Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Lemke to Retire from St. Croix Lutheran Football

It's the end of an era in West St. Paul when Carl Lemke decided to retire after 23 years as head coach of the St. Croix Lutheran football team.

Before he came to the West St. Paul school, he coached at Martin Luther Academy in New Ulm in 1968.  He also heading football programs in Wisconsin, including Wisconsin Lutheran Academy in Milwaukee and Martin Luther Preparatory School in Prairie du Chien.

In addition to coaching the Crusaders, Lemke also was St. Croix Lutheran's activities director, a position he retired from in 2015.

Under Lemke's leadership, St. Croix Lutheran has played in eight state tournaments and won two state Class AAA championships in 2011 and 2013.  The 2013 Class AAA final was a back and forth affair against the New London-Spicer Wildcats that the Crusaders won 48-44 as they racked up 426 rushing yards.  St. Croix Lutheran also played in the 2016 and 2017 state Class AAA title games but they came up short, losing to Rochester Lourdes and Pierz.

Lemke also entered the record books in 2018 when he won his 300th career game on September 28 against the Minneapolis Washburn Millers 28-14.  He's the seventh coach in Minnesota high school football history to reach that milestone.

Next season, the Crusaders football program will be led by Adam Frey. Can he help the West St. Paul school return to US Bank Stadium and compete for another Class AAA title in 2019?

First Win for Mounds Park Academy Panthers

To quote the rock group Steely Dan, "Go back Jack and do it again."  That's what Jack Paulson did Tuesday night as he scored 23 points to lead the Mounds Park Academy Panthers to a 72-44 rout of the Groves Academy Griffins in St. Louis Park.

It was the first win of the season for the St. Paul based school that snapped a five game losing streak.

The Griffins got off to a solid start in the first half as center Sam Goldstein scored six straight points.  He would score eight of Groves Academy's first 10 points with the other two coming from Larry Mohamed.  But there would be no first half shut out as Paulson put the Panthers on the board 3:22 into the game.  MPA would then go on an 8-0 run that was ended by Goldstein, who showed some outstanding inside play in the early going.  The Panthers offense would heat up like a hot air balloon as Ben Nippolt would put MPA ahead with a pair of three pointers and a three point play,  A basket from TaeVion Wilkins would spark another 8-0 Panther run.  The Griffins were hit with foul trouble when Nick Maiers picked up his third personal with 5:44 left in the half.  Maiers changed his uniform number from 52 to 51 because he needed a bigger sized jersey.  MPA would forge further ahead on Nippolt's third three pointer and Fruchterman and Paulson would also tally as the Panthers led at halftime 36-21.

It would take a while for the second half scoring to begin as Gabe Gordon would open the scoring for the Griffins 1:08 into the half.  But it was Paulson who would dominate the second half as he would help MPA put the Griffins away with jumpers and outstanding inside shooting.  Nippolt would hit his fourth three pointer of the game and the Panther bench also contributed, including a three pointer from Ayoub Mahamoud.  Groves Academy lost the bulk of their offense late in the game when Mohamed picked up his fifth foul.

Other players in double figures for the Panthers were Nipport with 19 points and Parker law with 10.  The Griffins were led by Goldstein with 21 points and Mohamed added 15.

MPA improved to 1-5 and will host their holiday tournament December 27 & 28.  Groves Academy fell to 2-4 and will play their final game before the holiday break on Thursday, December 20 as they head back to Forest Lake to take on Lakes International Language Academy at 6 PM.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Groves Academy Griffins Close Out Kaleidoscope Comets

After a slow start, the Groves Academy Griffins got their offense "N-Sync" as Larry Mohamed scored 22 points to lead them to a 64-55 win over the Kaleidoscope Charter Comets Thursday night in St. Louis Park.

Based in Otsego, located between Rogers and Elk River, Kaleidoscope is in it's first season of varsity athletics under the auspices of the Minnesota State High School League.

Both teams couldn't find the basket early in the first half.  The Comets erased the zeros on the blue and red scoreboard on Jacob Donnett's basket 1:18 into the game.  Kaleidoscope would go on a 7-0 run until Gabe Gordon hit a three pointer for the Griffins with 13:04 left in the half.  The Groves Academy offense warmed up like a car running in subzero weather as they would go on a 16-0 run and it looked like they would dominate the game.  But there are 36 minutes in a regulation Minnesota varsity basketball game and it would be the Comets turn to trim the Griffins margin as Donnett was on a roll scoring eight straight points.  Groves Academy did not have a lot of height in the lineup due to the absence of senior center Sam Goldstein  but Alfie Galle, who filled in for Goldstein did a fine job in the forward spot, even on defense as he had a nice inside block.  Kaleidoscope would vault into the lead late in the half on a pair of three pointers from Donnett and the comets led at halftime 27-26.

