Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.
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West Central Area-Ashby-Brandon-Evansville coach Brandon Gruchow was named Minnesota Class-A Wrestling Coach of the Year this past weekend. Gruchow has guided the Knights to three straight team state tournaments. They finished this regular season with a 24-1 record, took fourth at state as a team, and had nine wrestlers compete at state as individuals.
BOYS BASKETBALL Ashby at CGB, 6A South playoffs, 7 p.m. WCA vs. WHN, 6A South playoffs, 7 p.m.
The Parkers Prairie boys basketball team handed West Central Area its eighth straight loss on Friday night as the Panthers (19-7) beat the Knights (10-14) 66-61. West Central Area held a 47-46 lead in the second half after an Aaron Wiese three, but the Panthers responded with a three of their own and never trailed again.
Brandon-Evansville girls basketball coach Dick Simpson has been on the sidelines for 38 years. He's racked up more than 600 wins during that stretch, but he's also seen some tough losses. Saturday's Section 6A South semifinal game fell into that category. Simpson didn't sleep much on Saturday night as he replayed the game in his head after the Chargers came just one point shy of knocking off third-ranked and now 28-0 Wheaton-Herman-Norcross. Brandon-Evansville held an 11-point lead at the half in Morris, but the Warriors pulled out a 42-41 win in the end.
The Brandon-Evansville boys basketball team shot just 17 percent on Friday night as the Chargers dropped their regular-season finale 59-31 against Hancock. Brandon-Evansville was 10-of-58 from the floor, including 2-of-20 from three. "We thought they were pretty good looks," head coach John Holsten said. "We just didn't make them. It was a strange game. We outrebounded them 42-22."
The Brandon-Evansville girls basketball team lost a heartbreaker on Saturday afternoon at the University of Minnesota-Morris in the 6A-South semifinals. The Chargers (19-9) gave top-seeded and undefeated Wheaton-Herman-Norcross the biggest scare of its season by building an 11-point lead by the break. The Warriors (28-0) chipped away, though, taking a one-point lead in the final minute and holding on for the 42-41 win. Senior guard Carrigan Okerlund led B-E with 12 points in her final game in a Chargers uniform.
The Osakis girls basketball team ended Albany’s season in the 6AA-West semifinals at St. John’s University last year. On Saturday, the Huskies got their revenge.
BLIZZARD HOCKEY Alexandria at Willmar, 7:10 p.m. GIRLS BASKETBALL Alexandria vs. Detroit Lakes, 8-3A SF at Moorhead High School, 6 p.m. Osakis vs. Albany, 6AA-West SF at St. John’s University, 6 p.m. Brandon-Evansville vs. WHN, Section 6A South SF at UM-Morris, 1 p.m.
Friday night’s game between the Melrose and Osakis boys basketball teams could be a playoff preview of a game that would take place next Saturday, though this one already felt like a tournament game. Fans from both teams packed the Osakis High School gymnasium for a battle of two teams with at least 20 wins. In the end, the Dutchmen showed why they are now 26-0 with a 68-50 win.
The Alexandria swimming and diving team has a lot of pride that developed for decades under former head coach Mark Storhaug. The Cardinals got used to being at their best by season's end in an attempt to prove themselves at the state meet. Their tradition includes back-to-back state titles in 1999 and 2000. A year ago, Alexandria finished with 70 points and in 11th place as a team. First-year head coach Kathy Walker made it clear from the get-go this season where this group should strive to get by the time Saturday's Class A finals are over.