This One Was Unfortunate

January 6

The game after the big win against Fergus Falls, which gave us a leg up in conference and section standings.  This was going to be a tough game, particularly against a team as talented, if unpredictable, as the Sauk Rapids Storm.  I thought the best game we played last year was against the Storm in the section semi-finals.  All of which would . . . 

[The opening tip – gives you an idea of the hops of our 6’1″ Robert Anderson (3) jumping against their very talented 6’7″ junior center, Cody Landwehr (24).]

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[I think the Storm eventually came up with it.]

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[Here Mr. Anderson is arriving in the offensive zone.  The Amazing Mr. Ripley is shooting the official photos in the background.]

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[This is what’s fun in “developing” the photos.  I had no idea Mark was perfectly positioned with his camera between Robert and the Storm’s long range bomber, junior Anthony Massman (25).  The Storm’s roster is almost entirely juniors, so of course they’ll be a team to beat next year (if not still this year).]

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[Trey Hoepner (1) and Jake Drew (33) on the Cards’ full court press.  The Storm is a little tougher to do this against because they have a height advantage at almost every position.]

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[Coming off a great game against Fergus, Spencer Hockert (15) kept it going in this game.]

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[Looking for Jake inside, the Storm’s length made it very difficult.  With Landwehr at 6’7″ and Deng Deang (15), a lanky 6’5″, there’s not many interior passing lanes.]

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[Landwehr looks aghast at Jake.  Probably because Jake just came up with another offensive rebound.  At 6’4″, Jake is a rebounding machine.  I would go to games just to watch him rebound.]

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[“The Boys” in the corner are back!  The team’s gotta love their support.  However, I have to point out I haven’t seen them at the girls’ games?]

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[The cheerleaders entertained with their competition routine at halftime.]

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[Oh, and here’s the halftime scoreboard.  My concerns were borne out.  We played hard, but maybe like the Marshall game, we just couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean.  We must has missed a half dozen puppies.  They got their hands on a lot of balls, meaning we had too many turnovers.  Spencer had over half our points, but one player can’t do it all.]

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[Though Jake is shooting a freebie here, we didn’t come out flying in the second half and soon found ourselves down by 13 or 14 (who remembers?).  We seemed at an athletic disadvantage.]

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[Working overtime on defense usually produces positive results . . . that and a long ‘3’ by Spencer seemed to get our motors running.]

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[Justin Balcomb (43), junior, gave us a big lift coming off the bench again.  At 6’8″, he gives us a defining defensive presence underneath – and he’s been known to hit key ‘3’s’.]

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[Where’d Robert go?]

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[Deang was a game-long pain.  He’s too tall to be guarded by a little guy, too quick to be guarded by a big guy.  Plus, he can shoot.  He finished with 28 points.]

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[They were better at making free throws down the stretch – free throw shooting matters.]

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[Thought it strange here that Jaran Roste’s (31) first free throw was not close (he made the 2nd).  Then later from the field as we’re making a comeback he made a couple of long ‘3’s’.]

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[Spencer a more than solid 27 points again.  He made a long 3 at the end of our comeback that gave us the lead at 50 – 49.  Then the Storm went off on a mini-run again.]

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[Our defensive pressure ultimately yields the desired turnovers.]

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[Justin guards the paint. The paint would play a key role in the game’s outcome.]

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[Keaton Kvale (23), 6’4″ senior, gave us some quality big man minutes in the game.]

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[Jake likely on the heels of an offensive rebound.]

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[Jaran on the defensive point.]

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[It’s getting late, the game is close, the fans and benches are standing.]

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[Spencer was solid at the line.  Cameron Rice (21), 5’10” junior, was getting some quality playing time here.]

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[Spencer launches a long 3.  The Storm’s number 20 tries the “BOO!” defense.]

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[Robert and Trey keeping an eye on Deang.]

