High school notebook: Caledonia boys winning from long range
Caledonia has been known as a football school in recent years, winning five of the last seven state Class AA championships.
The Warriors have been plenty good at basketball, too. Just not "football" good.
But they might be now.
"Before we had athletes," Caledonia ninth-year coach Josh Diersensaid. "Now we have athletes who are also skilled basketball players."
That sunk in best this past Jan. 2, when Caledonia beat then No. 3-ranked Plainview-Elgin-Millville 79-76 in overtime. It stretched the Warriors' record to 9-1, and slipped the Bulldogs to 9-3, all of P-E-M's losses to powerhouse teams.
The Warriors got it done with a style they've been playing all season. That is, fast, with an emphasis on taking the first open shot, with a bundle of them from 3-point range. Caledonia is averaging 83 points per game, which puts them in the top five in the state.
It's a style that is putting a smile on the Caledonia players' faces. And on Diersen's, too.
"It's fun watching these guys play," said the 35-year-old Diersen, whose team finished 17-12 last year and fell in overtime to P-E-M in the subsection championship.
"Our players love this style, getting up and down the court. When you shoot a bunch of 3s, you're never out of a game."
Caledonia — which has just two seniors — trailed P-E-M by 11 with eight minutes left. Then they cascaded 3s on the Bulldogs. They hit nine of them for the game, including four by Josh Nord. Caledonia has already had one game in which it hit 15 treys.
Caledonia's leading scorer has been Kyle Sorenson, a 6-foot-7 junior guard. He averages 16 points. He's one of four Warriors averaging double figures.
— Pat Ruff
That's One (AA) tough section
The Section One, Class AA girls basketball tournament is always competitive, but this year it looks downright daunting.
At midseason the top five teams in Section 1AA have a combined record of 45-3 and three are still unbeaten; Dover-Eyota (10-0), Kenyon-Wanamingo (9-0), Chatfield (9-0), Plainview-Elgin-Millville (8-1) and Hayfield (9-2).
P-E-M's only loss was to D-E, and Hayfield's losses were to K-W and New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva (7-0).
NRHEG, the defending Class AA state champion from Section 2AA, is ranked No. 1. K-W is ranked No. 2, D-E is No. 6, and Chatfield is No. 7.
One big game between ranked teams, Chatfield at D-E, was postponed on Tuesday. But a bigger one is still on for tonight when K-W travels to New Richland.
NRHEG, incidentally, is leading the state in scoring at a remarkable 85 points per game, led by Gophers recruit Carlie Wagner'sstate-best 35 ppg, and D-E is second in scoring at 77.6.
Wagner went over 3,000 career points at the St. Peter holiday tournament and now has 3,124.
D-E coach Brian Harriswatched NRHEG whip Hayfield last Saturday, 79-44, and he came away duly impressed by Wagner.
"Wagner is incredible, probably the best player from this area that I've seen since the Miller twins(at Mayo in the mid 1990's)," Harris said.
— Donny Henn
Injuries taking toll on Z-M
Zumbrota-Mazeppa starting center Alyssa Stehrwill miss the entire season after she has ACL knee surgery today. Stehr injured her knee in Z-M's first preseason scrimmage and hasn't played since.
"Alyssa really came on the end of last season, worked hard over the summer, and we were looking for a very productive senior year from her," Z-M coach Scott Paukert said.
Paukert pointed out that Stehr is the third of Z-M's eight senior players to have ACL knee surgery. Emma Drackleyhad surgery toward the end of her sophomore season, and Danielle Blakstadhad surgery following last season and just got the ok to return this past month, he said.
"We've been really hit hard with injuries the past 4-5 season," he added.
Laura Brunner, a 2013 grad, also had ACL surgery and missed her sophomore season. Recent grads Geena Miller('13) and Ashley Hinsch('12) also both missed an entire season due to shoulder issues. Amber Jentsch(2013) was hobbled during her senior season after having suffered a compound leg fracture playing softball the previous summer.
