The following is another “Have Fun or Get Out of the Way” column by Don Leighton and Mike Granlund and their alter egos, Lance Boyle and Billy Pirkola, which runs occasionally in The Superior Telegram.
The Northwestern Tigers have qualified for the WIAA Division 2 Boys State Basketball Tournament for just the second time in school history. The Tigers have yet to lose a game this season, now with a 25-0 record.
Just who are these players who finished the season as the No. 1 ranked team in Wisconsin Division 2 basketball?
A 5-10 sophomore guard from Amnicon. The “Tractor Run” that goes through Douglas County is a tribute to his grandfather, Henry Abrahamzon. (This year’s “Tractor Run” is scheduled for August 22.) Kendall’s dad, Paul, also played for the Tigers.
The 5-9 senior guard from Poplar finished in the top 10 in HON in assists despite not being a starter. An outstanding golfer. His dad, Middle School Principal Ken Bartelt is the fabled Northwestern girls coach who guided the Tiger girls to the school’s first basketball state tournament ever in 1999.
A 6-3 junior forward from Maple. Both parents are Northwestern grads and brother, Eddie Brown, was a key member of the 2004 team that came within one game of the state tournament.
The 6-foot-7 senior forward from Lake Nebagamon averages double figures and was a first team all Heart O’ North Conference selection. Has had some monster dunks this year on the fast break. Aaron’s dad, Tim, was a member of the defensive line at UW-Superior and his mom Wendy (Buhr) Corry was a standout volleyball player for the Superior Spartans. Aaron will attend UWS and play for coach Dave Buchanan’s Yellowjackets.
The 6-1 junior forward from Iron River can play guard or forward and is nicknamed “Johnny on the Spot” by ifan.tv announcers.
The 6-5 junior forward from Brule is also a three-sport star as a football and baseball starter. Follis will be counted on heavily next year as an inside outside player. His dad, Tim, was a record setting hurdler in his days at Northwestern.
The 6-4 sophomore guard from Iron River grew five inches in the past year, making for a very tall guard. Nicknamed “Tigger” by his friends.
The 6-8 junior center from Iron River led the HON in rebounding. An all-region tackle in football is also the ace pitcher of coach Steve Lahti’s Northwestern baseball team. Hissa was also a hockey player in the Iron River Hockey Association until sixth grade.
The 5-11 junior guard from Maple was the starting quarterback of the Tiger football team for the last two years. Nick’s dad, Archie, is one of the original band members of the band that became the “Oulu Hotshots.”
The 5-11 senior guard from Hawthorne is nicknamed “Velcro” by WNXR announcers because of his adhering to his man on defense. Lindsey is another three-sport star at Northwestern, also playing football and baseball. His Uncle, Bob Coleman, is the head coach of the regional champion Tiger wrestling team.
The 5-9 junior guard from Poplar is another three-sport player at Northwestern as he also started in baseball and football.
The 6-5 junior forward from Brule leads the team and HON conference in scoring at about 22 points per game. Has been dunking in games since the eighth grade. Played for the Howard Pulley AAU team out of Minneapolis last summer. Has also played AAU with Evan Anderson, the 6-11 center for Eau Claire North. Steve’s mom, Deanna (Williams) Tecker was the star pitcher on the Northwestern softball team that were state champions in 1981.
The 6-1 senior forward from Amnicon is undecided on college, hoping to continue a baseball career in college. He also was an all-conference selection in football. Jake’s mom Janet (Reickhoff) Tokar was also a member of the 1981 state championship softball team at Northwestern.
A 6-6 sophomore center from Amnicon. As a JV player, Williams usually was an ifan camera man during the varsity games. Sam’s Dad, Dave, was an athlete at Northwestern and is an owner of ifan.tv. Sam is Steve Tecker’s cousin.
Coach Dan Cowley
In his 13 years as head coach of the Tigers, Cowley has an overall record of 187-108. His teams have won four regional championships and now two sectional championships. A Chetek grad, Cowley also played basketball at UW Barron County Campus. Brother Dave, is an assistant at Black River Falls, which had been a possible sectional final match up for the Tigers.
Head coach of the “C” team which went 20-0 this season. This year’s C team comprised mostly of freshmen. Kraig was a starting tight end on the unbeaten 1988 state championship football team at Northwestern.
Is the “B” team coach. A star at South Shore in his playing days, he also taught and coached at Hayward prior to coming to Northwestern. Son of athletic director Steve Gustafson.
Sarah Bethards of Brule and Alayna Johnson of Lake Nebagamon.
Volunteer assistant coach is a 2004 graduate of Northwestern and played several years at UW-River Falls. An outstanding player, helped his team to the sectional final as a senior. The son of Coach Dan Cowley.
TIGER TALES: Michael Hitzmann’s Tiger pep band has also been a key element adding to the excitement of the unbeaten season. ... An interesting team fact is that all 14 players on the Tiger varsity roster started out playing in the third grade in the country division of the Salvation Army’s Rookie Basketball Association. All 14 also played for the Poplar Wolves traveling basketball teams during middle school years. ... The Tiger juniors were Great Northwest Invitational state champions when they were sixth-graders. ... Terrific support from the District Administrator Gregg Lundberg, Principal Steve High, the School Board, School staff, and the entire community has made this season a tremendous success.
So, those are the Tigers. We wish them well in Madison.
Opinions and/or story ideas can be e-mailed to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org