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[It’s gotta be pressure, pressure, pressure . . . ]

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[Robert comes for the double team . . . ]

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[“The Boys” are cheering – we must have just scored.]

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[The atmosphere is electric.  We just don’t have the battery capacity to store it!]

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[Regarding the “paint.”  On back-to-back plays our defenders established position in the paint (early enough that you could see the collision coming) and were called for blocking fouls by times.  The boos rained down from the stands.  The Storm made all 4 of those free throws which set up the final play of the game.  With the game tied with 12 seconds left, the Cards allowed the Storm into the front court without challenge.  Once in the front court, Deang drove into the lane and hit a runner for the winning bucket.  The final score was 67 – 65.  But basically we lost the game in the first half and were always battling from behind.  Got to get back on it again against Rocori next week.]

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If you make every game a life and death proposition, you’re going to have problems. For one thing, you’ll be dead a lot.  ~  Dean Smith

Up Next:  We’re outa here – heading for the Land Down Under!

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Girl Roundballers Relentless

January 5

[‘Tis that time of year when the snow crunches and squeaks under your feet; when your coat crackles like a potato chip bag . . . ]

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[Always nice to get to AAHS a little early to catch a bit of the JV games. Because as fans we’re always wondering about the future.  We’re only about a third into the current season – but what’s going to happen next year?  We’re graduating about 423 seniors off this year’s team!  Who’s going to take their places?  Oh, the angst!  The three in this photo will certainly have roles:  Ella Grove (51), freshman; Taylor Partington (5), junior; and Kaye Paschke (45), sophomore.]

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[And Matie Wirtjes (21), junior, as we’re hosting the Detroit Lakes Lakers . . . ]

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[And to play for Kohler, you have to hit the floor, with some degree of regularity . . . ]

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[Nikki Botzet (3), junior, will play as will Flora Kvale (11), junior.]

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[Francesca Palmer (43), junior]

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[Callie Craig (33), sophomore; Alison Amundson (23), junior; Larissa Lamb (53), freshman; and Kennedy Quinn (1), sophomore]

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[Kaye and Ella on the Cardinal press.]

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[High screen and roll . . . ]

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[Nikki is a high a activity player which fits into the scheme.]

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[Kennedy?]

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[Kaye dribbles, a necessary function of the sport.]

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[Then feeds Emily Aker (31), junior.]

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[I took this shot early before the board was cleared of individual stats.]

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[Alison perfectly executes the key to Cardinal basketball – the steal followed by a drive to the hoop.]

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[And score!]

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[Callie on the free throw line; Addison Rodel (13), sophomore, back on D.]

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[And another nice win.  I think we’ll be OK in the future.]

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[The varsity takes the floor for the pre-game niceties with the opposition.]

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[Hey, is your Zorbaz as good as our Zorbaz?]

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[Kendall Kohler (3) and Macy Hatlestad (11) work on their ‘3’s’ from the corner.]

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[The Dynamic Duo.]

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[And it’s nice to see other players getting more comfortable with the ‘3’.]

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[Kiyana Miller (21) fires one up here.  Lauren Stockmoe (33) also in the photo, and everyone mentioned so far are seniors.]

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[And whom amongst us doesn’t like a high school band?  They brought “all of them” along so it was a big sound.  I’m a homer, but I think they’re very good.]

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[The team merrily takes the court . . . ]

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[Because Kelby Olson-Rodel (13) has just reminded them of the Shannon Fish quote, “If you are going to take it to the bank, then you better cash it in.”]

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[And we’re off!  Once again, Kayla Feldhake (43) is giving away a few inches to her opposing center.]

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[I think it went thataway?  Emma Ziegler (1) on the chase.]

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[Kelby’s pressure defense is interrupted by a passing fan.]

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[Kelby and Macy annoy the Lakers.]

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[OMG, they may complete a pass?]

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[Or maybe they didn’t – the Cards on the attack.]

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[Macy checks for cutters . . . ]

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[Eventually Kayla got fouled.  As a team I believe we made our first 12 free throws in the game.]

