
Wrestlers could be marginal in the core academic classes but could be wizards in industrial arts. For that I give them a hearty "high five."
"Those are the guys who make this country go," a friend of mine once said.
I always thought it was bizarre and rather sad that so many wrestlers had to work on weight loss. Anyone with common sense knows your health can be compromised this way.
I don't blame the wrestlers because they wanted to win. Heaven knows the coaches were driven to win. I'm using the past tense here because I'm drawing on my memories.
I think sports today is much more enlightened, fair and progressive. The old "cute cheerleader" stereotype is gone because we no longer have cheerleaders! The institution of cheerleaders does hang on in some places. Whether it can truly be called anachronistic is open to debate. I doubt they'll ever have a revival in Morris.
I have suggested to at least one school board member that we consider a "cheer team" concept that would include both males and females. This model requires real athleticism and there are of course competitions, which have inspired movies. I have suggested that such a team could enliven the atmosphere at Big Cat Stadium, where, let's face it, it can seem a little desolate, being on the edge of town and all.
"Cheer teams" fit in fine with the current political sensibilities.
The cheerleaders I remember from high school belong in the movie "Hoosiers." They were like a hood ornament.
I'm sure that wrestlers today, while having their own identity to be sure, defy the stereotype I described earlier. In my day, tennis and swimming might have been derided as "sissy" sports, not on a broad scale but by the "usual suspect" bullies who were able to throw their weight around.
In the same vein, exchange students with different sounding names might be derided for this. I suspect that all of the dysfunctional attitudes I just described have been wiped away. And there is a concerted effort to wipe out what remains of "bullying." What a godsend this new culture is.
When I was a kid, life could truly be a jungle. Maybe this helped our adaptive mechanisms. But I think the minuses outweighed the pluses.
"The state high school basketball tournament" (i.e. boys) was once a one-class affair and was quite the institution in Minnesota. I remember that we could be let out of class to watch it on TV. People memorized the teams in the tourney and developed favorites.
Top players could become celebrities in Minnesota. The last of these might have been Mark Olberding of Melrose who was my age. At the time I graduated from high school, Minnesota was feeling major spasms of wanting to shove aside the old "elite" and one-dimensional tournament model in favor of more fairness.
First there was a two-class tournament. The two champions then met in a game, because an element in Minnesota still insisted on a single champion. But you either have classes or you don't. You either separate schools based on size or you don't.
Eventually the two classes became completely separate. But the element of fans who liked the old elite model never completely went away. There was a one-year experiment with crowning a single champion, after which the forces for a level playing field completely took over.
Now we have a four-class system for both boys and girls. The system completely discourages the mass citizenry from focusing on the games. It almost seems to exist for the benefit of the parents and fans in the communities involved.
But there will be no turning back. No throwback to "Hoosiers" with Gene Hackman as the old authoritarian coach.
Edgerton was Minnesota's answer to the fictional town in "Hoosiers." (Actually the town in the movie was loosely based on Milan, Indiana, which had an Edgerton-type scenario.)
Maybe the movie should have been made about Edgerton. But then everyone would wonder who the town drunk character was based on. Woody Harrelson could play the coach. He looks like the late Bill Musselman, doesn't he?
Basketball is associated much more with Indiana than Minnesota.
The movie "Hoosiers" couldn't have been made when I was a kid. The times in which I grew up were too dark, cynical and disturbing. The "Hickory" team certainly wouldn't have won in the end. They would have lost but would have gained lessons and insights.
Perhaps the mindset paralleled what we were experiencing in the Viet Nam War. We knew it was nothing but a tragedy but it persisted for years and years.
Finally after we had thrown off the shackles of that experience, we got movies like "Hoosiers" and "Rocky." The heroes simply won in the end - nothing nuanced or subtle, no subliminal message about how the whole system sucks.
Regarding Hoosiers, the Barbara Hershey character bothered me because while she was clearly sullen and down about the small town basketball model with its dead end and false hopes for so many kids, she loyally attended the games. She tried to have a less than enthusiastic look on her face, but she was there. She didn't have to be.
"Hoosiers" should have let us get acquainted with some of the non-athlete students and certainly the cheerleaders.
The Dennis Hopper character was appealing through much of the movie but in the end he seemed overdone. I wish he could have just "stuck it out" on the bench through the end.
The one-class basketball tournament in Minnesota is a museum relic. Edgerton played Austin with the latter team occupying the role of "heavy" or "villain," and those student athletes didn't deserve that. They just wanted to play basketball.
It's a more enlightened time even though it doesn't command the attention of the whole state anymore.
But a holiday-time blizzard certainly would.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, February 14, 2011

