Duane Baglien, best known for coaching the Edina boys' basketball team to three consecutive state championships from 1966-68, died Monday at age 85 after battling melanoma.
Baglien got the most from his players early in his career while giving them all the credit for later success. During its three championship seasons, Edina posted a 79-1 mark and a state-record 69-game winning streak thanks to players such as Bob Zender, Jeff Wright, Jay Kiedrowski, Kurt Schellhas and Roger Schelper.
"He never touted himself, it was always about the players," said Rolf Baglien, one of Duane's six children. "He always said he was lucky to have a good cycle of kids come through."
Before an influx of talent lifted the Hornets to their unprecedented run, Baglien made sure his teams competed.
"In 1961, I was the tallest player we had and I was 6-2," former player John Hankinson said. "When I jumped, I could touch the bottom of the net. But he made sure we always fought down to the wire."
That spirit carried over to the Hornets' glory years. After the lone loss in their three-season run, players implored Baglien to schedule a Saturday practice.
"He never had to chew us out too bad because we kept winning," former player Bill Fiedler said.
Ruling when basketball was king ensures Edina's place among the sport's great dynasties. Basketball used a one-class format until 1970. More than 85,000 fans flocked to the state tournament in each of the three seasons Edina won its titles. By comparison, 57,682 fans watched the four-class tournament last spring.
Baglien -- he permitted players to call him Bagger -- was named to the state basketball coaches association hall of fame but showed a talent for coaching beyond the court. In 1968 he directed the Hornets' state championship baseball team. In 1969 he took an administrator position at Edina and rules prohibited him from also coaching.
But his personality endured. Rolf Baglien recently found a touching letter in his father's scrapbook from Zender, the dominant 6-8 center on those Edina championship teams who died last year.
"He wrote that my dad was more than a coach," Rolf said. "He said my dad taught him how to survive in life, something he appreciated and passed on to his sons."