Tom Larson is the sports editor of the West Central Tribune.
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For almost a dozen years, Paynesville baseball coach Brad Skoglund hasn't had to make many alterations to the third line in his scorebook. But next season, for the first time in 11 years, Skoglund's roster will be lacking one of Liza Kampsen's four boys. "All of them were good enough that all I had to do was pencil in 'Kampsen' in the No. 3 spot in the lineup," said Skoglund, whose Bulldogs play Foley at 5 p.m. today in the first round of the Section 6AA East Subsection playoffs.
WILLMAR -- The consensus is west central Minnesota's 2012 fishing opener experience was an unqualified success. Even those few folks who didn't have much success in the boat had the luxury of sitting around in shirtsleeves and bemoaning their bad luck under calm, sunny skies. "Overall, it's the best opener I've experienced and heard about in the last 10 years," said Brad Foshaug, of Brad's 71 Bait and Sports in Willmar.
The sound of bat hitting ball is a little different this season in the area's prep ballparks. For the first time, all U.S. high school baseball teams are required to use a new bat that is intended to improve safety. At the same time, the bat is tempering offensive performances and changing the way teams pitch and play defense. The bats are called BBCOR, which is the acronym for Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution.
Nothing can take away the sting of losing in a state championship game, but a fire truck ride, a police escort and cheers from the community went a long way to easing the pain the Litchfield boys team felt Saturday. "That was really nice," said the Dragons' Zach Kinny, whose team lost 55-39 to Plainview-Elgin-Millville in the Class AA state title game Saturday afternoon at Target Center in Minneapolis. "That kind of relieved everybody." Following the game, the Dragons were met by the entourage and led to an assembly at the school.
John Carlson, a strapping 6-foot-5 Litchfield native, stood against the cement block wall of a stairwell at St. Cloud State's Halenbeck Hall on Friday, talking over a blaring high school band about his new job with the Minnesota Vikings. Another tall guy in a dress shirt and basketball-theme tie topped the stairs and had barely made it through a nearby doorway when he was met by a small cluster of well-wishing family and friends. John Carlson, the son, politely excused himself from the discussion and caught up with John Carlson, the dad, in the doorway.
ST. CLOUD -- Determination. Unselfishness. Awareness of each other. Those are the building blocks of good character, and they're also the building blocks of a state tournament basketball team. The Litchfield boys basketball team exemplified those characteristics all season and they were all on display Friday night in the Dragons' 74-57 victory over Long Prairie-Grey Eagle in the Section 6AA championship game at St.
Now is the time in tournament basketball when talent stands side-by-side with want-to. By the time section finals roll around, every team still alive has skilled, clutch players.
What sticks out among all the wins and 20-, 30- and 40-point victory margins on the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa schedule this season is a five-point overtime win in late February. That game might have saved the Jaguars' season on Tuesday. Battle Lake, truly worthy of their Battlers nickname, rebounded from a 17-point deficit in the final 5-1/2 minutes and pushed BBE to the very end before losing, 64-60, in the Section 6A South Sub-Section championship game at the University of Minnesota, Morris. BBE guard Brian Goodwin made a key steal with 16 seconds left and scored his teams' final seven poin
To appreciate how good the four area boys basketball teams are that survived last weekend's section playoffs, consider a few of the teams that did not make it through. Willmar won 18 games and its first outright Central Lakes Conference championship in eight years. But the Cards exited the postseason on Saturday against Mankato East. Two 20-plus win teams, Montevideo and MACCRAY, were eliminated in sub-section championship games on Saturday. Monte (22-6) lost by two to Redwood Valley and MACCRAY (22-7) lost to its Camden Conference rival, Dawson-Boyd.
By Tom Larson email@example.com Prep playoff basketball is a cruel endeavor.