In the second half, Gordon began the scoring with a three pointed that sparked the Griffins on an opening 7-0 run to start the half.  Donnett, who had 22 first half points, was not heard from much in the second half as Groves Academy tightened their defense and started to build a lead.  But the comets held close as there were several ties at 33, 40, and 45.  The fouls would start to pile up for the Comets and the Griffins would be shooting free throws that would widen the lead as Kaledoscope looked to foul to prevent Groves Academy from stalling.  And the Griffins would cash in from the line.  Mohamed would also clinch the game with five straight points that included a three point play.

Kaleidoscope head coach Chris Buerman is in his first season coaching the Comets after leading the Maranatha Christian Academy Mustangs to five consecutive trips to the state tournament, including two Class A second place finishes in 2015 and 2016.  He mentioned about why he left Maranatha to build the Kaledoscope boys program.

" It was an opportunity to start from scratch and go back to boys.  We expect to see growth pretty fast from this group."

Donnett led Kaleidoscope with 29 points.  AJ Kargel was the only other Comet in double figures, scoring 16 points.  The only other Griffin to reach double figures was Gordon with 15 points.

The Griffins evened their record at 2-2 and play their first road game on Friday, December 14 at 5:45 PM as they head to Forest Lake to take on North Lakes Academy.  The Comets fell to 1-4 and return to action on Wednesday, December 19 as they host Lincoln International at 6:30 PM.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Bethany Academy Eagles Ground Groves Academy Griffins

The Bethany Academy Eagles cut to the chase Tuesday night as Chase Bixel scored a game high 27 points to lead the Bloomington based school to a 69-54 win over the Groves Academy Griffins Tuesday night in St. Louis Park.

Larry Mohamed opened the first half scoring for the Griffins :24 into the game and Sam Goldstein would tally to put Groves Academy on a 4-0 run.  Seth Peters would put the Eagles on the board and score four straight points before Gabe Gordon would hit from Lake St.  But it was Bixel who would fill up the Bethany Academy shot chart as he scored 10 straight points from various spots on the floor.  The Griffins would get a pair of three pointers from Gordon and Nick Maiers to go on a 6-0 run.  Bixel would display some more outstanding shooting as he scored four straight points to even the score at 21.  Goldstein's inside basket would put Groves Academy ahead and Gordon would increase the lead with his third three pointer.  The Eagles would go on a 4-0 run before Maiers would hit his second three pointer as the Griffins led 29-27.  The lead wouldn't last as Thomas Anderle would score a three point play to put Bethany Academy ahead.  Foul trouble would plague the Griffins late in the first half when Robert Hall picked up his third foul with :54.6 left in the half.  The Eagles led 40-31 at halftime.

Bethany Academy would come out on fire in the second half as Peters, Kaeden Kotula and Bixel would open the scoring on a 6-0 run to widen their lead.  There would be a bright spot for Groves Academy as they tried to cut the margin as Mohamed would score seven straight points.  The Eagle bench would also contribute as Isaac Krug would hit a three pointer.  The Griffin bench would help cut the lead to 10 on Josh Lightowler's basket but Bethany Academy would pull away as Bixel would hit a pair of late free throws following a technical foul on the Griffin's Noah Yager with :34.3 remaining in the game.

Peters was the only other Eagle in double figures, scoring 15 points.  Mohamed led the Griffins with 19 points.  Gordon added 12.

Bethany Academy head coach Nathan Schroeder coached last season at Math & Science Academy.  He replaced long time head coach and activities director Jeff Ray.  Assistant coach Steve Dahlen played for the Eagles in 1999.

The Eagles won their third straight game to improve their record to 3-1.  They will return to action on Friday, December 14 against the Chesterton Academy Knights in Edina.  The Griffins fell to 1-2 and wrap up their four game homestand on Thursday, December 13 against the Kaleidescope Charter Rockets.  The Rockets are coached by former Maranatha Christian Academy head coach Chris Buerman.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Mohamed and Maiers Lead Groves Academy Griffins to First Win of Season

Larry Mohamed and Nick Maiers are to Groves Academy Basketball as Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris were to the 1961 Yankees.

Wednesday night, the Griffins M&M combination combined for 32 points to lead the Griffins to a 53-38 win over the Academy for Science and Agriculture Eagles in St. Louis Park.

The Griffins broke out of the starting gate early when Gabe Gordon scored the game's first basket :22 into the first half.  Mohamed would use his outstanding speed that included a couple of drives to the post that accounted for six straight points en route to a 9-0 run.  Jake Colestock would put the Eagles on the board to end the opening run.  AFSA would be charged with a technical foul because two players were not entered in the official scorebook.  In many cases, the home book is the official book and since the two players were not listed on AFSA's side, it would send Josh Lightowler to the free throw line.  Though he missed one of the two free throws, the Griffins would also benefit from Maiers, who would hit four of his five three pointers in the first half.  The Eagles would try to catch up as they went on an 8-0 run that included a basket from Nebel Walton, who was one of six players added to the AFSA roster.  But Groves Academy would double up AFSA 36-18 when Noah Yager would hit a three pointer.  The Eagles ended the first half on a 5-0 run and the Griffins led at halftime 36-23.

