The general skating and hockey rinks at Garfield Park and Hilltop officially opened Tuesday and will remain open as conditions permit. The warming houses open at 4 p.m. The field lights will remain on until at least 9 p.m. Because of the moderate temperatures, rinks at North Side and Lincoln are not ready for use.
Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, rated No. 3 in Class A, returns to the Becker Dual Meet Tournament today to defend the title it won in 2005 with a victory over Little Falls. The Flyers aren't back, but the field includes three other Central Lakes Conterence teams: Sauk Rapids, St. Cloud Apollo and St. Cloud Tech. Also in the field are Blaine, Anoka -- rated No. 5 in AAA -- and Milaca, as well as the host Bulldogs.
Brin Hanson, a 5-6 senior guard for the Willmar Cardinals, has been chosen Central Lakes Conference Performer of the Week in girls basketball. In two games -- a win over Hutchinson and a loss at Fergus Falls -- she accumulated 20 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists and nine steals.
WILLMAR -- First-round holiday tournament games aren't supposed to be as close as Willmar's turned out to be on Wednesday. The Cardinals blew a 13-point second-half lead, but senior guard Kyle Townswick drew a crucial foul before the final buzzer and sank both free throws to give Willmar a 53-52 win on the first day of the Willmar Bremer Bank Holiday Classic Wednesday. The Cardinals will meet New London-Spicer, which beat Duluth Central 60-44, for the title at approximately 7:45 p.m. today.
Ridgewater College freshman back Justin Laughlin and sophomore linebacker Blake Hagert were each named to the MCCC all-South football team recently. Justin Olson, Jason Pawelk, Ben Thonvold, Tyler Hoelscher and Joey Lux made second team. Earning honorable mention were Ross Brandt, Lee Fast, Andy Graupman, Ted Giese, and Lance Bussler.
WILLMAR -- When you are a new program and you don't shy from challenging established programs, there will be nights like this. Redwood Valley proved unable to skate with the Willmar Cardinals Wednesday and absorbed a 13-2 kicking in the first round of the Willmar Boys Holiday Hockey Tournament. This is the second varsity season for the Redwood Valley program, which is still looking for its first win, though it managed two ties last winter.
OWATONNA -- Willmar got goals from Chelsey Bielhartz and Chelsey Wierschem but couldn't match the firepower of North Wright County and dropped a 6-2 decision to the River Hawks on Wednesday. Willmar plays Hutchinson at noon today in the second round of the Owatonna Invitational. Down 2-0 in the first period, Beilhartz and Wierschem broke in on the NWC goal on a 2-on-1 with Wierschem tucking the puck in the corner of the net after a pinpoint pass.
REDWOOD FALLS -- Redwood Valley built up a big lead, then cruised into the championship game of its own boys basketball holiday tournament with an 85-53 win over Lakeview Wednesday. The Cardinals (7-0) will face St. James, which beat Sibley East 58-46, for the title at approximately 8 p.m. tonight. Redwood Valley dominated the first half, taking a 46-19 lead into the break. Tyler Pendleton recorded a game-high 23 points to lead the Cardinals. Dan Bonebright followed with a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds. Mike Felt added 13 points.
BIRD ISLAND -- BOLD weathered the storm of missed free throws to edge Buffalo Lake-Hector, 53-47, in the first round of the BOLD girls basketball tournament Wednesday. The Warriors (1-8) were just 11 of 30 from the free-throw line, while the Mustangs (1-8) went 21 for 38. BLH even had the decisive edge in rebounding, 50-31, but BOLD made shots when it counted, sinking 38 percent (21 of 56) from field, while holding the Mustangs to 20 percent (11 of 54). The Warriors will face Holy Trinity, which beat McLeod West 50-48, for the championship at 3 p.m. today.
Boys Basketball Bremer/Willmar Invite THIRD PLACE THURSDAY Duluth Central vs. Becker, 6 p.m. CHAMPIONSHIP THURSDAY New London-Spicer vs. Willmar, 7:45 p.m. Sauk Rapids Invite FIRST ROUND THURSDAY Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop vs. Mayer Lutheran, 3 p.m. Chatfield vs. Rockford, 4:45 p.m. Blake vs. Pequot Lakes, 6:30 p.m. Benson vs. East Grand Forks, 8:15 p.m. Glencoe-Silver Lake Invite FIRST ROUND THURSDAY Waconia vs. Trinity School, 3 p.m. Cedar Mt./Comfrey vs. Hutchinson, 4:30 p.m. Buffalo Lake-Jectpor vs. Elmore Academy, 6:30 p.m. New Ulm vs.