Childhood idols teach us about being human

Maybe there should be a term for the type of feeling we have when a childhood idol passes away.
A childhood idol occupies a special place. This individual probably has a special talent that makes him/her inspire awe in a way that can't seem to be duplicated. It's an irresistible attraction when that person is at the top of his/her game.
Following this individual becomes a lesson in life's frailties. Gifted though this person might be, we're talking about a human being. Any human being has ups and downs and probably needs "breaks" to enter that special pantheon - a place where there's presumably lots of competition.
When young, we tend to feel our idol transcends mere humanity. And of course we'd readily trade places with such an icon!
Maturity ought to slap us around a bit, but I suspect most parents don't discourage their children from having idols who possess special gifts. We remember our own feeling of awe in our younger years. We likely gained inspiration from a certain artist or athlete. Suspending reality may have only given us a minor hurt.
We figure that children will learn the vicissitudes of life with time. Eventually our idols help in that process. A favorite major league baseball player will get hurt, get traded or "lose a step" as he "gets old" (which means he might be only in his mid-30s).
We should be thankful, in our more pedestrian lives, finding a career that allows us to at least have some long-term continuity. Remember, Republicans might want to raise the retirement age!
Professional athletes today have some long-term financial security. That's not to say a lot of them can't "blow it." They often do, plus they get encumbered with personal problems that make us feel thankful for our pedestrian lot. The prudent pro athletes are truly "set" when that day comes when they can no longer go deep into the hole to field a grounder.
In the back of my mind, I'm not quite over the sadness of when I learned of the death of a childhood musician idol. I remember how I learned of his death. A message awaited me when I came home one evening. I hadn't been aware of any health issue.
The message was from a friend who informed me of the death of Maynard Ferguson. It was in 2006. Ol' Maynard had reached 78 years of age and was still touring with his band. He played in Morris twice, both times at the UMM P.E. Center.
"M.F" (or "The Boss") would have been a dynamite clinician for the UMM jazz festival but never visited in that role. The first-ever UMM jazz fest included clinician Randy Purcell, a trombonist who was an "alumnus" of the Maynard band. That was way back in about 1978.
It's my understanding that Randy, like Maynard, has taken his music to that big auditorium in the sky.
I remember being at the house party reception for that first UMM jazz fest, and talking with Randy about some of the personalities in the Maynard band. They all seemed bigger than life to us young big band aficionados in Morris. And Maynard himself? He seemed like a deity.
I have a hard time discussing Maynard Ferguson in the past tense but it's a reality I must grasp.
Maynard was a trumpet player. As kids we learned he was a jazz trumpet player, but truth be told, we didn't care about the jazz. We might have pretended we did, but we didn't. We were in awe of the brass power that Maynard and his band projected. We loved that band's tight arrangements of popular tunes.
Maynard had a breakthrough album with my generation in about 1971. It was called "M.F. Horn" and it was so much more slick and contemporary sounding than anything he had put out previously.
Make no mistake, his previous stuff was artistically outstanding, like the series of albums he put out for the Roulette label.
Those Roulette albums never could have captivated the boomer youth on a mass scale. We were, shall we say, "persnickety."
The transition from niche jazz artist to popular performer with a mass following was I'm sure difficult. It involved finding that proverbial "new sound."
Music went through all sorts of evolutionary spasms in the 1960s. It was known as a terrible decade for big bands. Maynard whittled down his band to a sextet and then dissolved it in 1969. The years 1969 and 1970 were turbulent in so many ways in the U.S. Maynard wasn't constrained. Like many in jazz he actually left the U.S. He went to India and found a spiritual guru. Then he settled in Manchester, England, where his "new sound" began bubbling up in the form of "jazz-rock fusion."
The jazz of the previous era sounded incredibly dated to us. In hindsight it seems an unfair appraisal. As youth, though, we absolutely insisted on a certain type of rhythmic feel in our music.
Rock n' roll and then rock mesmerized us.
Diehard Maynard fans will remember that "The Boss" put out a transitional album (stylistically) which was actually recorded after his touring band was dissolved (or so I've read). In "the states" it was called "Ridin' High." In England it was called "Freaky." I actually saw the "Freaky" album cover because I spent part of the summer of 1972 in England.
It is a testament to Maynard's greatness that his fans talk seriously about "Ridin' High" because it seemed like a disaster. Today it sounds disjointed and primitive. "Sunny" sounds like it's being played by a run of the mill high school pep band.
Of course we have to look past these rough edges and realize that Maynard was actually exploring a new pop-oriented direction. Eventually that direction bore fruit that probably exceeded everyone's expectations.
Maynard charged out of obscurity, finally, with an album called "M.F. Horn." Young trumpet players everywhere sat mesmerized next to their stereo turntable, wearing out this album with its featured arrangement of "MacArthur park."
At Morris High School, the band director himself (J.W.) helped make sure we were all aware of Maynard. That's ironic because no high school band director in his right mind would want his students attempting to play like Maynard.
Maynard Ferguson wasn't so much a trumpet player as he was an artist and stylist who used the trumpet. His trademark was reaching up to the high notes.
In the early '70s, Maynard didn't so much play jazz as he enthralled crowds of corduroy-wearing boomer youth with high notes that made them cheer like fans at a sports event.
There were jazz solos in these concerts to be sure, and we pretended to eat them up, but we wouldn't have spent a nickel just to hear them. We wanted to hear arrangements of popular songs with powerful brass and Maynard's spellbinding high notes. He was a true idol to so many of us. He met the definition of idol by seeming to step beyond human boundaries.
Maynard put out a series of commercially successful albums in the 1970s. Because it was the 1970s he had to get on board with disco.
Us Maynard fans were surprised when his disco chapter sprouted. We were expecting another album that would be typical of what he was doing, when all of a sudden we got "Primal Scream," the quintessential disco album. Looking back it seemed like a good commercial move. Somehow he was able to sell these disco arrangements in concerts.
I heard him at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis when he was in the prime of his disco popularity. His band played the theme from a new movie called "Star Wars." Drummer Peter Erskine had the disco beat down, even to where he'd bounce in his chair to accentuate that primal rhythm.
Maynard's jazz roots seemed so very distant. But this was another testament to his greatness: his ability to change, to morph, to enter new realms of musical awareness.
Jazz purists often looked down on Maynard's commercial leanings. They would never have put him in a category with, say, Duke Ellington. This always bothered me because if you looked at Maynard's career in its totality, it was obvious he had jazz sensibilities that were second to none.
You can't blame a guy for wanting to sell albums and fill concert seats. Maynard never really broke through commercially anyway, not to where he was really a household name. His most successful single only made it to #28 on "the charts." (That was his cover of "Gonna Fly Now," the theme from "Rocky.")
This ambiguity in his image points to a little tragedy, in my view. Idols always end up projecting tragedy in one way or another. They break beyond human boundaries but they are in fact human.
It makes me angry because here was this uniquely gifted artist who, in the vernacular of the early 1970s, "did his own thing." It was a quality that should bring universal admiration.
My defensiveness is of course based on the fact that Maynard was my childhood idol. Such an individual represents an ideal - something with no readily acknowledged shortcomings or mortal failings of the kind we know surrounds us in our pedestrian-ness. It's an adaptive mechanism. It makes us realize the heights we might climb. But alas we are human.
Maynard toward the end of his career didn't have the sheer physical command of his trumpet he once had. He never lost his zest for touring. He was of a generation that considered a music tour schedule as perhaps the most glamorous lifestyle.
In the last year of his life, I had the pleasure of hearing "M.F." and his band in Dawson, Minnesota. He had no reservations about playing in such an out of the way place. I never dreamt the clock was ticking on his lifespan. I never dreamt the angels were waiting in the wings to take him in.
Eventually we learned that he died of an abdominal infection. "How?" we incessantly asked in the wake of getting the news. It was much like the recent sudden news of Leslie Nielsen's passing. We lost Nielsen to a staph infection. "How?"
Well, God makes certain our days our finite just like the metal ball that bounces around in a pinball machine.
Our idols have human limitations and ultimately a human lifespan. New generations will learn this lesson in the same befuddling way.
Maynard Ferguson, RIP.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Morris Chokio Alberta boys defeat ACGC by 5

