Hulne: Blossoms are hoping to shake off the ghosts of 2020

Published 7:42 pm Wednesday, March 6, 2024

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It has been nearly four years since the strangest night I’ve ever seen in the high school sports world, and after a highly emotional ending to the season that year, the Awesome Blossoms are back in the thick of things.

It was March of 2020 when Blooming Prairie’s boys basketball team clinched its first trip to the state tournament since 1966. The Awesome Blossoms, who had won the state football championship in the fall of 2019, had defeated Hayfield in the Section 1A boys basketball title game and it was easily one of the biggest wins in program history.

Unfortunately for BP, the celebration for that win lasted less than 24 hours as the state tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic the following morning.

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Since that win, the Blossoms went through some lean years as they were bumped up to Class AA and struggled to compete. This season has been a return to greatness for the BP boys as they won the Gopher Conference, earned the No. 1 seed in Section 1A, and now find themselves two wins away from the state tournament.

BP has relied on the athleticism of Gabe Hein and Zack Hein, the relentlessness of Brady Kittelson, the poise of Gabe Staloch and the grit and toughness of Cooper Cooke as the team has won 16 more games than it did last season.

As impressive as the Blossoms players have been, their young head coach Cam Rutledge has been equally effective. Rutledge is a Hayfield grad who played under Chris Pack for the Viking basketball team and under Kasey Krekling on the Hayfield baseball team. Rutledge has brought on fellow Hayfield grad Kobe Foster, who played on two state championship basketball teams at Hayfield, to help out as an assistant. 

BP is currently 27-2 overall and it has won 10 in a row as it prepares for a showdown with No. 5 seeded Kignsland in the Section 1A semifinals at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Mayo Civic Center.