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[Macy inbounds under our basket; Kelby screens for Kayla.]

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[Kiyana banks one in . . .]

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[And one.]

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[The pre-game instructions were likely, “Take the mystery out of this early.”  Half way through the first half the Lakers had one point, as the Card defense doesn’t let you breathe.  I don’t recall the Lakers ever having a clean look at the basket.]

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[The defense readies to close the trap.  Junior Emma Schmidt (25) joins the fray.]

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[Kayla screens for Macy.]

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[And then Macy drives the base line through traffic.  We figure Macy probably hits the floor a dozen times a game.  She should get a floor wax named after her!]

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[Emma had a nice game.  At an athletic 5’11”, she provides defensive length.]

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[Emma Z and Kendall ready a double team.  Abby Schramel (43) for the Lakers is a player.]

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[Zig also provides length at the top of the defense.]

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[You can hear want Kohler wants all during the game, including with a whistle that is an envy for many.]

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[I believe the ball is up there somewhere?]

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[Macy, ole automatic at the free throw line.]

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[And it’s also rare if Kendall misses one.]

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[We come in waves, like line changes in hockey.]

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[Looks like a squeeze play between Kiyana and Kendall.]

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[At the half, the situation is well in hand.]

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[Fellow class of ’65 super fan . . . ]

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[And also a super star athlete herself as the world’s greatest musky fisherwoman!]

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[I think it’s too cold for a Blizzard tonight?]

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[Kendall’s back on the line.]

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[Since we had the big lead, the Lakers occasionally we able to get off some decent shots – they made a couple ‘3’s’ from this spot.]

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[This kind of lets you know the only thing in doubt is the final score.]

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[And we discovered a famous alum in the stands.  Lauren Trumm is sitting just to the left of Kohler’s head. And it’s interesting that our last two 1,000-point scorers are just on either side of Kohler, with Macy just to the right.  Well, Amanda Christianson may have been in there too.]

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[Nice to have the Trumms back in the stands!]

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[Mostly JV getting ready for some varsity PT.]

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[Ms. Grove led the JV in scoring earlier gets a chance to get in the varsity scorebook as well.]

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[A big win against a section rival.  On the next night (Friday), the Cards traveled to Brainerd to take on the other undefeated team in the conference and came away with a 74-62 victory.  We’re on a nice roll now.]

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When Austin Peay University had a player named Fly Williams, the students would chant, “The Fly is open! Let’s go Peay!”

Up Next:  Even more basketball.

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The Big Game was a Big Game

January 3

[That morning, Jefferson Street in Alexandria where the old high school used to be.]

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[I was given to understand the JV was down 12 in the first half?]

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[Oh, we were playing the Fergus Falls Otters, last year’s state runners-up in class AAA.  Here the Cards Justin Balcome (43) warms up the shadow of the girls’ basketball team photo banner.]

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[Footballers Robert Anderson (3) and Jaran Roste (31) . . . ]

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[Ready for the first battle between these ranked teams, hoping to overturn last year’s close loss to the Otters in the section final.]

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[Robert, all 6′ of him, jumped center for the first time.  Well, I suppose because during warm-ups he executed a two-handed dunk off both feet.  The Otter center, Matthew Monke (of the long line of Otter Monkes), jumped the tip on him.]

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[Ref signals “3” on the Otter shot.  The scoring began with a 3 by the Cards Spencer Hockert (15), then the Otters, as they are prone to do so rattled off 11 straight points, then the Cards, as we are prone to do so rattled off 8 straight points, and we had an 11 – 11 game and were off and running between two top 10 teams in class AAA.]

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[The Otters Nathan Rund (3), all-state last year and still only a junior, was 12 – 12 from the free throw in this game.  The Cardinals, as a team, were 2 – 5.  Apparently, there is a state ordinance restricting the number of free throws the Cardinals are ever allowed to shoot.  I was amazed to hear during the archived broadcast that our leading scorer, Spencer, an offensive slasher, has only shot 9 free throws all year?]

