Rockford youth basketball teams capture state tourney trophies

Fourth and sixth graders had home court advantage

The Rockford eighth grade basketball team captured the state MYAS tournament title with front row from left, Kyle Johnson, Wyatt Shober, Zach Beise and Drew Rozanski. Back row, coach Rod Strumbel, Connor Cruz, JJ Strumbel, Lucas Mason, Kyle Calder, Blake Young and coach Erik Peterson. (Submitted photo by Angela Shober)

The Rockford eighth grade basketball team captured the state MYAS tournament title with front row from left, Kyle Johnson, Wyatt Shober, Zach Beise and Drew Rozanski. Back row, coach Rod Strumbel, Connor Cruz, JJ Strumbel, Lucas Mason, Kyle Calder, Blake Young and coach Erik Peterson. (Submitted photo by Angela Shober)

BY DAVID PEDERSEN

Rockford sent eight boys youth basketball teams to the MYAS Grade State Tournament March 8-9, claiming four trophies and two championships.

Three of the squads utilized a home court advantage when the Rockford Area Athletic Association played host to the fourth and sixth grade events.

A second place trophy was secured by Rockford’s sixth grade boys basketball team. Pictured front row from left, Todd Traen, Andrew Engebretson, Everett Brun, Ryu Lee and Nels Trandahl. Back row, coach Tom Traen, coach Kevin Engebretson, Carter Kulavik, Luke Pepin, Austin Schloeder, Jake Andrew, Karsen Pryzbilla and head coach Sara Pepin. (Submitted photo)

A second place trophy was secured by Rockford’s sixth grade boys basketball team. Pictured front row from left, Todd Traen, Andrew Engebretson, Everett Brun, Ryu Lee and Nels Trandahl. Back row, coach Tom Traen, coach Kevin Engebretson, Carter Kulavik, Luke Pepin, Austin Schloeder, Jake Andrew, Karsen Pryzbilla and head coach Sara Pepin. (Submitted photo)

The two fourth-grade teams both took home hardware, with the White team claiming the crown and the Green team placing third. The sixth grade Green team finished second in Rockford.

Winning the state title in Cottage Grove was the eighth grade class 3A team. Rockford teams also advancing to state included the fifth grade Green and White teams, the sixth grade White squad and the seventh grade team.

“This is the third year we hosted the MYAS winter state tournament,” said RAAA publicity director Jennifer Strumbel about how 72 teams played in Rockford from around the state. “We will also be a host site for the MYAS spring championships in May.”

Rockford’s fourth grade White basketball team won the state age group title in Rockford. Pictured back row from left, Logan Bongaarts, Max Hudlow, Logan Eisentrager and Derek Pepin. Front row, Hayden Johnson, Alex Nelson, Jaxon Maki, Ethan Catlette and coaches Chris Hudlow and Ed Pepin. (Submitted photo)

Rockford’s fourth grade White basketball team won the state age group title in Rockford. Pictured back row from left, Logan Bongaarts, Max Hudlow, Logan Eisentrager and Derek Pepin. Front row, Hayden Johnson, Alex Nelson, Jaxon Maki, Ethan Catlette and coaches Chris Hudlow and Ed Pepin. (Submitted photo)

More than 100 volunteers worked throughout the weekend in admissions, concessions, setup and other areas to run the tournament. RAAA also hosted tournaments in November and December as a fundraiser for the program.

“Any team can enter the state tournament,” adds Strumbel. “Both fourth grade teams went to a seeding meeting and based on skill and record was placed in same division. This does not always happen.”

Hosting the tournament has nothing to with who is playing. Rockford is a preferred site for tournaments because of great facilities for hosting basketball tournaments. It has seven courts between the high school/community center and elementary school.

It was the program’s first fourth grade state tourney title. The White team opened with a 25-11 victory over St. Michael of Prior Lake, followed by a 15-11 victory against No. 2 seed Farmington.

In the semifinals, it was a battle between the two local teams that practice together each week. The Green team took a six point halftime lead, but the White team rallied to win 24-19.

In the Championship game, Rockford was matched up against Minnetonka. Again the Rockets trailed at halftime, this time by eight points. In the second half the Rockets rallied for a 31-24 victory and the title.

“We are very proud of the boys,” said coach Chris Hudlow. “To come back from two halftime deficits against two very good teams says a lot about this team. They never got down on themselves they just kept playing.”

Rockford’s fourth grade Green team that placed third at state includes front row from left, Winston Smith, Stephan Jankowski, Nolan Perry and Matt Larson. Back row, coach Mitch Edwards, Carter Edwards, Sam Zilmer, Macoy Pryzibilla, Noah Eide and coach Mark Perry. (Submitted photo)

Rockford’s fourth grade Green team that placed third at state includes front row from left, Winston Smith, Stephan Jankowski, Nolan Perry and Matt Larson. Back row, coach Mitch Edwards, Carter Edwards, Sam Zilmer, Macoy Pryzibilla, Noah Eide and coach Mark Perry. (Submitted photo)

The season was highlighted by an overtime victory over Buffalo, a last second 3-point shot to defeat Northfield and a first place trophy at the Rockford Showcase tournament. The team ended the season with a 19-7 record, four first place finishes and two second place finishes in eight tournaments.

Rockford’s fourth grade Green team opened with a 36-24 win over White Bear Lake after a first round bye. After the loss to Rockford White, the Green team won over Chanhassen 28-22. In the third place game, Rockford defeated Buffalo 29-21.

After starting the season with two losses, the Green team won 10 straight games and finished with an overall record of 20-6. The team won three tournament titles along the way.

The eighth grade team won the state title in the 3A division played in Cottage Grove. The team entered the tournament seeded seventh out of 16 teams in the division.

Rockford went undefeated, beating teams from Edina (50-43), Mendota Heights (45-41), Saint Paul (52-34) and Bloomington Kennedy (48-31). This is the second straight state championship for this team after winning the seventh grade A division tourney last season.

Competing in one of the top age group divisions (7A), Rockford’s sixth grade Green team took home the second place state tourney trophy. This is the highest division a Rockford team has even been placed in since RAAA’s inception.

The boys won their first three games, beating teams from Monticello (43-20), Inver Grover Heights (32-20) and Park Center (26-15). In a close and exciting championship, Rockford came up a little short in losing to Chaska 40-38 in overtime.

For more information about RAAA and its youth athletic programs for basketball, baseball, softball, football, volleyball and wrestling, visit www.rockfordball.com.

up arrow