Archive for Jared Martinson

Trey Longstreet2

Delano’s Longstreet chooses basketball, commits to Northern State

The decision wasn’t always set in stone.

Delano senior and two-sport star Trey Longstreet was 50-50 on the choice he had to make between college football at the Division I level and basketball in Division II. He’ll be at Northern State University next season after announcing his commitment to coach Saul Phillips and the hoops program on Twitter Nov. 8.

Last summer, Longstreet’s first big football scholarship offer came in from Iowa State. Mid-majors like South Dakota State, Wyoming, and North Dakota State were all in contact with him, as well.

“It was not an easy choice because the looks I got in football were pretty hard to turn down,” Longstreet said. “But to play at that level you need to really love the sport and I loved basketball more than football.”

If you’re good enough, the right program will usually find you, but playing for a perennial postseason contender at Delano under head coach Terry Techam didn’t hurt. The Tigers won the state championship in 2018 and were headed to the Target Center again in 2020 before the pandemic shut it down — tallying a 25-4 record, a No. 7 Class 3A ranking and a second-place finish in the Wright County East.

Longstreet also had lots of visibility to college coaches while playing for the Minnesota Heat in the spring and summer, led by University of St. Thomas coach John Tauer. A handful of Longstreet’s Heat teammates have also accepted basketball scholarship offers.

“Both my high school and AAU coaches have been a huge help to me,” Longstreet said. “They have helped me grow as a player on the court and a kid off the court.”

Delano coach Terry Techam oversaw Longstreet’s development from a gangly 6-foot-4 freshman wing to a strong 6-foot-7 senior centerpiece and knows his presence in the program will be hard to replace.

“You don’t have a 6-foot-7 point guard in high school basketball,” Techam said. “The biggest thing we will miss is Tre’s energy and enthusiasm to make our team the best it can be.”

Longstreet added that he was talking to a number of other Northern Sun schools like Bemidji State and Southwest Minnesota State, and St. Thomas had reached out about a possible preferred walk-on opportunity (the Tommies are making the jump from Division 3 to Division 1 in 2021-22).

So why Northern State? There are plenty of reasons on paper. The Wolves have won three straight NSIC overall and tournament titles, including a historic 36-4 season in 2017-18 that resulted in a Division 2 national championship runner-up finish.

Wolves head man Saul Phillips is entering his second season at the helm for NSU. Phillips was the coach at Ohio University and North Dakota State University prior to arriving in Aberdeen.

There are four other Minnesota high school graduates are rostered at NSU: Andrew Kallman of Chaska, Tommy Chatman of Park Center, Jordan Belka of Rogers and Parker Fox of Mahtomedi.

“The biggest thing was the coaching staff,” Longstreet said. “I loved everything about the coaches. Another big aspect to my decision was the players. All the guys were super nice and I really enjoyed spending time with them on my visit.”

Northern State has led NCAA Division II in men’s basketball attendance all but one season since 2005-06. COVID-19 could get in the way of that trend moving forward, but it’s no secret the fans in Aberdeen show up.

“The final thing is the community of Aberdeen,” Longstreet said. “Just hearing what the atmosphere of the games is like and the support of the basketball program really caught my attention.”

Longstreet miss every aspect of his high school hoops experience ­— playing with lifelong friends, working with Techam and even the 5 a.m. Saturday practices.

“That’s something you probably won’t hear from most Delano basketball players, but after waking up at five in the morning for practices for four years you start to get used to it and I’m definitely going to miss it,” he said.

Longstreet and the Tigers are scheduled to tip off the 2020-21 season Dec. 11 against Big Lake. He will have the ball in his hands often as the primary playmaker, but Techam believes there’s much more to Longstreet’s game than being the center of on-court attention.

“Trey never worries about stats,” Techam said. “His one and only goal is for the team to be successful. He is only going to continue to improve, and NSU got a great basketball player, but an even better person.”

PREP FOOTBALL: Delano closes out shortened season in loss to Princeton

The Delano Tigers have had as much of a rollercoaster fall 2020 as any team in the state.

A full-team quarantine after the Tigers’ season opener against Willmar kept them out of play for two weeks. Beating Big Lake and losing to Rocori in consecutive weeks felt like a nudge back toward normalcy in the schedule. Then Sauk Rapids-Rice cancelled their matchup with Delano Nov. 11, leaving the Tigers to wait for just their fourth game in 41 days, a 30-12 loss to Princeton on the road in the Section 6AAAA semifinals Nov. 20. They did not escape quarantine unscathed either, missing multiple players that hurt their depth.

A fast start for Delano offensively on a first-drive Cade Bruett touchdown pass gave some hope that they’d find a rhythm after another two weeks off. Princeton answered right away with a deep connection score of their own, and the score was 7-6 Princeton in less than two minutes.

