MINNEAPOLIS – Larry Ostendorf, Melrose Class of 1968, has kept the official scorebook for Dutchmen boys basketball for 15 years.
One way or another, he has just about seen it all when it comes to Melrose athletics. Saturday at a Target Center packed with purple-clad Melrose fans, even he was amazed.
Fifth-seeded Melrose won the state Class 2A title, beating Caledonia 63-51.
“This came out of nowhere,” Ostendorf said.
It’s Melrose’s first state boys basketball title since 1974, when Ostendorf’s sister Carleen was a cheerleader.
Carleen, whose married name is Boeckermann, now lives in Centerville, Ohio. She was following the Dutchmen over the Internet.
Just about anybody with a tie to Melrose seemed to be there.
Jonathan Ruoff confirmed that Melrose had 17 charter buses drive to Friday night’s semifinal victory over top-seeded St. Croix Lutheran. He said another five buses made the trek Saturday.
“Everyone stayed down here,” he said.
There is a welcome-home celebration for the team at 8:30 a.m. Monday at Melrose High School.
Among those attending Saturday’s final was former NFL player Matt Herkenhoff, Melrose Class of ’69. Herkenhoff, who played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1976-85, watched his nephew, Isaac Herkenhoff, start for the Dutchmen.
Marv Thielen, a member of the ’74 squad, was there, too, watching his boy, senior guard Brian Thielen.
All involved saw another addition to Melrose’s basketball legacy.
“Melrose has a seven-game winning streak at state tournaments,” said Herman Lensing, the longtime sports writer for the Melrose Beacon who grew up on a farm near Greenwald. “Of course, it took 41 years to do it.”
Follow Tom Elliott on Twitter @sctimestom or call 259-3661.