2023 MN Basketball Coach of the Year Candidates

 Our Coach of the Year is Mandy Pearson, whom we discuss in a separate post. The other candidates for this year’s honors include:

Jeff Buffetta, Mountain Iron-Buhl girls. Buffetta has gained fame for coaching both the MIB girls and the MIB boys. But, don’t let that distract you from the remarkable record he’s achieved just with the girls over the past decade-plus. This award is for the girls. But, first, a question. Have they been to the state tournament 12-of-13 years or 12-of-12? The point is that MIB has been to state every year since 2011 except 2020, when they lost to Cromwell in the section. But the state tournament was called off. So…

In any event, they made the finals in 2012 and 2017 but never got the big breakthrough win. Until now. But, now, in 2023 they hammered BOLD in the Class A final 52-21. 52-21! Finally, MIB gets a breakthrough, and that’s a feel-good story. No disrespect to BOLD.

Ryan Kershaw, Carleton men. Led Knights to the MIAC regular and post-season titles at 17-3 and 24-4. Was named MIAC coach of the year.

Cory Schlagel, Albany boys. Albany surprised by winning the boys Class AA title and finished with the best record in the state, boys or girls, at 32-1.

Emilee Thiesse, Minnesota State Mankato women. The Mavs were 19-3 and 26-5 but couldn’t quite get over the hump that was UMD this year.

Kim Wagers, Concordia (Moorhead) women. The Dragons had fallen on hard times but Wager led them back up to 2nd place in the MIAC at 18-4 and 22-5. She was named MIAC coach of the year.