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[And swish.]

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[Still waiting for Robert to do one of these baseline drives and go up and stuff it, even on a 6’5″ center like Mr. Monke.]

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[A rebounding machine, Jake Drew (33) is a bit challenged from the charity stripe.  Just keep getting there Jake!]

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[Choreography by George Balanchine.]

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[Sophomore point guard Trey Hoepner (1) defends an Otter.  We expect him to make a lot of “treys” in his career.  (Too easy?)]

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[The Otters No. 11 is a returnee from their state tournament team.  He’s also still only a junior.]

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[The Cards try to trap Monke in the corner.]

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[And Balcome goes for the steal.]

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[And Robert was unsuccessful on the “and one.”]

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[And so we turn to the real athletes.  I can’t so this because:  1) They can’t lift me to the top of the pile; and 2) I’m afraid of heights.]

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[And imagine the balance.  If I bend over to tie my shoe, it will either end up as a headstand . . . or a somersault.]

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[Meanwhile, back at the game, another footballer, Michael Empting (11), drives through the hole on the right side of the line for a lay-up.]

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[The Otters employ the old hidden ball trick.]

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[Oh, there it is!]

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[6′ and 6’8″, our two leading 3-point shooters on the night.]

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[Dee-fense!]

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[Hey, watch out for the guy sneaking in the back door!]

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[Yeah, that guy.  Way over there!]

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[I guess this was meant to be Spencer time.  From the football ong ball wide receiver, to the guy who added the “3” to his mid-range game.  Spencer had 18 points in the first half, including 4 “3’s.”

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[Leading the Cards to a 39 – 31 halftime advantage.]

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[Jake was our tallest starter at 6’4″ (Justin came in off the bench for this game).  He is unique in that he plays the point on defense and is still our leading rebounder.  Maybe he has an idea of where the ball is going to go from being a football free safety.  He just always seems to be in the right place, amidst opposing players, to get the rebound . . .]

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[Speaking of which, there he is with the best rebounding position surrounded by four Otters.]

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[And a truly terrific half it was.]

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[Then it was time for the half court shot melee at center court . . . ]

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[The girls’ basketball team was sitting a couple rows in front of us.  I gave a buck to Emma Schmidt to take a shot at it.  It started the ball rolling.  First, Macy Hatlestad. . . ]

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[And a little body English . . . ]

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[Then Emma . . . ]

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[Oh, in and out!]

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[Then Kendall Kohler . . . ]

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[Then Kelby Olson-Rodel . . . ]

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[A near miss.]

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[Jake says bring on the 2nd half.]

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[Spencer chases Rund . . . and vice-versa, kinda went on all game.]

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[The designated shot of the back of a ref’s head.]

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[Rund launches a “3.”  It appears this may have been the time Trey accidentally bumped into him.  Despite apologies, Rund was awarded 3 free throws and, of course, he made them all.]

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[The designated fan’s head in front of the camera shot.]

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[And there’s Jake again – ready to gobble up any rebound.]

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[And Jake on the point of the defense again.]

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[An Otter jumped in the air; he came to earth I know not where . . . ]

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[And Rund on Spencer.]

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[A switch puts 22 on Spencer.]

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[The move is made.]

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[And finally as the game is winding down, a Cardinal gets to the free throw line.  The Cards held a one-point lead when Spencer went to the line . . . ]

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[The first of a one-and-one, rattled in.  The first Card made free throw of the game.]

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[And the 2nd . . . ]

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[And . . . in!]

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[The little boys in the corner couldn’t watch!]

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[The Otters had about 5 seconds to make a 3-pointer to tie the game . . . ]

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[The ball is inbounded . . . ]

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[The tension evident on the little boys faces . . . ]

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[Rund got off a long, contested “3” – no good!  The Cards win!]

