Archive for Kip Kovar

Czinano’s monster year, leadership net her Herald Journal Girls Basketball Player of The Year

WATERTOWN – There are only so many things in life that are guaranteed. Watertown-Mayer’s Monika Czinano getting a double-double in a basketball game is close on that list.

The senior center and Iowa commit dominated all season, and thus is the Herald Journal Girls Basketball Player of the Year for the 2017-2018 season.

With a dominant season and being a true role model and great teammate, Watertown-Mayer’s Monika Czinano is the Herald Journal Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

With a dominant season and being a true role model and great teammate, Watertown-Mayer’s Monika Czinano is the Herald Journal Girls Basketball Player of the Year.


Czinano, who scored her 1,000th career point in the first game of the season, only got better as the season went on. She finished the year averaging a double-double with 23 points per game, and 14 rebounds per game.

Not only can Czinano score at will at times, she’s also improved dramatically as a passer. When Czinano gets doubled in the post, which is fairly often, she’s got the ability and wit to pass it out to her teammates for good looks. Czinano tallied 41 assists this season, while also being second on the team in steals with 44.

Czinano helped lead the Royals to back-to-back conference titles this season, was an All-State selection for Class AA, and a Miss Minnesota Basketball finalist. She’s also a three-time All-Conference selection, and finishes her career with 1,643 career points.

“Monika was truly a dominant player on the basketball court this year,” W-M coach John Rosholt said. “She faced a number of highly touted post players this season and Monika outplayed each and every one.   The post position in girls basketball is a very physical position where talented players like Monika take a pounding each and every game. In addition to the physicality of the position, Monika played some mind-boggling minutes this season.  She met these physical challenges with resolute determination  which involved an awe-inspiring mental toughness on Monika’s part.

“Most importantly,  Monika demonstrated great leadership this season both on and off the floor. She was a remarkable role model this season and an incredible positive influence on her teammates, fans and coaches. Her demeanor on the court was consistently positive and even-tempered. She gained a tremendous amount of respect from coaches, fans, and officials by the way she carried herself on the floor. Monika deserves the many post-season accolades, not so much for the stats and numbers that she put up this season, but by modeling how the game should be played.”

2017-2018 Herald Journal All-Area Girls Basketball Second Team

The 2017-2018 girls basketball season in the area was one to remember. Whether it was great games, or players reaching a career milestone, the season was filled with many moments to remember. Although none of the four local teams reached the state tournament this season, there was still plenty of talent on display in the local gyms.

Below is a look at the Herald Journal All-Area Girls Basketball Second Team.



While Maggie Czinano saw some time during the Royals’ state tournament run last season, few expected her to make the huge step forward this season that she did.

All season long, Czinano was a huge part of the Royals’ success, helping them clinch back-to-back Wright County Conference West titles.

The moment was never too big for the freshman guard. Against New London-Spicer, Czinano hit the game-winner for the Royals, going coast-to-coast for the huge win.

On the season, Czinano averaged 9.8 points a game, and will be a huge piece for the Royals for the next three seasons going forward.

“It’s a steep learning curve for any freshman starting at the varsity level in a team sport and it was no different for Maggie this season,” Watertown-Mayer coach John Rosholt said.    “She met the challenges of her first full season with grace and determination and in the end, exceeded all expectations.  Maggie gained confidence as the season progressed, and finished the season with an enhanced understanding of the game of basketball and the mental toughness needed to perform at a consistently high level.”



There’s one player that made the offense go for the Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity girls basketball team this season. That player is Jenna Dolezal.

Despite missing some time in the season, Dolezal was one of key players for the Bulldogs all season. Whether it was getting the fast break going, slicing and dicing through the lane, or guarding some of the opponent’s top players, Dolezal was a key piece to all of that.

Dolezal’s ability to get through the paint and start the fast break was key for the Bulldogs all season long. While she was out, the Bulldogs struggled with the rhythm of their offense.



When the Royals needed a big shot, it seemed that senior Emma Maas was always able to deliver. She led the team in made 3-pointers (38), and averaged 6.8 points per game this season for the Royals.

Maas was much more than a plain old shooter though. She averaged 2.3 assists per game, and also racked up 44 steals this season.

“Emma was one of two players on this year’s team who really put in the time and effort after practice to improve her game,” Rosholt said.  “She consistently stayed after practice working on her basketball skills.  That effort and extra work paid off as she demonstrated why she was one of the most improved players on the floor this season.  In addition to her ball skills, Emma is a great defender.  Emma’s high basketball IQ coupled with her athleticism and determined attitude produces a very tenacious defender.”



