Archive for DEL Sports

PREP BASEBALL: Delano’s late rally comes up just short against Mound Westonka

DELANO –  Earlier on in the season, the defense for the Delano baseball team has been just fine. In their matchup with Mound Westonka Thursday afternoon, a pair of errors was just too much to overcome in a 4-3 loss to the White Hawks at Delano Municipal Baseball Park.

“Generally our defense has been pretty good,” Tigers coach Jeff Olson said. “It wasn’t perfect tonight, but it’s been pretty good. It’s all about getting better every single game and every practice. Mistakes are going to happen. It’s just trying to limit them and clean those up.”

It was a game the Tigers felt like they should have won. They outhit the White Hawks 7-5 but a slow start at the plate made things harder for Delano in the loss. In the first two innings, the Tigers left five runners on base including leaving them loaded in the bottom of the first.

“The main message was I just think we weren’t quite ready to go today at the plate,” Olson said. “We just didn’t come out and get after it the way we’re capable of. We just need to be ready from the first pitch. Every pitch could be the difference in the game whether it’s the first or the last. We’ve got to get ourselves in a little bit better frame of mind at the plate at the start of the game.”

After falling behind 2-0, the Tigers cut into the deficit in the bottom of the fifth. Back-to-back two-out doubles from Robbie Knights and Oran Hinkle brought Delano within one, but their second and final error of the game in the top of the seventh forced them to rally again.

After Delano left the tying run on third to end the bottom of the sixth, Mound Westonka added some insurance runs in the top half of the seventh. With the bases loaded and two out, the White Hawks got the clutch hit they needed as a single socred a pair to push their lead to 4-1.

Down by three in their final at-bat, Delano fought back once again. A leadoff double from David Dorsey had the Tigers in the business. After moving up to third on a passed ball, Dorsey came around to score on a sacrifice fly from Knight to bring Delano within two.

A walk by Hinkle followed by another sacrifice fly from Gunnar Paulson brought the Tigers within one, but the rally ended there as they left the tying run at third to end the game.

“That’s one of the bigger positives,” Olson said. “The guys showed a lot of fight. They gave it their all down by three. That shows a lot that they were able to keep fighting till the end no matter what.”

Delano falls to 1-2 on the season despite a strong performance from AJ Rasmussen on the mound. He went six innings, allowing just one earned run off two hits while striking out nine.

“He was outstanding,” Olson said. “He threw a great game. He did everything we needed to get a win but we just didn’t have enough offensive support for him. We’ll take outings like that from him every single time.”

Delano is back in action Friday when they host New Prague.

For the complete story and more Herald Journal sports coverage, check out the April 30 edition of the Delano Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.  Subscribers have full access to this article and more by clicking here. Subscriptions start as low as $1.50 for a two-day subscription, the same price as a newspaper on a newsstand.

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports 

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SECTION 5AAA BOYS BASKETBALL: Tigers’ playoff run cut short by Monticello

DELANO — Anything can happen in March.

Unfortunately, when the scintillating “anything” does happen, there’s a team left watching as their season comes to a close. The Delano boys basketball team fell to seventh-seeded Monticello at home Friday night 56-46 in the Section 5AAA championship game and were on the short end of that tagline.

Monticello’s defensive scheme of a box-and-one or triangle-and-two worked well, keeping Trey Longstreet and Will Strandemo at bay and forcing the Tiger depth to create and make shots.

For 18 minutes, they were in really solid shape; Longstreet had just two points at the break and Delano led 22-18 thanks to a buzzer-beating prayer from Michael Krueger. Carter Tool picked up some responsibility on offense, feeding the ball to the open man.

The Magic missed some close-range shots that were sure to turn around in the second frame, and that’s exactly what happened down the stretch.

“They’ve been playing really well lately. If you told me before the season they’d be a seven seed in the section,  I would say you’re crazy,” Delano coach Terry Techam said. ”I thought we were prepared for it, but we missed some shots and they hit a few really big ones.”

Monticello’s Carson Kolles caught fire, putting up a total of 26 points at the rim and from outside. Delano answered, cutting a six-point Magic lead down to one with two minutes left. Some near misses in the paint and a couple turnovers pushed the comeback out of reach, though, and Monticello’s lead was up to 10 in the final minute.

Delano’s starters came out of the game to a standing ovation and the seniors on the bench got their final game action until the buzzer sounded. It’s been anything but a normal year for a team that was already quite inexperienced at the varsity level when they took the floor in early January.

“With Trey as the only experienced returner and Levi Farniok going down four games in, if you told me we’d be the number one seed in the section I might not have believed you at the start of the season,” Techam said.

