State tournament notebook


Hundreds of Richardson Elementary students were waving and holding fan posters for a sendoff to the state tournament. Students were thrilled that their team was competing at the state level. North High boys basketball players waved back and took phone photos and videos. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

The North High School boys basketball team this season made its first trip to the state tournament since 1999. Here are news and notes from that appearance.

 

Janquart adds name to short list

North head coach Joe Janquart added his name to a short list by guiding the Polars to the state tournament. He became just the third head coach to take a North team to the boys basketball state tournament.

Janquart joins Harold Norgard and Fred Schmiesing on that list. Norgard coached the 1959, 1960, 1971 and 1972 teams to state while Schmiesing took the 1999 team to the big dance. Schmiesing also took Tartan to the state tournament in 1978.

Norgard earns the distinction of turning in the highest fini   sh of any of the three coaches. His 1971 team was the Class AA runner-up after losing 54-51 to Duluth Central in the championship game. Central went on to beat Melrose 54-43 in the playoff game between the two class champions, which happened in the first five years of the two-class boys basketball tournament.

 

Community support

North’s season did not go unnoticed by the community, whose support was appreciated by the team.

“A lot of people have been coming to support us,” said senior Adreon Wadlington. “I can’t really explain it. It’s been really exciting.”

Among the shows of support the Polars received was a sendoff by the students and faculty at Richardson Elementary School in North St. Paul. Janquart is a teacher there and the team bus passed by the school on its way to downtown Minneapolis. Students lined the street with signs to cheer on the team.

 

Another run next year?

Janquart was asked what it would take for North to make another run at a state berth next year. 

“We need to continue to develop,” said Janquart. “In the offseason is the most important time because in the season we need to move and grow to what we’re trying to do.”

North will also need to have players who had limited roles on this year’s team step up into new roles next season. Of the nine Polars who played double-digit minutes against Hopkins, two-thirds graduate this spring. 

Returning players who saw significant minutes this season are sophomores Goodnews Kpegeol and Bryce Phillips and junior Jake Weber.

Janquart also mentioned togetherness as an important factor to this year’s team’s success.

“Our cohesiveness is important,” said Janquart. “The big key to our result this year is they came together as family, as brothers. It’s a special group of guys who have bonded. If we have that tight-knit group, we’ll be able to continue to develop going forward.”

 

Unfamiliar surroundings

In college and professional basketball, teams are usually afforded time for a shoot-around or a practice on the court in which it will play later that day. For example, when the Minnesota Timberwolves play at Houston on March 18, they’ll have a shoot-around that morning on the Rockets’ home court.

The teams that play in the high school state tournament aren’t as lucky. Their first exposure to the court and arena at Target Center or Williams Arena is when they come out for pre-game warm-ups.

“That was the first time we touched the court,” Janquart said.

 

Quarterfinal blowouts

All four Class AAAA state quarterfinals were decided by double digits and the third and fourth games of the day were 32 and 20-point blowouts, respectively. Many of the early-round games in the state boys hockey tournament a week earlier were also runaways. 

When those types of games happen in the state tournament, there are always those who want the way the state-tournament berths are handed out changed. One frequently-mentioned format is to do away with geographical sections and seed all the teams in the class from No. 1 all the way through 64, in the case of Class AAAA boys basketball.

The first three rounds of the 64-team tournament would whittle the field down to the eight teams that would advance to the state tournament. A similar format is used for Class 6A football, which starts off with 32 teams.

Using the QRF formula from Minnesota-scores.net as the seeding mechanism, this year s Class AAAA 64-team tournament would have had North seeded 26th and it would have played 39th-seeded Duluth East in the first round and probably seventh-seeded Lakeville North in the second round.

 

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

 

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