Friday, January 9, 2009

Love the Effort

Just got home from watching our girls take on one of the top teams in the area . . .WCA Knights 7 & 1. . .They battled hard and competed well for a good portion of the game, unfortunately we lost by 20 or so but I was soooooooo proud of the effort that these girls displayed on the court.

As I was driving home I told my own two boys that if they set their minds to making it a habit to work as hard as our girls' team did tonight they would experience a lot of success in the future.

In our highly competitive world it is easy to point out where the doer of deeds could have done better. Heck, if you go on line to and check out the "basketball forum" you will find a number of people posting thoughts that are critical of our #2 ranked / 10 and 0 boys team.

I guess success is in the eye of the beholder but when you have a group of players who are working as hard as our two high school basketball teams are I have a hard time dealing with any negative comments.

That is why I think it is important to be your own judge of your success as an individual and as a team. Don't allow outside forces to establish you as a "success" or a "failure" because you are the only one who really knows if you have fought the good fight.

So even though the girls did not walk away with a victory tonight I still believe they were a huge success!

Bravo Girls! Bravo!

It's Not the Critic That Counts by Theodore Roosevelt

It's not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hoops Update - January 8

Wow!!!! Soooooooo much has happened since my last entry. . .

The Girls:

The girls won the first game in their Holiday Tournament over Waubun (67 to 57) and entered the championship game against Clinton Graceville Beardsley only to experience a tough shooting night and finished second in the tournament.

Scoring seems to be the nemesis for the girls this year. Defensively they seem to be pretty solid considering they are starting an eighth grader, a ninth grader and a sophomore but finding a consistent shooting touch is what this team really needs in the months ahead.

Haley Hoyer(12th) and Kendra Coleman(11th) both were named to the all-tournament team.

In their first game of 2009 the Vikings saw Haley Hoyer scored 18 points and Kendra Coleman added 13 as they defeated Breckenridge 42-24 on the Cowgirls home court Tuesday night.

“Pelican Rapids plays very good defense,” commented Breckenridge head coach Joel Herder.

The girls improved to 3 and 4 on the season with that victory and they head into back to back game against two solid teams in WCA and DGF this Friday and Saturday.

The Boys:

The boys improved to 9 – 0 on Tuesday night as the defeated the Breckenridge Cowboys 72 to 58.

The Cowboys, by far, offered the biggest test to the Vikings to this point of the season. Breckenridge has a very solid team with an excellent outside shooter, a Solid 6 foot 6 inch scorer, a big banger in the middle, a great defensive player and a solid point guard. Although there are differences in the roles that each of these players play on their team they have a very similar team to the Vikings and offered a lot of unique challenges.

Don’t be surprised to see the Cowboys make it to state out of their section!!!

Over the Holiday Break:

*Vikings beat a respectable Fergus Team 85 to 64 in the Moorhead tournament to advance to the championship where they played host Moorhead.

*For the first time in decades the Pelican Rapids boys defeated 4A Moorhead and won the championship 63 to 41

*The Vikings played Cloquet in the Timberwolves Shoot-out down at the Target Center on January 3rd. Cloquet has a 6’10” junior stud who is getting some offers from division I schools. (He had 5 or 6 dunks on the Vikings along with showing a nice shooting touch) One person, however, is not enough to compete with this year’s team and the Vikings steam rolled to a 87 to 56 win.

*Ty Storrusten became the Vikings all-time leading scorer in the Cloquet game and is on pace to hit 2000 when it is all said and done. To go along with this he also has topped Brian Korf’s assist record. Ty is as complete an athlete as we have had roll through the athletic programs of Pelican Rapids. His natural gifts are one reason why he has been so successful in the arena of competition but he has an out of this world “athletic intelligence” that just takes him to another level.

*Great article in the Fargo Forum on the “quiet wonder” also known as Eric Shulstad. The great thing that has happened this year for this young man is that colleges are finally realizing his talent and his potential to be a player for them.

*Not only will you see a number of high school coaches trying to figure out how to slow down the Vikings but you will also see a number of college coaches trying to woo a number of our players to chose their college as their next destination.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Good Read for the New Year

The following story can be found in the latest issue of Sports Illustrate. It is written by Phil Taylor. When it comes to sports it would be nice if we could all be like these eight runners when it comes to the spirit of competition.

Precious Medal by Phil Taylor

A YEAR free of scandals and scoundrels is probably too much to expect. But for every failed drug test or recruiting violation that made us wonder if sportsmanship still existed in 2008, there was a tale of those who did the right thing—the noble thing, even.

The trick, as always, is in knowing where to look, because the most uplifting examples often occur in the most out-of-the-way places—like the state 4A track and field championships on May 23 in Pasco, Wash. That was where Nicole Cochran, a senior at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, thought she had won the girls' 3,200-meter title by 3.05 seconds until a judge disqualified her, ruling that she had stepped outside her lane on one of the turns. Almost everyone, including Cochran's competitors, agreed that the judge was in error, and a video of the race later showed that one of Cochran's teammates had actually committed the violation. Still, the title was awarded to the runner-up, sophomore Andrea Nelson of Spokane's Shadle Park High.

