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Sports from the week of March 10, 2004

Wrestlers learn from best at state tourney

Cole Cooreman, at 119 pounds, and Paul Carlson, at 160 pounds, represented the Tracy/Milroy/Balaton wrestling team at the Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament held at the Excel Energy Center in St Paul last weekend.

"I am really proud of both of these wrestlers," said Panther Coach Travis Christenson. "At their young age, they have done extremely well this past year."

Cooreman won his first match against Scott Lawless of Virginia on a 17-7 decision. In his second match Cooreman lost a 16-4 decision to Tim Tompson of Lake City, the No. 2 wrestler in the bracket. In the wrestlebacks Cooreman lost a close 5-3 decision to Sam Govache from Minnewaska.

Cooreman won his first match against a tough wrestler from Virginia. In his next match he lost to the No. 2 wrestler in the state and in the wrestle backs he lost a close one to a wrestler from Minnewaska."

Paul Carlson lost by a fall in his first match to Ben Hoglund from Big Lake. Hoglund lost his next match so Carlson did not make the wrestle backs but Hoglund did go on to win third place in his weight division.

Gutsy Panthers fall in overtime

By Dick Donaldson

The season ended on a high note for the Tracy/Milroy/Balaton boys basketball team, despite a 72-70 overtime loss to third-seeded Windom Saturday night at Windom. The Panthers bowed out of the Section 3AA South Tournament while making one of the best efforts by a TMB boys' team in recent years.

"The kids played hard the whole game," said Panther Coach Nat Boyer. "We had our chances to win but it just didn't work out."

The Panthers played a very strong, physical team while suffering through one of the poorer shooting games of the season. TMB is still called the Panthers but the players fought hard and epitomized the name of previous Tracy teams with one of the school's scrappiest performances in recent years to make up for the shots not falling

The team was challenged physically by Windom and responded in dramatic fashion by coming back repeatedly from double digit deficits.

Windom opened the scoring with an easy field goal but TMB came back to put up the next five points. The lead was short-lived as the Eagles went on an 8 point run to lead 10-5 but the Panthers closed to a 12-9 Windom lead at the end of the first quarter.

Donald Strand got the first field goal of the second quarter to make it 12-11 but Windom, with a pair of threes from Mike Nesseth, made a 12-0 run to lead 24-11 with 5:07 left in the second quarter. However, the officials then noted Windom's shoving, pushing and hacking and gave the Panthers numerous free throw opportunities. Six free throws plus seven points (including a 3 pointer) by Kyle Stibbe brought TMB to within 3 at the half with the score 32-29 in favor of the Eagles.

The Eagles out-worked TMB 23-14 in the third period to assume a 55-43 lead with 8 minutes left to play. TMB Coach Nat Boyer exhorted his team to turn up its defensive intensity and the Panthers then put great pressure on the Eagles while scoring the next 12 points to tie the Eagles 55-55 with less than two minutes to play. TMB had not only held the Eagles scoreless for over six minutes but had forced a turnover when Windom could not put the ball in play from out of bounds in 5 seconds.

With Windom leading 56-55 and 1:08 remaining, Eric Peterson stole the ball with an opportunity for a break-a-way basket. However he was whistled for a foul and the Eagles converted the free throw to go up 57-55 with only 25.5 seconds left in the game.

The Panther's press then really paid off as they forced turnovers and more steals with Sean Kirk hitting two lay-ups and a free throw and Peterson adding another lay-up to give the Panthers a 62-57 lead with just 14.2 seconds remaining. They had just scored 7 points in only 11.3 seconds!

The Eagles then returned the favor by scoring five points in the last 14.2 seconds to force an overtime.

TMB took a 68-67 lead on the strength of 2 free throws by Kirk with 1:10 remaining but Nesseth hit another three for the Eagles and a last second rebound by Pankonen offset another pair of free throws by Kirk and gave Windom the win as time ran out.

The Panthers were led in scoring by Kyle Stibbe with 15 points. Stibbe was followed by Ross Ladehoff with 14 and Sean Kirk with 13. TMB pulled down 34 rebounds (Kirk 11) to 29 for Windom, had 14 assists (Kirk 5), had six steals (Peterson 3, Strand 2) and committed 10 turnovers to 12 for the Eagles. The Panthers hit 21 of 63 field goal attempts for 33% shooting.

Girls play well, but No. 1 Eagles are better

By Dick Donaldson

The Panther girls' basketball team was eliminated from the 3AA South Section Tournament by Windom at Redwood Falls Friday night 61-56.

Tracy/Milroy/Balaton finished the season with and 18-8 record.

"We came out ready to play and played a very good game," said Panther Co-Coach Ric Haberman. "A couple of breakdowns cost us the chance to defeat a very good team. Windom is so tough to defense because they have five players who can score."

The Panthers started the game with great intensity plus good shooting and spurted to an early 13-3 lead with 3:25 remaining in the first period. TMB still led 22-15 at the end of the first quarter, thanks mainly to Alyssa Kirk's eight points (including two, three-point baskets) and pair of field goals in the lane by Steph Kaup.

Windom used excellent defense (with very quick hands) to get back in the game. By the end of the first half the Eagles had closed to a 34-29 Panther lead. A third three-pointer by Kirk and six points by Kasey Loeslie helped maintain the TMB lead.

The Eagles came out in the second half with good intensity and held TMB scoreless for the first three minutes and took its first lead at 38-34. The Panthers fought back with a field goal and a pair of free throws by Loeslie and a good effort by Tessa Nelson when she gathered in her own rebound and laid it in to put the Panthers up 40-38 at the end of the third period.

The last quarter became a battle of post players with Windom's 5-10 Elizabeth Thon ( 20 points) and 6-1 Erica Hormig (18 points), working against the Panthers' 6-0 Kasey Loeslie (18 points) and 6-1 Tessa Nelson (19 points). Nelson started TMB off in the last period with a field goal and a free throw on a three-point play to give the Panthers breathing room at 43-38. The Eagles then went on a 10-0 run to take a 49-43 lead. During that time Nelson received passes under the basket three times, only to be swarmed on and was unable to get a shot off before a foul was called. However, Nelson kept TMB in the game the rest of the way by scoring on three straight possessions, one of them another three-point play. In one sequence, Nelson scored for TMB, then blocked a Windom shot at the other end of the floor, and came back and scored again for the Panthers to bring T/M/B within 53-52 with 1:29 remaining in the game.

In the meantime the Eagles were converting 13 free throws (in the final quarter-Thon was 6 for 6 in the final minute) to seal the win.