Curt Hogg is a sports reporter at the West Central Tribune in Willmar, Minnesota. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016.
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MINNEAPOLIS—For the second straight day at the Class AAA state basketball tournament, the Willmar girls basketball needed a double-digit second half comeback. Facing the top seed in the tournament on Thursday afternoon, it wasn't in the cards. The fifth-seeded Cardinals fell behind early in the second half and could never completely recover, falling to Robbinsdale Cooper 65-54 in the semifinals at the Target Center.
The Willmar boys basketball is onto the Section 5AAA final with a 57-52 win over Big Lake in an overtime thriller on Saturday at Halenbeck Hall. The top-seeded Cardinals dominated in overtime, scoring the first seven points of the period as a Ty Roelofs fastbreak layup punctuated the win in the final minute. Drey Dirksen scored on a layup with 1:38 to play in regulation to give Willmar its first lead of the second half at 45-43. The junior forward added another layup with 35 seconds to go that put the Cardinals up by four.
Ten years ago, a dozen young men from New London-Spicer High School, backed by their coaches and community, set out to achieve one unified goal: bring home the first boys state title in school history. It took endless conditioning drills, a one-loss regular season and a heart-pounding win at the Target Center in one of the most memorable games in state history, but the 2007-08 Wildcats boys basketball team achieved their goal -- or as they would tell you, reached their destiny.
The Four-Point Play is a weekly look into four of the top storylines in area prep basketball. In its short-lived history, the Four-Point Play has served as a lighthearted look at the game that brings so many communities together across the area, state and country. It's great to have a space that highlights just some of the many standout student-athletes in west central Minnesota, and does so through an enthusiastic look at basketball that hopefully makes the games more fun—as they ought to be.
WILLMAR — The bus carrying the Willmar girls basketball team may have broken down late on Friday night, but the Cardinals had their engines running right away on offense just hours later. Hannah Johnson scored 15 points, Carly Wedel added 13 points and Willmar hit 10 3-pointers en route to a 74-61 win over Brainerd on Saturday at home.
The Four-Point Play is a weekly look into four of the top storylines in area prep basketball, written by sports reporter Curt Hogg. Lac qui Parle Valley girls head coach John Nolte knew before the season started that he struck gold in taking over a talented, veteran group in his first year at the helm. But in case he needed any more evidence, finding himself at the prestigious Breakdown Invitational over the weekend in Minnetonka alongside many of the best teams in the state will work just fine.
Willmar's Noah Slagter peers over his left shoulder and points to the spot—the exact spot—where he once played a game of H-O-R-S-E with former Cardinals great Taylor Filipek. East side of the gymnasium, corner court. Slagter speaks of Filipek and other Willmar players past, like Jordan Smith and Sam Sussenguth, with a tone of reverence, as if still a kid in awe of his local heroes. He is reminded that, now, he is the Taylor Filipek to dozens of young Willmar basketball players who all lace up their shoes with hopes of becoming the next Noah Slagter.
At the end of each basketball season, the Tribune publishes its All-Area basketball teams to recognize the top players in the area, with five players from that group selected to the first team. Here are 10 players to keep an eye on to earn a spot on the All-Area first team in the 2017-18 season. Noah Kannegiesser Hancock Owls Senior guard
This is the first installment of the Four-Point Play, a weekly look into four of the top storylines in area prep basketball, written by sports reporter Curt Hogg. Death. Taxes. Willmar girls basketball playing tough defense. It may be an entirely new season of high school basketball, but some things remain completely unchanged.
WILLMAR - The Willmar boys hockey team was in the thick of things through two periods in its season-opener on Thursday night at the Willmar Civic Center despite facing a flurry of shots from Alexandria. Over the final period, those pucks began to find the back of the net, leading to a 5-1 win for Alexandria. Willmar goalie Gunnar Banks recorded an impressive 51 saves, but Alexandria's two first-period goals proved to be the difference. In that period, Alexandria recorded the first 13 shots of the game and led the shots on net category 19-6 entering the intermission.