Notebook: South Suburban teams have winter season to remember

The state basketball championships Lakeville North’s boys and Eastview’s girls won in the last couple of weeks capped the best sports season in the South Suburban Conference’s brief history.

The league, which began operation in the summer of 2010, just claimed winter state championships in wrestling (Apple Valley), boys and girls basketball, and both divisions of dance team (Eastview won the Class 3A high kick and jazz titles).

In two sports, two South Suburban schools battled each other for state championships. Apple Valley defeated Prior Lake for the Class 3A wrestling championship and Eastview beat Bloomington Kennedy for the Class 4A girls basketball title.

Beyond that, the conference had the second- and third-place finishers in Class AA boys hockey (Lakeville North and Eagan), the third-place finisher in Class AA girls hockey (Lakeville North), the fourth-place team in Class 4A girls basketball (Lakeville North), two teams in the state Class AA gymnastics meet (Rosemount and Lakeville North, which finished fourth and sixth), a sixth-place team in girls Alpine skiing (Lakeville North), two of the top seven teams in girls Nordic skiing (Burnsville and Eastview) and the fourth-place boys Nordic skiing team (Eagan).

Two boys basketball players from the conference were finalists for the Mr. Basketball award – Apple Valley’s Tyus Jones (who won the award) and Lakeville North’s J.P. Macura. Seven wrestlers from SSC schools won individual championships at the state tournament; two more were won by wrestlers from Shakopee, which will join the conference this fall. Burnsville’s Vivian Hett was girls state Nordic skiing runner-up for the second consecutive year. Rosemount diver Daniel Monaghan was state champion for the second straight year and Lakeville South senior Mitch Herrera won two distance freestyle races at the state swimming meet.

That came on the heels of a strong fall season for South Suburban teams. Eagan won the Class 3A volleyball championship and three other SSC teams (Rosemount football, Eastview boys soccer and Lakeville North girls soccer) were state runners-up.

SSC schools also had a strong presence in adapted sports. Dakota United, which includes Apple Valley, Eagan, Eastview and Rosemount, and Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville were second-place finishers in the recent floor hockey tourney.

The conference might become even more competitive in the 2014-15 school year. Bloomington Jefferson and Bloomington Kennedy, two of the league’s three smallest high schools, are departing for the Metro West Conference. They will be replaced by Farmington and Shakopee, which are among the state’s 25 largest schools.

For years, the Lake Conference has been known as the state’s strongest conference in athletics. But it’s clear that the upstart league to the south has closed the gap significantly.

Basketball all-stars

Apple Valley’s Dennis Austin and Eagan’s Michael Gorder will play in the Minnesota High School All-Star Basketball Series this weekend.

Austin will play the Blue team, which will be coached by Chisholm’s Bob McDonald, who is retiring after 59 years and 1,012 victories, a state record. Gorder will play for the Gold squad.

The four-team all-star tourney will begin at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Cloud State University and conclude Saturday with games at 2:15 and 4 p.m. at Macalester College in St. Paul.

Apple Valley guard Tyus Jones will not play in the series. He is scheduled to leave Friday for the McDonald’s All-American Game, which will be Wednesday, April 2, in Chicago. Lakeville North’s J.P. Macura, the star of the state Class 4A tournament, also will not play in the Minnesota all-star series.

Great 8 tourney

A number of local players participated last weekend in the Ted Brill Great 8 Festival, the annual high school all-star hockey tournament held at Wakota Arena in South St. Paul.

Goalie Will Dupont and forwards Connor Hyden and Tristen Hazlett of Lakeville North played for the Section 1 team, which had Lakeville North’s Trent Eigner as one of its coaches. Also playing for Section 1 were defenseman Andrew Byers and forward Patrick Lauderdale of Lakeville South and Farmington defenseman Alex Aubrecht.

Burnsville forwards Cole Borchardt, Dylan Weigel and Petr Havluj played for the Section 2 team.

The Section 3 squad included Apple Valley defenseman Tyler Heuer, Eagan defenseman Taylor Karel, Eagan forward Jack Jenson, and Eastview forwards Mitchell Cerrato, Jake McGlocklin and John Snodgrass.

The Section 8 team won the tournament, with a 5-1 victory over Section 4 in the championship game Sunday afternoon. The Section 1 and Section 3 teams both went 1-2 in the tournament, while Section 2 went 0-3.

Clean sweep for awards

With Tyus Jones recently being named 2014 Mr. Basketball, Apple Valley High School athletic director Pete Buesgens noted in a blog on the school’s website that Apple Valley is the to have students who have won the player of the year awards in boys and girls basketball, and boys and girls hockey.

Carol Ann Shudlick won Ms. Basketball in 1990 and her sister Linda won the same award in 1995. Annamarie Holmes was Ms. Hockey in 1997 and David Fischer was Mr. Hockey in 2006.

Apple Valley also has had three Mr. Wrestling award winners and has had athletes win the comparable awards in football, boys soccer, boys swimming and girls swimming.

Eastview volleyball coach

David Laufenburger has been named head volleyball coach at Eastview High School. Laufenburger, a math teacher at Eastview, was an assistant volleyball coach for the Lightning the last two years.

He also was an assistant volleyball coach at Rosemount for eight years and has coached several club teams. Laufenburger replaces Ted Reiff, who served as head coach for one year after Becky Egan left to become head coach at Hamline University.