Cole Riley continued coming on strong with his play Friday for Morris Chokio Alberta. Cole scored a robust 19 points and complemented that stat with 17 rebounds as the Tigers worked to victory. Coach Mark Torgerson's orange and black squad downed the ACGC Falcons in WCC-South boys hoops.
Success came by a margin of five, 59-54, on the road. The Tigers came out of the week with a 13-6 overall won-lost mark and 8-4 W/L numbers in conference.
The Tigers had a decent night in long-range shooting, making four of 12 shots from three-point range. Dan Tiernan led that charge with two makes, while Eric Riley and Jacob Torgerson each had one.
In total field goals the Tigers put up 21 of 54 numbers. Their freethrow stats won a good grade too: 13 of 19.
M-CA owned a 32-27 lead halfway through.
Cole Riley, Eric Riley and Tiernan were the Tigers' double figures scorers. Cole with his team-best 19 points was followed by Eric with 14 and Tiernan with eleven. Mac Kampmeier put in eight points, Jacob Torgerson finished with three, and Riley Arndt and Sam Mattson each had two.
The Riley boys ruled the boards as Cole vacuumed for 17 and Eric for seven. Cody Cannon showed a deft passing touch to finish with five assists. Dan Tiernan had two steals.
Trever Heining led the Falcons in scoring with 24 points, and Mitchell Tauer put in 16.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sports intense as our February thaw arrives

Girls basketball: ACGC 47, Tigers 45
It was anybody's ballgame with under a minute left to play, when the Morris Chokio Alberta girls battled the Falcons of ACGC Thursday night at home. This WCC-South hoops contest was actually close all the way through.
The Falcons had a two-point edge at halftime, 27-25. The suspense level grew through the second half. The scoreboard revealed a 45-all tie with 20 seconds left to play. Overtime? It seemed a possibility.
But ACGC was able to get the basket that broke the deadlock. The decisive basket came on a layup, coast-to-coast style, and the final horn sounded with the Falcons winning 47-45.
The outcome took some of the luster from the outstanding statistical accomplishment of Tiger Erica Domnick. Erica's 14 points and 16 rebounds nearly helped elevate M-CA to victory.
Beth Holland put in nine points and she contributed six assists as well. Erin Schieler scored seven points, Katie Holzheimer five, Shadow Olson and Hannah Sayles four each, and Sarah Kuhn two.
Holzheimer had the only successful three-point shot for M-CA. Sayles was tops in steals with three.
In total field goals, coach Dale Henrich's Tigers made 16 of 42 attempts. The freethrow stats were 12 of 18.
Katie Knisley led the Falcons in scoring with 18 points.
The Tigers came out of the night at 7-11 in overall won-lost and 5-8 in conference.

Boys basketball: Tigers 69, Lac qui Parle Valley 51
The M-CA boys upped their win total to 12 with a Tuesday, Feb. 8, home victory over Lac qui Parle Valley. The Riley boys were on with their shooting as Eric put in 20 points and Cole totalled 18.
Eric complemented his frequent scoring with seven assists.
Also scoring in double figures was Riley Arndt who put in ten points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
Reliable shooting was the story of the night for the orange and black unit. Coach Mark Torgerson's squad looked most comfortable in their home gym as they beat the Eagles 69-51.
Coach Torgerson looked on approvingly as his team made 25 of 42 shots from the field (60 percent, good for an A-plus grade) and were good on four of ten from three-point range. Cole Riley made three of the three-pointers and Dan Tiernan had the other.
Morris Chokio Alberta showed a pinpoint eye in freethrows too, as here the stats were 15 of 18. (Let's trot out another A-plus grade.)
The Tigers were showing command at halftime as they led the Eagles 34-21. They went on to outscore the Eagles 35-30 in the second half.
Tiernan finished the night with eight points and Cody Cannon with seven. Three Tigers added to the mix with two points each: Tyler Roske, Mac Kampmeier and Austin Dierks.
Arndt with his nine rebounds was followed by Cole Riley with seven and Eric Riley and Kampmeier each with five. Eric topped the assist list with seven.
Cole Riley and Tiernan each dished out four assists.
Jacob Redepenning was the top Eagle scorer with 19 points.

Girls basketball: Lac qui Parle 58, Tigers 38
The M-CA girls didn't fare as well as the boys in playing LQPV on Tuesday. While the boys were busy winning at the home gym, the girls were on the road and got stopped in a 58-38 final.
Jen Kack was a top performer for the Eagles as she scored 16 points and snared ten rebounds. The Eagles' success kept them over .500 as they closed out the night at 10-8 and with glittering 9-3 conference W/L numbers.
Kacey Struxness impressed for the Eagles with 12 points and ten assists.
Coach Dale Henrich's Tigers entered mid-week with a 7-10 overall record and 5-7 numbers in conference.
Hannah Sayles was the top scoring Tiger Tuesday with 12 points. Hannah boosted her total with two successful three-point shots. She was the only Tiger connecting from three-point range. She also contributed two assists.
Beth Holland scored nine points, Erica Domnick five and Erin Schieler four. Four Tigers scored two points each: Kelsey Loew, Holly Amundson, Sarah Kuhn and Natalie Johnston. Schieler and Domnick each collected five rebounds.
Holland set the pace in steals with four.
The Tigers made 14 of 50 field goal attempts and eight of 13 in freethrows.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta boys and girls basketball are striving to sharpen as the post-season nears. Fans anticipate excitement.

