Eighth grade basketball team takes second in Star of the North Summer Games

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 06/24/97.

This past weekend a group of Paynesville boys brought home a second place medal in the Star of the North Summer Games.

The boys were seventh and eighth graders, the sport was basketball. This was the 10th annual summer games, the second time St. Cloud hosted the events. The summer games attracted over 7,000 athletes in 21 events from archery to weight lifting. Over 300 teams competed in basketball June 20-22.

The Paynesville team competed in the ninth grade boys school ďBĒ division against 15 other teams from across the state from Albert Lea to Blackduck and from New Ulm to Golden Valley.

The tournament began Friday with pool play, an attempt to fairly place teams in the single elimination which began on Saturday. The Bulldogs easily dispensed with Waconia 53-31 and Jordon 60-44. All nine members of the team scored in at least one of the games. The two victories gave Paynesville the number one seed from pool ďEĒ and set them up against Sauk Rapids, the number three seed from pool ďAĒ in the sweet 16.

Paynesville rolled to a 70-52 win as three players had a field day scoring against Sauk Rapids. T. J. Schultz and J.T. Koehn each had 19 points and Adam Gifford added 15. Strong rebounding also helped carry the boys through their first three games, especially from the front line of Koehn, Schultz, Eric Rausch, Nathan Martinson and Brian Stelling.

Next up was WCC rival Sauk Centre. Going into the fourth quarter the Bulldogs were up 38-25, but the Streeters staged a big rally to pull within two. Schultz and Koehn both fouled out of the game but Logan Louis kept the team on track with splendid ball handling and nine points. Final score ended up Paynesville 44 and Sauk Centre 42.

On Sunday morning, Paynesville faced the defending champs from Windom in the semi-finals at Halenbeck Hall. Down by three points with a minute to go in the game, Paynesville had a couple of clutch steals and excellent free throw shooting to pull out a 43-39 win and a trip to the championship game.

Annandale proved to be a worthy opponent and the championship game turned into a very close and exciting game. The Bulldogs led by one at the end of the first quarter and the game was tied 21-21 at halftime. By the end of the third quarter, Paynesville held a four- point lead. Even as late as two and a half minutes left in the game, the Bulldogs held the lead, but a crucial three-pointer by the Cardinals and clutch free throw shooting pushed them to the lead and a 50-46 victory over Paynesville.

The team was aided in the tournament by strong ball handling from Andrew Jones in important situations and good hustle from Scott Ingalsbe.

J.T. Koehn led the team in scoring, averaging 18.3 points per game, including a team leading five three-pointers.

After the championship game, the team lined up and received silver medals for their efforts. The Bulldogs were coached by Matt and Steve Koehn.

Consolation champs
The weekend before the Star of the North, the Paynesville eighth grade basketball team competed in the Minnesota Pacesetters Invitational Tournament in St. Cloud.

The Bulldogs earned a berth in the tournament by taking second place in the Region 5 Tournament in March.

Paynesville began the tournament in a slow fashion with a 51-39 loss to Kenyon. The Bulldogs were led by 12 points from J.T. Koehn and 10 points from Adam Gifford.

In the consolation round, Paynesville came back to beat Bemidji 47-38 behind 14 points from Koehn and 12 points from T.J. Schultz. They then defeated Yellow Medicine East 38-37 behind 11 points from Schultz and nine from Gifford to receive the consolation trophy.

Team members were Koehn, Schultz, Gifford, Trevor Schmitz, Brian Stelling, Nathan Martinson, Logan Louis, Clayton Lang, and Davis Hoekstra. They were coached by Dave Randgaard.

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