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South metro notebook: Lakeville North tourney streak has staying power

By Ron Haggstrom, Star Tribune, 03/13/16, 12:56PM CDT


The Lakeville North boys’ basketball program isn’t mentioned in the same breath as the marquee teams in the state. It’s time the Panthers join the club.

Senior guard David Lindstrand (5) makes a move to the basket in a game against Apple Valley on Feb. 16, 2016. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, mnbasketballhub.com

The Lakeville North boys’ basketball program isn’t mentioned in the same breath as the marquee teams in the state. It’s time the Panthers join the club.

Coach John Oxton guided his squad to its fifth consecutive Class 4A state tournament appearance — the longest streak among the big schools — this week. It won the state championship in 2014 and was the runner-up in 2012.

“Obviously, it’s very exciting for our program to make it back for a fifth time in a row,” said Oxton, who made his eighth state tournament appearance this year. He guided Lakeville North to the tourney in 2006 and Lakeville — when there was only one school in the district — to the field in 1995 and 2004.

“We don’t mind flying under the radar,” said Oxton, whose teams averaged nearly 25 victories per season during the five seasons of reaching the state tournament.

This year’s group had five seniors — Carter Brooks, Nick Fossey, David Lindstrand, Calven Pesola and Drew Stewart — among its top eight scorers. Brooks, Lindstrand and Stewart were captains.

That doesn’t mean the Panthers will be going away any time soon. They will welcome back leading scorer 6-foot-10 forward Nathan Reuvers and guards Ethan Igbanugo and Trevor Schermann. Reuvers averaged nearly 20 points per game while Igbanugo and Schermann were at nearly six points a game.

“This year’s state tourney was loaded with great players and teams,” Oxton said. “ We were very excited to be a part of it.”

New Lightning coach

Tamara Colucci was recently named the girls’ golf coach at Eastview. She replaces Bob Boldus, who moved on to Rosemount to guide its boys’ program.

Colucci served as an assistant coach under Boldus for the Lightning for eight years. She is an eighth-grade communications teacher in the school district.

“I love working with the girls,” Colucci said in a statement. “The relationships I form with them on and off the course is incredibly rewarding as I help them grow as golfers and well-rounded female ­athletes.”

Colucci was an all-conference golfer at MSU, Moorhead and served as an assistant coach in the program.

From one to another

When it comes to serving up a passion, location doesn’t matter for tennis mentor Craig Raway.

Raway takes over the reigns of the Apple Valley boys’ program this spring after serving as assistant coach for four years. He replaces Bruce Gullikson, who resigned following the 2015 season.

Raway, a tennis professional, also coached the Hastings girls’ team in the fall.

Making football safer

Seeking to address dwindling participation numbers and hoping to quell parental fears about football safety, the Independent Metro Athletic Conference (IMAC) held a panel discussion on Feb. 29 to introduce some significant changes to the way football is offered by member schools.

Six private schools — Blake, Breck, Minnehaha Academy, Mounds Park Academy, Providence Academy and St. Paul Academy and Summit School — make up the IMAC. All are pre-K through 12 institutions. Starting in the 2016-17 school year, conference schools will offer only flag football to students in grades five and six, and a modified “hybrid” of tackle and flag football in grades seven and eight.

Top performances

• St. Thomas Academy senior Warren Sexson turned in a record-setting performance in the Class 1A boys’ swimming state meet, helping coach John Barnes to his record-breaking 15th state title. Sexson set Class 1A records in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle with times of 1:39.79 and 4:35.36, respectively. He also was a member of the Cadets’ 400 freestyle relay team that posted a record time of 3:06.11.

• Red Wing senior Hunter Connelly also took first place in the 100 backstroke in Class 1A in record fashion, posting a winning time of 48.87.


Ron Haggstrom • 612-673-4498

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