In the front row

by Tom Coombe Echo editor

Every once in awhile, you’ll hear broadcasters talking about athletes being “in a zone.”<BR><BR>The phrase is usually described to talk about top-flight performances when the athlete has a near-perfect performance.<BR><BR>The most recent such outing that comes to mind was Texas quarterback Vince Young’s unreal effort against USC in college football’s national title game.<BR><BR>That was on Jan. 4, and Vermilion’s Anthony Anderson followed Young’s lead - albeit in a different sport - the following day in Brainerd.<BR><BR>Anderson, a sophomore from Cleveland, was indeed “in a zone” against Bismarck State (N.D.).<BR><BR>He scored a career-high 50 points, just two points shy of the school record set by Art “Ditto” Frazier in 1984, lighting it up from the outside with an eye-popping 14-for-20 shooting performance from three-point distance.<BR><BR>Anderson finished just two three-pointers away from the national record of 16, and his efforts were recognized by the National Junior College Athletic Association, which named him the country’s player of the week, the first time a Vermilion player received that honor.<BR><BR>It was a performance that truly epitomized being “in a zone.”<BR><BR>“There’s no question about that,” said Vermilion Head Coach Paul McDonald. “It was something to see, just to see him with that confidence every time he had the ball. And to top it off he had eight rebounds, five assists and four steals.”<BR><BR>It was apparent early on that it would be some kind of night for the Ironmen, who prevailed 101-66.<BR><BR>“They came out in a little matchup zone,” said McDonald. “And with 14:42 to go in the first half, we already had 27 points. And both Anthony and Joe Mews had hit three ‘3s’ during that span. It was one of those days where anything he threw up went in.”<BR><BR>Anderson nearly established a national three-point record and the Vermilion scoring record.<BR><BR>Two or three of his three-point attempts were right on, but popped out.<BR><BR>It was a breakout performance for Anderson, who went 20-for-29 from beyond the arc during the two-day tournament at Brainerd and caught the attention of some college scouts in attendance.<BR><BR>Based on the outing, NCAA Division II St. Cloud State sent an assistant coach to Ely to watch Anderson practice.<BR><BR>“We had visitors at practice this week and my phone has been ringing,” said McDonald. “He’s an athlete that doesn’t come around very often and it’s good to see him shoot like that with the college scouts watching. It just cemented him as a player that will get a scholarship out of here.”<BR><BR>Anderson is attracting interest from Division II schools including SCSU, Minnesota-Duluth, Metro State and Florida Southern.<BR><BR>The 6-1 guard is the latest in a long line of talented players to come to VCC out of the Cleveland area.<BR><BR>“He ended up here through DeJuan Goodwin (a guard on the 1999 VCC national runner-up squad),” said McDonald. “He steered him in our direction. They worked together in an inner-city youth program and he knew that this would be a good fit for him.”<BR><BR>• It may have been a preview of the Section 7A high school boys title game Tuesday at Mt. Iron, when the Mt. Iron-Buhl Rangers edged AlBrook 80-79 in a high school boys basketball showdown.<BR><BR>MIB is rated third in Class A, but will have its hands full defending the section crown against the charge of the Falcons, who rallied from a 20-point second-half deficit.<BR><BR>Guard D.J. Winfield’s basket put the Rangers ahead to stay.<BR><BR>• MIB, Virginia and AlBrook are arguably the top-three small school prep boys basketball teams in northeastern Minnesota, and they’ve had a regular season round-robin tournament of sorts this month.<BR><BR>Virginia (9-0, ranked fifth in Class AA) needed to go to overtime to beat AlBrook earlier this month.<BR><BR>MIB and Virginia square off Tuesday at Virginia in what should be another donnybrook.<BR><BR>• AlBrook stars Cory Mountain and Alex Lamb could both be wearing Vermilion uniforms next winter.<BR><BR>• A recent scoring spree that has included 36, 35 and 35-point outings in his last three games has put Ely junior Eric McDonald on the verge of entering the 1,000-point club. Last night’s game at Cherry or today’s home meeting with Maranatha Academy will likely put him over the top.<BR><BR>• Augsburg junior Charlie Scott, a 2003 Ely grad, scored 10 points last Saturday in a loss to Hamline and picked up six points Wednesday as the Auggies (3-9) fell to Concordia-Moorhead.<BR><BR>• Ely’s Nick Levar scored a goal as St. John’s beat Wisconsin-Stevens Point 4-1 on Jan. 7. The Johnnies are 10-2-1 and ranked sixth in the nation in Division III.<BR><BR>• The very deserving winner of this year’s A.J. Foy Memorial Award, given annually by organizers of the Ely hockey alumni game, is Jim Baxter.<BR><BR>Since retiring in the 1990s after a distinguished teaching and hockey coaching career in Minneapolis, Baxter has assisted on a volunteer basis with the Ely hockey program.<BR><BR>Baxter was recognized at the Dec. 23 hockey alumni game.<BR><BR>