After that, Delano struggled to string together first downs. A couple first-half turnovers allowed Princeton to maintain advantageous field position, including a fumble recovery in the Delano end zone for a touchdown. The lack of time on the field together this season played a role in the outcome, but Delano coach Merrill Pavlovich knows that he’s also got a young team, including his sophomore quarterback Bruett — a 6-foot-3 physical specimen who played just his fourth career varsity game against a one-loss, athletic Princeton team.

“It’s been up and down, we haven’t had a full squad since day one,” Pavlovich said postgame. “Tonight we got beat by a better team, no question about it.”

The on-again, off-again style forced upon teams like Delano this season is a hard pill to swallow when there could have been a much different outcome in a normal full-length schedule. The Tigers were State Tournament representatives in 2018 and 2019. The path to more games was tough with the entire team out of commission for two weeks and few teams in Delano’s relative geographic area in need of another contest.

“Our seniors have worked really hard to get here,” Pavlovich said. “We haven’t lost the section in 3 years. But our depth and inexperience showed tonight against a better team.”

Bright spots in the final game before the state-wide high school sports pause included Mike Krueger, a junior wide receiver, who caught a handful of quick passes to move the chains throughout the night and scored a touchdown late to finish the game on a positive offensive note. Bruett threw three interceptions, but has a strong lefty arm that is sure to become more accurate in the next couple years. Senior wide receiver/safety Trey Longstreet grabbed an interception in the first half on defense as well.

Delano concludes the season with a 1-3 record, a total that just looks very out of place based on historical competitiveness and the fact that a four-game season is hard to picture in any scenario. Next year, hopefully, will be more reliable — and the Tigers return many players who got good experience in a challenging 2020.


PREP VOLLEYBALL: W-M dispatches Litchfield in a sweep, wins Wright County West outright

WATERTOWN — Watertown-Mayer coach Andrea Raser wasn’t very happy with the laundry list of mistakes her team gave to Litchfield in their first meeting earlier this week. A 3-0 clear-out of the Dragons in the home gym Nov. 19 was a much better indicator of the now 11-0 Royals, who will finish out the shortened regular season against Mound-Westonka Nov. 20.

“You give a team 47 points and you still win, imagine what happens when you really play ball,” Raser said after the game.

Both teams were energized Thursday night, a fraction of it likely due to the new COVID-19 restrictions set Wednesday that will end the volleyball season after this Friday night. W-M knocked off Litchfield 3-1 Nov. 16 in a tighter match than the set scores showed. They responded with a sweep (25-22, 25-17, 25-19) of the rematch in dominating fashion.

The race to 10 points in each set was close, and then the Royals front line and outside hitters started to warm up. Paige Thibault had three separate cannon shots for kills on the left side that kept up the pressure all night and Mallory Czinano had a versatile game at middle blocker. In the middle of set two, it looked like Litchfield was going on a big run to take the lead. A 5-0 burst from the Royals during a couple incredibly long and effort-filled volleys crumpled the comeback. W-M rolled in set three 25-19 to finish it off with another solid offensive performance.

“It wasn’t just the players on the court,” Raser said. “It was everyone on the bench, as a team.”

With a clear-cut Wright County West conference win in the bag, Friday’s match against Mound-Westonka, which Raser said will hopefully be in the newly reduxed main gym, is the final step toward a perfect season.

“The best thing we can do without playoffs now is go for an undefeated season,” she said. “How many teams get to say that at the end?”

Paige Thibault led the way with 15 kills and a hit percentage of .364, while Mallory Czinano and Ashley Olson each added six kills. Libby Burns and Kate Thibault combined for 30 digs and made some spectacular diving saves throughout. Natalie Ernhart orchestrated the offense with 31 assists. Once again, every dressed player got in the game, and every senior was able to start on their Senior Night.

SECTION 4A FOOTBALL: Bulldogs overcome sloppy play to beat Parkers Prairie in Section 4A

Flags were present as the Star-Spangled Banner played over the loudspeakers at Lester Prairie Bulldog Field, and flags were present throughout the rest of the game too.

Lester Prairie held off section foe Parkers Prairie 22-14 to advance in the 4A football playoffs despite a bevy of holding calls and stagnant second half ball movement. The Bulldog offense put up all of its points in the first half and were given a scare in the final minute as the Panthers tried to mount a last-second comeback.

“I’m happy that we won, we’ve got to keep that in perspective,” head coach Joe Scoblic said after the game. “But we can’t get shut down in the second half.”

It seemed as if the halftime score of 22-0 would expand as the game wore on. Lester Prairie quarterback Zach Jackson threw two touchdown passes to wide receiver Jack Behning, and then a recovered fumble on the ensuing kickoff gave the Bulldogs excellent field position to capitalize. Capitalize they did, with a Logan Lambrecht one-yard score, and the momentum in their favor by the second quarter buzzer.