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[By a consensus survey of the attendees, the best high school game we had seen in years!  We have to play them again in about 3 weeks – at their place.]

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I have contempt for a game [football] in which players have to wear so much equipment. Men play basketball in their underwear, which seems just right to me.   ~  Anna Quindlen

Up Next:  More basketball.

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Until We Meet Again (. . . A SAWA Farewell)

December 29

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[Thursday night – Thursday was always our date night for the 10-year run by Sixth Avenue Wine & Ale.  It’s closing will certainly leave a hole in our lives but will also leave a lot of good memories.  And we certainly understand from the DiAnn’s (the owner) point of view, it was time.]

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[Terry Kennedy sent out a Facebook blast that Sami Steidl was back in town and was bringing some friends with her for our evening’s entertainment.]

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[Here her Colorado band partner, Jeff Montoya, and Arlyn Swenson, regularly seen as the bass player for Finestra.]

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[Sami was having issues keeping her instrument in tune.  I asked her if that wasn’t a rarity for a Stradivarius?]

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[As FB’ed:  Sami at SAWA.  Accept no substitutes.]

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[Photo by the Super: Dr. Kennedy was Sami’s first partner on the evening; the customer on the right was recently pardoned and was wearing an ankle bracelet.]

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[Nancy Keene on the left (w/ her friend), with her husband Tom, has been a SAWA Thursday night regular for as long as the Super and me.]

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[On the way home . . . ]

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December 31

[Coming home from the gym – good timing!  This is Lake Cowdry, the open water as a result of the channel flow in from Lake Taylor.]

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[The afternoon was given over to the Miltich brothers at the winery – always a hoot!]

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[This group was there – this photo (taken by the Super last summer) was the lead photo for Harper’s Chord’s New Year’s missive.  I think rated as the most attractive group on Medicare.]

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[Some of our group were leaving early because it was going to be a long night at SAWA.  But as long as Jim was there with Anthony, it seemed reasonable to us to request “Africa” before we left – our leaving, however, conflicted with their set break.  So, Anthony just sighed, unplugged, walked over to the table with Jim and gave us the total acoustic version – much to the delight of the whole place.]

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[This, of course, from an earlier time, with Victor.]

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[And from the Supervisor.]

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[It was tough to leave . . . but like I said, it was going to be a long day for the Medicare set.]

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SAWA’s Last Night

[The Super at the entry, the place already SRO for the finale with the Cheese Bots.]

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[The Cheese Bots were a good final act for DiAnn, SAWA’s impresario, because of her love (and mine) for Dave Brubeck.  They were spot on with”Take Five” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk.”]

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[Lindy (Limburger) , Jim (Fromage du Jour), and Marty (Longhorn Colby)]

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[The last chance for a “Missing you at . . .” posting.]

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[Brubeck (again, from a previous time) . . . and again, accept no substitutes.]

[Our last time at our table with Karin and Dave.]

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[Totally unsolicited by the Supervisor.]

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[He was returned to The Home at the end of the evening.]

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[And her last SAWA supper.]

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[And Karin chipped in with these.]

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[Bon soir!]

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January 1

[Happy Birthday to the Supervisor!  As you can see, once again I got her a vacuum cleaner for her birthday.]

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[She’s 72, so she got the 72% dinner discount at The Depot on her birthday. And the kids and grandkid (+ Celia) got her roses!]

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[You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here – a parting, fitting photo by SAWA chef Janet Baker.]

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And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.  ~  Friedrich Lietzsche

Up Next: Back to Cardinal sports.

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Alexandria Girls’ Basketball Holiday Tournament

December 27

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[I just noticed how much the names have changed since “my time.”  There are no Andersons, Johnsons, Carlsons, Nelsons, Swensons, Iversons, et al?]

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[Well, you can see above who the participants were this year.  Two of the usual teams, Robinsdale Armstrong and Hutchinson, both bowed out?  We arrived early the first night and saw the end of game one, Buffalo v. Watertown-Mayer.  We were immediately impressed with W-M’s starting senior guards, here Kirstin Klitzke (4), in winning their game.]