— Donny Henn
Different season for FBA and Caledonia
Faribault Bethlehem Academy is the defending Section 1A champion and finished third at state last year, with a 26-5 record. But it's an entirely different story this season for the Cardinals.
FBA is off to an 0-9 start under first-year head coach Jake Hanson, who replaced Tammy Filzen. Filzen guided the Cards to a 46-15 record in just two years as head coach.
Hanson isn't the only newcomer to the program. FBA lost its top eight scorers (six to graduation) and 94 percent of the team's points from last season. As a result the Cards' scoring average is down 21 points from a year ago (to 37 ppg), and its defensive average is up 28 (to 68).
Last season, FBA knocked off Goodhue in the Section 1A West final, 54-50, and then topped Spring Grove, 53-35, for its first trip to state in 15 years.
* Caledonia is also struggling uncharacteristically, with a 2-7 record at midseason under first-year head coach Kevin Klug. Klug replaced Jimmy Westland, after Westland guided the Warriors to a 22-8 mark in his only season as coach.
It's been a long time since Caledonia has had a losing season. The Warriors averaged a remarkable 24 wins in the past nine seasons, with four Section 1AA titles and a 31-0 state championship season in 2008-09 under former coach Scott Sorenson.
— Donny Henn
Freak accident for Iowa star
A two-sport star in Iowa had her girls basketball season cut short by a horrific accident while participating in team photos in the locker room prior to a game in December.
Sheffield (Iowa) West Fork High senior Lindsey Peterson needed 100 stitches and three plates in her face to help heal the fractures she suffered when slipping and falling onto the corner of a bench upon which she was posing for pictures with her teammates, according to The Sheffield Press.
"It was the worst thing I've seen," West Fork coach Rodney Humber told the paper, detailing his star's injuries, which required massive work at a Mayo Clinic hospital. "It went straight through her gum, affected a few of her teeth and she had a big gash on the right side of her face."
After earning all-state volleyball honors this fall, Peterson's final season of high school basketball is over, the coach told deadspin.com.
Somehow, Peterson's West Fork teammates managed to pull it together at Riceville (Iowa), winning by a whopping 55-18 margin after witnessing the traumatic injury.
"They really laid it on them," Huber told The Sheffield Press. "I didn't know how they were going to respond because they looked pale; looked like they'd seen a ghost."
-- Craig Swalboski
A tough stretch for Century
By Saturday night, Rochester Century will have a good idea of where it stands in the Big Nine Conference and Section One, Class AA boys hockey pecking order.
The Panthers are 8-5-0 and have already topped their victory total from a year ago. But they are hitting as challenging of a stretch as they have remaining on their schedule.
That stretch, with four tough games in eight days, begins at 7 p.m. tonight at the Rochester Recreation Center when Century plays host to Lakeville North, the No. 10-ranked team in the state in Class AA and the on-paper favorite to win Section 1AA this season.
North is 10-3-1 and holds impressive victories against No. 5 Burnsville, No. 18 Bloomington Jefferson (twice), No. 7 Eden Prairie, No. 2 Hill-Murray and No. 20 Eagan.North is the defending section champion and has won the section three of the past four seasons (2010, '11, '13). Lakeville South won the section title in 2012.
The last non-Lakeville team to win Section 1AA was Century in 2009.
Century, which has battled through injuries, illnesses and low numbers this season, continues its tough stretch of games at 7 p.m. Saturday when it plays host to Big Nine Conference leader Mankato West (11-2-0), the No. 6-ranked team in Class A.
Century, West and Mayo are the three remaining unbeaten teams in Big Nine play. West, which lost a one-goal game against Section 1A rival New Prague last Saturday, plays at Mayo tonight, so the Big Nine will likely be down to one unbeaten team after Saturday's games.
The tough stretch for Century continues next Tuesday at Albert Lea, then at home next Thursday against Mayo, the first meeting of this season between the intracity rivals.
Century is led by senior captain Hayden Ashworth(12 goals, 9 assists, 21 points) and junior defenseman Riese Zmolek(8-13—21), as well as junior goalie Joey Pundt(8-3-0, 3.24 goals-against average, .890 save percentage).
— Jason Feldman