Rushford-Peterson High School coach Tom Vix has seen just about everything when it comes to basketball, especially Minnesota state basketball.
Whether that’s from one of the hall of fame coach’s 15 teams he has brought to state or from the rest of the field.
“I’ve seen some great things happen,” Vix said, “both on and off the court. And you’re always going to see more. There are so many situations.”
Vix has two state titles: 1989 and 2006. The journey for a third begins at 11 a.m. today at Williams Arena when top-ranked and top-seeded R-P (29-1) takes on unseeded Fond du Lac Ojibwe (18-11).
Vix has taken teams to state each of the last four seasons. In his 30 years as head coach, his teams have been in nearly every situation, including the one it’s in now, as the favorite to win it all.
In 1989, his team was good, but only five deep.
“We were guard orientated,” Vix said, reeling off players’ names, mentioning a Dana Grimsrud, who went on to play for Augustana, and an Aaron Hungerholt that went to play at Mankato State.
Rushford (it didn’t consolidate with Peterson until the next year) finished 26-2 that year and beat Russell-Tyler-Ruthton 64-52 to win the title.
The 2006 title – a 55-52 upset win over Ellsworth – was redemption after being runners-up in 2005. They won it with 6-foot-7 center in Matt Ulrich, who went on to play football for Winona State and was invited to camp with the Minnesota Vikings, along with a point-forward in Tyler Drinkall, who played basketball for Rochester Technical and Community College.
This season, they’re the favorite but by team name and record only.
The Trojans’ one blemish this season came against solid Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau (Wis.) team. R-P has been ranked No. 1 for much of the season – after an 81-66 victory over then No. 1 Minneapolis North.
Yet, when you look at the stats, nothing stands out but that record.
Senior Charlie Krambeer averages 13.5 points a game. Alex Vix averages 10.5. Nobody else is over 9.
This is usually how Vix teams go. They’re teams. They win. Nobody cares how. They just do what coach says and in half of those 30 years, he’s gotten them to the state tourney. Now, the old man wants a state title for each decade he’s coached.
But don’t worry about whether he’ll retire on top if they do win it. He already said no to that idea before the tourney started, saying in his always humorous tone, “I need to work.”