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[At game’s end, our Cards get ready to take the floor against Minnesota Transitions.]

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[Kara Thomson (23), far left, looks over to make sure I’m covering the game.  She works at the Y in the summer and often checked me in.]

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[Rather than covering the introductions at introductions, here are the Cards doing a lay-up drill.  In all cases the player moving left to right, here Lauren Stockmoe (33).]

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[Kendall Kohler (3)]

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[McKenzie Duwenhoegger (35)]

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[Kayla Feldhake (43)]

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[Kara]

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[Elise Stockmoe (41)]

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[Macy Hatlestad (11)]

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[Maggie Slagle (15)]

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[Sarah Frederick (5)]

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[Ella Grove (51)]

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[Emma Ziegler (1)]

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[Kaye Paschke (5)]

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[Emma Schmidt (25)]

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[Kiyana Miller (21), and OK, I didn’t get everybody – I lost count?]

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[Kohler visits the Transitions coach, Tamara Moore, a one-time all-state player at Minneapolis North.]

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[Light it up, ladies!]

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[I missed Kelby Olson-Rodel (13), at the top of the key, during intros.]

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[All for one and one for all!]

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[And if that doesn’t work, there are still Blizzards after the game!]

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[And we’re off . . . ]

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[The Transitions center took off a tad early.]

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[Somebody got it, eventually.]

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[The older of the Truott sisters, freshman Tiger, gets a shot off for Transitions.]

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[Kayla takin’ it to the hup . . .]

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[And one!]

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[Kelby at the free throw line – a lot more about her in game 2.]

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[She has developed a pretty reliable shot.]

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[Zig]

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[Macy]

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[General milling around.]

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[Kiyana – a lot more about her in game 2.]

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[This is not a misprint.]

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[Looks like a whole new team out there.]

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[Ms Plaschke on the ball . . . ]

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[Also a soccer . . . ]

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[And track star . . . ]

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[She has the wheels!]

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[Kara is our designated 3-point shooter.]

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[Lauren]

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[Deee-fense]

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[Kendall leads an upcourt charge.]

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[Kelby inbounding to Zig.]

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[Kayla]

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[Schmidty]

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[Courtney Gould (31), also missed her in the intros, with Kiyana on defense.]

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[I can’t believe what I’m seeing?]

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[Spoiler alert!  As Facebooked: This was the halftime score. There are extenuating circumstances. Hutchinson was scheduled to be the 4th team in the annual Alexandria Girls’ Basketball Holiday Tournament. They bowed out and Minnesota Transitions was the replacement team. Transitions is a relatively new charter school in south Minneapolis. The basketball program is new. They have a very young team with little basketball acumen. They are just looking for games, with only 9 on the season schedule. They were in way over their heads, but good for them for playing hard the whole game. The Cards played all 15 players equally from the beginning (and most scored between 4 and 6 points each) – we never pressed like we usually do, and in the 2nd half never looked for a fast break, seemed to pass at least 10 times per possession, and just kinda ran out the running time clock.]

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[A new group of 5 was at the scorer’s table all night.]

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[Kaye and Sarah just working on passing plays.]

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[McKenzie working on her high post play.]

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[Young Ms. Grove would probably get more playing time, but it’s a numbers game.]

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[And here the grizzled veterans rise on the bench to applaud a score by frosh Ella.]

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[The clap, clap, clap – clap, clap, clap, the game is over.]

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[The Transitions scored their 3 to make the score 72-3 at the time.  The crowd gave them a nice applause.]

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December 28

[This would be a different game . . . ]

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[You can see here – it was the centers and the guards, and Waterford-Mayer had a distinct height advantage at each of those positions.  And, as with most things in life size matters, it made a difference.]

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[And the criss-cross warm-up.]

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[Apparently players from both teams are coached by Kohler in the summer.]

