State: The Boys Played Well, But . . .

[Please pardon the posting delay.  Stuff happens.]

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. . . They still keep score in this game by who puts the ball through the hoop with strings hanging from it the most.  Anyway, it was the first round game of the 2014 Boys’ State Basketball Tournament, class AAA, last Wednesday, March 12, in Williams Arena.  Our Cards were taking on the Austin Packers, last year’s state runner up and this year’s No. 2 seed with a 26 – 3 record.  The Cards came in with a 15 – 11 record (with an inexplicable 8 losses in 9 games mid-season), but we finished on a nice 11 – 3 run including, what was termed by those who were there, a perfect game against Fergus Falls in the section finals.

joandbrianna2A quick synopsis of the game.  Cardinal fans were of one-mind at the end of the game that we could beat them if we played them again.  Unfortunately, the tension of the event undoubtedly affected our ability to shoot the ball, particularly in the first half where I’m not sure we even shot 25 per cent from the field.  Still, we were within 8 points at the half.  In every other aspect of the game, I thought we controlled the action.  We played great defense throughout and though the teams were of equivalent size we dominated the boards.  I can see why, as someone at the start of the season passed on, Coach Forrest Witt thought this would be his best and most fun team.  We had good depth and athleticism through 8 players, probably more if I think about it.  And I saw the JV once this year, and more good athletes are on the way.  [Our guest photo subjects apparently prefer to remain anonymous?  🙂  ]

When we looked back in hindsight (which even as a redundancy is not necessarily 20/20 because I have a cataract), there were multiple extenuating circumstances that must have contributed to our defeat.  First, we drove to and back from The Cities in good weather and dry roads.  That’s the first time that’s happened for us since the Cambrian Era!  It must have upset the normal Zeitgeist that surrounds Alexandria?  Second, we left the tournament program in our hotel room.  I usually like to lead off state tournament blogs with the program cover and the Cardinal page.  Apologies.  The aging mind continues to fade.  Third, we ate at an Irish restaurant (Keegan’s, and for those of you who keep track of such things (and you know who you are) I did indeed have the shepherd’s pie washed down with a half-an-half (or black and tan, depending on one’s personal preference)), and then visited the Museum of Russian Art the following day.  We subsequently learned one should never appreciate those venues in that order because it is the superstition equivalent of walking under a ladder or having a black cat cross your path.  Who knew?  Fourth, we had our following morning repast at Al’s Breakfast in Dinkytown where we sat next to a gentleman who is employed by Texas A & M university.  Arrggghhhh, the bad luck of the Aggies must have rubbed off on us and had a deleterious effect on an event that happened the previous day.   Fifth, the Wifi at our hotel didn’t work.  The supervisor filed several complaints about that!  Sixth, my ‘black cloud.”  If the Cardinals had won, we would have stayed down there through Saturday and then we could have gone to the Gopher women’s hockey game and seen Kelly Terry (a personal favorite) get a hat trick in the NCAA tournament win against Boston U.  Well, there’s probably more, but you probably would prefer to move on to the game?  [Which reminds me:  And seventh, I had my camera on the wrong ISO setting for the game (i.e., not “sports speed”), so most action shots blurred.  😦  So, I hope you don’t mind a lot of free throw shots?]

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[The supervisor approaches venerable Williams Arena.  Another word for venerable is old.  Looks like a big chunk of paint has fallen off the facing.  😦   ]

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[In the absence of tournament program info, I had to resurrect this roster for you. ]

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[Two well-known Cardinal fans were sighted at the game . . . ]

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[Upon closer inspection, it’s the coaches of the girls’ basketball team!  They’re smiling because next year our undefeated 9th-grade team will be playing varsity, along with their two freshmen daughters who are already on the varsity.  The next three years could be fun!]

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[Williams Arena, a/k/a “Bill’s Gym.”  In my day (days of yore) my seats for Gopher basketball games were directly over head, mid-court on the balcony railing.]

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[Students with noise makers.]

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[The assembled masses.  Alex brought three bus loads of students.  Austin, across the court, filled their whole lower level.]

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[Awaiting introductions . . .]

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[Joe Gorghuber (21), 6’3″ junior, had an older brother who was a good player a few years back.  As our major inside presence (yes, at 6’3″), I don’t recall Joe ever coming out of the game?]

