The recent surge of COVID-19 complicated plans for the MLK Cultural Showcase, a one-day boys' basketball jamboree set for Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Several changes of venue later, it's scheduled to be played at Benilde-St. Margaret's.
The idea behind the showcase was to bring four basketball teams from Greater Minnesota to the Twin Cities to play four teams from the metro area.
"Its whole idea was building bridges and breaking down barriers," said Minneapolis North boys' basketball coach Larry McKenzie, president of the Minnesota Black Basketball Coaches Association (MBBCA), which is promoting the event. "We want to bring metro teams together with outstate teams, just believing that the more time people spend together, they see they have more in common than they have differences."
The event was originally scheduled to be played at Macalester but was forced to move when the school implemented a "no fans" mandate in response to growing numbers of COVID cases.
Cooper High School was tapped as a replacement site but bowed out when the Robbinsdale School District went to a distance-learning model. On Wednesday, Benilde-St. Margaret's agreed to host the games.
The jamboree is down to three games because Hibbing had to withdraw because of COVID. The schedule: Cambridge-Isanti vs. St. Paul Central, 11 a.m.; Duluth East vs. Park Center, 12:45 p.m.; East Grand Forks vs. Minneapolis North, 2:30 p.m.
ESPN broadcasting from Hopkins
Four prominent girls' basketball programs from four states will gather Jan. 21 and 22 at Hopkins for a tournament that will be broadcast and streamed by ESPN.
The teams are pulled right from the top of ESPN's national rankings. Sidwell Friends (Washington, D.C.), DeSoto (Texas) and Hopkins are ranked 1 through 3. The tournament's fourth team, Grandview (Colorado), features the nation's No. 1 senior recruit, 6-7 center Lauren Betts, who has committed to Stanford.
Hopkins' game against Sidwell Friends at 4 p.m. Jan. 21 will be broadcast on ESPNU. The tournament's other games will be streamed on ESPN Plus.
The Jan. 21 schedule:
Sidwell Friends vs. Hopkins, 4 p.m.
Grandview vs. DeSoto, 6 p.m.
The winners will play for the championship at 6 p.m. Jan. 22. The third-place game will begin at 4 p.m.
Grand basketball milestones
Two top scorers, playing Tuesday night on their home basketball courts located about 60 miles apart on Hwy. 212, each achieved the same scoring plateau.
Madalynn Wulkan, a senior guard at Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart, and Chloe Brunsberg, a junior guard at Southwest Christian High School in Chaska, surpassed 1,000 points.
Wulkan, lauded by Mustangs coach Jesse Weick for her attitude, coachability and team-first approach, became the program's sixth player to reach the mark since 2000.
Brunsberg, a junior captain for the Stars, is a consummate teammate and leader, Southwest Christian coach Tiffany Stubbs said. Brunsberg has made 30 three-pointers through 10 games this season, almost halfway to her total of 64 last season.
Both players are averaging 19 points per game.
Dearth of officials builds
Pete Vrieze, the assigner for officials for the Minneapolis Officials Association, informed athletic directors for six different games that were scheduled for Tuesday that they had to reschedule because not enough officials were available that night.
The problem was a combination of COVID-related absences that added to a shortage of officials and the longtime custom of playing on Tuesdays.
Vrieze asked the athletic directors to reschedule to either Monday or Wednesday, nights when the schedule is typically less crowded.
"We just don't have enough bodies right now," Vrieze said. "It makes me feel like a failure to have to tell them they have to change."
Thanks for reffing
Amid a lack of officials that is becoming a crisis, the St. Michael-Albertville girls' basketball team has found a way thank officials who work their games.
After home games, each officials is presented with a handwritten thank you note from one of the Knights players and a gift card to Caribou Coffee. "It's our little way of telling them how much we appreciate them," Knights coach Kent Hamre said.
Minnetonka junior Grace Sadura and Stillwater sophomore Josie St. Martin each received commemorative pucks for recently registering their 100th career point.
Sadura leads Minnetonka in scoring with 37 points, tying her team-best mark during the shortened 2020-21 season.
"Grace thrives on competition — the bigger the game, the better she plays," Skippers coach Tracy Cassano said. "She takes tremendous pride in playing for the 'M' and her teammates."
Sadura, a co-captain who made a verbal commitment to Minnesota Duluth, captured point No. 100 while contributing one goal and four assists in a victory against Buffalo.
St. Martin reached the mark during a dominant four-goal, three assist performance against Irondale/St. Anthony.
"Josie is a special player," Ponies coach Mira Jalosuo said. "What separates her from the other players is her competitiveness. I think she hates losing more than she loves winning, and that's one of the reasons why she was able to reach the 100-point milestone only as a sophomore."
St. Martin doesn't waste time when it comes to hockey honors. She was the second-youngest player to make the 2022 U.S. Under-18 Women's World Championship team. The tournament, scheduled for January in Sweden, was cancelled because of the pandemic.
Telecky out at Hutchinson
Marc Telecky abruptly resigned from his job as Hutchinson girls' hockey coach after 10 games this season.
"Marc made a change in his personal and professional life and felt he didn't have the time he needed," Hutchinson activities director Bill Tschida said.
Telecky was in his third season behind the Tigers bench. The team was 2-8 when Telecky resigned after the Dec. 17 game against Delano/Rockford. The remaining three assistant coaches on the staff followed Telecky.
Tschida took over as coach and said he is focused on "providing the best experience possible for the young ladies on this team."
Hutchinson is 0-5-1 under Tschida, who played and coached baseball and hockey at St. John's.
Goalies go the extra mile
Coon Rapids goaltender Will Wagner started the new year with a remarkable evening Jan. 6 against Armstrong/Cooper.
Wagner, a sophomore who starts in net for the Cardinals junior varsity, faced a whopping 58 shots in an 8-1 rout. His night wasn't finished, it turned out.
Injury and illness already had stopped two Coon Rapids netminders. Then a bout of stomach flu sent the scheduled varsity starter home.
That left Wagner.
Pressed into emergency duty, Wagner stopped 27 of 29 shots for a 3-2 victory — his first on varsity.
"Will is one of the hardest-working kids I know, and he has a huge heart," Cardinals coach Aaron Frach said. "He was mobbed by his teammates after the game in celebration. It was truly a wonderful experience for our program."
Two nights earlier, International Falls girls' hockey freshman Mara Pelland stopped 112 of 125 shots in a 13-0 loss to Hibbing/Chisholm. Fifty of those shots came in the third period.
On its website, the Minnesota State High School League lists the record for saves in a game as 118, set in 2007 by Taylor Baumhoefner of Worthington.
• Lexi Bright, a senior, became the first West Central Area girls' basketball player to score 2,000 points in her career in the Knights' 84-67 victory over Henning on Monday.
• Gophers recruit Mallory Heyer of Chaska is closing in on 2,000 career points. She has 1,981 going into the Hawks' home game against St. Louis Park on Thursday.
• Hibbing's Ayden McDonald, who recently became the ninth player in Minnesota boys' basketball history to reach 1,000 career assists, has 1,959 career points. He is averaging 30.2 points per game for the Bluejackets, who next play on Jan. 25.
Star Tribune staff members Kevin Bertels, Ron Haggstrom, David La Vaque, Jim Paulsen and Joel Rippel contributed to this report.