The second half got off to a slow start in the scoring department as both teams were cold from the floor in the early going.  The Eagles opened the scoring on a free throw from Nate Lundy 1:22 into the half.  It would be more than 2:30 before a shot went through the net as Maiers hit his fifth shot from Minnetonka Blvd.  It wasn't just Mohamed and Maiers who carried the offense on this chilly Wednesday night.  Senior center Sam Goldstein would score six consecutive points and also made an outstanding play on defense when he blocked Colestock's shot.  As Groves Academy pulled away from AFSA, head coach Peter Shutte went to his bench and gave reserves Danny Berthoud and Ethan Ellertson some playing time.

Mohamed led the Griffins with 17 points and Maiers added 15.  Goldstein was also in double figures, scoring 10 points.  Colestock led the Eagles, also scoring 17 points.  Lundy contributed 10 points.

Olivia Thomas was a reserve player for AFSA, a rare case of a girl player on a boys team.  She joined the boys varsity as a result of the Vadnais Heights based school dropping the girls program due to low numbers.

Groves Academy improved their record to 1-1 and will host the Bethany Academy Eagles on Tuesday, December 11 at 7 PM.  AFSA fell to 0-1 and will head to St. Paul to face the Hmong College Prep Academy Warriors on Thursday, December 6 at 7 PM.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

MN Transitions Wolves Trounce Groves Academy Griffins

Groves Academy Log: Day 1 A.M.B.(After Malik Bodden).  Playing their first game of the 2018-19 season after the graduation of Groves Academy's all-time leading scorer Bodden and the transfer of center Max Bilcik to Benilde-St. Margaret's, it was a tough night for the Griffins as LaShawn Patterson scored a game high 21 points to lead the Minnesota Transitions Wolves to a 72-35 win Thursday night in St. Louis Park.

The game did not begin with a jump ball because during warm ups, the Wolves were dunking which is illegal so the team was charged with a technical foul.  Therefore, the game opened at the free throw line with Gabe Gordon shooting the two technical free throws and he made them both.  The game went back and forth as both the Wolves and Griffins were tied at two, three, five and seven.  Minnesota Transitions would forge ahead on four straight points from Patterson.  Groves Academy would later go on a 5-0 run but the Wolves used a balanced scoring attack to pull ahead.  Foul trouble would be an issue for Minnesota Transitions as Carreon Christian picked up his fourth foul with 3:08 to go in the first half.  They would get help from their bench as Cornell Allen made a shot that widened the Wolves lead that would later be 35-21 at half time.

In the second half, Michael Emory-Miner would open the scoring :22 into the half.  It would spark a 15-2 run that would put greater distance between the Wolves and the Griffins.  The one bright spot for Groves Academy would be Gorden, who not only ended the Minnesota Transitions run, he would score five straight points.  The Wolves physical play and outstanding passing would put the game out of reach as every player listed in the score book for the Wolves had at least one point.  The game would go into running time with under 6:00 left due to Minnesota Transitions 35 point lead.

Other players in double figures for the Wolves were Christian with 13 and Emory-Miner had 12.  The Wolves were led by Larry Mohamed with 13 points.  Sam Goldstein, the newest member of the Groves Academy varsity, added 10 points in his debut game.

Minnesota Transitions began their season with a 1-0 record and will host the Metro Schools College Prep Lions on Tuesday, December 4 at 5:30 PM.  Groves Academy fell to 0-1 and returns to action on Wednesday, December 5 as they host the Academy for Science and Agriculture Eagles at 6:30 PM.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Two Straight Class AAAAA Titles for Owatonna Huskies

The end of an era.  One of the great players in Minnesota high school football history Jason Williamson played his final game and scored two second half touchdowns to lead the Owatonna Huskies to a 14-3 win over the St. Thomas Academy Cadets in the Class AAAAA Championship game Saturday afternoon at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

It was the third state title for the southern Minnesota school in their eighth trip to the state tournament.

The Cadets scored the only first half points as Charlie Fafinski threw a 37 yard completion to Joe Deyak and John Copeland would end the 10 play drive with a 27 yard field goal.  As for the Huskies, who broke the 30 point mark in 10 of their 12 games, they couldn't get the offense in sync as they were forced to punt on their first four drives and on the fifth, they lost the ball on downs.  Williamson would also run into a blue and white lagoon of Cadet defenders as they prevented the future Minnesota Golden Gopher from getting a long run.  St. Thomas Academy led at halftime 3-0.

But there would be good news for the numerous Huskies fans who made the trip up I-35 to downtown Minneapolis.  Williamson would finally solve the St. Thomas Academy defense.  In the third quarter, Williamson would break through four Cadet players in the middle of the field and score on a 71 yard touchdown run to put Owatonna ahead 7-3.

Williamson would also close the curtain on his career with 1:27 left to play as he scampered into the end zone from 44 yards.  He would finish the game with 23 carries for 184 yards.

St. Thomas Academy was led by Brendan McFadden who rushed the ball 30 times for 105 yards.

The Huskies ended their season with a 13-0 record and the Cadets closed their campaign at 12-1.