ST. CLOUD - John Dunlap acknowledged he's an emotional person.
As the only senior on the Little Falls Flyers boys' basketball team, Dunlap couldn't stand still after his Little Falls Flyers defeated the St. Cloud Apollo Eagles 62-60 in the Section 8-3A finals for a trip to the state tournament.
"I can't believe this," said Dunlap. "I don't know what to say. I'm an emotional person and this is amazing."
Dunlap grabbed two rebounds and scored two points. Not huge numbers, but enough to help his young team and Little Falls to the state boys' basketball tournament for the first time since 1977.
"I didn't think we would be here," said Dunlap. "We've been tested all season, that's for sure, but we stayed together as a team and really came together. And when we got on this run of ours we knew that we could do this."
Little Falls' Nick Erdich (left), the game's top scorer, hugged teammate John Dunlay Wednesday night in the Flyers' celebration. Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood» Purchase reprints of this photo.
The Flyers have now won six straight. They are 6-0 in the month of March and for the first time since the beginning of February have a .500 record at 14-14.
"A former player of ours wrote a letter to coach saying how Little Falls has always been about defense," said sophomore Alex Scott. "Well, we were an offensive team, almost averaging 80 points a game. We started hitting the defense and that is what did it. That's why we've been winning."
No one was more relieved of that than Dunlap. After all he didn't want to be the only one to miss out on a state tournament. Which the Flyers will have a good shot at making again next season. With two juniors and two sophomores flanking Dunlap on the Flyers' starting lineup the future looks bright for Little Falls boys' basketball.
Junior Nick Erdrich led the Flyers with 20 points followed by junior Ronnie Kornbaum's 17 points. Scott hit four 3-pointers to finish with 14 points and sophomore Dan Kornbaum is now only the most popular athlete behind boys' hockey player Ben Hanowski, after his last second tip in helped Dunlap and the rest of Flyers experience a state tournament.
It was a night for smiles for Little Falls coach Kevin Jordan after his Flyers beat St. CLoud Apollo 62-60 Wednesday night in the section finals and earned a trip to state. Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood» Purchase reprints of this photo.
Ethan Mustonen, who's miss set up Kornbaum's claim to fame, finished with three points and two steals and Zach Horejsi, a freshman, played 15 minutes and scored two points off the bench. Junior Ryan Voss also came off the bench to hit one of the Flyers 11 3-pointers.
"This is a dream come true," said Dunlap. "We didn't think we would make this far, but we worked hard all year."
For the first time Class 4A and 3A will seed the top four spots for the state tournament. So as of late Wednesday night the Flyers didn't know who they were going to play in the quarterfinals of state. That doesn't matter, especially the way the Flyers have been playing in March.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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