With Madi Radtke, Hope Feltmann, and Steph Lohse gone from last year’s team, it was time for Weinzierl to step up.

Weinzierl gave the Bulldogs a nice presence inside this season. Her ability to run the floor and get out in transition made her a tough stop for opposing teams.

She had her ups and downs this season for the Bulldogs, but overall, Weinzierl was one of the top scorers for the Bulldogs leading them on e a run to the Section 4A semifinals this year as the No. 6 seed.



When healthy, senior Lily DeBoer showed what she could do. What could she do? Try everything.

Whatever the Lakers needed, DeBoer gave them. Whether it was scoring, rebounding, steals, assists, or anything else, DeBoer simply had a knack for making plays this season.

DeBoer averaged 8 points per game, and 8.4 rebounds, per game. She also had 72 assists this season, to go along with 37 blocks and 62 steals.

“Lily was our backbone for our team,” HLWW coach Rick Baumann said. “She did all the little things to help our team be successful, and filled up the stat sheet on a nightly basis in several different areas. She guarded the other team’s leading scorer, whoever that was. Whether it was a point guard or a post player, and did a great job all season long for us. When teams took Alexa (Schumann) and CJ (Decker) away, Lily stepped up and scored for us or locked in defensively to give our team a chance to win. She did all this without complaining, and as a senior showing great leadership for our younger players. She also had six double-doubles, and extended her range this year on offense, being a 3-point threat for us.”

2017-2018 Herald Journal All-Area Girls Basketball First Team

The 2017-2018 girls basketball season in the area was one to remember. Whether it was great games, or players reaching a career milestone, the season was filled with many moments to remember. Although none of the four local teams reached the state tournament this season, there was still plenty of talent on display in the local gyms.

Below is a look at the Herald Journal All-Area Girls Basketball First Team.



Chmielewski’s goal of reaching the state tournament came up just short, but there’s no doubt she left a legacy at Mayer Lutheran. When it’s all said and done, Chmielewski stands alone near the top in the Mayer Lutheran girls basketball program.

Chmielewski ends her career at Mayer Lutheran as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,503 career points. She also holds the school record for career steals with 396.

She helped lead the Crusaders to a 19-10 record this season, and a trip to the Section 4A title game.

In her career, Chmielewski was a four- time All-Conference selection, and averaged 16 points per game this season. She was also selected to play in the Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches All Star Series Saturday, April 7 in Northfield. In addition, Chmielewski was named All-State honorable mention for Class A for the first time in her career.

“Mya is an incredibly hard worker who is dedicated to continuous improvement,” Mayer Lutheran coach Kris Gustin said.  “She has worked very hard at improving her outside shot over her high school career. Her willingness to be a point guard – arguably not her best position –  this year is a statement to the type of person she is. She’s willing to serve others through her personal sacrifice. Her work ethic set a great example for all of those in our program.”

Chmielewski will continue her basketball career at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa next year.



Hucky was the other half of the dynamic duo for the Crusaders this season. She’s one of the best pure shooters in the area, and finished second on the list of the school’s all-time leading scorers with 1,406 career points.

In her senior year, Hucky averaged 16.6 points and 2.6 assists per game. Over the course of her career, Hucky has been named All-Conference three times, and was named All-State honorable mention for Class A.

Hucky has a knack for scoring. Whether it’s shooting the three, or pulling up with her patent jump shot, Hucky was a true scorer.

“Maddy has one of the purest shots I have ever coached,” Gustin said. “Her ability to stop on a dime and shoot a pull-up jumper is difficult for teams to defend, especially given her height and length. Her uncanny ability to knock down shots from the outside was a large part of her team’s success, stretching the defense for her teammates.  Her anticipation defensively helped our pressure defense be successful.”

Upon graduation, Hucky will play volleyball at St. Cloud State University. Hucky was a huge part of the MLHS volleyball team that won its second-straight state title earlier this fall.



There’s no player in the area who took a bigger step forward than Schumann this season. After the Lakers won just three games a season ago, Schumann’s ability to take over a game inside helped lead the Lakers to a much more successful season this year with 11 wins.

Schumann was the team’s leading scorer at 15.7 points per game. She also nearly averaged a double-double while grabbing 8.8 rebounds per game.

“Alexa was a force in the paint for us all year,” HLWW coach Rick Baumann said. “She took games over for us, and when teams doubled her, she would not force things and would pass the ball to her teammates and crashed the boards hard. She was a force in the middle on both ends of the floor for us scoring, rebounding and blocking shots for us on defense. She had a career-high and season-high 33 points in the win against Spectrum. She had 12 double-doubles for us this year, and capped it off with a 27-point, 20-rebound game against Waterville-Elysian Morristown where she also hit the game-winning shot for us in overtime with six seconds left in the game.”



