An emotional return to #1
In a tournament filled with narrow one-run games and rain delays, the Velva-Drake Aggies not only ended Minot Ryan’s stranglehold on the state title, they did it in spectacular fashion.
The Aggies took on the reigning state champs last Saturday night, and whipped the Lions 13-3 to claim the Class B High School championship for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century.
In the stands were alumni of that 1986 state championship, watching their sons take the field under the leadership of their former coach, Gene Buen, who is back at the helm after a decade of retirement.
As much as those old ballplayers and their coach wanted the state trophy, the boys on the field wanted it even more. For the last two years, the Aggies state tournament appearances were met with defeat as they lost three straight games both years.
But this year was different, and despite rain delays breaking up two of Velva-Drake’s games, the Aggies continued to roll their way through and take it all.
“I’m so very proud of our team for the sheer effort they gave for this tournament, and the entire season,” said Buen. “There was never a play where we didn’t have maximum effort – people diving for balls and backing up plays. Coach (Jim) Everson and I couldn’t be prouder of that type of play from our team.”
The rain delayed championship game didn’t conclude until nearly 11:30 Saturday night, but a noisy caravan through Velva announced the team’s triumphant return despite the late hour. The next day, fire trucks and blaring horns took another trip through town. (For more, see pages 6-7.)