Nelson was almost as upset by the injustice as Cochran. "That's not how I wanted to win state," she says. "It wasn't fair. She deserved it. She totally crushed everybody." After the eight top finishers each took the podium, Nelson decided to do what she could to make things right. She stepped off the platform, walked over to Cochran and placed the first-place medal around the neck of the rightful winner. "It's your medal," she told Cochran.

"It gave me chills," says Cochran, now a freshman runner at Harvard. "It was just an incredible, surprising thing for Andrea to do, because it wasn't her fault. No one would have blamed her if she kept the medal." Cochran wasn't the only one who was moved. When Sarah Lord saw what Nelson had done, she took off her second-place award and placed it around Nelson's neck. Then third-place finisher Devin McMahon removed her medal and hung it around Lord's. And so it went, with each of the eight girls—Kate Stuart, Sandra Martinez, Annie Dear, Alyssa Andrews and Lyndy Davis were the others—bestowing her medal on the runner who had finished ahead of her. "As adults," says Matt Ellis, Cochran's coach, "we can learn from what those girls did."

Cochran went on to compete in two other events, including the 800 meters. She gave her eighth-place medal from that race to Davis, the runner from Monroe High who had surrendered hers in the 3,200. "After what she had done, I didn't want her to go home from the meet her senior year without a medal," says Cochran, who was reinstated as the champ by the state's Interscholastic Activities Association 10 days after the competition. She didn't make the gesture because it was necessary, or to balance out the kindness she had been shown. Sometimes, an athlete simply does what she knows is right.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Look from the Crow's Nest

Some interesting developments on the boys side of the court:

Cloquet, the team that we will face off against in the Timberwolves Classic on January 3rd is off to a rough start:

*Loss to Grand Rapids 73-36 (Grand Rapids is the defending 7AAA champion Grand Rapids returns all five starters.)
*Loss to Duluth East 76-56 (With Starks playing)
*Loss to Blaine 63 - 47 (Breakdown Tip-off Classic)
*Loss to Virginia 89-87

East Grand Forks is almost in the same boat:

*Loss to Bemidji 49-47
*Win at Park Christian 57-55
*Loss to Breckenridge 73-56
*Loss to Thief River Falls 58-54 F

A surprising score??? Crosby Ironton beats highly ranked Staples 83-76

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Girls WIN! Girls WIN! Girls WIN!

When you are rebuilding a program that has fallen on lean times you search hard to find the moral victories and try not to focus too hard on the winning and losing.

You focus attention on making good defensive plays, out rebounding the opponent, holding a team or individual to a certain amount of points, etc. . . etc. . . So when you do win a game it is time to crank up Kool & The Gang because:

"Baby...We're gonna have a good time tonight
Let's celebrate, it's all right."

The win will help coach Gravalin sell his philosophy. Coaches, believe it or not, would make great car salespeople because they are constantly trying to get their players to buy the "car" that will drive their players down the road to success.

As a player it sometimes gets hard to bust your tail day in and day out and not drink from the victory cup. Coaches often work their hardest and do their best coaching on teams that lose more games than they win because they have to find ways for a team that has a deficit in the talent supply to compete and they also have to constantly motivate players so they keep the faith.

So coming off a disappointing loss to Barnesville (disappointing because the Trojans are a team we can compete with) the girls beat a solid team in Frazee. This bodes well for the Vikings as they are approaching a series of games that they do have a solid chance to win. Experiencing success will hopefully energize the team as they too work for constant improvement.

Next up = LPA, then the two games in their Holiday tournament in Pelican Rapids followed by a game at Breckenridge.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Conference View


Perham and West Central Area are looking like they are rising to the top of the Girls' Basketball world. . . .

The Perham girls are currently 4 - 0 with impressive back to back wins over DGF and Hawley.

Pelican Rapids W 75-51
Ulen-Hitterdal W 65-16
DGF W 60-52
Hawley W 53-35

West Central Area is off to an awesome 5 - 0 start. Their big wins were over DGF(62 to 54) and a solid win against Frazee(73 -55)

The Yellowjackets and Knights could face off against each other at the Pelican Rapids Holiday Tournament Championship on December 30th.

As for the Viking girls their game against DGF was rescheduled for the afternoon of January 10th. Prior to that the Vikings had to play Perham, Hawley and Barnesville and have yet to break into the win column.

Coach Gravalin is hoping his girls have made the improvements needed as they head into some winnable games in the next couple of weeks. It is becoming apparent that the Vikings need Haley Hoyer and Kendra Coleman to stay out of foul trouble in order for them to be successful. Hoyer's Foul trouble against the Barnesville Trojans was a key reason they fell a little short in the second half.