Decker was another big piece for the Lakers that helped them take a big step forward. When the Lakers needed a big bucket or big play, Decker was there to deliver.

In the HLWW holiday tournament, Decker showed off her ability to come through in the clutch. She knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to overtime, where the Lakers later held on for the win.

Decker averaged 13.5 points per game this season, as well as dishing out 107 assists.

“CJ is a coach on the floor,” Baumann said. “She helps get teammates in the right places and identifies defenses really well. She makes her teammates around her better, by getting them the ball at the right time. She is an unselfish player who puts the team and others before herself. This is her fourth year on the varsity. She is a great player with an even better attitude and a great role model for all the players in our program. She played in 26 games this year and has been a very durable player her entire career.”



Forced to step up this season after the Bulldogs lost some key players from a season ago, Radtke delivered. Despite being just a freshman, Radtke was one of the most consistent scorers for the Bulldogs this season. She showed she’s capable of scoring against some of the top teams in the state, as well. Against Maranatha Christian, Radtke knocked down five 3-pointers and finished with 22 points as LP/HT gave the Mustangs a good fight.

Open letter to the Mayer Lutheran boys basketball team

Dear Mayer Lutheran boys basketball team,

When I enrolled at Winona State University in the spring of 2011, I wasn’t 100 percent sure of what I wanted to do. After switching around between a few majors, I finally decided to settle on journalism for a career. I fell in love with the idea of getting to know people, and being able to tell their stories. It’s a special feeling to be able to capture a moment and put it into words. Combine that with sports, and it was a no-brainer.

During my first true journalism class, my professor stressed the idea of being unbiased, and keeping your personal thoughts and opinions out of the story. I’d like to think I’ve done a good job of that in my two-plus years in this field thus far, but this year it was tough.

As an alumni of Mayer Lutheran, who just so happened to play basketball there as well, it was very tough to try and stay neutral about this team. It wasn’t just hard because Mayer Lutheran is my alma matter, it was tough because I knew a good chunk of the kids on the team on a personal level.

Whether it was running the summer camps for youth players as a member of the varsity team, or just helping out with the Knights program on weekends when I had the time, I got to be around these kids when they were at a young age. Watching these kids develop into good basketball players, and even better people, was something truly special.

It’s Cole Hagen and Baden Noennig. Both were just young boys hanging around at the summer basketball camps. It was working with them on the little things that make the differences in games. I’d like to say that my coaching was a big reason for the success those two had, but we all know that’s not true. They’ve had the talent all along, and now the whole state got to see what they could do.

Cole, when you hit that shot to beat the buzzer to beat Springfield in the Section 2A title game, you gave me a memory, and a moment, that I will never forget. From watching you as just a kid and working with you at summer camps, to sending your team to the state tournament for the first time since 2000, it’s something I’ll never forget. It’s even a better moment knowing everything you’ve gone through this season in your final season in a Crusader uniform. Congrats, Cole. Congrats on a great career, and becoming an even better man.

Baden, the sky is the limit for you, young man. Keep your head down, work hard, and most of all, be yourself. I’m looking forward to one more year covering you in red and black. The coaches in the Minnesota River Conference will be glad you’re gone after next year.

It’s Branden Carlson and Matthew Menth.  We go way back to the Zion Mayer days. Whether it was you two coming to all our games during my career, or the careers and legacy the two of you have both left,  at Zion, and now at Mayer Lutheran. I couldn’t be more proud to see those two guys who work so hard in everything they do. You two do it the right way, and it’s been a pleasure to watch the two of you grow as athletes and people.

It’s Kobey Woolhouse and Garrett Tjernagel. During spring break of my freshman year in college, I got a text asking if I wanted to come and help coach some seventh and eighth-graders over weekend. Loving the game of basketball, the choice was an easy one. Woolhouse and Tjernagel were both on that team that weekend, and it was only just a couple of tournaments, but I knew if those two stuck it out and worked hard, they could do something special. I wasn’t wrong about that. Congrats to both of you on fantastic careers at Mayer Lutheran. The future is bright for both of you, wherever life takes you.

It’s been an incredible season. I know the goal of a state title came up a bit short, but take a look back on what you accomplished this season.

29 wins – A school record.

Third place Class A State Tournament – Best season in program history.

Those two things are nice, but take this from a guy who still gets goosebumps every time he walks into a gym before a game. Take it from a guy who’s been out of high school for seven years and still wishes for just one more game with his brothers. Remember the little things about this team. Remember the laughs. Remember the good times. Remember the bad times. That’s what matters.

