Posted On: 05/13/19 7:46 PM

There was some blood (mostly running from the nose of Emma Miller), and plenty of sweat (here, there and everywhere), but the only tears shed on Sunday for the Minnesota Fury were tears of joy. There were lots of those, and why not, as the Fury swept all four titles in the 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th grade classes at the 2019 Minnesota AAU State Tournament in Shakopee. As far as we can determine, it is the first time a single club has won all four titles in the same season. It also doubled the number of state championships won by the Fury in those classes since the club began play in 2007.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Fury director Nick Storm, who was sporting some shiny new rings on Sunday evening. “We’ve got a great staff of coaches who work really, really hard and they deserve this. We have been knocking on the door for a long time, and there’s been a little hump that we just had to get over. Today is the day we did that.”

To get the job done the Fury had to have all of the pieces fall into place in just the right way at just the right time, and that’s what happened. Considering how strong North Tartan’s top teams are, and how much talent the standard bearer for AAU basketball in Minnesota attracts every year, it’s unlikely the feat will be repeated. North Tartan had won 12 of the 16 titles in grades 9-12 over the previous four years. The club has won 37 titles at all ages over the last decade.

From 8th to 11th the Fury were on a roll

The festivities began with Fury 2023 UAA earning a second consecutive state title with a 50-38 win over Minnesota Stars Hersch. Molly Lenz of Eden Prairie scored 18 points, including 4 three-pointers, to lead the Fury to the win. Ashley Schuelke of Chaska scored 10 points while Brynn Beffert of Hutchinson had 8. The 2023s are coached by Matt Froehle.

In the second game coach Tim Ellefson’s Fury 2022 UAA scored an impressive 61-50 win over North Tartan Elite thanks to a balanced attack. Callin Hake of Chanhassen scored 13 points, Ellie Buzzelle of Rogers had 12, Lilly Meister of Rochester John Marshall had 11 and Chaska’s Mallory Heyer had 9 after scoring 28 in the semifinals.

In the sophomore finale, Alexis Pratt of Stillwater was on fire as the Fury knocked off Ruth Sinn’s North Tartan 2021 EYBL squad in a 56-52 nail-biter. The speedy guard was outstanding, scoring 20 points to lead the Fury attack, while 6’4 post Sophie Hart of Farmington added 13 in the best performance we have seen from her to date. The team is coached by Tim Peper.

And finally, after finishing runners-up for three consecutive years, coach Andy Cerisier’s Fury 2020 UAA finally broke through with a decisive 58-44 win over North Tartan 2020 EYBL. Molly Mogensen of Farmington and Lauren Frost of Park Center scored 11 points apiece for the winners while Zareia Chevre of Simley had 10. That win was the one that probably gives Storm the most satisfaction. “That team plays in these big games with a level of intensity that I think is hard to match,” Storm said of the Fury juniors. “They came so close to winning it two years ago on kind of a miracle play at the end and now one of those kids is on the team.”

The play Storm is referring to was a miracle inbounds sequence in which Mackenzie Kramer fed Tee Tee Danso at the buzzer for an improbable two points that enabled North Tartan to get to overtime and eventually win the 2017 championship game. Kramer subsequently switched clubs, joining the Fury the following season. Sunday she celebrated another state title.

From humble beginnings

Storm formed the Fury in 2006. The club entered two teams into competition in the summer of 2007. Over time they have grown to have two teams per age group, as well as one team per age group with their affiliated teams in Southern Minnesota. The club has had plenty of success over the years, and has seen numerous graduates go on to do great things at the collegiate level. Among its top alumni performers at the moment are Taylor Koenen of North Carolina, Jamie Ruden of Arizona State, Madison McKeever at South Dakota, Madison Nelson of Denver along with Iowa State’s Kristin Scott and Annika Jank of Colorado.

“We grew incrementally,” Storm said. “We have had a few times where we had more than two teams at an age group but I don’t want to stretch ourselves too thin. The goal has always been that we would have great coaches, we want to be able to use great practice facilities, and we want to keep what we do at as high a level as possible.”

They certainly did that on Sunday. We’ll have recaps on each of the four championship games over the next couple of days.

Top photo: There was plenty of new jewelry to go around on Sunday as the Minnesota Fury captured all four titles in grades 8 through 11 at the Minnesota AAU State Tournament. The girls of 2022 Fury UAA were all too happy to show off their rings.