My career at the Brainerd Dispatch began May 11, 1999 after graduating from North Dakota State University. My areas of emphasis includes local high school sports, Central Lakes College, the lakes area golf mecca and once a year I dabble in the NHRA when the Lucas Oil Nationals come to Brainerd International Raceway.
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With a 25-5 record, a spot in the Section 5-1A Semifinals and a Northwoods Conference title, the Pine River-Backus Tigers enjoyed a successful season. Because of that the Tigers landed third players on this year's Brainerd Dispatch All-Area team. Pequot Lakes senior Olivia Lane is this year's Dispatch Player of the Year and two of her opponents, the Aitkin Gobblers and Crosby-Ironton Rangers, each landed two players on this year's squad. Players for the all-area team are nominated by their coaches and then selected by the Dispatch Sports Department
Olivia Lane is the first girls basketball player to repeat as Brainerd Dispatch Player of the Year since Emily Lueck was a back-to-back winner 2010 and 2011. It's fitting since Lane broke all of Lueck's scoring records at Pequot Lakes and every other scoring record the program has. Lane became the school's all-time scoring leader in a 70-37 victory over Mora Feb. 2. Lane broke Lueck's record of 2,174 career points. Needing six points, Lane tallied 30. She finished her career with 2,434 points.
DULUTH—One big basket, that's all they needed. Instead the big shot went to top-seeded Esko, which was just 1-of-5 from 3-point in the second half, but that one make was the backbreaker that led to Esko beating the Pequot Lakes Patriots 58-45 Thursday, March 14, in the Section 7-2A Championship at the University of Minnesota, Duluth's Romano Gymnasium.
Todd Person isn't sure his players are aware of the significance of the number 41. That's how many games the Brainerd Warriors, the two-time defending state champions, have won in a row.
The No. 3-seeded Pequot Lakes Patriots fell to the No. 1-seeded Esko Eskomos 58-45 Thursday, March 14, in the Section 7-2A Championship at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. The Patriots were led by Jordan Schommer's 19 points and Sean Ryan's 11. Pequot finishes the season 23-7. Esko was led by Camden Berger's 20 points. Payton Wefel's 12 and Corey Kauma's 10. The Eskomos advance to the Class 2A State Tournament Wednesday, March 20, at either Target Center or Williams Arena depending on the seeding. Game times are either 6 p.m. or 8 p.m.
DULUTH—As his name might suggest, Tyler Manley was the man Tuesday, March 12. Despite fighting a height disadvantage, Pequot Lakes' 6-foot-1 senior post scored a game-high 25 points with all but five coming in the paint to send the No. 3-seeded Patriots to their first section final since 2007 with a 71-56 victory over the Greenway Raiders in the Section 7-2A semifinals. Manley was not only spectacular but consistent as he tallied 14 points in the first half and 11 in the second. He was also efficient hitting 10-of-12 from the field and 5-of-8 from the line.
Like the title character in her children's book series Shelly Bean the Sports Queen, Shelly Boyum-Breen's life has revolved around sports. The Brainerd High School graduate, children's book author and public speaker has used athletics as a platform for change. Her crusade is providing athletic opportunities for everyone regardless of sex, physical ability and economic opportunities. She explains how sports can make anybody, athletic or not, into a better person.
CROSBY—Big players show up in big spots and Monday, March 11, Jordan Schommer added his name to that list. The 6-foot senior guard did what few others have ever been able to do—he shot the Crosby-Ironton Rangers out of their trademark zone defense and then led the No. 3-seeded Pequot Lakes Patriots to a 72-60 Section 7-2A Quarterfinals victory over No. 2 C-I. Schommer, who's been on a scoring spree, did it with the 3 and with dribble penetration causing fits for the Rangers' defense.
For once the No. 13 was a lucky number. And the luck was on Braden Kramer's side. The Brainerd Warriors' 152-pound wrestler was seeded 13th for the Class 3A State Individual Tournament March 1-2 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. This after Kramer won the Section 8-3A Individual title with a 7-5 victory over Bemidji's Chance Hinrichs in the championship match. It was Kramer's second-straight victory over Hinrichs, but it wasn't enough for Kramer to get seeded ahead of Hinrichs, who collected the No. 8 seed.
Pequot built a 30-21 halftime edge thanks to an 11-3 run to close out the opening half. Schommer scored nine of those points in that span with Tyler Manley, who finished with 10, added two free throws.