Longstreet’s decorated career comes to a close along with fellow seniors Tool, Ty Weiman, Colin Tolkkinen, Brock Zitzloff and Jack Norman, all of whom made the most of their time as a Tiger. The season can end so quickly, Techam wished they could get one more opportunity.

“They really worked hard. I just told them they were really fun to coach. They gave you everything they had, every single day,” he said. “There were no issues whatsoever; whatever role they were given, they were going to give their all to help the team win.”

Delano finishes the season with a record of 13-7 and will return varsity contributors in Krueger, Strandemo, Farniok and Trent Techam next year. That’s more experience to work with than this past offseason. Regardless, the Tigers proved in 2021 that they can reload with the best of Minnesota high school basketball.

SECTION CHAMPS: Tigers score five unanswered goals to claim Section 2A title

GOLDEN VALLEY – There was a time this season that things looked bleak for the Delano boys hockey team. In the middle of a four-game losing streak where they struggled to make winning plays, the Tigers leaned on each other.

Fast forward to Wednesday night and the Tigers were leaning on each other once again, but this with medals around their necks and pressing up against the boards as they clinched the Section 5A title with a 5-1 win over top-seeded Breck on their home ice.

“It’s something different,” senior captain Adam Brown said. “We’ve never experienced something like that before. Usually, we’re playing on a neutral site. To come in here and play Breck in their home rink, it’s a little scary but at the same time, you’re looking forward to it. We knew we could do it. It was fun.”

Despite playing well in the first period, Delano found themselves down a goal after one period. Instead of panic settling in during the first intermission, the Tigers made some minor tweaks that paid off big in the long run.

“We just kind of brought it back to the original plan and just reinforced to be patient,” Tigers coach Gerrit van Bergen said. “We just went over and made sure all five guys knew what we were trying to do. We felt like sort of rushed the puck and were not being patient in the offensive zone. We were sort of complacent or indecisive. We decided to switch it. We said let’s play extremely fast and extremely simple. In the offensive zone, let’s take a minute to make a play. Their goaltender is so good on square pucks. If he can see and knows where the shot is coming from, he’s not going to give up much. You’ve got to make him change directions.”

Delano did just that. Just under four minutes into the second period, Tyler Selstad refused to be denied as he punched one home to tie the game. After Selstad got Delano on the board, the Tigers were off and running at full speed.

“After the first, we knew we had some good chances and knew we could throw a few more in,” Brown said. “We just kept playing the way we were. We came out in the second period and popped one and they just kept coming.”

Just 50 seconds after Selstad tied the game, Gunnar Paulson continued his hot streak on a goal assisted by Trevor Oja and Craig Halonen to put Delano up 2-1.

“We thought we played awesome in the first period,” van Bergen said. “I thought the first period was one of best Class A periods I’ve had the chance to be a part of. We had some really good looks. We just couldn’t convert.”

Playing with the lead now after goals from Selstad and Paulson, Oja got in on the action himself. A goal right off the faceoff gave Delano a 3-1 lead and the Tigers never looked back.

“I think the guys are just super confident in each other,” van Bergen said. “It’s been a major theme for us. We need to do everything we can to make each other better. It’s been a pretty good theme for us. They guys really love that. They want to make each other better and they believe someone else is going to make them better. That’s been a big part of our progression.”

The Tigers would add on two more insurance goals in the third to seal the win. The final one coming from Brown on an empty net to send Delano back to the state tournament.

“It’s a blessing,” van Bergen said. “I’ve had the chance to be a part of this program basically my whole life. The years of not winning a playoff game or losing play-in games, these guys don’t always remember that, but that’s not lost on me for a second. As someone who’s had a chance to be a part of this program for a long time, these wins are just unbelievable. This year hasn’t been easy for anybody, but when you get a chance to watch your guys win a section title in Breck’s building it’s always good.”

“The boys were rolling and we were feeling really confident,” captain Jack Keranen said. “Breck is always the team that beat our brothers. It’s kind of fun to get revenge on them in their own barn.”

On the season, Delano is 3-0-1 against teams they lost to the first time. They’re also playing their best hockey at the right time as they are 10-0-1 in their past 11 games as they’ve turned things around from their rough stretch to open the season.

“They hate losing,” van Bergen said. “That’s what it comes down to. They hate losing. We as a coaching staff hate losing. We’ve really prioritized winning-style behaviors in practice. The guys have loved it. It fit well with what we all wanted to do. We’ve been working hard and creating situations in practice where we come from behind. Just teaching that went you get down, you’ve got to keep competing. Earlier in the year, when we got down, we didn’t know how to fight through it. Now, look at them.”

Wins over Armstrong/Cooper, Orono, and now Breck has Delano feeling good about themselves as they are set to return to the Class A State Tournament once again.