It’s Coach Pat Buchanan. When I first interviewed you for a story about the coaching change, I could tell you were something special. You won me over when you said that you’ll make them play defense.  This was a talented group who just needed the right guy to get them over the hump. There’s no doubt that was you. Congrats on a fantastic season, and I truly thank you for everything this season. As a journalist who covered your team, and as alumni who spent many years (and blood, for that matter) in this program.

Despite playing on two really good teams in my career, I never got the experience of playing in the state tournament. In fact, my playoff career was pretty much the opposite of what you boys accomplished this season. My junior year, we lost in the sub-section semifinals in a battle against Sibley East. My senior year, we lost on a shot at the buzzer that was eerily similar to Cole’s shot.

I won more than 60 games in my high school career. A lot of them felt really good, and there’s plenty I remember to this day. No game in Mayer Lutheran history will top knocking off Springfield at the buzzer, and I wasn’t even on the team. I think I speak for a lot of former players in this program by saying thank you. Thank you for representing Mayer Lutheran on the state’s biggest stage.

Congrats on an incredible season, and to the six seniors, congrats on great careers. You made history. You’ve left a legacy, and have taken this program to where it has never been before. Thanks for letting me be part of the ride.

Go Crusaders.




#35 (Class of 2011)

LEAVING A LEGACY: Crusaders cap off historical season with win over Panthers

ST. PAUL – When you think of Mayer Lutheran boys basketball, the 2017-2018 season will now stand alone. After suffering a tough loss in the Class A semifinals, the Crusaders came back less than 24 hours later and completed their incredible season with a 67-51 victory over Cass Lake-Bena Saturday morning in the Class A third-place game.

“We wanted to do that,” Mayer Lutheran coach Pat Buchanan said. “We know that we didn’t represent ourselves yesterday. We wanted to bounce back and do what we can. We did. That feels good.”

With a quick turnaround after a tough loss the day before, the Crusaders struggled a bit out of the gate. After taking an early lead, a run by the Panthers gave them a 20-17 lead with just under eight minutes to go in the first half. That’s when the Crusaders got back to their style, and took over the game. Instead of letting the Panthers hang around like they did last time the two teams faced, the Crusaders got back to playing Mayer Lutheran basketball.

“Once we settle in, we can really do our thing,” Buchanan said. “We started to take off. We wanted them from the first time we stepped into the state tournament. We had the opportunity to play them, and now we understand who’s the better team.”

“We knew we had another game to play,” Kobey Woolhouse said. “Yeah, it was kind of sad last night, but we came out today. I had a blast. I’m glad we played the way we did.”

While it wasn’t easy, junior Sawyer Kubasch gave the Crusaders a nice spark off the bench. With senior Garrett Tjernagel picking up three quick fouls, Kubasch came in ready to play and didn’t disappoint. Kubasch finished with six points on 2-for-2 shooting, while also grabbing two rebounds.

“He was a professional,” Buchanan said. “For him to not play, and then be ready to play, that’s class. That’s character. I always tell guys that you never know when your number will be called. His number was called, and he stepped up big.”

With the Crusaders up comfortably with just a few minutes to go, the Mayer Lutheran faithful could sense victory. While Buchanan has preached family all season long with his team, it was the fans who brought it all together with the signature clap of the Crusaders.

“That felt good,” Buchanan said about the fans starting the clap. “We are a family. To have that support behind us, we’ve had that all year long. I looked at the stands early in the game and said this is going to feel like a home game. It did for us with our community out there. Those fans are the best fans in Minnesota.”

With the win, the Crusaders cap off the best season in program history. They won 29 games and brought home a third-place finish at the Class A state tournament, while leaving a legacy behind in the process.

“No one can take it from us,” Buchanan said. “We created a legacy. This whole season we created a legacy. That legacy is going to be talked about for many years.”

While the careers end for six seniors on a high note, Noennig, a junior, will always remember the ride this season was, and forever be thankful for the group of seniors.

“It’s so great,” Noennig said. “We created a legacy. It’s so crazy. I’ve never finished a season on a win. It’s such a great moment. I’m going to miss the seniors. I just can’t believe it. They took me in as a freshman when I was scared on varsity. They brought me in. They made me feel like family. I just love those guys to death. I’m going to miss them so much.”


Mayer Lutheran 67, Cass Lake-Bena 51

PANTHERS: 27;24;–51

CRUSADERS: 31;36;–67

CASS LAKE-BENA: Noah DeLapaz 25, Ethan Brown 4, Arnold Kingbird 3, Jarell Jacobs 7, Raul Washington 2, Miguel Reyes 2, Jared Brown 3, Michael Reves 3, Colton Mitchell 2.

