What’s it like sitting at press row at the RA Facility in Marshall during section basketball games? Let me tell you. IT’S AWESOME!

I think it’s one of my favorite events to cover. High school section basketball playoffs at SMSU is special. It is my favorite high school sporting event to cover. I love broadcasting from courtside at the RA. I make a number of trips from Madison to Marshall each March. I have been doing it for years and it never gets old. There are many memorable games over the years. RTR vs Ellsworth in boys basketball a number of years ago is a game I will never forget. RTR had many seniors that had gone to state since they were freshmen, and Ellsworth had the Schilling brothers. Ellsworth won in overtime crushing RTR players and fans. Unbelievable game and I had the honor to be sitting at press row next to the RTR bench. I still get chills thinking about that game.

Last Friday, I was broadcasting the Minneota girls championship game with rival Southwest Minnesota Christian. I was in the front again, sitting a few feet from the Minneota bench. I am right in the middle of the action and loving it. The Minneota girls will tell you that people have wanted them out all season long. Everyone was saying Minneota won’t make it to state this year, they graduated some solid players last year and they won’t be the team they usually are. Grace Hennen told me that drives them to be better. The Vikings have 8 losses this year and most of them to state ranked teams at the time. After they won the section championship they visited with me on the radio and I could see the joy and relief on their faces and in their voices. It was a pleasure to broadcast their game Friday night. I’m most happy for Coach Alan Panka, lots of pressure on that guy. It’s his first year as head coach taking over for Coach Johnston. The smile on his face during the postgame show was awesome to see.

Coach Alan Panka of the Minneota Vikings
Coach Alan Panka of the Minneota Vikings

Saturday was the Dawson/Boyd Blackjacks boys turn. They were playing Central Minnesota Christian in the North Championship. The Blackjacks have an amazing team of young boys and senior boys. They are sure fun to watch. Once again I’m sitting a few feet from Coach Cory Larson and the Blackjacks. I can hear the coaches strategy, I can hear them talking to the boys. I feel like I’m part of the team. I was sitting next to Jason Boike who keeps the book for the Blackjacks. Between commercial breaks we would talk and I would gain some insight about the game from him. Josh Goblish from Marshall radio was broadcasting on the other side of me. Josh and I know each other well and we talk often between breaks. The Blackjacks won and will play RTR Thursday for the Section championship. I can’t wait for that one and I will have a front row seat.

Dawson/Boyd Blackjacks

Here is a side story from the Minneota and SWC girls game from Friday night. Something happen at the end of the game I will always remember. Abby Hennen and I were broadcasting the game, and two Southwest Christian players, Madyson Fey and Ana Veldkamp collided right in front of us. Both players crashed to the floor in pain. Ana Veldkamp fell on her back and immediately blood came gushing from her forehead. I mean a lot of blood. It was very scary. She had a nasty gash on her forehead from colliding with her teammate. What happened was Madyson’s front two teeth cut right into Ana’s forehead and cut her. The RA Facility went dead quiet. Like Abby said you could have heard a pin drop. The medical team at SMSU did a great job with both girls. Ana was helped to her feet after being attended to on the gym floor for a long time. When she stood up she smiled and we all knew she was going to be okay. Later I saw this post on the SWC Instagram page. Madyson’s two front teeth will need some work and Ana will have a scar on her forehead. They can laugh about it now, but sitting courtside when that happened it looked terrible.

SWC Eagles Madyson Fey and Ana Veldkamp.

So, sitting courtside at SMSU during the section basketball tournament has always been a thrill for me and I hope to be sitting at press row for many more years to come.

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