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Saturday notebook: Two-sport athletes abound in state tournament finals

By staff reports, 03/23/19, 11:06PM CDT

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Plus a special Islanders win, Target Center practice makes perfect, moving up the record books and brother-sister acts.


Waseca guard Malik Willingham (2), talking with Waseca coach Seth Anderson, is one of many Saturday state tournament players who also had significant roles with their successful football teams. Photo: ANTHONY SOUFFLE • anthony.souffle@startribu

The multisport athlete is alive and well, judging by the strong football influence on championship Saturday at the state tournament.

Lakeville North had four regulars who were key contributors to the Panthers’ Class 6A football champs: forwards Will and Eli Mostaert — twin brothers — and Tate Staloch and guard Tommy Jensen. Running back Raja Nelson also is a member of the basketball team, though he was injured during the tournament.

Waseca’s Willingham brothers, Malik and Kyreese, had vital roles in the Bluejays’ run to the Class 4A state football semifinals, where they lost to the SMB Wolfpack.

SMB won the 4A football championship with five members of Minnehaha Academy contributing heavily: Jalen Suggs, Kaden Johnson, Siegel Howard, Craig McDonald and Bennett Theisen.

At least seven Minneapolis North players played for the Polars’ Class 2A football state semifinalists: Nasir El-Amin, Omar Brown, Eli Campbell, Clifford Brown III, Willie Wilson, Chester Watley Jr. and Darius Hanson.

Class 1A finalists North Woods and Henning each listed four football players on their basketball rosters.

‘Special’ Islanders win

In his postgame remarks, DeLaSalle coach Travis Bledsoe said his team’s victory was “for all the alumni … all the players that didn’t win a state championship.”

That includes Bledsoe, a 2005 DeLaSalle graduate and Mr. Basketball finalist who reached the state tournament in 2004 and 2005.

Last season, Bledsoe’s first as coach of the Minneapolis-based private school, the Islanders’ run of six consecutive Class 3A titles was snapped with a semifinal loss.

“To come back and get it done was special,” he said.

Target practice

Henning coach Randy Misegades had a plan when he brought his team Target Center to play Rothsay on Feb. 2.

The Hornets won 78-30 and shot well, something that carried over to their two Class 1A tournament games.

“The main reason we did it was to get some experience on the floor in case we got here,” Misegades said.

His squad topped North Woods for the school’s first state championship Saturday.

Henning shot 57 percent from the field in a 67-34 semifinal victory over Spring Grove and 55 percent in the state final.

“I thought if we played on the floor it might benefit us,” Misegades said.

Fink closes career

Isaac Fink, a finalist for Mr. Basketball, scored 35 points in leading Springfield to a 91-61 victory over Westbrook-Walnut Grove in the Class 1A consolation championship.

Fink, a 6-4 senior guard, scored 88 points in the Tigers’ three state tournament games and finished his career in sixth place in boys’ basketball state history with 3,376 points.

Brother-kid sister acts

Two key freshmen on the Hopkins girls’ basketball team that won the Class 4A state championship last week had brothers playing Saturday night. Hopkins forward Zeke Nnaji is the older brother of Maya Nnaji. DeLaSalle forward Jamison Battle is the older brother of Hopkins guard Amaya Battle.

Compiled by JIM PAULSEN, DAVID LA VAQUE, RON HAGGSTROM, JOEL RIPPEL

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