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[We’ll do our best, even without any Scandinavians!]

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[Macy was recognized for scoring her 1,000th career point in a previous road game . . . ]

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[Congratulations Macy on a great career!]

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[And it must have been luau night for the boys basketball team disguised as fans.]

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[And the tip – Kayla against the 6’2″ Royals center.]

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[Royal guard Claire Killian (13) has all the tools- size, ball handling, and shooting ability.  I think the Royals made their first 5 shots and led 13 – 0 almost before the fans had settled into their seats.  It would be an up hill struggle all game for the Cards.]

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[Kelby would be a major factor in this game.]

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[Macy on a drive.]

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[And Kelby again.]

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[And Macy again.]

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[Then Zig again – we did hold a free throw shooting advantage.]

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[And Kiyana, the mid-range shooter we need.]

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[And Zig again]

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[Zig looking downcourt for a break.]

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[Kelby up top.]

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[And this is where our change in offensive strategy opened up different things for us.  We could not score inside as long as their big center was down there.  So, we brought Kayla outside where she hit a coupe of 3’s.  But the main thing was it cleared a path to the bucket.]

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[Zig on their other D1 guard, as previously noted, Kirstin Klitzke (4).  Klitzke and Killian between them scored 48 points, on 11 – 17 3-point shooting as a pair. Not only do they shoot them well, they get their shoots off very quickly making them hard to defend.  By contrast, the Cards were only 4 – 18 on 3’s (and two of those by our center) until Kendall made her last two at the end of the game.]

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[As usual, our best way always to get our offense rolling is with full court pressure defense – here Kayla follows the Royals center far out on court.]

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[And Kiyana.  This game was a coming out party for her and Kelby.  Our size issues at guard and center meant that maybe for the first time, Kiyana and Kelby, the Whippets, were our best options.  They play out on the wings where they give us the mismatch with their speed and quickness.  When the Royal center was pulled out onto the court, the Whippets could always beat their defenders on drives to the basket, and on defense with “pick 6’s” by intercepting passes to the wing and taking them full court for lay ins.]

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[Speaking of “pick 6’s,” this is a Kiyana steal and full court dash for the lay up.]

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[Echo Press sports editor catches the action from the floor.]

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[Zig joins to start the press on the inbounds.]

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[I believe her 14 points was her high point game.  Now I hope she looks to score for the rest of the year.]

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[And then as part of the press . . . ]

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[And on Klitzke.]

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[Kelby chipped in with 9, played great in-your-face defense, and has great hops making her a good rebounder.]

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[Macy solid at the line as usual.]

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[The Royals hot long range shooting was just too much for us to overcome.  Sometimes you just have to tip your hat.  I think this game will help in the long run as we discovered some more offensive options.]

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Stop making excuses and start making your free throws.  ~  Maya Moore

Up Next: 2017

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And So It Was Christmas

December 23

The Super said shoot my Christmas trees. We decided not to bring them upstairs this year – can we be far from tabletop models?

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We so enjoyed the Mississippi Headwaters Hostel at Thanksgiving we decided to reprise it for Christmas. FYI, rotary phones came into existence in the 1890’s and lasted until the 1970’s when they were phased out for touch tone phones.

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[The Super loves a good fire.]

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December 24

[Merry Christmas Eve from Itasca State Park. Up at 4:30 to start what will be breakfast, lunch, and dinner today. The Super and I have the entire hostel to our selves, convenient for gadabouting in our BVD’s.]

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[Other fine dining was available . . . ]

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[The hard life of the pioneer woman on the edge of the prairie. Heading out to the woodshed in unseasonably warm weather, carrying in 50 pounds worth of logs for the fireplace (I held the door open), and noticing upon her return that Santa had already been here.]

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[Mmmm, love that chili!]

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[The kids have arrived!  I think the chili won them over.]

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[Let there be presents!]

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[And popcorn and a fire.]

