Select basketball team plays in third straight national tourney

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 13, 2002

Corey Dieser doesn’t remember the first time he was able to make on a basket on a regulation 10-foot hoop, but his dad will never forget.

“I can still remember his first time in the gym, with a mini basketball, the first time he made it on a 10-foot basket – the look on his face,” said Dennis Dieser. “He used to stay in there for hours, calling play by play on his own make believe games.”

All that time in the gym has paid off. Corey just completed his third season with the Minnesota Magic, a select all-star team. Make that an extremely successful select team. The Magic won a third straight state championship and played in a third consecutive national tournament, this year in Memphis, Tenn. Previous trips were to Cocoa Beach, Fla. and Virginia Beach.

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This year’s Magic squad, playing in the 13-under-division, compiled a record of 38-4 and completed a fourth consecutive undefeated season against Minnesota competition. The average margin of victory in the state tournament was 36 points. The Magic placed seventh in the national tournament, following 12th place last year and the consolation championship the previous year.

Though he’s still small compared to his teammates, Corey grew more than half a foot during the previous year, from 5-4 to 5-11. He played shooting guard or small forward for the Magic, providing three-point baskets at key times and free throws whenever possible, shooting all of the team’s technical free throws while making them about 90 percent of the time.

Corey said he enjoys the camaraderie with his teammates and, interestingly enough, the effect his basketball endeavors have had on his grades.

“It’s fun to play with some different kids and make some real good friendships,” he said.

“And, every year when I started playing, my grades got a little better, from B’s and A’s to straight A’s.”

Of course, there was a little incentive.

“I told him if he slips in any classes, he won’t play,” said Dennis Dieser. “And people always ask about driving to the Twin Cities twice a week, but that driving time can be homework time and Corey has made good use of that time.”

Corey said he again had a good time at nationals. He didn’t get to visit Graceland, but his mom did. He’ll begin tryouts for next year’s Magic team in December or January and hopes to make it to next year’s national tournament in Orlando.

The Magic went 3-0 in pool play in this year’s national tournament, defeating LA Amazon Sports 69-50, Arkansas FYV 78-56 and the SE Memphis Trotters 73-56. The Magic edged the Long Island 42-40 in the Round of 64 before falling 54-51 to the York Stars in the Round of 32. The Magic won four straight games in the playback for seventh place, topping NC Gater 54-52, the Tulsa Bulldogs 48-45, Illinois Jets Gold 58-39 and the Charlotte Stars 58-51.

Joining Corey on this year’s Magic squad were Blake Hoffarber, Hopkins; Marty Gregor, Chaska; Alex Rubin, Plymouth; Jim Johnson, Andover; Cole Aldrich, Bloomington; Scott Kaitz, Plymouth; Carter Biewen, Plymouth; and Zach Eastman, Brainerd. The coaches were Dennis Dieser, Bruce Hoffarber of Hopkins and Bob Kaitz of Plymouth.