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[David Kivanek (33), 6’2″ senior, had a rough start but finished strong.]

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[Chase Kohler (43), 6’4″ senior.  Yup, Wendy’s son and Kendall’s brother.  Good long range shooter.]

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[Brandon Bistodeau (5), 6’2″ senior, the pacesetter.  Better known to me as Kalley’s (volleyball) brother – ha!  Their dad is a rapid, great fan and the first guy we saw when we entered the arena.  He was there for the earlier games and said De La Salle (the eventual champion, again) looked like a college team.]

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[John Vogeler (15), 6’2″ senior, the quarterback (well, in football) and the long bomber.  With the strength and size of a football player, had a terrific game on defense and on the boards.]

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Here’s a video of the start of the game.  Unfortunately, it’s not flattering for the Cards.  Too many turnovers, not enough shots.  You can hear me at the end expressing my displeasure (what, moi?) at their inability to get shots off.  They were too unselfish and were passing up good shots trying to get better ones, without success:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6xTsRbT9PQ

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[Kris Setterstrom (3), 6′ junior, provides good point guard relief.]

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[Austin played a 1-2-2 3/4-court press all game.  For the most part it didn’t bother us – it bothered the supervisor who thought it made us take too much time to set up a half court offense.]

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[Once we got in the front court, we generally ran a nice offense except for the inability to make the shots (but I guess that’s the name of the game).  We missed a lot of bunnies (too tight?) and missed open 3’s we usually hit.]

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[It’s airborne! ]

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[And it disappears into the rafters of Williams Arena.]

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[Cards setting their D . . . ]

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[Bistodeau’s on point . . . ]

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[Vogeler covers at mid-court . . . ]

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[The Competition is hard at work.]

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[Student fan attire was Hawaiian.]

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[Good evening, Mr. Ripley.]

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[Changing film?]

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[OK, and some early St. Paddy’s Day celebrants.]

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[We’re in the 2nd half now, down by 8 at the time . . . ]

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[The Packers came out firing and scored the first 8 points of the 2nd half, building a 16-point lead (where my Minnesota arithmetic comes in handy).  The Packer fans were chanting, “It’s Too Easy!”  Then something happened . . . ]

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[The Cards started playing the beautiful game.  Before the 2nd half had hit the 8-minute mark, we had reduced the 16-point deficit to . . . ONE.  The once boisterous Packer fans were now quite quiet.  With a run of defense, rebounding, fastbreaking, passing, and, finally, shooting, the Cards were amazing to watch during that run.  I think we had two chances to take the lead . . . which would have blown the roof off of our side of the arena.]

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[But coming from that far back is enervating, and the Cards were unable to keep up the catch-up pace.]

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[Vogeler . . . ]

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[And again.]

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[Gorghuber.  As a team we were 17 – 17 from the stripe against Fergus.  We didn’t miss in the first half of this game.  But we missed some key ones down the stretch in this game – a sure sign that we were a bit worn out.]

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[Joe, again . . . .]

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[To their credit, the Packers made all their free throws down the stretch to make the 11-point final difference in what was really a 3 or 4-point game.]

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[Krivanek]

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[Bottoms it.]

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[The press was good, but if they got it in we had to foul.]

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[Bistodeau . . .]

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[And again.]

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[Setterstrom, the last shot of the ball and the camera for the game.  A terrific season for the team, likely exceeding most expectations.  Sometimes you have addition by subtraction – mostly the same players as last year, minus a now 6’8″ Division 1 6′ 8″, Logan Doyle.  Go figure?  But, again, congrats to the team.  We were made to look even better as Austin won their semi-final game by 30, before once again losing to De La Salle for the championship.  Wait till next year?]

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[p.s.  I have no idea how good a player Jennifer Lawrence is?  I heard she can’t go to her left?  But archery is likely her sport.  And she can always fall back on acting.  BTW, the Gopher mens’ and womens’ teams once again missed out on the NCAA tourney.  And I noticed once again that all the best in-state players are going to Fargo(?), Ames(?), Iowa City(?), Omaha(?), Milwaukee(?), and Madison(?).  Can anybody please ‘splain this to me?  I mean really . . . Iowa City over the Twin Cities?  Something doesn’t compute?]

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