Wrestling: MAHACA fifth in "Big Ole"
The MAHACA wrestlers had a middle of the pack showing in Alexandria's Big Ole Invite. It's an annual trip the Tigers make at this late stage of the winter.
Today's (Friday) mild temperature brings to mind the word "late," which we hope sticks! The winter of 2010-11 has been like a marathon test - a quite snowy one.
The wrestling Tigers had a fifth place showing among the eight teams that vied in the Big Ole on Saturday, Feb. 5.
Frazee ended up atop the standings while KMS took runner-up.
Tim Ostby and Zach Gibson both went 2-0 for MAHACA to take No. 1 at their respective weights. Ostby, the 152-pounder, had a fall for one of his wins. It was ditto for 285-pounder Gibson who pinned one of his foes en route to No. 1.
Evan Nelson at 112 pounds went 3-1 with all three of his wins coming by fall, but this Tiger settled for third place. Ryan Beyer at 189 pounds won one bout, dropped two and also finished third.
Myles Smith worked to a fourth place finish at 125 pounds, going 2-2 along the way. Dillon Johnson finished fifth at 119 pounds, going 1-2. Jordan Thooft at 145 pounds won two bouts and dropped two, a showing good for fifth.
These Tigers also saw action in the 2011 Big Ole: Travis Ostby (0-2 at 103 pounds), Seth Nelson (0-2 at 130), Tony Domnick (1-3 at 135), Connor Metzger (0-2 at 160) and Joel Harrison (0-2 at 215).
It was a rough day for the host Alexandria Cardinal team, which placed eighth and last. Those Cardinals had to take consolation in being good hosts.
Yours truly made at least one trip to Alex for the Big Ole through the years, in my "dead tree" media career. It was always a fun atmosphere.
It's nice to combine this duty with a stroll through one of Alex's "big stores."
I remember that one year on my way home, I photographed a Stevens County 4-H sledding party at Runestone Park.
Great memories!

Boys hockey: Storm 5, Prairie Centre 4
The MBA Storm varsity boys defeated the Prairie Centre North Stars 5-4 Thursday at Lee Community Center. Click on the link below to read Gary Hansen's summary from the Storm's website.
http://www.mbastorm.com/news_article/show/78315?referrer_id=217802-morris-benson-area-storm-hockey-news

-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Storm girls showing dominance in wins

Storm 9, Marshall 1
The MBA Storm girls are scoring at such a frequent pace, it almost brings to mind a pinball machine. Opponents are finding it very hard to break through the MBA defenses.
This pattern spells lots of wins. Tuesday saw coach Jeff Mahoney's Storm get their 21st win of this memorable winter. The Storm also wrapped up a perfect campaign in the Southwest Conference.
The Tuesday success was by a score of 9-1 and it was on the road. Dani Schultz reached a career milestone on the Marshall ice. Schultz is now owner of 400-plus career points. She lived up to her status as the state's No. 1 scorer, putting the puck in the net five times and getting two assists as well.
Brooke Falk was stalwart in goal, allowing just the one Marshall goal while making six saves. The Storm had a 34-7 shooting advantage.
Paige Moravetz was the Marshall goalie.
Schultz got the Storm off and running on the scoreboard with a first period goal at 9:13. Monica Lindblad assisted.
Later, with the score tied 1-1, Schultz scored again (11:50) to give MBA the lead for good. Kelly Mahoney and Sara Rajewsky assisted.
MBA added four goals to its total in the second period. The first of these was by Sam Falk assisted by Schultz, shorthanded, at 5:40.
Schultz scored at 8:30 assisted by Rajewsky. Schultz propelled the puck into the net with a Mahoney assist at 12:26. Sam Falk kept the barrage going, scoring at 14:53 with assists from Schultz and Mahoney.
The Storm scored three goals in the third period, the first coming from Schultz assisted by Kelsey Rajewsky at 2:21. Sara Rajewsky scored with a Lindblad assist at 6:00.
Sara kept the pressure on, scoring the team's final goal of the night at 14:14, assisted by Mahoney.

Storm 10, Redwood Valley 0
That proverbial pinball machine comes to mind in reflecting on other recent Storm wins - highly exciting for the MBA fans and perhaps a little exasperating for the opposition. The recent dominance almost makes you wonder if a "technical fall" provision, like in wrestling, might be called for.
But the Storm student athletes can certainly take satisfaction in the kind of pinpoint execution, focus and poise they're showing, and polishing further, under coach Mahoney. MBA fans are having fun in this trying winter of 2010-11 in which snow and ice are adversarial forces.
The Storm inched closer to 20 wins on Thursday, Feb. 3, by scoring ten goals to the opponent's zero (or "donut"). The success was over Redwood Valley at Redwood. Sam Falk reached the 200-point career milestone, on a first period assist.
Brooke Falk and Shianne Wold shared goalkeeper duties and could do a "high five" at game's conclusion over the "zero" (donut) posted by the foe.
MBA raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first period with goal #1 coming from Sara Rajewsky. Kelly Mahoney and Dani Schultz assisted. Rajewsky also scored the second MBA goal and this was with an unassisted flourish.
Then it was Dani Schultz widening the scoreboard margin, striking at 10:00 with an assist from Mahoney. Schultz struck again for a goal at 11:49, assisted by Sam Falk.
Schultz wrapped up the first period scoring with a shorthanded goal at 12:27, assisted by Monica Lindblad.
The Storm kept on gliding with proficiency on the ice, even with this game's outcome seemingly wrapped up. Lindblad took honors for MBA's first goal of the second period. It was an unassisted job.
Then came a goal by a lower-profile Storm member (i.e. someone not getting in the scoring summary often), and this was Kamri Kalthoff. Schultz assisted on the Kalthoff goal which came at 10:57 of the second. Congrats to Kamri for showing this impact.
Mahoney put the Storm up 8-0 with a goal that had a Schultz assist.
There were two Storm goals in the third period to wrap up the evening's success. Schultz got the puck in the net with a Lindblad assist at 9;29. Schultz found the scoring groove again with a goal at 16:00 that had assists from Lindblad and Mahoney.
The MBA goalkeeping tandem of Falk and Wold didn't have to make many saves. Brooke Falk had six and Shianne Wold four. Sierra Wagner worked in goal for Redwood Valley and had 52 saves.

