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Pete's Point: Boys' basketball season will start early because of conflict

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The fall sports season for area high school athletes officially ended on Saturday, Nov. 2, when Pequot Lakes’ junior Caitie Ryan crossed the finish line at the state cross country meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

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Now, the student athletes from Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus have a short rest before practices begin for the 2013-14 winter activities season.

That break will be even shorter for the Patriot and Tiger boys’ basketball teams this season. The boys’ basketball practices will actually start one week before the girls for possibly the first time ever because of a scheduling conflict next spring with the boys’ basketball state tournament at the Target Center.

The Target Center will be hosting the National College Hockey Conference championships on March 21-22, 2014. Many of those NCHA teams, like St. Cloud State University, are from the old WCHA. The Twin Cities will also be the host of the NCAA Division 1 men’s hockey West Regional on March 29-30, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Hosting those college events forced a rare switch in the high school post season for boys’ basketball. The Class A, AA, AAA and AAAA state tournaments will be March 13-15 with the early rounds at the University of Minnesota’s Williams Arena and the final rounds at the Target Center. The state high school girls’ tournament games will be all hosted by Williams Arena on March 19-22.

All the changes have led to an early start for boys’ basketball teams around the state. Boys’ basketball practice is scheduled to begin on Monday, Nov. 11. The Patriots will then open the season by hosting Aitkin on Friday, Nov. 22, while the Tigers will open by hosting Crosby-Ironton on Tuesday, Nov. 26. It will be a rare pre-Thanksgiving start for both programs.

The Pequot Lakes boys will open the season with a new look. Long-time coach Garry Grewe has retired and is replaced by Ben Starns. Bret Sergent and Alex Kunesh are assistant coaches for the Patriots, who will be also playing in the new athletic facility. Shaun Howard is back as head coach of PR-B.

The Pequot Lakes and PR-B girls’ basketball teams open practice on Monday, Nov. 18. Both teams will open the season on Tuesday, Dec. 3, with the Patriots starting at Detroit Lakes while the Tigers are traveling to Pillager.

Girls’ hockey will be the first winter sport to begin the season as the Northern Lakes Lightning (Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus/Crosby-Ironton) are scheduled to drop the puck against Moose Lake-Willow River on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at Breezy Point Arena.

The Lightning boys’ hockey team will also start the season at home – hosting Breckenridge at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Hallett Center in Crosby. Northern Lakes has a few changes this winter as Craig Larson takes over as head coach while the Lightning will be competing at the Class A level as a member of Section 6A.

The talented Road Crew (Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus) wrestling team will open at the Wadena-Deer Creek Invitational on Saturday, Nov. 30.

As for dance, the Pequot Lakes Revolution will also host a dance review on Tuesday, Nov. 26, before opening the competitive season at the Detroit Lakes Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 7. The PR-B Pulse squad will open at Aitkin on Thursday, Dec. 12.

Both programs are members of the Northern Lights Conference.

Pete Mohs can be reached at pete.mohs@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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