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MINNEAPOLIS -- Many prep basketball observers thought that MACCRAY would have qualified for the state boys tournament last year. The Wolverines were stopped one game short of playing at Williams Arena, but they had plenty of talent returning to make another run at state. And this season they didn't disappoint. MACCRAY will playing in the Class A state tournament today for the fourth time -- the first time since 1996 -- in the program's history, which includes previous years when the towns of Maynard, Clara City and Raymond were not consolidated yet.
The majority of boys basketball coaches in Section 3A, including MACCRAY head coach Gary Nelson, thought Hills-Beaver Creek would be the team to beat in order to reach the state tournament. Hills-Beaver Creek is in that position now, but things at the beginning of the season things weren't looking as peachy for the Patriots. The Patriots (23-6) will have another challenge on their hands today as they meet MACCRAY (25-3) in the 3A final at 5 p.m. at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
COLLEGEVILLE -- Melrose made 14 more free throws than New London-Spicer to offset Jayme Moten's game-high 29 points and eight 3-pointers as the Dutchmen edged the defending Class AA champions 64-60 in the Section 6AA-East final Tuesday at Saint John's University. Melrose (16-10) trailed for the majority of a fast-pace first half, but top-seeded NLS (19-9) couldn't stretch out a six-point lead and the No. 3 Dutchmen would eventually lead by one point at 25-24 at intermission. A reason why the Wildcats couldn't pull away was the inability to get to the free-throw line.
The Minnesota State High School League recently completed its new competitive section assignments for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years and several changes are in store for the Tribune's 20 area schools. A school's enrollment is the main factor if a move is to be made and 19 of the area schools will see a projected decrease in students. Willmar will see the biggest change as its proposed enrollment for the next two school years will be 994, down 68 from the current figure.
MARSHALL -- Other than a hiccup in the middle of the season, Yellow Medicine East has had its way with opposing teams. The Sting (20-6) have since then pulled together and won 9 of their last 10 games entering today's Section 3AA girls basketball championship with Jackson County Central (25-2) at 8 p.m. at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. Jackson County Central is ranked No. 9 in Class AA by Minnesota Basketball News.
ST. PAUL -- In Kevin Weller's first season of coaching Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, Mayer Lutheran ousted his Jaguars in the opening round of the 2007 Class A State Volleyball Tournament. Three years have since passed and the two programs will meet again in the first round of the state tournament today at 3 p.m. at the Xcel Energy Center. The records for both teams are nearly identical from three years ago. BBE, currently 27-2, was 27-3 entering the tournament in 2007 and Mayer Lutheran was 17-11.
NORTHFIELD -- Four of the nine area participants that will be competing in the Class A state cross country meet Saturday at St. Olaf College will be looking to improve from last year. Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd junior Tera Walker has the most experience, having qualified for state every year since she was a seventh-grader in 2006. Walker was 57th as a seventh-grader, 23rd as an eighth-grader, 20th as a freshman and 35th last year. Spencer Erickson, a junior from New London-Spicer will be making her fourth consecutive appearance at state.
Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City and Dawson-Boyd are the only area teams that got a No. 1 seed for the prep football playoffs that start Tuesday. All quarterfinal-round games involving area teams start at 7 p.m. Co-champions of the Little Sioux Conference, Dawson-Boyd (7-1) will take on winless Ortonville in Section 5A. Also in 5A, No. 4 MACCRAY (5-3) will host No. 5 Lakeview (4-4) and No. 7 Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (1-7) will play at No.
WILLMAR -- After agreeing last year to stay affiliated with the Cornbelt South for another season of amateur baseball, the Cornbelt North has decided to break ties with its southern brethren. "Last year we wanted out," said North president Buddy Beier. "But the South talked us into playing each other once. Even before last year we talked about leaving." Atwater, New London-Spicer, Norway Lake-Sunburg, Paynesville, Regal and Starbuck make up the North and the six teams will stay together and play a 10-game league schedule on Sundays throughout the summer.
With travel costs becoming too much for schools, four teams from the West Central Conference are looking to leave. Foley, Milaca, Mora and St. Cloud Cathedral are ready to leave the North portion of the WCC and join Becker, Little Falls, Princeton and Zimmerman to form a new conference. In order for the new league to be formed all eight schools have to their board of directors agree on the proposal. Foley, Milaca, Mora and St. Cloud Cathedral have already voted to join the new conference, while Becker, Little Falls, Princeton and Zimmerman will make their decisions early next week.