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Pelican Rapids girls’ basketball is a family affair for state tourney

Pelican Rapids coach Brian Korf makes it pretty simple separating being a dad from being a coach for his starting guards freshman Mackenzie Korf and senior Madison Korf.

     Every Viking heading to the Minnesota Class 2A state girls basketball tournament for an opening-round matchup versus New Richland-H-E-G is family.

     The two teams square off at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

     “My philosophy has been that I have 18 girls on my roster and they are all my daughters,” Brian said. “That’s how I keep the separation from coach and dad. On the court, they are all my daughters and at home Madison and Mackenzie are my daughters.”

     In 2007, Brian Korf coached Lester Prairie’s boys basketball team to state for the first time since 1941. Madison and Mackenzie came for the ride and got the taste of state tournament basketball.

     “I think that experience has been in the back of their minds and they’ve wanted to get back,” Brian said.

     It goes back further.

     Madison has dreamt of stepping on the Williams Arena floor since she first started playing for dad in fourth grade. To do it with younger sister Mackenzie is just a bonus.

     “I’ve played for him my whole life,” Madison said of her father. “It’s going to be an amazing experience. It’s my dream to play at the (University of Minnesota). This is what we’ve been talking about since I was in fourth grade. All my AAU tournaments, he was always there. This is what we’ve worked for.”

     For Mackenzie, it dates back to second grade and the days of, according to Madison, “rocking big knee pads” at Madison’s practices.

     “I’ve always dreamt of it too,” Mackenzie said. “It will be amazing just to step on that court.”

     Madison couldn’t help, but roll her eyes when asked about having to hear the assumptions that she only got playing time because her dad was the coach.

     The fact is, Mackenzie led Pelican Rapids (21-7) with 15 points and Madison had 13 points in the sub-section championship and Mackenzie led the Vikings with 12 points in the section championship.

     If that isn’t proof enough, perhaps the fact the only other time Pelican Rapids girls basketball team to get to state was in 2001.

     Brian makes his daughters earn it.

     “He’s not easy on us,” Madison said. “He’s the hardest on us.”

     Well, maybe not the hardest. Brian’s only son, fourth-grader McHale, is usually the one that stirs up trouble.

     “I care about all of them equally,” Brian said. “They’ve been my point guards and they need to take care of the ball and be mentally tough, so I’ve been harder on them. We try to leave basketball out of the house; however, they have a little brother that is pretty passionate about basketball.

     “If there’s anyone that’s hard on them, it’s McHale. I appreciate him because he backs me up with things they need to work on without me having to say it.”

     In 2001, the first round was at Concordia, so the Korfs are heading to state to be the first Vikings squad to touch the Williams Arena floor.

     Brian Korf isn’t just coaching in his two daughters’ dream game, but also the dream game of 16 other family members.

     “I’m going to state as a coach with six seniors that are very special,” Brian said. “They’ve helped us create a new path here. We’re not satisfied just playing. We want to win down there. I’m excited to go with six seniors and 18 girls that are hungry to play.”

Article written by Chris Murphy of the Forum News Service

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