Storm 14, Windom/MLBO 0
It was satisfying enough winning 10-0, but on Saturday, Feb. 5, there was an even bigger scoreboard bulge at game's end, as again that imaginary pinball machine could be readily imagined. The opponent on this night was Windom/MLBO.
The usual cast of MBA offensive standouts was at its best as the Storm under coach Mahoney won 14-0. The Willmar newspaper called it a "shellacking."
As in the previous game, Brooke Falk and Shianne Wold shared the goalkeeping. The result was the same: shutout (or "donut" for the foe). Some trivia: Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune popularized "donut" (in connection with shutouts) in the wake of the Minnesota Vikings' embarrassing loss to the New York Giants in the NFC championship game. Dennis Green was coaching the Vikings then.
Green went on to more infamy when he lost his cool in a post-game press conference when he was coach of Arizona. ("The Bears are the team we thought they would be!")
Brooke Falk only had to make one save in the Saturday win, while Wold had six. The "MLBO" initials after Windom stand for "Mountain Lake-Butterfield-Odin."
Gliding on the comfortable home ice, the Storm raced out to a 6-0 lead in the first period as Dani Schultz got things going, scoring at :30 with a Sara Rajewsky assist. Schultz scored again at 1:40 with another Rajewsky assist. Then it was Monica Lindblad getting the puck in the net at 7;50, assisted by Sam Falk.
Schultz and Rajewsky were back at it, combining for the Storm's fourth goal which came at 8:15. It was Schultz scoring.
Then, Morgan DeHaan joined in the scoring parade, getting the puck through for a score at 11:46, assisted by Lindblad. Kelsey Rajewsky scored at 14:58 of the first with assists from Kamri Kalthoff and Hannah Lindblad.
The second period was ditto the first as again there was a 6-0 advantage. MBA fans continued their frequent cheers as the Rajewskys - Sara and Kelsey - began the second period barrage. Sara scored this shorthanded goal with Kelsey's assist. Kelly Mahoney struck for a goal that had assists from Sara Rajewsky and Schultz. Then it was Schultz showing her scoring prowess again, getting a goal at 4:35 with assists from Sara Rajewsky and Mahoney.
The momentum stayed strong as Sara Rajewsky slapped the puck into the net at 9:09, assisted by Schultz and Mahoney. Schultz scored with a Sara Rajewsky assist at 10;42. These two switched roles for a goal at 13:44 that had Rajewsky scoring and Schultz assisting.
Whew! MBA had more than enough goals now, but there was one period left to play. MBA finished up business with two more goals, the first of which was accomplished by Emma Petersen, unassisted. Finally, the 14th and final goal came from Monica Lindblad with assists from Kayla Benson and Morgan DeHaan.

Boys hockey: a winning habit here too
The MBA Storm varsity boys traveled to Sleepy Eye on Jan. 27 and came away with a 5-2 win. Click below to read Gary Hansen's summary from the Storm's website:
http://www.mbastorm.com/news_article/show/77682?referrer_id=217802-morris-benson-area-storm-hockey-news

The Storm boys hosted Windom on Saturday, Feb. 5, and were decisive with a 12-3 victory. Click below to read Hansen's game review from the MBA site:
http://www.mbastorm.com/news_article/show/77715?referrer_id=217802-morris-benson-area-storm-hockey-news

The Storm looked comfortable on the Redwood Falls ice on Tuesday, Feb. 8, as they worked to a 6-0 win. Please click below to read Hansen's game summary:
http://www.mbastorm.com/news_article/show/77993?referrer_id=217802-morris-benson-area-storm-hockey-news

Morris Benson Storm hockey is striving for that desired playoff season "peak" now!
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, February 7, 2011

