Chris Murphy is a sports reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school and college sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so.
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The Minnesota State High School League announced new section assignments for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. Here are some takeaways for area teams:
FARGO—The fact Boston University junior defenseman Brandon Hickey was standing, after Friday's 4-3 double overtime win over the University of North Dakota in the West Regional men's hockey semifinals was shocking. He wasn't just upright, after blocking 17 shots, he looked like he wanted to play another overtime. "Exhilarated, tired, but those are the kind of games you want to play in," Hickey said. "That atmosphere was insane. That team was a great team. It was just great to get that win."
FARGO—When they all found out they were headed to Scheels Arena for the West Regional of the NCAA Division I men's hockey tournament, University of North Dakota goalie Cam Johnson, Ohio State forward David Gust and University of Minnesota-Duluth forwards Dominic Toninato and Alex Iafallo all contacted each other.
Lake Park, Minn. When Shannon Raaen watches her only son, her "baby" as she refers to him, play for Lake Park-Audubon in Thursday's, March 23, Minnesota Class 1A boys basketball state tournament, she will have a coin in her purse. It's not a nickel, a penny, a quarter, a dime. There is no monetary value to this coin. It appeared in her husband's pocket when he was at a vending machine at a hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Oct. 7, 2015. It was moments before Shannon was set to have surgery, after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer the night before.
FERGUS FALLS, Minn.—There was a stretch in January for the Fergus Falls boys basketball team when the Otters realized something was off. Winning wasn't fun and certainly neither was the 16-point loss at home to section rival Alexandria. "Winning was just another thing we were supposed to do," Fergus Falls junior Nathan Rund said. "The game just wasn't as fun. We're a better team when we're having fun, getting after it and having that edge."
Breckenridge, Minn. Breckenridge boys basketball coach Arly Ohm has a visual of Stevin Lipp, which he'll always associate with the senior. It's not Lipp soaring for a dunk or any of the 468 points he's scored this season. It's not of him breaking his uncle's school record for points in a game when Stevin surpassed 1,000 points for his career with 41 against Waubun.
MOORHEAD—On paper, No. 7-ranked Perham was the bigger team, the faster team, the top-seeded team. It was a Yellowjacket boys basketball team that had beaten Breckenridge by 16 in February. Even Breckenridge coach Arly Ohm said, after winning in the section semifinals, he knew Perham was the favorite. On paper, Perham was better. Friday's Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 championship game was played on a basketball court, not paper. On Friday, March 17, on the court of Concordia's Memorial Auditorium, Breckenridge was better, winning 54-41 and capturing the section crown.
Ada, MInn. When Ada-Borup senior basketball player Elizabeth Birkemeyer was in first grade, her mother wondered what was wrong, as she sat in the crowd at the Target Center. Ada-Borup's girls basketball team had just played in its first Minnesota Class 1A state tournament, and the Cougar crowd was giving the team a standing ovation. Birkemeyer just sat in her chair, looking focused. Her mom asked her if she was OK. "I'm going to play for Dave," Birkemeyer said. Dave was in reference to the current Ada-Borup girls basketball coach David Smart. And she was right.
MOORHEAD—With Perham within view, no one was going to stop Breckenridge's boys basketball team from setting up a rematch with the No. 7-ranked Yellowjackets. "We always want to play in games like that," Breckenridge senior Stevin Lipp said. "To get up for games like that is pretty easy. It's always been an intense game."
ST. PAUL - Moorhead senior left winger Matt Herbranson bent over and stared at the ice of Xcel Energy Center, as he hit his stick against his helmet. Spuds were on one knee, while those standing were leaning against their stick, as they watched the players on Grand Rapids drop their sticks and throw their helmets and gloves in the air.