“At the start of the year, we went through a couple of rough patches,” Brown said. “We knew we just needed to come back from all that and now we focus on what we’re good at. We play our game the entire time. We can beat any team. We know that. When we play our game, we can do it.”

“We had a rough start and have just been getting better every game,” Keranen added. “That’s what we try to do. I think we’ve done a really good job at that. It was the same thing as the Orono game. They got the first one and then we just knew had to play our game. We just stuck to what we’ve been doing and the goals came.”

As Delano awaits to see if they get seeded for the state tournament, van Bergen knows how important it is for his team to realize how far they’ve come together this year.

“We’re not the same team,” van Bergen said. “We’re not the same group of players. We’re not even the same people that we were when we were back here in January. This is awesome to see these guys have this opportunity because of how much they’ve grown and how hard they worked.”

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports

SECTION 5AAA BOYS BASKETBALL: ‘Street Strong’ Delano holds on against Fridley to reach section final

DELANO — The Tigers’ warmup shirts Tuesday night were not the usual athletic material you see on a high school player. Instead, they were cotton tees with bright orange lettering on both sides: the hashtag #StreetStrong on the front and ‘Longstreet’ on the back above the number 13.

It wasn’t a rallying cry around the team’s leading scorer, Trey Longstreet, but his younger brother, JJ. The eighth-grader collapsed suddenly during a basketball workout March 19 and is currently recovering in the hospital after swift action from his workout partners and their parents.

The community and the surrounding area have come together to assist the Longstreet family over the last handful of days, with meals, messages and more. And older brother Trey knew what — or rather, who — he was playing for in a harrowing double overtime win over Fridley Tuesday.

“It was great to get on the court and I knew my brother was watching from the hospital, live streaming it in,” Longstreet said. “It definitely pushed me harder and I wanted to win this one for him. I’m definitely going to call him after this and tell him how much the team fought for him.”

#StreetStrong shirts formed a sea of Delano faithful in the stands along with each player and coach donning the visual display of support. The Tigers needed every bit of energy they provided to defeat Fridley 70-67 and advance to the Section 5AAA championship.

It’s been an emotional few days for the whole team,” head coach Terry Techam said. “For [these guys] to show the toughness and emotionally get through this game, that was amazing.”

Though Longstreet was the team’s leading scorer with 31 points, it was freshman Will Strandemo who asserted himself early, knocking down kickout three-pointers and getting to his recliner chair in the midrange for pull-up jumpers. As the team’s second-leading scorer this season and with many teams keying on Longstreet’s offensive gravity, his shot-making has become crucial. His 13 first-half points helped give Delano a 30-20 lead at the break.

“I feel very comfortable. I live for these moments, they’re why you play basketball,” Strandemo said.

The moments he’s referring to came late in the game, after Fridley found an offensive rhythm and took the lead and all the momentum, 53-47, with less than three minutes to go. Tra’Vionne Stevenson sparked Fridley’s run, getting past the Delano defense in the paint.

But the Tigers kept pushing the envelope while running on near fumes, the first Delano substitution of the game coming 24 game minutes in. Rolling with his starters the majority of the game is a regular Terry Techam philosophy, but he’s had the luxury of three or more bench players providing positive minutes during the regular season. When playoffs roll around, things ramp up even more. And Delano rose to the occasion.

“With this team there’s never a question with their effort. It’s always unbelievable in practice and in games,” Techam said. “Sometimes we might struggle putting the ball in the hole or we might make a defensive mistake, but these guys always compete and play hard.”

“All our guys are ready to step in,” Longstreet said. “Ty comes in and gets a big rebound at the end, Jack Norman comes in and I know Trent Techam is ready to hit a shot. That’s how we roll as a team, we over me.”

Longstreet stayed aggressive to the rim and hit a few free throws to keep it within one possession, and then a critical Strandemo three-pointer on a Jackson Stewart offensive rebound gave the Tigers a 59-58 lead with less than a minute left.

Fridley tied it with a free throw and it looked like Longstreet would seal it on two freebies with 4.2 seconds left. Fridley’s Devin Williams had other plans as he barely beat the buzzer on a layup to force overtime.

The visitors stalled for the entirety of the overtime, drawing up a play at the end out of a timeout, but Techam and his staff decided to throw in a rare wrinkle.

Delano came out in a 2-3 zone for that final overtime play, bamboozling the Fridley play call and forcing a tough jumper that missed.

“We talked about it at the end of regulation, but we don’t play a lot of zone so we weren’t confident in it,” Techam said. “But we said what the heck – they probably drew up a play against man-to-man, and luckily for us it worked to send us into another overtime.”

It might have been that luck that gave Delano an extra boost in the final four minutes, Longstreet asserting on offense and Carter Tool, Ty Weiman and Jackson Stewart providing key defense and rebounding to seal the win. Free throws extended the game out of reach in the final seconds, and the top-seeded Tigers command home court once again in the section final.

