Updated: March 30, 2021 11:58 PM
Created: March 30, 2021 12:40 AM
After a commanding victory over Princeton last Thursday, the Hibbing boys basketball team punched their first ticket to state in over three decades. A dynamic father-son duo has played a major role in the program's recent success.
1989 was the last time the Bluejackets claimed a section title. At the time their current head coach Joel McDonald was just a sophomore for their rivals Chisholm.
"Those were guys that I played against way back when,"McDonald recalled, "They're a solid group so it's been, this is year 32, so it's been a 31 year drought so we're happy to be back."
Hibbing fell short of a state title that year but McDonald would pick one up in 1991. That same year he became Minnesota's all-time leading scorer in boys basketball.
30 years later he's ready to return to the big stage, now for the first time as a coach.
"Throughout all of my coaching career this has been the reality, the one time we had the reality where we won a section game. So from that perspective to be a player who did it and now a coach that's about to do it, it's a great feeling."
"It's really special, just to get him there for the first time as a coach because he's been there as a player," said Hibbing junior guard, and Joel's son, Ayden McDonald.
Ayden, also the grandson of coaching legend Bob McDonald, followed in his family's record breaking footsteps this season by becoming Hibbing boy's basketball's all-time leading scorer.
He surpassed Jay Cary's record of 1,651 points, saying it was a full team effort that made that, and now state, possible.
"I think a big part of that is how close we are as a group," Ayden said. "When we defend well that fuels our offense."
Now they're shooting to carry that momentum into round one of the tournament, first up is DeLaSalle.
"I think we're good enough to expect more than just being happy to make it," Joel said. "We want to go down and give DeLaSalle the best that we've got and hopefully that means we move on to the next one at the Target Center."
Senior forward Parker Maki said they're focusing on "just getting a win. Doesn't matter how, we got to just get the job done."
They're set to tip-off Wednesday at 7:30pm St. Cloud Tech High School.
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