Former Stateline Area Athletes Turn In Post Season College Performances
By Al Zipsie
Some Stateline athletes represented our area in college tournaments this past weekend.
The four included former Freeport Aquin basketball star Sophie Brunner, and three Dakota graduates in basketball players Brett Benning and Jaycee Cleaver, and Josh Alber in wrestling.
Only Cleaver won a National Championship playing for Rock Valley College, who won the NJCAA Division title beating Roxbury 57-49 in overtime.
It was the fourth title in the last six years for Rock Valley, who finished the season with 23 straight victories setting a school record with 33 wins (33-2).
Cleaver scored 15 points in the championship game and was named to the all tournament team.
Benning was on the Augustana team who finished as the NCAA Division lll runner-up. Benning scored 11 points including a trio of three pointers as Augustana fell to Babson, Ma 79-78.
Benning had a collegiate high 17 points including a strong dunk in a 90-79 semifinal win over Williams.
After a driving layup was blocked by Babson with two seconds left which would have given them the lead, Benning quickly fouled Babson sending them to the free throw with a one point lead.
The front end of the one and one was missed. After a timeout, Augustana had to go the length of the court with 1.1 seconds left. A long pass went in the direction of Benning near the free throw line. As he leaped to catch the ball, contact was made by Babson. No foul was called and the clock ran out.
"I don't understand why you officiate for 39 minutes and 59 seconds and then you don't make a call at the end," said Augustana coach Grey Giovanine. "It was a great pass and we had the ball right where we wanted it. I thought the guy climbed on his (Benning's) back. On that play I'm thinking Brett Benning is going to shoot two free throws and the game is over and we win. We were just one piece of magic shy."
Benning, a sophomore and Augustana, hopes to make Salem Civic Center, VA and the finals a habit the next two years. They return Benning and four of five starters.
In wrestling, Alber went 2-2 at the NCAA Division l National Championship for Northern Iowa. He finished the season 25-7 at 133 lbs. Alber returns next year seeking to make the podium.
Brunner, a senior, played her final college game for Arizona State. Brunner and ASU lost to South Carolina 71-68 Sunday.
They fell one game short of the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Division l tournament. Brunner missed a rushed last second long three-pointer at the buzzer trying to force overtime. She finished with 20 points.
Brunner made the NCAA tournament in all four years with the Sun Devils.
Brunner led Aquin to back to back state titles in 2012-13 and was honored with
her high school jersey being retired.