April 5, 2007 at 8:29 a.m.
And, we're back!
Hittin' from the Rough was shelved during a good share of the winter sports season. So much to report and so little space. Some people here at the Press have the misguided impression that a newspaper should contain topics besides sports. Where do they come up with this stuff!
If you're a basketball fan, you're currently in Nirvana. I try not to be, but I suppose I'm as much of a "homer" as most people. Like many Minnesotans, I became a Winona State fan during its drive toward a second consecutive NCAA Division II Championship. All those cliches, like "It ain't over 'til it's over," came rushing to mind when the Warriors' seven-point lead with 45 seconds left evaporated. The homer in me was distraught. The fan enjoyed seeing the impossible happen.
I really enjoyed the most recent high school basketball tournament. Most of the games, even the championship games, came right down to the last shot.
My favorite was the Class A championship between Ellsworth and Cass Lake-Bena. It included all kinds of interesting factors. The two leading individual scorers were matched up against each other. Cass Lake averaged over 100 points per game - to my knowledge, the only team to ever have done that. Ellsworth had two outstanding players, including the second highest scorer in the state (Those two players combined for 182 points in the tournament). CL-B's leading scorer led the state with over 30 points a game.
The game was fast-paced, entertaining and high scoring. The two teams, representing opposite corners of the state, fought tooth-and-nail the whole day. The game was full of steals, turnovers and three-pointers, including a record-tying 10 by Ellsworth's Aaron Van der Stoep. His last gave his Panthers a 74-73 win. The homer in me was rooting for the CL-B Panthers.
Speaking of Homers
Bracketology has become a pseudo-science. Millions of Americans are totalling their points, hoping they can take a few non-taxed dollars home after the Final Four. I never remember who I picked, except the eventual champion.
I have heard of a book called "The Enlightened Bracketologist - The Final Four of Everything. The authors make brackets about 101 subjects and promote it as a way to help readers make decisions. They've included a number of intriguing topics such as "Best Invention" and "Best Bald Guy." I remember that Sliced Bread won the inventions category. I'm not sure whether Ghandi or Homer Simpson won the bald guy competition.
A couple of weeks ago I heard an interview with with one of the authors. He said that Homer S. and George W. appeared in more brackets than any other famous living Americans.
I've been thinking of brackets in Minnesota. The first one I'm exploring is Natural Rivals. The first round match-ups are-
1. South St. Paul vs. Minneota
2. Minneapolis Southwest vs. Ely
3. Providence Academy vs. Rush City
4. Clearbrook-Gonvick vs. Nobody
This is just too easy. Even the guy who married our daughter figured out some of these. Before you read on, give it a shot. Try to figure out why they're matched up!
1. SSP's nickname is the Packers. Who wouldn't be able to guess Minneota's. That's right, the Minneota Vikings. Both of these schools have been around for a while. MHS has been educating the youth of Lyon County since 1903. The Packers have provided that service since 1906. We also have the big Metro-area school (SSP, with an enrollment of 734) against a small rural school (Minneota - 130). There's no predicting what might happen when these traditional rivals lock it up.
2. The Minneapolis Southwest Lakers and the Ely Timberwolves can't stand each other. Ely's student body, 173 strong, would cheer on the red and white. The 1212 Laker supporters, garbed in purple and white, have sung the Minnesota Rouser in support of their Lakers since 1940. Ely fans have made a lot of noise since 1923. Once again, a big city school versus a small rural school. Rumor has it that the ghost of George Mikan and Kevin Garnett are being contacted about a possible one-on-one game at halftime.
3. Providence Academy and Rush City. Once again, it's a small town against the Metro school. Providence is located in Plymouth. Both schools' colors are blue and gold. This would be fun, if only to find out which team was which. The refs might be more confused than usual. Rush City (222) actually has a larger enrollment than Providence (136). Most importantly, this is a match-up of Lions and Tigers. When these two cats get together, the fur is sure to fly.
4. Clearbrook-Gonvick (Da Bears) get a bye. Not only does C-G have the smallest enrollment, the band plays the Minnesota Rouser as its school song. All of these are good reasons to give the Bears a free pass. However, the best reason is that this is my wife's home school. Don't get me wrong, I'm not scared of my wife (wary, yes, but not scared). My mother-in law, who is a devoted C-G fan - that's a different story!
There's no guarantee of how the games would turn out, though I'm leaning toward a Viking-Laker game from the top half of the bracket. In the bottom half, it has to be Lions or Tigers and Bears, OH MY!
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