It’s a mountain they climbed a season ago, but the high faded with the cancellation of the State Tournament. Now Longstreet, Strandemo and company have another chance, and they’re going to make the most of it in their home gym Friday against Cinderella seven seed Monticello.

“This is great, I’m looking forward to all the years to come that I’m playing here too. I love the atmosphere and everyone who comes to cheer us on,” Strandemo, who scored 22 points, said.

“It’s been a year of waiting trying to get back to this point, trying to get to state. There’s no experience like that,” Longstreet said. “I still remember freshman year being underdogs, and that’s what we’re going to come in as again if we get there this year. There’s no feeling like it and I’m excited for our team.”

JJ Longstreet must be pretty excited too.

For the complete story and more Herald Journal sports coverage, check out the March 26 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.  Subscribers have full access to this article and more by clicking here. Subscriptions start as low as $1.50 for a two-day subscription, the same price as a newspaper on a newsstand.

Follow Jared Martinson on Twitter: @JaredNHR

SECTION 2A BOYS HOCKEY: Peterson’s monster night leads Delano past Armstrong/Cooper

DELANO – There’s something about playing Armstrong/Copper that brings out the best in Delano junior Jesse Peterson. After sending the Delano boys hockey team to the state tournament a season ago with the game-winning goal in double overtime against this very team, it was Peterson who stole the show again. The junior centerman scored four goals and added an assist for good measure as the Tigers cruised to a 6-0 win over the Wings Thursday night.

“What an electric start for him,” Delano coach Gerrit van Bergen said. “I didn’t look at the score sheet yet, but I’ve got to figure he had about three goals in 10 minutes. He just kept going. He was really good for us tonight. It was fun for him to be a big moment with the playoffs and then excel like that. He’s had a lot of looks like that throughout the year that maybe haven’t gone for him and tonight he couldn’t miss.”

Peterson got the scoring started on a goal assisted by Gunnar Paulson and Cole Schmidt just under eight minutes into the game. Just three minutes later, Peterson added another goal. This time it was shorthanded off an incredible pass from Trevor Oja to give Delano a 2-0 lead.

“It felt good to put a few home,” Peterson said. “I think we just started off hot and it showed at the end of the game. It was an unreal pass from (Trevor). I think that gave us energy on the bench that carried over onto the ice.”

After taking a 2-0 lead into the second period, it was time for Peterson to return the favor. An assist to Oja gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead, and the Tigers were off and running.

“He’s extremely smart,” van Bergen said about Peterson. “He’s one of the smartest players that we’ve had. Our approach puts a ton of responsibility on him. He’s so smart and he’s got the ability to do both ends of the ice. He manages his energy well. He’s a great anticipator.”

With a 3-0 lead, Delano took advantage of a five-minute major penalty by Armstrong/Cooper to put the game away for good. The Tigers scored twice on the power play, getting Peterson his hat trick and Colin Pettit his first of the game to make it 5-0.

“They took that penalty and it certainly created an opportunity for us to put the pressure on,” van Bergen said. “That forced them into a shorter bench rotation and that makes it tough and we capitalized. When you have that opportunity to do that, you got to take advantage.”

Peterson would add his fourth goal of the game with just four seconds left in the second period, giving Delano a 6-0 lead heading into the final period.

“We knew they would come super aggressive,” van Bergen said. “We prioritized layers which means getting the puck just behind the pressure. It really wears teams out. They chase and then all of a sudden the puck is behind them. I thought we did an extremely good job at that.”

While Peterson was busy stealing the show offensively, Thomas Huotari had another strong performance for the Tigers between the pipes. He had just six saves in the shutout, but he’s been a big reason Delano is now 8-0-1 in their past nine games.

“He’s really playing well,” van Bergen said. “He’s an excellent team guy. These guys love Tommy so much and they pull so hard for them. He’s just continued to grow throughout the year. We think that’s valuable.”

The Tigers advance to the Section 2A semifinals where they will face fellow Wright County Conference rival Orono. The Tigers and Spartans split their two games during the regular season. After losing the first one 3-2, Delano bounced back with an 8-2 win later in the season. Coming off a blowout win, the Tigers will be looking for that carry over into their matchup with the Spartans.

“I think a win like this is a big momentum thing for us,” van Bergen said. “It’s really important to feel like you have electric sticks in playoffs. Then you feel like you can score. Eventually, at some point in the playoffs, you’re going to be trialing. If you want to keep chasing your goals, you’ll have to come back. When you believe in each other to make plays and score goals, it makes it so much easier to keep the confidence up.”

“It’s huge,” Peterson added. “I think if we play like that we will make a good run for state.”

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports