After battling through a season full of challenges, the Aberdeen Cougars are ready to see what the postseason holds as the boys’ state varsity hockey tournament gets under way Friday at the Larson Ice Center in Brookings.
The eighth-seeded Cougars will face the host squad and top-seeded Rangers in Friday’s opening-round game at 8:30 p.m. The winner will advance to the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Seventh-seeded Mitchell is the defending state champion. The championship game is 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
Aberdeen coach Jon Murdy said Brookings is a quality team. “They don’t do anything too flashy, but they have five guys who can skate and work really well together.”
The Cougars have not faced the Rangers since the beginning of the season.
“The first time, we lost to them by one,” Murdy said. “The second time, (at a tournament) in Eden Prairie (Minn.), they beat us quite handily.”
Brookings won a third game as well. However, Murdy said when his Cougars are playing well, he has confidence the team can be successful.
“I feel our team can beat anyone in the state as long as our kids put in the effort to play,” Murdy said.
The Rangers come in having scored 136 points in league play and surrendered 39. The Cougars have tallied 55 goals and allowed 136.
Scoring leaders for the Cougars this season have been Thomas Hogg, Kevin Birkla and Cameron Huff. Aberdeen lost the services of Dustin Santjer after he suffered a concussion in practice.
“He was our assistant captain, and always had a good voice with the team,” Murdy said of Santjer.
Goalkeeping duties have been shared by Nick Dalchow and Jon Loefke. Murdy took over head coaching duties in December and is assisted by Jeremy Wasem. Murdy said the Cougars have worked to overcome adversity this season, but hopefully have turned the corner.
“Lately, they are putting things together better and are a little more disciplined,” Murdy said. “The kids are more responsible. They are learning that you have to play hard to get a win.”
Facing the number-one seed will be a daunting task, but Murdy feels good things can come out Friday’s game.
“When we play physical, that’s when we play our best,” Murdy said. “If we sit back and let them get physical, that’s when it goes south for us. We have to start and finish every period that way.”
|BOYS’ STATE CHAMPS|
2012, Mitchell. 2011: Pierre. 2010: Rapid City Rushmore.
2009: Sioux Falls Flyers; 2008: Sioux Falls Flyers; 2007, Watertown; 2006, Mitchell; 2005: Brookings; 2004: Brookings; 2003: Brookings; 2002: Sioux Falls Blue; 2001: Sioux Falls Blue; 2000: Sioux Falls Blue;
1999: Sioux Falls Blue; 1998: Brookings; 1997: Sioux Falls Flyers; 1996: Watertown; 1995: Aberdeen; 1994: Sioux Falls Flyers; 1993: Huron; 1992: Aberdeen; 1991: Huron; 1990: Huron;
1989: Sioux Falls Suns; 1988: Huron; 1987: Aberdeen; 1986: Huron; 1985: Cancelled because of snow storm; 1984: Huron; 1983: Huron; 1982: Huron; 1981: Huron; 1980: Watertown;
1979: Huron; 1978: Watertown; 1977: Huron; 1976: Britton Bruins; 1975: Huron; 1974: Marshall, Minn., Hornets; 1973: Marshall, Minn., Hornets; 1972: Huron.
|GIRLS’ STATE CHAMPS|
2013: Sioux Falls Flyers; 2012: Brookings Rangers; 2011: Brookings Rangers; 2010: Brookings Rangers;
2009: Brookings Rangers; 2008: Sioux Falls Flyers; 2007: Sioux Falls Flyers; 2006: Sioux Falls Flyers; 2005: Sioux Falls Flyers; 2004: Sioux Falls Flyers; 2003: Brookings Rangers Blue; 2002: Sioux Falls Flyers; 2001: Sioux Falls Flyers; 2000: Sioux Falls Flyers;
1999: (first year): Sioux Falls Flyers.
The Aberdeen Roncalli football schedule has undergone a makeover of major proportions.
The Cavaliers will have three new foes on its eight-game schedule, after Britton-Hecla, Deuel and Webster all dropped down to nine-man.
New on the Roncalli schedule for the next two seasons will be Flandreau, Sioux Valley and Tiospa Zina.
“We were a little nervous about what was going to happen with the schedule,” said Roncalli coach Terry Dosch. “I think it’s a good schedule. It’s going to be a very competitive schedule.”
There are only four Northeast Conference foes remaining for Roncalli to play: Groton, Milbank, Redfield-Doland, Sisseton.
“The remaining schools in our conference are always going to be strong,” Dosch said. “Flandreau has really been playing well the last few years.”
Roncalli, which also has Mobridge-Pollock on its schedule, has never played Tiospa Zina or Sioux Valley and has only played Flandreau twice, a win in 1969 and a playoff loss in 2010.
“We picked up what we feel are a couple of pretty good teams from out of conference,” Dosch said.
That said, Dosch said he will miss the regular battles his team had against Britton-Hecla, Deuel and Webster.
“It’s kind of weird not playing the teams that we’ve always played,” he said.
Sports writer Dave Vilhauer
The Ellendale girls’ basketball team brought home a lot of District 5 hardware earlier this week.
Rachel Herman and Madilyn Bommersbach each recorded 14 points as Ellendale defeated LaMoure-Litchville-Marion 44-34 in the championship game in LaMoure Monday.
Bommersbach, Dacey Fuller and Isabell Wedell were all named to the All-District team. And finally, Matt Herman of Ellendale was named the District 5 Coach of the Year.
What a haul.
The Cardinals (14-6) now advance to the Region 3 tourney that starts Monday in Hazelton. The winner will advance to the North Dakota State B girls' tourney in the Fargodome in Fargo to play the Region 7 champion in the first game of the day of the opening round on March 21.
Monday’s Region 3B will open with Napoleon vs. Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier at 3 p.m. Twenty minutes after that game ends, it will be LaMoure-Litchville/Marion vs. Kidder County followed by Ellendale vs. Central Prairie and Linton-HMB vs. Pingreen-Buchanan/Kensal.
The semifinals will start at 6 p.m. Tuesday and the third-place game on Thursday will start at 6 p.m., followed by the championship.
Luke Bruns has resigned as head boys’ basketball coach at Leola-Frederick.
Bruns, who works at Northwest Mutual in Aberdeen, said the decision is based solely on a professional move.
“I couldn’t take the next step until I committed to this career,” Bruns said of a change of his position that will take place in the near future.
He said it was a difficult decision to relinquish his coaching duties.
“I’m going to miss it so much,” Bruns said. “That was hard enough having to tell the team. It felt like I was letting them down. It was a decision that I had to make for my career and my family.”
Bruns, a high school standout who helped lead Leola-Frederick to back-to-back state tournaments, played at Presentation College, and later served as an assistant coach for PC, pointed out that next year will mark the first time since fourth grade that he will not be involved in the sport.
“This coming winter will be my first year not on a team,” he said. “I’ve never had a free winter. I am not going to know what to do.”
Sports writer Dave Vilhauer
Pay to play
A hot topic item in high school athletics has to do with paying fees to play sports.
In a recent national survey, 21 states have schools that are charging more than $100 per sport/per player. The fees continue to rise. In one example, a school charged $855 to play football.
Only seven states do not have pay-to-play fees: South Dakota, New York, Iowa, Rhode Island, Vermont, California and Mississippi. Iowa does permit fees for towels, lockers and padlocks. Executive director of the Iowa High School Athletic Association said that without participation fees, schools must rely on booster clubs and fundraising to keep the programs alive and running.
Wayne Carney, executive director of the SDHSAA, said that public schools in the membership can not charge students a participation fee to play a sport because of an interpretation by the state attorney general that all students are guaranteed a free and public education. Private schools in the SDHSAA can charge students to participate.
“Our member schools are by no means ‘flush with money,’ ” Carney said. “During strict budget times, some of the first things cut from school budgets are the co-curricular programs. Many booster clubs have stepped up to try and help fill the void of sufficient state and federal money.”
Despite the challenges, Carney does not see a change in the state’s stand.
“The actual cost to the majority of our school districts to run their entire activities program is somewhere between two to five percent of their entire budget,” he said. “I believe a majority of our school administrators and school boards do not feel that assessing participation fees to students will make up that percentage of their budgets.”