Shorts from the world of sports

By John Fragodt, Sports Reporter

•  NBA and NHL playoffs take far too long — I enjoy watching almost any sport and I still like to watch professional sports on TV, but every year I think to myself  that the NBA and NHL playoffs take far too long.  Part of the reason is the fact that the Wild and Wolves are never in the playoffs for long.

Despite the NBA playoffs having a lot of great games and matchups, there’s no reason it should take until the middle of June to determine a champion.  And, it’s gotten to the point where the regular-season doesn’t matter anymore because most of the teams will make the playoffs anyway.  The NHL and NBA should make its regular-season a little more meaningful by giving a bye to some teams for doing great in the postseason.  Otherwise, just skip the regular-season and go right to the playoffs.

•  Benson still trying to find conference — Benson High School is still trying to get out of the West Central Conference and into a smaller area conference.  The Braves tried to get into the Camden Conference last year, but were turned down by a narrow vote.

BHS has now applied to the Camden and Little 8 Conferences and we’ll stay tuned to this story since it will ultimately affect the Lakers, who play in the same conference.  In addition, Benson may get into a new conference, but might possibly need to join other conferences to continue with playing sports that are not offered by its new conference.

•  Lakers have had a lot of success at state as a team — The Laker girls track and field team continued a recent streak for the Lakers of placing in the top four at a state tourney.  In fact, Minnewaska Area has had at least one team place in the top four at state every year since 2006 (except for 2020, which was the COVID year, of course).

The girls golf team won state titles in 2006-2010 and then placed third in 2011, second in 2012, second again in 2013, and fourth in 2014 and 2015.  The boys golf team placed third at state in 2016, while the girls golf team placed fourth again in 2017.  In 2018, the girls track team placed third at state and then placed first at state in 2019 before earning second in 2021 and third last year.  Meanwhile, the girls golf team placed second at state in 2019 and fourth in 2021 and 2022.

On a sidenote, congrats to the Minnewaska girls track, girls golf and boys golf teams for winning WCC titles last week.  The baseball team still has a chance at the WCC title, but will need to sweep a doubleheader from Morris Area, Tuesday (tomorrow) at home.  

•  Section 3AA baseball looks very strong — The Minnewaska Area baseball team is two wins away from a share of the WCC title.  The Lakers (11-1, 13-4) have won nine of their last 10 games since starting out 4-3.  Noah Jensen, a starting firstbaseman for the Lakers, is on a tear right now, having gone 11-for-17 over his last five games (not counting Paynesville).  The Lakers are playing great defense and have enough good pitchers to go far in the section tourney.

However, despite the great play by the Lakers, the team is still battling for a top-four seed in their half of Section 3AA.  NLS (10-3), Montevideo (14-1), Paynesville (11-2), Minnewaska (11-3) and Morris Area (10-5) are the top five teams in the north half of the section and one of those teams will be very disappointed to find out they weren’t a top-four seed.

The game against Paynesville, Friday, was for a possible third seed and the doubleheader against Morris Area this week is not only for a share of the WCC title, but also for the fourth seed.  Either way, it looks like the Lakers will be headed to NLS or Montevideo for the first few rounds of the section tourney.  In the other half of the section are two very tough teams — Fairmont (14-1) and Luverne (13-3).

•  Softball team headed to WCA for opener — In Section 3AA softball, the Lakers were seeded seventh in their half of the section and will go on the road for the first round of the playoffs, set for Tuesday (tomorrow).  Morris Area (15-2) is the top team in Minnewaska’s half of the section and WCA (12-5) is second, while Pipestone Area (14-4), Jackson County Central (12-8), Luverne (13-6) and RCW-BOLD (15-3) are among the top teams in the south half.  WCA beat the Lakers earlier this year in two separate games, 20-10 at MAHS and 10-1 at WCA.