Toward sweeter sounds for celebrating USA

It's appropriate that during this time when memories of Leslie Nielsen are still so fresh, a performer has a screw-up with the National Anthem for a sports event.
It was a shocker when we learned of Nielsen's death. It was in his role as Lt. Frank Drebin that he sang the National Anthem for a major league baseball game. Drebin was an imposter. He and his Police Squad had to prevent an assassination attempt on the queen of England. Access to the field was a must.
The real singer, an operatic star, was tied up for this good cause.
Yesterday (Sunday) we learned what a struggle our National Anthem can be, even for the intended performing artist. Christina Aguilera will have an extra paragraph added to her Wikipedia profile. She enters the trivia annals of people struggling with our national song in various ways.
I'm not sure how this custom began of having this song precede sports events. Perhaps it was in a mood of reflection following a major war. It trickles all the way down to high school sports.
The incident yesterday shows that Aguilera at least wasn't lip-syncing to a recording. I give her major kudos for that.
We don't even know if there will be a Super Bowl next year. There's a work stoppage or strike or whatever that's looming.
The Drebin character was funny partly because he had such an obsessive focus on accomplishing his mission, no matter what idiotic or oddball means were employed.
George Kennedy was the straight man (an underrated role) and O.J. Simpson took the pratfalls. Priscilla Presley was the romantic interest.
Three men doing ridiculous things is remindful of the Three Stooges of course. Don't think the Naked Gun creators weren't aware of the Stooges' chemistry.
The Drebin character belted out the National Anthem like he really had his heart in it. He groped to try to find the right words. Aguilera had a lapse with her grasp of the lyrics but I'm hearing that she covered well, minimizing the embarrassment.
I have heard for years that our National Anthem is difficult to sing. The needed vocal range is wide. So, if you accidentally start out on the wrong note, you're in trouble.
High school pep bands need a lead trumpet player who can reach up to a high note in one spot. I think this is where Nielsen as Drebin sang "Oh the home of the land. . ."
Some critics have felt distressed through the years about how the lyrics are all about war. I agree this should be an issue.
Is "the national anthem" really a settled issue?
I recall hearing as a child that "America the Beautiful" might be a better choice. For that matter, Ben Franklin felt that the turkey rather than eagle should be our national symbol.
So can't we allow some room for debate in these issues? Franklin admired the turkey because it was industrious. The eagle is a predator.
"America the Beautiful" speaks for itself. As an alternative to "the bombs bursting in air," there is much to be said for it. And I think singers everywhere would say "amen."
And isn't it a shorter song too?
Really, is there anything more excruciating than listening to a self-absorbed performer who chooses a slow tempo for The Star Spangled Banner? I could swear those bombs start bursting in my head.
America would applaud in unison if we made the switch to "America the Beautiful."
How about a nationwide songwriting contest to come up with something new? We want a song that accents our best traits.
War is a necessary evil that has arisen in our past and not something to be heralded. Go see a John Wayne movie if you must. How about "The Green Beret?" That one was about Viet Nam.
That debacle of a war colored my whole generation through our formative years. Sometimes when I hear the war lyrics of the National Anthem, I don't even want to look at the flag.
Maybe we could make two changes at once: retire the Star Spangled Banner, and opt for Franklin's suggestion on the national symbol. The turkey is a peace-loving fowl. Franklin was a man defined by wisdom.
And this revered Founding Father would want a song that accents our nation's aesthetic richness, not its guns blazing.

On the Super Bowl of 2011. . .
I'll readily admit here and remind you that I picked the Steelers to win the big game. I felt that Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had that intangible talent factor like John Elway, that would propel him and his team past the opponent.
I wasn't sold on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, yet. I am supremely happy that Rodgers has now managed to step out of the shadow of Brett Favre.
I am happy that Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin, despite losing Sunday, is solidified among the league's elite coaches. He came from the ranks of the Minnesota Vikings coaching staff. It's sad that we groomed him but couldn't keep him.
There's no way to predict, but the Vikings could be headed on a very bumpy road. The fact that Leslie Frazier seems likable - by all accounts he is - will be rendered meaningless if the losses mount. And they most certainly could mount.
The Metrodome was once a marvelous defense against our adversarial winter elements. We have learned in the last few months that this adversary can defeat us. Our domed refuge in winter was crushed by snow. And we have no clue who our quarterback will be.
Conventional wisdom in sports has it that when you fire a coach under duress, replace him with an assistant and then decide after a few (honeymoon) weeks to promote the assistant, it's the sign of a losing franchise. How strange if I'm more familiar with this than Zygi Wilf.
But stranger things have happened.
Remember, there may be no NFL season next year anyway. We had all better get ready to follow college football more seriously, or take up crocheting.
The U of M Gophers look to be as stagnant as ever. Comedian Norm Crosby mistakenly used the word "stagnant" when he meant "pregnant."
On that note, I'm wrapping up this post, written in the dismal mid-winter throes of 2011.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tiger hoopsters - boys & girls - beat BOLD

Friday was a stellar night of hoops action for Morris Chokio Alberta. There was a strong sense of excitement to go with the wins. Such excitement might help us forget, however briefly, this bleak winter that has taken over.
Yours truly was on the roof of the house yesterday and found exhaustion setting in surprisingly early. Some context: I'm 56 years old now.

Boys basketball: Tigers 64, BOLD 53
The Morris Chokio Alberta boys thrilled in a come-from-behind way. Coach Mark Torgerson's crew was down by eight at halftime, 32-24, playing the BOLD Warriors in Bird Island.
Whether it was a case of making adjustments or just getting hot, the Tigers showed they had the tools to escape that deficit and win.
The final horn sounded with the Tigers winning 64-53. A little math shows that M-CA outscored the Warriors 40-21 in the second half. (Coach Torgerson is a math teacher.)
Friday was a memorable night for Cole Riley who was a key individual in the second half surging, with 20 points of his game-total 24. His 24 points was game-high.
The Tigers worked hard in the sometimes unheralded department of rebounding. Here they had a stat for the night of 34, to 26 by BOLD.
The Tigers made exactly half their shots from the field (26/52). Dan Tiernan made two three-point shots and Cole Riley one.
In freethrows the team stats were nine of 19.
Tiernan and Mac Kampmeier each scored ten points to join Cole Riley in double figures. Eric Riley put in nine points and Cody Cannon five, followed by Riley Arndt with four and Tyler Roske with two.
Brandon Ochs led the host Warriors in scoring with 15 points.

