Mountain Iron-Buhl senior guard Allie Negen knows exactly where she will be during March Madness: playing in the state tournament.
The Rangers played in their ninth consecutive Class 1A state tournament Thursday, the last six with Negen as a participant. Three classmates — Mattison Bennett, Madisen Overbye and Macy Savela — were also on the roster as seventh-graders.
“It’s been a journey,” Negen said. “It’s hard to grasp it. It’s been such a gift.”
Negen had 15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals in the Rangers’ 50-48 loss to Goodhue on Thursday.
“I have so many memories that I’ll never forget,” Negen said.
The Rangers have been runners-up twice, finished third twice and finished fourth once during their nine-year run.
Others got a shot
Centennial senior center Sara Stapleton missed 22 games at the start of the season with a knee injury suffered in the first week of practice. Cougars coach Jill Becken said Stapleton’s injury, while a huge loss for the team, had a silver lining.
“There was such a sadness in the gym when we found out she couldn’t play for a significant amount of time,” Becken said. “So our girls just decided they were going to play hard every practice because she couldn’t.”
Stapleton’s absence helped speed up the development of other players in the Cougars lineup.
“Sarah Lavell got more touches, Cate Flynn got more touches inside and then Jenna Guyer, who’s only a sophomore, played some, too,” Becken said.
The 6-3 Stapleton, who signed with Wisconsin last November, had 11 points and six rebounds on Wednesday in the Cougars’ quarterfinal victory over Maple Grove.
Taylor’s coaching tree
Stillwater girls’ basketball coach Willie Taylor counts coaches of two Class 3A tournament teams as former players.
Tanysha Scott played two years at DeLaSalle when Taylor was an assistant coach at the Minneapolis Catholic school in the late 1990s.
Cooper coach Kiara Buford played on two state championship at St. Paul Central in 2007 and 2008 coached by Taylor.
Scott said she considers Taylor, who brought Stillwater to the Class 4A tournament, a “mentor” and exchanged text messages with him as tournament seedings were revealed last weekend.
Vikings crash boards
Minneota 5-10 center Lydia Sussner, the tallest player listed on the Vikings’ roster, had 18 points and a game-high 17 rebounds in the Vikings’ 66-46 Class 1A quarterfinal victory over Red Lake.
Sussner, who has more than 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career, helped the Vikings to a 67-36 rebound advantage.
“We did a wonderful job of rebounding,” Minneota coach Chad Johnston said.
Sussner is going to play volleyball for Southwest Minnesota State.
Vikings senior Lizzy Gillingham, a 5-8 forward who had a game-high 19 points on Thursday, will run track for South Dakota State.
Staff writers Ron Haggstrom, Jim Paulsen, David La Vaque and Joel Rippel contributed to this notebook.