Bring on holiday tournaments
It's holiday tournament time for Cardinal teams. Boys basketball has the gym today and Wednesday, the girls take over Thursday and Friday; the boys hockey team is at Paynesville today through Thursday, girls hockey is at Owatonna also today throu...
It's holiday tournament time for Cardinal teams. Boys basketball has the gym today and Wednesday, the girls take over Thursday and Friday; the boys hockey team is at Paynesville today through Thursday, girls hockey is at Owatonna also today through Thursday while the wrestling team returns to Montevideo tournament on Friday. Swimming, gymnastics and Nordic Skiing continue to practice but have no events scheduled until 2006.
Here's a look at this week's events:
n The Becker Bulldogs (5-1), the Duluth Central Trojans (2-5) and the New London-Spicer Wildcats (4-1) are the guests for the Bremer Bank Classic. All but New London-Spicer (AA) are Class AAA teams. The Trojans, whom Willmar meets today, have a pair of one-point setbacks in their loss column. Becker's only loss was to AAAA Buffalo. NLS was 4-0 until it got thrashed Friday by Rocori, 65-38.
Willmar (3-2) has an exciting ball team. The catalyst five games into the season is a 5-foot-7 junior guard who has started the season like no other Cardinal in recent memory. Coming off screens to flick in a three-pointer or weaving through lane, Kyle Townswick has posted games of 28, 26 and 36 points with a low of 18. Five teammates have at least one game in double figures. Versatile Todd Herman is the player to watch for NLS.
n The Midwest Wireless Wild-Card Tournament returns to Willmar. Hawley, which won in New London last year, is back to defend. The Willmar girls are 5-2, not bad considering a rash of injuries that beset the team in the first month. Four-year starting center Laura Nielsen, who next is headed to South Dakota State next, averages 14 points and eight rebounds.
The four-team line-up is solid. Hawley lost three starters from a year ago, but returns with the same 5-2 record it held at this time a year ago when it dominated both games with a deliberate, nearly error-free style. Even in an obvious rebuilding year, the Wildcats just seem to reload. They are off to a 7-1 start (losing to Eden Valley-Watkins) even though the five players coach Mike Dreier started at this time a year ago are graduated.
The Wildcats are sure to be tested here after mowing down their last six foes by an average winning margin of 14 points.
The Watertown Royals are this year's wildcard at the Wild-Card. Barely competitive last year with a young line-up, a more seasoned club comes in with the tournament's best record: 8-0. Both the Royals and Wildcats are in Section 5AA. Sophomore Forward Renae Henjum is averaging 17 points for NLS. The all-around play of senior guard Cassidy Vogt is another reason for the Wildcats' early success.
n As recently as five years ago, the Willmar boys ice squad was traveling as far as Roseau on the Canada border to play in holiday tournaments, shocking the storied Rams 2-1 in 1999. In view of high fuel costs and where the program is at the moment, it seems wiser to stay closer to home. Willmar (1-5) will play three games starting today at Paynesville: In order, Prairie Centre (Sauk Centre/Melrose/Long Prairie-Grey Eagle), Redwood Valley (also Wabasso) and host River Lakes (Rocori, Paynesville, New London-Spicer, Albany, Eden Valley-Watkins). The Prairie Centre North Stars are 5-3, including a 4-3 win over Willmar. Redwood is 0-5-1; River Lakes (1-6) beat Prairie Centre in its opener but has lost its last six.
n After 10 losses in which they scored seven goals, the Willmar girls hockey team beat Little Falls 10-3 for their first win. Numbers already were thin in the program when the Cardinals lost veteran defender Krista Hanson with a dislocated knee. Willmar plays St. Michael-Albertville (3-6), Hutchinson (4-3-1) and the host Huskies (1-5-1) starting today at the Owatonna Invitational.
n Ten teams meet at Montevideo for the Roder Invitational on Friday. Defending champion Canby is rated No. 2 in Class A while Jackson Country Central is ninth in Class AA. Willmar has eight returnees -- six of them placewinners --from a year ago when the team took fourth place.
On the fly
n Scott Swansson (WHS '74) and Pat Dorsey (WHS '88) were opposing head coaches when Woodbury beat Edina 71-53 on Dec. 13 in Edina. The teams could meet again at St. Cloud's Granite City Classic this week. Scott is in his 22nd year at Woodbury, sixth as head coach. Pat is in his second year at Edina after coaching two seasons at St. Cloud Tech.
n The YMCA K-4 county-wide basketball program has 450 boys and girls ... 33 teams have signed up for this week's 3-on-3 Holiday Tournament ... nine team are registered so far for the high school intramural league at the YMCA (deadline Friday).