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State basketball: Cass Lake-Bena takes experience, lessons into today's matchup

Cass Lake-Bena senior Martin Wind, left, and assistant coach Carl Jacobs laugh at the skits during the send-off party for the Cass Lake-Bena boys basketball team Wednesday. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

If experience is the best teacher the Cass Lake-Bena boys basketball players will be ready for today's examination at the state basketball tournament.

The Panthers are making their fourth consecutive appearance at the state meet and their fifth in the past six seasons. A year ago they lost their state opener but their recent resume includes second, third and fourth-place finishes.

"There isn't anybody on this team who hasn't been to the state every year," noted CL-B assistant coach Carl Jacobs. "Playing at the state tournament is all that these players know. The only thing we haven't done is win the championship and that will be our goal this week."

CL-B (26-4) opens its run at the state title 1 p.m. today at Williams Arena against Minnesota Transitions (25-3). In today's 11 a.m. game Rushford-Peterson (15-14) will tangle with Springfield (25-1).

The late session matches Mesabi East (22-9) against Sebeka (28-2) and Ellsworth (25-5) against Hillcrest Lutheran Academy (22-2).

The Panthers and Transitions will meet at the state tournament for the second time in three years. In the 2008 tourney Transitions ran past Cass Lake-Bena in the semifinals. CL-B recovered, however, and finished third that season.

"We'll be better prepared to face Transitions this time," said CL-B senior Martin Wind. "This year we have had a chance to scout them and look at film. And we have the big guys (Ben Cameron and Tyler Trosen) who can handle the lane so we'll be ready."

Cameron missed the state tourney and the game against Transitions two years ago as he was recovering from knee surgery. And he is ready for the rematch.

"Everyone is anxious to play these guys again," Cameron said. "To win we will just have to outwork them. If we do the fundamentals, make our shots and box out, we'll be fine."

Tyler Trosen and his teammates are heading to state with the intention of returning as champions. And the senior believes that a title is well within their reach.

"We are just as good as any team down there," Trosen said. "If we play our game there is no doubt in my mind that we can't win the title.

"This is my third year going to state and it has been great playing with all of these guys," Trosen continued. "We are one big family and I couldn't have been on a better team. We've done very well but we still have something to prove."

"We're not going to the tournament just being satisfied to be there," Cameron said. "There is always another step to take and we're ready to take it."

NOTE: Those who are unable to attend the game may listen to a live broadcast on 92.1 - The River. Kelly Schultz will handle the play-by-play and the pre-game which will begin at 12:30 p.m.

Schultz will remain at the state tournament as long as Cass Lake-Bena does and fans will be able to listen to each game.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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