Reusse: We're living in the best of times for prep athletes

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 6, 2014 - 12:46 AM
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East Grand Forks winger Tanner Tweten celebrated his first first period goal on Orono to put the Green Wave ahead 2-0. At right was his teammate Taylor Brierley.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, DML - Star Tribune

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Luverne was in the field for the first-ever state basketball tournament in 1913 and was making its fifth appearance in 1964. The Twin Cities dailies were in full hysteria for this 52nd annual event, sending reporters and photographers to the towns of the eight participants for feature stories, and running a full page of team photos on the Thursday morning of the quarterfinals.

It was also a must to run an eight-team bracket daily so that every office worker, bar visitor and bridge club member in Minnesota could clip the bracket, fill it out and toss their dollar or five into a pool.

The afternoon session called for Benson (Region 6) vs. Proctor (Region 7) at 2 o’clock, followed by Luverne (Region 2) vs. Hutchinson (Region 3). The night session had Rochester John Marshall (Region 1) vs. Anoka (Region 4) at 7:30, followed by Edina-Morningside (Region 5) vs. Bemidji (Region 8).

The headline across the top of the sports section that morning declared that Proctor and Edina were “unanimous’’ favorites to escape their brackets and meet in Saturday’s 9 p.m. title game in a packed Williams Arena.

The apple cart was upset, as the scribes liked to write 50 years ago. The headline on the front of the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune’s main news section took up six of the eight available columns and carried this news:

“Luverne Downs Rochester to Win Tourney.’’

On that Sunday, the Morning Tribune had reporter Dwayne Netland and photographer John Croft make the 220-mile drive to Minnesota’s southwest corner to be there for the Cardinals’ triumphant return to Luverne.

Luverne’s victory was again the main story on the front of the Morning Tribune on Monday, beating out Americans fleeing violence that had broken out between Hindu and Muslim foes in New Delhi.

There are Minnesota sports fans of my generation who can look back at our amazing interest in the one-class basketball tournament as the best of times for high school athletics.

And we can try to blame the decline of that tournament to an afterthought on the decision in 1971 to split into two classes.

We would be wrong. I have romanticized the one-class basketball tournament as much as anyone, but what we’re living now are the best of times for the people that count: the high school athletes.

On Wednesday, Luverne was back in another state tournament in March, but this time it was in hockey, for the opening game of the Class 1A bracket vs. Hermantown.

When the Cardinals were basketball champs in 1964, there was hockey in Duluth, the Iron Range and the northwest corner. Bemidji had just started high school hockey in 1963. Hockey had been dropped in St. Cloud and was getting started again after a long absence in Rochester.

The state’s southwest corner might as well have been downstate Indiana. Basketball was the source of wintertime frenzy. Hockey didn’t exist. And we were not alone.

The state hockey tournament was little more than a rumor to occupants of 75 percent of Minnesota’s land mass.

The hockey teams numbered in the 40s and the eight-team field included an entry from what was called the “backdoor game’’ between the Region 7 (northeast) and Region 8 (northwest) runners-up.

The hockey tournament was played Feb. 20-22 at the St. Paul Auditorium — played that early to clear the way for a month of basketball: two weeks of district play, one week of regions, and then the state tournament.

So were those good old days, or is it about opportunity — the chance for a bunch of kids from Luverne to start skating in a youth program and work their way from the southwest prairie to the arena where the NHL plays in St. Paul?

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Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 61 3rd Qtr 10:35
New Orleans 65
Indiana 53 3rd Qtr 10:37
Orlando 51
LA Clippers 61 3rd Qtr 8:23
Phoenix 62
Minnesota 53 3rd Qtr 9:41
Atlanta 63
Detroit 18 1st Qtr 2:24
Toronto 20
Milwaukee 24 1st Qtr 2:14
San Antonio 17
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Denver
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 12 3rd Prd 15:18
Team Foligno 9
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 30 2nd Half
NC State 42
Belmont 27 1st Half 0:15
Tennessee St 30
Creighton 6 1st Half 8:08
Villanova 17
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Maryland
Washington 7:30 PM
Utah
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 49 2nd Half 11:32
UCLA 36
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
USC

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