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Cass Lake-Bena boys basketball team given a rousing sendoff

CASS LAKE -- Stomp-stomp-clap, stomp-stomp-clap: Who do you root for? CL-B! CL-B! "Louder," shouted Brian Sathre, a phy-ed and health teacher and emcee for the pep rally. "Let's see if we can make Bertha-Hewitt hear us up here." White noise fille...

CASS LAKE -- Stomp-stomp-clap, stomp-stomp-clap: Who do you root for?

CL-B! CL-B!

"Louder," shouted Brian Sathre, a phy-ed and health teacher and emcee for the pep rally. "Let's see if we can make Bertha-Hewitt hear us up here."

White noise filled the Cass Lake-Bena High School gym Wednesday morning during the ceremony sending the boys basketball team and coaches on their way to their second consecutive try at a state championship in the Class A division.

"We need to be loud and show our pride, show our spirit," Sathre told the cheering fans.

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And that was before the team and coaches came in for their introductions.

"It's a good day to be a Panther, isn't it?" said Lenny Fineday, a 2001 CL-B alumnus, bringing greetings from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. "God speed at State. And go Panthers."

Christopher Muller, another 2001 alumnus, now Beltrami County assistant emergency management director, brought greetings from Beltrami County.

He said people would be shielding their eyes when the Panthers take the court at Mariucci Arena this afternoon. "It's not from the sun. It's not from fire. It's from the beacon of Cass Lake," he said.

He said a drive through Cass Lake today will show an empty town because everyone will be in the Twin Cities cheering their boys. CL-B, with a season record of 27-3, will take on Bertha-Hewitt, 28-0, in a first-round game at 1 p.m. today.

School will be closed today and Friday and three fan buses will ferry team boosters to Mariucci on the University of Minnesota campus. The CL-B Drum group and powwow dancers will also put on a demonstration during halftime.

Cass Lake Mayor Wayne LaDuke, a 1957 alumnus, said, he is proud of his hometown and the team. A positive attitude and confidence will bring the Panthers success, he said.

"It's not something that comes along," said Leech Lake Chairman George Goggleye of the team's success. "It takes work and you guys have shown work ethic. It's all yours. It's right there. You guys have an opportunity like no other. Go down there and have fun. Show the state of Minnesota Cass Lake-Bena -- we're champions."

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CL-B Superintendent Carl Remmers stood next to 6-foot-6-inch Nate Salscheider to illustrate literally, as well as figuratively, that "I really look up to these guys."

"You guys have done a tremendous job," Remmers told the team. "It's been fun to watch you on the court and off the court. Just three more (wins) is all I'm asking."

Head coach Dan Ninham spun off from "Field of Dreams saying, "We have our own court of dreams here. We're continuing to build it."

As the CL-B Drum group played an honor song hundreds of well-wishers filed by the team members to shake their hands.

"Here, it's like everyone knows everyone," said Luann Frazer, CL-B director of Indian education.

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