AREA PREP NOTEBOOK: Goodridge-Grygla achieves a first
Goodridge-Grygla is heading into uncharted boys basketball waters. The Chargers will meet Fosston for the Section 8A championship at 7 p.m. Friday at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls. The winner advances to next week's Class A state hig...
Goodridge-Grygla is heading into uncharted boys basketball waters.
The Chargers will meet Fosston for the Section 8A championship at 7 p.m. Friday at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls. The winner advances to next week's Class A state high school tournament in the Twin Cities.
Fosston, the No. 2 seed from the East subsection, is defending 8A champion. Goodridge-Grygla, on the other hand, has achieved something no team has done since the current two-subsection alignment started in the 2003-04 season. The Chargers are the No. 5 seed from the West subsection; the lowest previous seed in the East-West format to make the section final was a No. 3.
In this case, however, history doesn't mean a lot to Chargers coach Vern Johnson.
"The way you're playing now is the most important thing," Johnson said. "And, since about the third week of February, we're probably in a stretch where we're playing as well as we have all year.
"Towards the end of February, we really made some great strides forward. It wasn't just one thing. Our defense got better. We cut our turnovers down. We became more patient. Everybody found their roles. Our bench became better. We really found a groove."
The 19-10 Chargers are paced by Preston Swenson (16.3 ppg), Tra Alderete (13.2 ppg) and Daniel Polansky (10.3 ppg), whose drive from the right wing for a layup gave G-G the tying and winning points in a 58-57 win Tuesday against Fertile-Beltrami in the West subsection championship.
Grygla-Goodridge and Fosston aren't strangers. On Feb. 27, Fosston edged the Chargers 53-51, with Kyle Arneson scoring 21 to lead the Greyhounds.
"It seems like every team we've played has a good point guard, and (Arneson) is right up there with the best of them," Johnson said. "But they don't rely on just one guy."
Arneson (15.8 ppg) and Taylor Carlson (11.1 ppg) are the lone Greyhound starters back from last season's 8A-championship team.
"We lost quite a bit from last year," Fosston coach Ben Hemberger said. "I don't think the section as a whole expected us to be in the championship game again. But the kids in our locker room expected it. And we coaches thought we'd be competitive.
"It's a very balanced section, with a lot of good teams and players. We feel we're a good team. But there were probably eight or nine teams that I figured could be where we're at.
The 23-4 Greyhounds also get consistent scoring from Seth Carlin (12 ppg) and Zach Sather (8 ppg).
"Kyle is always the key guy for us, our playmaker and leading scorer," Hemberger said. "But one thing we've had is other kids stepping up all year and providing that balance."
Bagley has turnaround
Bagley is one win away from the Minnesota Class AA boys state basketball tournament. That one win must coming against defending state champion Perham in the Section 8AA championship game Friday night at Bemidji State.
The Flyers, however, have turned around their fortunes.
After a 70-64 loss to Ada-Borup on Jan. 19, Bagley's record was at 7-5 after losing five of its previous eight games. Since then, however, the team has won 16 of its last 17 games, averaging 77.7 points a game over that span.
"The players were probably a little more concerned with their individual legacies than team results early in the year," Flyers coach Chuck Anderson said. "But I think they realized that it's their senior year, that they wanted to get to state. They're worked harder on defense and rebounding.
"And, on offense, they started looking to create open shots for teammates instead of looking for their own shots. If they have a good look, they shoot; if not, they're looking for a teammate with a better one."
Austin Bellefy scored his 1,000th career point against Crosby-Ironton in the North subsection 8AA championship game Tuesday. That gives the Flyers three 1,000-pointers in their lineup, as Tate George reached the milestone last season and Kris Skersick scored his 1,000th earlier this season.
"They're really different types," Anderson said. "Austin is a spot-up jump shooter, and a really good one. Tyler is extremely fast; he scores a lot in transition, plus he's a good shooter. Kris is a really strong kid, just a beast down low."
George (16.6 ppg) and Skersick (15 ppg, 10.5 rpg) head the high-scoring, balanced offense.