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[From the hostel lobby, sunset over Lake Itasca.]

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[Makes it easy for the arson detectives.]

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[Moving on to the nether world.]

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[Danny flees knowing it’s best to just keep out of the way at cooking time.]

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[Back to the party . . . ]

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[Whom amongst us doesn’t need socks?]

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[Or shorty pj’s.]

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[Let the fun begin!]

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[What could it be?]

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[Yup . . . . it’s YUGE!]

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[And frightening!]

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[Did someone say socks?]

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[She buys herself the nicest presents from me!  Apparently we’re engaged?]

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[And now Christmas Day dinner on Christmas Eve.  We were now aware of the need to leave for home in the morning – to beat the coming ice storm.]

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[And Merry Christmas to all!]

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December 25

[We had to cut Christmas short. We knew the ice storm was coming, so we had our Christmas dinner last night with the kids at the hostel. The Super and I packed up Christmas morning (this was after a day and a half; I know it looks like we’re getting ready for an assault on Everest).  Rather uneventful trip home, arrived about 10:30 . . . ]

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[What technology hath wrought, Grandson Tom set up a 4-way with Jami at The Harn (where we left her this morning), with grandparents Fran and Ed in Indiana, and with us and Danny in Alex to watch he and Celia open their Christmas presents in Colorado. Go figure?]

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[The storm hit us in Alex about 1:30 – not looking good. Ice is building up on the trees and with 50 mph winds could lead to power outages.]

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One can never have enough socks. Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.  ~  Professor Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone  [Editor’s note:  Well, I got socks!]

Up Next:  I believe a new year is coming . . . the 71st that I will have visited.

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Boys Basketball Still Undefeated

December 22

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OK, we’ve only played four games, but undefeated is still good!

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[So, we’re off to good start,  3 – 0 record on all road games.  This was our home opener.  A bit of JV action (also off to a good start),  with junior Cameron Rice (21) laying one in.]

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[This is generally referred to as a “huddle,” because most people do not like to attend “meetings.”]

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[At the half?]

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[And the win!]

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[Varsity warm-ups]

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[Captains meet with the powers that be.]

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[Out 6’8″ junior center Justin Balcome practices free throw shooting – by game’s end it was clear he is our best player at such.]

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[And here, at last, is a perfectly captured . . . ]

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[3-point shot!]

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[At introductions, senior Spencer Hockert (21) . . . ]

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[Senior Jaran Roste (31) . . . ]

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[And Balcome goes for the tip.]

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[This appears to be sophomore Trey Hoepner (1 ) camera screening senior Jake Drew (33).]

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[At 6’4″ Jake covers a lot of ground at the point of the defense.]

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[He’s back in action after he lost the last baseball and football seasons after Tommy John surgery.]

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[Senior Robert Anderson (3) brings a lot of hops to the game.]

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[Spencer inbounding – the new player on the floor is junior Mike Empting (11).]

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[Like the Lady Cards, defense sets the tone for the boys as well.]

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[Spencer was our leading scorer.]

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[The boys, like the girls, are a senior dominated team so we thought they’d be pretty good. And coming in with an 80-point per game scoring average, we were a bit flummoxed when we only had 4 points more than halfway through the half. Must have something to so with the home opener and shooting at moving targets.]

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[The 2nd half initially began as the first half ended, a big run set up by our defense that pushed us out to a big lead.  Oh, BTW, we were playing Brainerd.]

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[But then the team, full of football players trying to recover their basketball skills, decided to let the Warriors back into the game with a very ineffective free throw attack.]

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[Miss upon . . . ]

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[Miss.]

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[But then young Mr. Bascome stepped up and I believe made all 6 of his free throws to ice the game.]

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[I suspect the free throw shooting will improve and we’ll be a factor.]

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They shot the ball well early. What comes out of the microwave hot doesn’t always stay hot. I know, because I eat bagels in the morning.  ~  Shaquille O’Neal

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Up Next:  Christmas?

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