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Doug Toivonen Takes Team to State

 
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Doug Toivonen Takes Team to State

From Starbuck Times - Wednesday, March 16th

It’s been a good year for Doug Toivonen, a 1985 graduate of Starbuck High School. Last summer Toivonen, a three-sport star for the Bucks, was inducted into the Minnewaska Laker Athletic Hall of Fame. Concordia University in Moorhead had Previously inducted Toivonen into their Athletic Hall of Fame. Red Wing has been Toivonen’s home since the late 1980s, and beginning with the 1989-1990 school year, he’s worked in the Red Wing School District. The Wingers went to the state tournament in basketball for six straight years, from 1999-2004, with Toivonen on the bench as an assistant coach. In his 12-year tenure as head coach, the Wingers hadn’t made it back to the state tournament until this year.  Red Wing fi nished the regular season ranked #2 in state AAA polls. The Wingers had been to the Section 1AAA championship game four straight years until finally breaking through this year.  One of the reasons this year’s appearance at the state tournament is especially important to Red Wing and its fans isn’t that it’s been 12 years since their last trip to state. It will be the fi rst, and last, trip with Toivonen as head coach. Doug will be stepping down as head coach after this season.  There was no offi cial announcement about the retirement. It wasn’t a big secret, but it wasn’t widely known, either. Red Wing has been on a roll in recent years, racking up a 68-18  record over the fi nal three seasons. This year the Wingers rolled through the Section 1AAA playoffs, winning the three games they played by margins of 30, 26 and 16 points. Toivonen stressed the importance of winning the fi rst game of the state tournament. A loss in the fi rst game would send them back home quickly. A win would guarantee two more games, either a championship game or a third-place game.  Red Wing won that fi rst game, defeating Simley by a 73-51 score.  Travis Toivonen, a senior and Doug’s son, scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the win.  Red Wing hadn’t won a state championship since 1933, and this year wouldn’t change that. The Wingers lost to Fergus Falls in the semifi nals by a 58-55 margin.  Fergus Falls built a 37-29 halftime lead, but the Wingers closed the gap in the fi nal minutes. Red Wing missed a number of close shots over the closing minutes but still had a chance with their last possession. The Wingers hit a 3-point shot that would have tied the game had it not come just a fraction of a second after the final horn sounded to end the game.   The Wingers played Monticello in the third-place game on Saturday afternoon. Red Wing won that game, 75-59, to take third place in Class AAA. The win allowed Toivonen and the Wingers to end the season with a win, which rarely happens.  Toivonen’s humility was refreshing in an age of self-promotion and overinfl ated egos. When asked about the why there was so little attention given to his fi nal year of coaching and stepping down from the job, Toivonen replied, “I don’t need to make a big announcement. I’m a high school basketball coach.” Red Wing closed one of their most successful basketball seasons ever with a 28-3 record to go along with their third-place fi nish at state.  Congratulations to Doug Toivonen on a successful season, a successful career and best wishes on future endeavors

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