The script was flipped in the third quarter. The physicality of the Parkers Prairie front line combined with more offensive penalties proved to be the kryptonite of the Lester Prairie offense. A 48-yard touchdown sprint by Panther quarterback Brendan Johnson cut the lead to 22-6.

Lester Prairie’s defense took some gashes in the fourth quarter on the ground and in the short pass game, which led to a Cole Gesell catch-and-run to the end zone with less than a minute to go, making the score 22-14. The Bulldogs got out of the jam, however, recovering the onside kick easily and kneeling out the rest of the clock.

Lester Prairie adds another win to the resume, now 6-1, and tentatively advances to the section semifinals, scheduled to travel to Browerville-Eagle Valley Saturday afternoon. The rest of the season is up in the air, though, with Minnesota Governor Tim Walz set to speak Wednesday on the fate of fall and winter sports. Whether the playoffs continue or not, Scoblic is happy with his team’s performance this season — outscoring opponents 187-85 in seven games and finishing seventh in the latest Class 1A poll, while losing top running back Tanner Scheevel to a broken foot in early November.

“When you’re 6-1, you feel good,” Scoblic said. “We lost to our rival, but it is what it is. We had to get fired up, out of this Scheevel hangover, and we’re still getting through that.”

Jackson was 13-19 for 147 yards and two touchdowns and Jack Behning caught seven passes for 86 yards and both scores. Jackson, Lambrecht and Gavin Eckstein combined for 104 rushing yards on the night.

PREP VOLLEYBALL: Chargers drop three-set match to New London-Spicer

COKATO — A pair of victories last week boosted the spirits of the Dassel-Cokato volleyball team, but they couldn’t quite turn it into a winning streak. The Chargers fell to New London-Spicer on Senior Night 3-0 (25-14, 25-21, 25-20).

As we’ve seen many times so far this season, D-C kept up with the opponent in the early goings, tying up the score 9-9 on an Evelyn O’Brien kill. From there, NLS took over, a 16-5 run clinching the first set.

The through line of the Charger season has been working on clean handling of digs to kickstart the offense. That process improved as the second set wore on, a 17-11 Wildcat lead flipped into a 19-17 D-C lead thanks to a Zoe Verhey kill that sparked the run. Holding onto that advantage was short-lived, as NLS went 8-2 the rest of the way for a 25-21 win and a 2-0 lead.

Verhey continued her offensive barrage on the outside keeping D-C close — the Chargers trailed 12-11 in the middle of the third frame, but ran out of gas late, falling behind 20-15 and eventually by a final score of 25-20.

Dassel-Cokato is slated to finish the regular season on the road against NLS Thursday and Glencoe-Silver Lake next Tuesday.

PREP VOLLEYBALL: Chargers get first win thanks to multiple comebacks, beat HLWW 3-2

In a battle of winless (albeit tough) Wright County West teams, the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted gym was loud and energetic Monday night. Dassel-Cokato scored a come-from-behind victory over HLWW Nov. 9 in five entertaining sets (12-25, 25-22, 21-25, 25-20, 15-7).

Both squads had been through a gauntlet of conference play already and Monday’s matchup meant someone was finally going to put a mark in the win column. HLWW got off to a quick start in the first set and things seemed to be getting out of hand fast, with the Lakers taking the opening frame 25-12 and a 1-0 lead. Every time the Chargers strung together a couple positives, the Lakers answered with more.

The next game was a bit different. D-C kept a few points ahead most of the way, then broke an 18-18 tie with a strong 25-22 finish to even things up at 1-1.

The defense of HLWW junior Jenna Pelnis shined in the middle of the match. Her diving digs forced long volleys that tired out the Chargers by the end of the third set, a 25-21 win. Freshman middle hitter Alexis Koch put pressure on the Chargers’ front line.

But the visitors were not to be run out of the gym. The momentum shifted with big kills from Evelyn O’Brien and Lauren Abfalter, an 18-12 lead spurring confidence and energy for another comeback. A few unforced errors made it 23-20, but D-C finished it out on an ace 25-20.

It was the first time HLWW had gone to a deciding fifth set, and the first time in a month for D-C (the season opener against Glencoe-Silver Lake). The momentum stayed on the Charger side, a 5-1 burst out of the gate all but sealing the cushion needed to finish the match. Junior Zoe Verhey came up big with kills up front to clinch the win 15-7.

The rematch takes place Thursday, Nov. 12 at Dassel-Cokato.

For the complete story and more Herald Journal sports coverage, check out the Friday, Nov. 13 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information. 

Follow Jared Martinson on Twitter @JaredNHR for in-game updates, schedule changes, and more.