A hand in the scoring record

When the game clock struck 00:00, the Centennial High School coach looked at the score and marveled. Her team had allowed 93 points, yet won - by 23 points.

When the game clock struck 00:00, the Centennial High School coach looked at the score and marveled. Her team had allowed 93 points, yet won - by 23 points.

Her Cougars had posted 116 points. The 209 total points were a state single-game record.

"We didn't know it was a record until we read it in the paper the next day," said Jill (Lewis) Becken, a 1979 Willmar graduate in her fourth season as the Centennial head coach. The game was a Tuesday night showdown with Champlin Park at Circle Pines, north of St. Paul. The teams were tied for first in the Northwest Suburban.

The Cougars' seventh straight win raised their record to 14-3. The game's top scorer was Centennials' 6-foot wing Katie DeWitt. The Drake recruit's 36 points broke her school record by two. Four teammates also were in double figures.

Reached during her free period, the math teacher in her 19th year related the final statistics: "We shot 70.8 percent on 46 of 65 with 74 points in the paint. We also had 38 assists which beat the state record by four. It was unselfish basketball."


So, where were the defenses? "Maybe, out getting popcorn?" replied Becken with a laugh.

She continued: "We jumped up by 12 early and they kind of started taking some chances to get back. They were double-teaming the ball and we found the open person."

Jill's folks, Mel and Jan, had driven over from Eau Claire, Wis., for the game.

Mel Lewis coached football and men's basketball at Ridgewater College in the 1970s. His last hoops team before moving to Minnesota-Morris won state and region titles in February 1979. In the playoffs that winter, the Warriors beat Golden Valley Lutheran coached by a recent Minnesota graduate by the name of Flip Saunders.

In 1975, Jill and classmates like Liz Lien and Sarah Dumke were in that first wave of Cardinal girls who received the full benefit of Title IV. Jill lettered nine times, four times in tennis playing for Judy Aagesen and then Hal Miller. She was the third in her family to captain the net team, following older sisters Janelle and Denise.

She played basketball for Aagesen and later Lynn Peterson. She ran track first under the late Deb Bahe and later was a captain and team MVP for Wayne Lenzmeier.

Jill and Pete Becken have been an item since their sophomore year in high school. Pete started on the 1978-79 team that went 19-2, losing only to Rocori.

They were married while at UM-Morris, where both played basketball. Mel coached not one, but two son-in-laws. Bob Larson of Milan, star of the junior college team Lewis took to nationals, married Denise. They live in Texas as does Janelle and Warren, a younger brother. A fourth Lewis daughter, Deb, is married to one-time UM-Morris quarterback, Dale Mehr, and they live in Apple Valley.


Jill coached B-squad four years and varsity eight years at Forest Lake. She took the Centennial job in Circle Pines because the Beckens had bought a home in the district and it's where their three children were enrolled. Emily, the oldest, starts at point guard for the Cougars.

Jill played basketball with Bonnie Henrickson in 1978-79 when Bonnie was a sophomore. "Bonnie was in our gym last year to see DeWitt," said Jill of the current head coach at the University of Kansas.

How has the game changed? I asked Jill.

"You know, we had the same desire to win in those days as the girls do now," she said. "The skills are so much better now. When we were young, girls played with dolls, while boys were out in the driveway shooting baskets. Now the girls are in the driveways and playing on AAU teams."

In a generation, girl's sports have made a light-year leap: "I remember in middle school we got to play basketball once a week, kind of a rec thing. It was so exciting when we got to play competitively with your friends as teammates. I'm just thankful for those coaches of those early teams. They needed a lot of patience."

On the fly

North Dakota State junior Danielle Dahl will transfer across the Red River to Concordia for her final year and will play hockey as well as volleyball. Dahl saw limited action the last two season's as a Bison hitter, playing in 78 games in 2004 (50 kills, 82 digs) and 95 last fall (31 kills, 13 ace blocks) for the new Division I program. She will join her younger sister, Alyssa, on both Cobber teams. Besides more playing time, Concordia offers the teaching degree she seeks in business education that NDSU does not.

Sophomore Christina Fisher is among the top four skiers for the UW-Green Bay Phoenix Nordic team. At the Central Collegiate Ski Association qualifying meet Jan. 21-22 at Coleraine, Minn., she was 24th in the 10k freestyle and 21st in 10k classical (36:26, second-best on the team). Last week at Cable, Wis., she was 20th in the skate and 28th in classic. Each event had 56 entrants.

What To Read Next
Get Local