Girls basketball: Tigers 55, BOLD 54
The M-CA girls got their seventh win of the season in suspenseful fashion Friday, by a margin of one point over BOLD. Beth Holland showed poise at the freethrow line with two makes that did much to put M-CA on top at the end.
Holland with her eleven points was one of three Tigers scoring in double figures in this 55-54 triumph. Erin Schieler led the charge with 16 and Erica Domnick put in ten.
The Tigers had no shortage of shot attempts as they made 21 of 75. Three-pointers were a little frustrating, as here only two of 12 tries found the mark. Those two makes were by Sarah Kuhn and Shadow Olson.
Domnick worked the boards to collect eleven rebounds to lead in that category. Kuhn and Schieler grabbed nine and seven rebounds respectively. Four Tigers each contributed three assists to the winning mix: Hannah Sayles, Olson, Kelsey Loew and Holland.
Katie Holzheimer set the pace in steals with five while Domnick achieved three.
In freethrows the Tigers made eleven of 18 attempts.
Kuhn scored six points, Holzheimer and Olson five each and Loew two.
Coach Dale Henrich's Tigers came out of the week with a 7-9 overall record and 5-6 mark in conference play.
BOLD's top scorer was Carly Sigurdson with 15 points.
The home MAHS gym emptied with the Tiger faithful perhaps feeling a little drained by the suspense, but most pleased. Ditto for coach Henrich!
Viva Morris Area Chokio Alberta boys and girls basketball for 2011!
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tigers and Storm put aside winter's chills

Girls basketball: Tigers 58, Minnewaska Area 36
M-CA hoops was a focus of enjoyment Tuesday night as the Upper Midwest fell into the deep freeze of mid-winter conditions. We had the consolation of knowing that other parts of the country had it worse than us. Still, we are all hunkered down under conditions that make us want to hibernate.
Prep sports helps us escape that feeling. So does winning!
The Morris Chokio Alberta girls hoops team made the short trip to Minnewaska Area Tuesday and came away the winner. Coach Dale Henrich's Tigers notched their sixth win of the season at the expense of the Lakers.
Beth Holland was in the groove offensively and poured in 16 points. Erica Domnick added 13 as the Tigers worked to a satisfying 58-36 win. The Tigers were up 24-19 at halftime.
They had a satisfying night in three-point shooting, making four of ten attempts. Those long-rangers were made by Holland and Katie Holzheimer, each with two. In total field goals the Tigers made 21 of 50 shots.
Domnick topped the rebound list with her eleven. Erin Schieler snared seven and Sarah Kuhn six.
Holland complemented her team-best point total with four assists. Schieler and Holland each had three steals.
Holzheimer had a point total of eight while Kuhn had seven and Schieler six. Also scoring were Hannah Sayles with four points, and Shadow Olson and Kelsey Loew each with two.
Minnewaska Area was hurt by ice cold three-point shooting.
The Lakers' top scorer was Kaylee Jacobs with eleven points. The Lakers have had a bumpy road this season.

Boys basketball: Minnewaska Area 68, Tigers 59
The M-CA boys had the advantage of playing Minnewaska Area at the home gym Tuesday but they couldn't parlay this into victory. It was the Lakers coming away with a 68-59 win, finding momentum after a stalemated halftime situation (a 25-all score).
This quality 'Waska team, with but one loss in conference, outscored the Tigers 43-34 in the second half.
Coach Mark Torgerson's Tigers stayed over .500 despite the setback. The Tigers entered mid-week with a 10-6 overall record and 5-4 in league.
The home Morris Chokio Alberta fans felt some suspense toward the end, especially when Eric Riley made a three-point shot to shave the deficit to three points. The clock showed two minutes remaining.
The Lakers showed clutch poise at the freethrow line to maintain the advantage. The Lakers used freethrows all night to keep an edge; their stats for the game were 17 for 25.
Eric Riley's three-pointer generated excitement but alas, it was the team's only three-point make of the evening. They had five attempts.
In total field goals the Tigers made 22 of 49 attempts. The freethrow numbers were a solid 14 of 22.
Cole Riley went up to grab nine rebounds. Eric Riley contributed five assists and Tyler Roske had seven steals.
Let's review the scoring where four Tigers broke into double figures: Cole Riley (16 points), Eric Riley (14), Mac Kampmeier (11) and Roske (11). Cody Cannon put in five points and Brody Bahr had two.
The Lakers were led in scoring by Brady Johnsrud with 25 points and Shane Bosek with 20.

Girls basketball: BOLD 52, Tigers 50
Suspense was high in the closing seconds of the Morris Chokio Alberta girls basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 29, in Olivia. This was anybody's ballgame with under a minute left to play.
Olivia is part of the BOLD combo - the Warriors.
The score was tied with Warrior Brittany Nissen at the freethrow line with a very clutch opportunity. Brittany capitalized. This Warrior made a pair of freethrows that turned out to be the margin of victory for her team. The home BOLD fans went home happy having seen this 52-50 win by their team.
The bus ride home for coach Dale Henrich's Tigers wasn't as enjoyable as it might have been. The Tigers had been dealt a WCC-South conference loss. A win would have kept the Tigers a hair's breadth from .500 in conference and overall. They entered this week at 3-6 in league and 5-9 overall.
BOLD, by winning, stayed a hair's breadth behind Benson in the conference race.
BOLD was up at halftime 34-28 but the Tigers clawed away to get the score knotted twice in the second half. Even after Nissen's freethrows in the closing stage, the Tigers had their chances, but their shooting eye failed them.
BOLD won despite a cool 35 percent shooting performance from the field.
Erin Schieler was a key contributor for Morris Chokio Alberta with her 20 points and 12 rebounds.
The Tigers made two three-point shots, both by the same individual: Katie Holzheimer. The squad was 18 of 65 in total field goals. In freethrows they were dead on at 50 percent, at 12 for 24.
Holzheimer finished the night with eight points and Beth Holland with seven. Sayles posted five points followed by Sarah Kuhn and Erica Domnick each with four. Kelsey Loew and Holly Amundson each put in one point.
There were no double figures scorers in the balanced BOLD attack. Nine points each were scored by Warriors Molly Herdina and Brittany Dahlk.