MAYER LUTHERAN: Branden Carlson 3, Kobey Woolhouse 16, Matt Menth 4, Garrett Tjernagel 16, Baden Noennig 12, Brendan Feltmann 4, Cole Hagen 6, Sawyer Kubasch 6.




STATE BOYS BASKETBALL: R-T-R stifles Crusader offense in Class A semifinals

MINNEAPOLIS – The Russell-Tyler-Ruthton Knights came into their matchup with the top-seeded Mayer Lutheran Crusaders with a plan. They executed that plan to perfection.

“We did a great job of executing what we wanted to do defensively,” R-T-R coach Ted Kern said. “(We) pressured the ball up top, and played physical ball down low. That’s really the only way we could have competed with their size.”

Despite having the advantage inside with their size, the Knights gave Mayer Lutheran fits all game long with their pressure defense.

Despite having the advantage inside with their size, the Knights gave Mayer Lutheran fits all game long with their pressure defense.

The Knights (31-1) did more than just competed. Their defensive pressure gave the Crusaders fits all game long, as the Knights held off a late rally for a 49-38 in the Class A semifinals Friday afternoon at Target Center.

“R-T-R is a great team,” Mayer Lutheran coach Pat Buchanan said. “A lot of credit to them. They did a lot of things to stagnate our offense and slow us down of what we like to do. My hats off to R-T-R and those young men over there.”

The Crusaders (28-4) shot just 26 percent (16-for-55) from the field, as the Knights came out swinging from the start with their suffocating defense. The Knights opened the game on a 16-1 run, and held the Crusaders without a field goal until the 7:41 mark of the first half.

“It was really frustrating,” junior Baden Noennig said.” Like coach said, we never stopped working. We kept going through it. We knew that eventually they’d start dropping but, I mean they didn’t really. We fought our best, and hats off to R-T-R.”

The Crusaders have had rough starts to games throughout the season on their way to reaching the Class A state tournament, but they’ve usually found a way to turn things around in the final 18 minutes.

“We’ve been in a lot of games like that where first half shots don’t drop,” Garrett Tjernagel said. “We’ve just played through that, and the second half they’ve always started to drop. I just believed in that and kept playing through that.”

Senior Branden Carlson tries to settle things down and get the offense rolling for the Crusaders.

Senior Branden Carlson tries to settle things down and get the offense rolling for the Crusaders.

Despite trailing by 15 at the half and converting only five field goals, the Crusaders continued to fight. Noennig scored back-to-back buckets to open the second half as the Crusaders tried to take advantage of their size inside.

“We’re resilient,” Buchanan said. “We’ve been like that all year long. They showed it out there. We’re never going to quit. We’re going to fight.”

A coast-to-coast layup from Noennig brought the Crusaders within four with just under three minutes to go, but the Knights settled down, knocked down clutch free throws down the stretch, and held on for the win.

“They’re a hard-working team,” Tjernagel said. “Playing a team like that, it’s something you don’t see every day. It’s something that you can teach, but a lot of that is just natural, and on top of that is just good coaching.”

While the ultimate goal of a state title is no longer there for Mayer Lutheran, those six seniors on this year’s team will be looking to be one of the few teams that can cap off their season with a win, and still make school history in the process.

“Not many people get to say they got to end their high school career on a win,” Woolhouse said. “That’s what we’re going to try to do tomorrow.”

Whatever happens tomorrow for the Crusaders in their third-place game against Cass Lake-Bena, won’t change how special of a season this was for them. Woolhouse wouldn’t trade this season, and his new coach, for anything in the world. The two built a life-time relationship that goes well beyond the game of basketball in just one season together.

“When I first met coach,  I kind of knew this was going to be a great year,” an emotional Woolhouse said. “In four months, it kind of flashed right before my eyes. I try to not to take any moment for granted. He came in and changed our culture. We were a very offensive-minded team, and he turned us around with our defense. That’s what got us to this point. He made us want to make that hustle play. The diving play. I know that I don’t want the season to end. All good things got come to an end at some point. I’ll definitely keep in touch with him. I’m just really glad that God placed him here when he did. He always preaches the family thing. I know I can come to these guys with anything. I wouldn’t trade this for the world. I know I can go to coach with anything. After high school and college, I know he’s got my back and I got his back. I’m just very happy with what he came in and did with our team.”

Mayer Lutheran and Cass Lake-Bena will play for the Class A third-place trophy Saturday, March 24 at 10 a.m. at Concordia St. Paul.