State tournament basketball 2005 has come and now gone. What a unbelievable time I had once again. I’ll write more about it tomorrow, but I’m just buzzing by the basketball action from Saturday and I have to write about it now. We started out the day by going for a nice six mile run in downtown Minneapolis. If it wasn’t for the constant red lights, downtown in any major city would be the greatest place to run. There is just so much atmosphere with the big buildings and the people. It felt good to get outside nonetheless. After the run, we headed to the Class A and AA games. The first game between Russel-Tyler-Ruther and Rushford-Peterson was a great game. RTR has three very good players who were All-Tourney players last year while winning the state tournament which they went on to do again this year. Class AA wasn’t so much a great game. Crookston’s best player Kenley Whalin ruptured his ALC or MCL (one the the -CL’s…) in the first half of the section final. They are an athletic team, but they didn’t have the big guns to stick with Braham. They are led by junior 6’7" lefty guard Isiah Dahlman who can pretty much pick and choose wherever he wants to go to college. His younger brother Noah also had a heck of a tournament scoring 40 points and grabbing 25 boards while only playing about 20 minutes in each game. Also a superstar on the team is 6’5" point guard Josh Vaughn. He was a four-year starter in basketball and a three year starter at QB in football. During the football season, he would shoot baskets two hours every day. Probably due to all the arm repetitions, he developed severe tendinitis in his elbow. Even if he didn’t score as much this year, he was a great leader for that team. Dahlman gets all the pub (and deservedly so), but Vaughn is the player that made that team tick. Even though the final score didn’t indicate a great game, I thought Crookston did a good job of battling. Isiah Dahlman’s first half was one of the best individual performances in a half that I’d ever seen.

After the game, we got a cup of coffee and hung out around Borders for a while before coming back for the 3A and 4A title games. My dad, being the true nancy that he really is, decided he was going to skip the last two games for whatever reason, so I went with my two coaches and friend Mark. We wound up having fourth row seats right in the dead center of the court for the game. The first game was Shakopee vs. Richville. Ray Brown for Richville was supposed to be one of the best players in the state, but he had a really rough game. Shakopee played great team ball. I was very impressed by their best player Jamal Abu-shamala who had 24 and 13 in the championship game. I wasn’t all that impressed with Ray Brown who went 3-14 from beyond the arc – 14 attempts in one game!?! I know he probably had an off night shooting, but I was left under-impressed by other things. He didn’t play very good defense. He had his head turned and he didn’t see the ball when he was away from the ball very well at all. For being 6’5" and athletic, I didn’t think he rebounded particularly well, plus he got a costly technical foul for bouncing the ball about 20 feet into the air.

Now on to the greatest high school basketball game I’ve ever seen in my life. No lie. Eastview started out the game colder than a mother-in-law’s kiss. In the beginning of the second half, they were down 17. The mounted a huge comeback and even took the lead by three points with three and a half to play. Nobody scored until sophomore Blake Hoffarber hit a three pointed from at least 27 feet away to tie it at 49 a pop with 24 seconds to play sending the game into overtime. In the overtime, BJ Viau from Eastview missed a reverse layup with four seconds to play and 6’10" Darren Kent followed with the rebound and the putback to put Eastview up two. With 2.5 seconds left to play, Henke from Hopkins chucked it all the way to the free throw line. The ball kind of got batted around by Hoffarber into the hands of Bernell Benjamin who lost the handle on it. Hoffarber who had fallen right onto his back caught the ball lying with his back on the three point in the corner. With 0.1 seconds left on the clock (they replayed it about 20 times), his fingers left the ball which hit nothing but twine to tie the ballgame up and send it to double overtime. It was absolutely the most electrifying sports event I’ve ever seen in person. Un-freaking-believable. It was better than Khalid El-Amin’s 35-footer at the buzzer to win the game. I need to find a copy of this video to show y’all. I’ve been going for 11-years straight and the 117-113 Red Lake/Wabasso game has been bumped to #2 on the best state basketball game of all-time list.
If you’re out on your bike tonight, as always, do wear white,