Boys basketball: Benson 66, Tigers 55
The M-CA boys found victory elusive on Friday, Jan. 28, when they tangled with conference rival Benson at home. This seemed to be a winnable game because the Braves were a team hovering around .500. But the Braves put the needed ingredients together to defeat the Tigers 66-55.
Sam Peterson was a big ingredient as this Brave put in 29 points. Cody Jaeger was another key contributor for the winner with 20.
The complexion of this game changed after halftime. The halfway mark saw the above-.500 Tigers leading and in a pretty promising way, 32-26. But that initial momentum stalled. Peterson showed his hot hand and the second half brought a reversal. Benson outscored the Tigers 40-23 in the second half.
Looking at the game's numbers, you can't help but wince when looking at the three-point shooting category. Here the Tigers seemed to go to the well too often. It wouldn't have mattered had they made more shots, but my goodness, they made just two of 20 shots from three-point land. For the record, the players with those makes were Brody Bahr and Tyler Roske.
The Riley boys, Eric and Cole, each pulled down seven rebounds to lead the team in that category. And Cole's 20 points put him atop the scoring list for coach Mark Torgerson's squad. Eric was the other double figures Tiger with 12.
Continuing with the scoring list we have Roske (7), Dan Tiernan (4), Mac Kampmeier (4), Bahr (3), Riley Arndt (3) and Cody Cannon (2).
Eric Riley dished out four assists. Eric Riley and Tiernan set the pace in steals, each with three.
The Tigers made 20 of 61 total field goal tries. But the department that spoke volumes was three-pointers. The freethrow numbers were 13 of 18.
The Morris Chokio Alberta boys came out of the night at 10-5 in overall won-lost and 5-3 in the WCC-South.
Viva Morris Area Chokio Alberta boys and girls basketball for 2011!

Girls basketball: Benson 72, Tigers 60
The M-CA girls faced conference leader Benson on Thursday, Jan. 27, and couldn't find the upset formula. Coach Dale Henrich's Tigers came out on the short end in this WCC-South game, 72-60. The action was at Benson.
The high-flying Braves came out of the night at 8-1 in conference play and 13-2 overall. The Tigers are shy of .500.
At halftime the upset prospects looked decent for Morris Chokio Alberta as the scoreboard showed a two-point M-CA lead, 32-30. But the Tigers weren't prepared for what turned into the Emma Peterson show in the second half.
Peterson put on a clinic with her three-point shooting. She nailed five of those long-rangers in the second half as part of scoring 22 points in that half. Her hot hand led the Braves to a 42-28 scoring advantage over the stunned Tigers in the half.
Surprisingly, Peterson did not end the night team-high in scoring. That honor went to Emily Auch whose point total was 25, plus she collected 14 rebounds. Peterson scored 24 total points.
Erin Schieler and Erica Domnick paced the visiting Tigers in scoring as they put in 22 and 19 points respectively. Katie Holzheimer and Hannah Sayles each made a three-point shot.
The Tigers made 21 of 59 field goal attempts, while in freethrows their numbers were a quite fine 16 for 20.
Domnick led in rebounds with 14 followed by Schieler with 13. Sayles dished out five assists. Sayles and Beth Holland each stole the ball three times.
Sayles finished with seven points on the night and Holzheimer had six. Two points each were scored by Holland, Kelsey Loew and Sarah Kuhn.

Girls hockey: Storm 5, Luverne 0
The MBA Storm girls took care of business again on Saturday, Jan. 29, skating past Luverne in a home puck contest played at our Lee Community Center. The Storm saw their overall season record soar up to 18-3. They took care of business Saturday in a 5-0 final.
An uneventful first period was followed by a flurry of Storm scoring in the second. MBA outscored Luverne 4-0 in the second period and 1-0 in the third.
The potent combo of Dani Schultz and Sara Rajewsky made another strong statement with their play.
Here's how the second period scoring went: Schultz scored with a Rajewsky assist at 2:59, Schultz struck again with a goal that had another Rajewsky assist at 6:42, Rajewsky scored assisted by Schultz at 7:54, and Rajewsky got the puck in the net with a Schultz assist at 14:56.
Kelly Mahoney scored the Storm's final goal at 4:44 of the third period, assisted by Schultz and Rajewsky.
Brooke Falk put on the goalie equipment again and performed superbly again, getting eleven saves on this afternoon. The shutout was Brooke's 22nd of her stellar career in goal.

Boys hockey: Storm 8, Luverne 5
The MBA Storm varsity boys treated their home fans at Lee Center to an 8-5 win over the red-clad Luverne squad on Saturday, Jan. 29.
Click on the link below to read Gary Hansen's summary from the Storm's website:
http://www.mbastorm.com/news_article/show/76934?referrer_id=224055

Wrestling: MAHACA 55, Breckenridge 21
The MAHACA Tigers came on strong to defeat Breckenridge in Tuesday, Jan. 25, wrestling action on the road. Travis Ostby got things started at the 103-pound weight slot, pinning Jack Hiedeman in 1:59.
When the night's bouts were completed, the Tigers were the 55-21 victor over the green-clad Cowboys.
Evan Nelson was stopped at the 112-pound class: a major decision loss, 19-9. Dillan Johnson came on strong to win by fall over Travis Miranowski in 1:54.
Myles Smith and Seth Nelson were forfeit winners at 125 and 130 pounds, then Tony Domnick at 135 won by a major over Trayton Hought, 15-1. Jerid Berning paid some dues at 140, losing by technical fall, 16-0, to Jesse Differding.
Tiger Jordan Thooft decisioned Josh Peterson 5-3. Tim Ostby kept the Tigers rolling forward, pinning Zach Willprecht in :48. Connor Metzger won by forfeit at 160 pounds.
Cowboy Cole Praus had his arm raised via forfeit at 171. Ryan Beyer of the Tigers lost by fall to Stephan Erlandson in 3:57. Tyler Moser at 215 got Alex Banken's shoulders pinned to the mat in 5:09.
Big Zach Gibson wasn't challenged at 285 pounds so this was a forfeit triumph, allowing the triumphant Tigers to pull away further.
Viva Morris Area Hancock Chokio Alberta on the wrestling mat for 2011!
Anticipation is building for the post-season in all the Tiger and Storm sports.
-Brian Williams- morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com