Many of the students from the Class of 2024 at Maple Grove High School were headed with family and friends to warmer locales when spring break arrived in late March.

Stephanie Halverson, an educational support professional at the district's Oak View Elementary, also was free from work obligations.

Stephanie and husband Phil asked sophomore son Camden what trip he might want to take during the break.

"He had classmates going to Jamaica, places like that,'' Stephanie said Tuesday. "Camden said, 'I want to go to Boston and watch our Wolves play the Celtics.' ''

Which is where the Halversons were on March 27, a Sunday that didn't work out on the scoreboard — Celtics 134-112 — but satisfied the family's Timberwolves passion in all other ways.

"Camden has hundreds of autographs with NBA players, and signed photos,'' Stephanie said. "An important task for me was to find out where the Timberwolves would be staying. I narrowed it to the Four Seasons and the Ritz-Carlton.''

A call to the Ritz-Carlton led to a solid hint there wasn't a sports team staying there. The Halversons headed for the Four Seasons.

"My son and I were the only two fans that figured out where they were,'' Stephanie said. "Players posed for photos with us after returning from the shootaround. And someone whispered to me what time the buses would be leaving for the arena.

"They were as friendly as can be to us. How can you not love this team? They are the nicest human beings.''

The Halversons had a pair of season tickets early in the Kevin Garnett era. "Then, we started having children and gave up the tickets,'' Stephanie said. "We still followed the Wolves, still loved them. And a few years ago, we went back to being season-ticket holders.''

One playoff appearance and win from the 2004 Western Conference finals to last Saturday in Memphis? Weren't there some drives back home when you said, "Why are we doing this?''

Stephanie laughed slightly and said: "We're choosing Wolves tickets over a summer family vacation.

"I'm a Californian. I moved to Minnesota 25 years ago. And I've fallen in love with this state — even those bleak winter days, because I know they are going to end, and we will have spring, and a splendid summer and a wonderful fall.

"To me, these Timberwolves have become a perfect metaphor for being a Minnesotan. We've had those bleak winters with them, but now this beautiful team has arrived for us.''

Right there, Stephanie, a Timberwolves fan who has endured endless defeats, but has never allowed the Halversons' fandom to be defeated.

They are not alone.

Alexei Moon Casselle, musician, eighth-grade English teacher at Battle Creek Elementary on the East Side of St. Paul:

"I grew up in south Minneapolis and got into the NBA in the early '90s as an 11-, 12-year-old because of Michael Jordan. And I thought, 'We have a team, too, but we're never talked about.' Then, KG [Kevin Garnett] came along and made us a serious player.

"I've been a Timberwolves fan since then. I now have tickets with fellow teachers. There were so many dark days … but there were early signs this season would be different.

"And then the play-in game. Sitting there, I kept thinking, this is a game the old Timberwolves would've figured out how to lose seven different ways.''

One of Casselle's bands is titled "Kill the Vultures'' and tours Europe in the summer. How about Patrick Beverley as a front man?

"I'd like Pat Bev to come to school and fire up my students to do their homework,'' Casselle said.

Mike Reiners, administrator, teacher, coach at Christ's Household of Faith in St. Paul: "I went to a couple of games the first season [1989-90] in the Metrodome and I've been a fan ever since. All the bad years … I never got to the point of losing interest.

"The Timberwolves and the Vikings have the same hold on me. They are irresistible attractions.

"That play-in game; I said to my wife Gloria, 'KAT's playing the worst game of his life and we're two points behind.' To win that one … I'm headed to Game 3 on Thursday. I can't wait."

Rob Shelquist, Minnesota's Mr. Basketball in 1982 for Irondale High, now a partner at the Lockridge Grindal Nauen law firm:

"I'm a giant hoops-head. We would go to 10-15 games a season. A lot of those were just a good date night for (wife) Kim and me. Halfway through this season, you could feel things starting to change. The arena was fuller; the fans were much louder.

"I don't know why so many people were critical over the celebration at the end of the play-in game. You would think they would understand, after all the resets we've gone through with this team, everyone deserved to let loose."