Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Survival, and a lot of prayers

Climax, Minnesota, population 267, is even smaller than Garrison Keillor's mythical hometown of Lake Wobegon. There's no Side Track Tap at the railroad station, and no Powdermilk Biscuit Company on the edge of town. But Climax has two things in common with Lake Wobegon. All the women are strong, and all the men are good looking. The children? Well, you decide.

Greater downtown Climax, MN.

Since 2011, the Lady Knights basketball team of Climax-Fisher High School have strung together 84 straight losses. That's four years of ridicule. But coach Jonathan Vonesh never lost faith in the girls. A few quit, but most remained determined to turn the team around. It finally happened, and you won't believe how.

The Knights were one point ahead of Bagley High last month at halftime, and "the crowd was getting into it," remembers player Grace Bowling. Then the Knights got in major foul trouble. First all the seniors fouled out. Then all the juniors fouled out. There were only three Knights left, two sophomores and a freshman -- the least experienced players on the losingest team in the state. Coach didn't tell them to win. He just told them to keep working 'til the end. You can't win three on five.

They didn't score once from the field, but they played stellar defense. When they got the ball, they drew fouls and made free throws, one after another. When the buzzer sounded, the Lady Knights won! What happened next? "We were all hugging and crying and screaming our heads off," said Heather Grove. "It was probably the best moment of my life," added Adrianna Vasek. "You kind of learn that no matter what people say about you, if you keep putting in the time and effort, it will pay off," said Michaela Burstad. That's a lesson the team will never forget.

When Coach Vonesh was contacted by ABC News affiliate WDAZ, he credited the victory to "survival, and a lot of prayers," adding "it was like they won a championship." Thanks to the Lady Knights, Climax now has one more thing in common with Lake Wobegon. All the children are above average.

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