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Korby's Connections: Basketball records made and broken

In January, I celebrated the 50-year anniversary of my scoring 12 points in a Cloquet high school boys basketball game versus the stunned Morgan Park Wildcats. It was my all-time CHS high. There was no three-point line back then, or I might have had 13 total points. I made four of five shots from the field and the same on free throws. With being mostly a bench player, it was a big deal for me. That anniversary got me thinking about how much hard work is involved for local athletes to put up some of the individual basketball records we’ve witnessed being broken or achieved this year.

It has become more common today, but to get 1,000 points in a high school basketball career is still an amazing accomplishment. There are 26 boys or girls games in a season, and if a player averages 12 points a game — which is impressive — that would be a total of 312 per year. A player could play every game (without injury or illness) their sophomore, junior, and senior seasons with that average, and still be a hair shy of the milestone.

Cloquet senior Maddie Young achieved the 1,000-point mark in January. Congrats to Maddie. Other Cloquet girls to hit that great level are Kassidy Steen in 2016, Allie Wojtysiak in 2018, and Kendra Kelley in 2019. All are noteworthy — congrats to each of these individuals and all the other boys and girls in Carlton County who have recently reached this milestone.

To start as a varsity player as a sophomore or younger takes a lot of skill and possibly “early” bone and structure growth. It means spending plenty of summer hours practicing on outside courts, shooting at hoops on garages or barns, or to a rim attached to a telephone pole like Jimmy Chitwood in the movie “Hoosiers.” It also means playing through adversity, including sprained ankles, pulled muscles, broken bones and just plain not feeling well. It’s hard for me to fathom, but the state record for boys and girls eclipses 2,000 and even 3,000 points.

Another local record was also recently broken. Makoi Perich, a 6-foot-2-inch sophomore forward for the Esko boys varsity basketball team, scored 50 points against Cloquet in February. This broke the Esko team record for points in one game. He did it without making any threes, but he was 22 of 34 on two-point field goal attempts and added six free throws. That’s a lot of points scored by one person on a good team that is poised to go to state.

This individual point total wasn’t even achieved by former great Esko scoring champions such as the legendary Harold Bergstedt, brothers “Pork Chops” and Mike Antilla, teammates Gary Ellefson and Russ Davidson, Greg Lennartson, Jeremy or Cory Hallsten, or the all-time Esko boys leading scorer Kory Deadrick. Mike Antilla had the individual scoring record of 45 points set in 1968 and Deadrick had games of 42, 43, and 44 in 2014.

Deadrick, now the head boys basketball coach at Superior, is also the career Esko boys scoring leader with 1,928 points. So, the Esko individual game record, now bested by Perich, had stood the test of time for 54 years.

Doing some research, I was blown away by some of the Minnesota boys state records.

As a kid, I remember hearing that Norm Grow of Foley scored 70 points in one game in 1958. Grow, who later played for the Gophers, surprisingly never had teams that made it to the state tourney. But he was at a small school, and back then there was only one class for state championships. His 70-point record lasted 47 years until, in 2005, Cash Eggleston of the Minnesota Transitions charter school scored a whopping 90 points in a game. He had 39 points after the first quarter and 82 by the end of the third. Eggleston made 20 three-point shots: the previous record had been nine.

Most points in a game by a girl? Kay Konerza’s record of 58 points was broken by McKenna Hofschild, who scored 63 points.

Locally, in state individual basketball boys game and career record searches, readers will probably recall the Broman brothers — Anders and Bjorn — at Lakeview Christian Academy in Duluth. Both went over 50, 60, and even 70 points per game and both played in college for Winthrop, and their team made it to the NCAA tournament.

Closer to home, Nick Mattson, a guard for the Wrenshall Wrens, needed 49 points to score his 1000th point in 2018, and he scored 62 against Duluth Marshall. He hit 17 three-pointers — incredible.

While individual awards are fantastic, humbling and require an incredible amount of dedication, Kory Deadrick said “winning the 2014 state high school championship for Esko is still the best.”

Team accomplishments are great, too. Good luck to all local players with the approaching playoffs and the potential for a state berth.

Steve Korby’s interest in writing goes back to when he was in fourth grade and editor of the Scan-Satellite school newspaper in Scanlon. He welcomes ideas for human interest stories and tales regarding Carlton County residents, projects, history, and plans sent to [email protected].

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