When Martin Wind was a youngster he accompanied his father, John, as dad coached the Cass Lake Pacesetter girls basketball team. The Pacesetters were in a region with many other northern Minnesota teams and the long road trips gave all involved plenty of time to get to know each other.
Among the players on that squad was Amanda Gehrke.
"Martin grew up with Amanda and the other players on the team," John Wind said. "The girls practically babysat him all those years. As a kid joining me with the Pacesetter team, he was able to watch Amanda play and that continued until Amanda graduated in 1998 when Martin was 7 years old."
There was no one better to watch play the game during that era than Gehrke. She was a magician with the basketball and had the ability to take control of a game.
Gehrke's offensive ability translated into 2,198 career points while playing for Cass Lake-Bena, a record that stands to this day.
But the record could be broken tonight when Wind leads CL-B against Red Lake in a 7:30 game at Cass Lake.
Wind, a senior, will enter tonight's contest with 2,165 points and could overtake Gehrke before the final horn.
When it does come, the record-breaking basket will represent a culmination of years of hard work and the good fortune of playing with other talented players.
"Basketball is everything here in Cass Lake," Martin Wind said. "There always are open gyms and other opportunities for the youth to play basketball year 'round."
"Being the career scoring leader at Cass Lake-Bena is an extreme accomplishment," said CL-B coach Dan Ninham. "Martin has put in the time to constantly improve his game and the environment provided by his immediate family also has been a factor. All of his big brothers and sisters were outstanding players and his dad is an outstanding coach in our program. Martin has followed their leadership."
Wind began his journey to a potential school record as an eighth grader when he drained a 3-point basket against Barnesville in a holiday tournament at Concordia in Moorhead.
"Martin scored 34 points that year and was the first Panther to letter as an eighth grader," Ninham recalled. "He fit in perfectly with our up-tempo style of play and he also was surrounded by talented teammates. Martin made them better and they made Martin better."
"Martin was influenced by many accomplished players at Cass Lake-Bena and he played with many of them," John Wind said. "But he also put in his time. Growing up, Martin would be in the yard from sunrise to sunset shooting baskets. And when he was 10 years old he said he wanted to go to the state tournament even if Cass Lake-Bena wasn't in it because he wanted to watch the teams and see what it took to get there."
With Wind's help CL-B's boys basketball has developed into one of the premiere programs in the state, and the Panthers have become well known to those who follow Minnesota high school basketball. Cass Lake-Bena is off to another strong start this year with an 8-1 record and tonight will have the opportunity to avenge its only loss of the season, a 75-72 setback last month at Red Lake. The Warriors will enter tonight's matchup with an 8-2 record.
"Come early if you want a seat," Ninham said of tonight's contest. "I expect the game to set an attendance record with more than 2,000 fans."
The friendly rivalry will pit two talented teams and both have state tournament aspirations. A year ago the teams split during the regular season and staged the rubber game in the section tournament. CL-B won that night, and that victory propelled the Panthers into another trip to the state.
This winter, however, the Warriors have been placed in the Class AA ranks while Cass Lake-Bena remains in Class A. Consequently, the teams will not meet in the post-season, so this is the final chance for each squad to claim bragging rights.
"There is motivation for each team," Ninham said. "The bottom line is we will have to attack on both ends of the court and we will have to be ready for everything Red Lake will throw at us. But they will have to be ready as well."