DID YOU KNOW. . . The Viking girls started an 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th & 12th grader in their last game!!! A sharp contrast to the boys team who start and play one 12th grader after another. (experience pays off. . .thus all those years of Al Seigle saying the best time to play a sophomore is when he is a senior rings true!!!)


It is no surprise that the Vikings are sitting atop the HOL with a 4 - 0 record. But what is happening below them?

The Breckenridge cowboys are looking pretty solid. They are off to a 4 & 1 start with an impressive win against East Grand Forks(73-56). EGF is expected to be a serious contender for the Section Championship come March. Breckenridge's only loss came the night after the East Grand game as they fell to Wahpeton(48 - 55)

It sounds like the Cowboys have a solid group of athletes but one of their keys to victory is the play of Bryan Jacklitch who hit a school record 10 three pointers in his 35 point effort against East Grand Forks. Another player to watch on this team is Joe Terfehr who gives the Cowboys a strong inside presence.

After the Cowboys it is anybodies guess. . . LPA has a stable of solid athletes led by Lake Park-Audubon’s Zach Downs who scored 35 points as the Raiders defeated Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 85-74 last night. They are currently 3 and 0 with wins over West Central Area and Frazee.

Hawley???? Big Questions surround this team because they played with-out their top player in Beau Sorenson for the first couple games. They are still sitting with a 3 - 1 record with their only loss coming at the hands of DGF(56-48). Sorenson and others are back after their rules violations suspensions and they posted 95 points last night against lowly Ulen-Hitterdal.

As for the boys. . .KAIZEN (It rhymes with 'dry pen') - Coach Strand has chosen this term as a sort of "theme" for this year's team. It is a Japanese term referring to the philosophy of constant improvement. . .one that doesn't tolerate wasteful activities. The boys need to really latch onto this philosophy in practice as they have the capabilities to push each other to the next level.

The LPA game will be an interesting match up for the Vikings on Monday. LPA has been a traditional cellar dweller in the HOL conference but this year they are looking at finishing near the top.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tip-Off Classic

For the past six years Minnesota Sports Preview, the organization that publishes "The Breakdown", has organized what is now called the "Tip Off Classic". It is an event in which the Breakdown Staff looks to showcase teams from across the state and provide unique, as well as competitive, match ups. It not only showcases top rated teams who have state tournament aspirations but it also pits "small schools" against the "big schools".

In the beginning this event was called the "David and Goliath Classic" and the Pelican Rapids girls were one of four teams that were invited to compete in its inaugural games back in 2004.

The 2A Vikings were pitted against Annandale, a highly ranked 3A school. The Viking girls won the game and Nikki Toso was named the games MVP! Following the girls game the highly rated 1A school of Ulen-Hitterdal went head to head against metro powerhouse Hopkins. Hopkins survived the night with only a two point victory but more importantly hoops fans liked the format of the event.

Fast forward six years and the Viking boys were identified as a team with all the right credentials and they were invited to match up against 4A Duluth East. Here is what Ryan James, a writer for the "Breakdown", had to say about the event:

Saturday Night Recap: Tip-Off Classic by Ryan James
(updated 12/15/2008)

You had to feel bad for the Greyhounds from Duluth East. They were excited to be involved with the Tip-Off Classic when named to the event but last Tuesday they realized they would be playing against the second ranked team in Class AA (Pelican Rapids) without their best player in Dyami Starks. Starks, the star junior do everything guard, twisted his ankle and was unavailable so the Greyhounds traveled down the 35 and across the state on 23 about four and a half hours to be defeated 78 to 41.

Tydan Storrusten made the game look very simple dropping numerous dimes and controlling the contest from all angles. His play reminded me a lot of what Bryce Tesdahl did last season hitting deep jumpers, scoring at the rim, and breaking apart the defense with backdoor passes, and dishes off of penetration.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Ty did have a great game and was given the honor of being the games MVP. The team, however, played like a team of MVP's as their defense, rebounding and over-all team play was a lot of fun to watch.

How much of a difference would have Dyami Starks made???? I still see the Vikings dominating the game and winning by 15+. It was pretty disappointing for the boys and the coaches that Starks was injured. This is a team that wants and needs to play against the best.

No matter how much fun it is to blow a team out of the water. . .a team of this caliber would rather be in the "fire" of a competitive game. These types of games may be on the horizon but we may have to wait until the Christmas tournament games in Moorhead on the 29th and 30th for the Vikings to be tested.

The two games that follow the Moorhead tournament games will also be a test for the Vikings. The first will be on January 3rd when the boys travel to the Target Center to face Cloquet. Cloquet has size, two 6'10" centers, on the roster which will offer the Vikings a match-up challenge. Then, on January 6th, the Vikings will face off against Breckenridge. The Cowboys will be the team that stands in between the Vikings and an HOL title this year.