MSHSL to name high school basketball teams in contention for state championships 'finalists'

Perham's Finn Diggins drives and goes up for the lay-up during the first half of Perham's Section 8AA semifinal game with East Grand Forks. Diggins was named the HOL's Most Valuable Player for his efforts during the 2019-20 boys basketball season. The MSHSL announced they will be giving finalist medals to the teams that were still competing for a state championship before the shutdown.(Jason Groth / Perham Focus)

The Minnesota High School League isn't letting basketball teams who were fighting for a state championship walk away empty-handed.

Last Friday, the league's board of directors decided to name any girls or boys basketball team still eligible to win a state championship a "finalists" to acknowledge how far they went.

Furthermore, players and coaches will receive medal and trophies as a reward.


"It's quite an empty feeling in your stomach knowing you didn't get to play and this might help a little bit," said Perham boys basketball coach Dave Cresap.

The Yellowjackets finished the season with a 28-0 mark and were set to play Fergus Falls in the Section 8AA Championship. However, the MSHSL canceled the remaining boys section championship games and the girls state basketball tournament.

The trophies might not have the word "champion" on it, but they will be something players, coaches, and spectators will remember for a long time.

"30, 40 years down the road people are going to be looking at that thing and they'll be like, 'Why does it say finalist,'" said Henning girls basketball coach Mike Hepola. "That was the year of the pandemic. So it's a historical, tangible piece too."

The Hornets opened the Class A Tournament with a 69-56 victory over Fillmore Central in the opening round. They were set to play Cromwell-Wright in the Class A semifinals.

The Henning boys basketball team rolled to a 57-45 victory over West Central Area in the Section 6A Championship. The Hornets finished the season with a 29-1 record.

Henning girls basketball team members run through drills during a practice session on Wednesday, Feb. 5. David Samson / The Forum

Zach Staton joined WDAY as a sports reporter in 2018. He grew up in Salem, Virginia loving any sport he could play or watch. Staton graduated from Bridgewater College with a degree in Communication Studies before getting his Master's in Broadcast and Digital Journalism with a Sports Communication Emphasis from Syracuse University.
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