2022 3rd-6th Boys Grade State Championships

High intensity tournaments in White Bear Lake and Spring Lake Park mark the beginning of March Madness

by Paul Langfellow

The excitement of basketball season could be felt in gymnasiums at several metro locations last weekend during the 2022 MYAS Minnesota Boys Grade State Championships. The tournament was a winter community-based traveling basketball celebration for boys grades 3 through 6. 

White Bear Lake High School South Campus was one of the sites hosting the 4th, 5th and 6th grade teams. The funds raised from the tournament directly benefit the White Bear Lake boys track team. “This is our 21st year of hosting the MYAS state tournament,” said Tom Paulson, head coach of the White Bear Lake boys track team. “Typically our team will stay overnight after a track meet, so the funds raised from this tournament will help pay for the hotels.” 

Photo by Paul Langfellow

Big changes are also underway for the White Bear Lake High School facility, as a new building is currently under construction. “We have two high schools in White Bear Lake,” explained Paulson, “the South Campus houses 11th and 12th grade, the other school accommodates 9th and 10th grade. We are going to put all four grades together, so the field house will be ready for us next year.” 

Paulson noted that White Bear Lake hoped to continue hosting the Boys Grade State Championships, “it’s been a great experience. It’s a long weekend, but MYAS is easy to work with, they set the tournament up nicely and are well organized.” 

There were plenty of boys track team members helping to run the tournament as well. Jontay Vaulx, a Junior track runner likes to volunteer his time and explained his duties, “my job is to monitor the games— if a kid gets hurt I will go and get the trainer. I also help with the score board. There are so many other jobs to do, like working concessions, selling tickets, working on the clean up and set up crews.” Vaulx also talked about his experience with the White Bear Lake track team, “last year we did pretty good, and this year I’m very excited for the team that we have.” 

Coaches from across the state have put their team’s skills to the test at the Grade State Championship tournament. Demetrius Rich, coach of the 5th grade NABA team from Minneapolis said, “we have a good group of boys that like to play ball. We started with just five kids, now we’re sitting at nine. They work really hard, and so we thought it was a good idea to play with MYAS—it’s a good tournament and good test for them.” 

March Madness is the best time of year for many of the players and coaches. “Every level of play is going on right now,” noted Rich, “from little kids all the way up to college, this is what it’s all about.” 

Spring Lake Park High School also hosted the Grade State Championships last weekend, with 5 active courts accommodating 5th and 6th grade teams from across Minnesota. Sam Morisset, head coach of the Inver Grove Heights boys 6th grade B team recapped their match-up against Burnsville. “It was a great game and Burnsville played incredibly. They had some really great shooters and it was tough closing out on the perimeter, but luckily we were able to stay composed,” he explained. “Our boys have been playing the way we have been teaching them all year.” 

Morisset also described how it was to play during March Madness at the Grade State Championships. “They love it! These kids are nothing but ballers, they go home and talk about basketball and are always watching basketball highlights. It’s an exciting time of year for them to play in a tournament.” 

Justin Skaalerud, head coach of the St.Cloud 6th grade boys Maroon team talked about the intensity of play at the tournament. “I give a lot of credit to our opponent, Chanhassen, they were hot. Our kids played hard and never gave up, they kept their heads in the game and were able to pull it out in the end.” 

Skaalerud said his team’s experience at this year’s tournament was a great way to end the season. “You know it’s been great,” he said, “our kids have been playing together since they were in 3rd grade, and now as 6th graders they’ve had this opportunity three times. It’s a great opportunity for the families as well.” 

Link to Grade 3-6 Grade State Brackets/Results

Link to Photo Gallery from White Bear Lake and Spring Lake Park


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