2/23/2011: UPDATE: Red Wing's Buck throws punch in game, sits out second game
New Prague junior forward Anna Rynda was isolated on Red Wing sophomore standout Tesha Buck whenever the Wingers had the ball and, as the game wore on, it became evident that Buck was annoyed by the constant shadow.
Both Rynda and Scott Kopp, one of the game's officials, said Buck became frustrated during the Feb. 18 game at Red Wing.
"(She was) trying too hard to force offensive shooting," Kopp said. "Head down. She didn't have excitement, I guess you would call it."
However, no one foresaw what was coming and almost no one -- including the officials -- saw it at the time.
After Red Wing point guard Jen Ulveling faked a pass in Buck's direction, Buck used her right arm to knock Rynda on the backside of her head. A couple seconds later, after Rynda had righted herself and turned to look at the basket, Buck punched Rynda in the head. Rynda was struck on the side of the face between the ear and cheekbone.
"It was out of the blue," Rynda said.
No foul was called and Buck remained in the game; however, she did not play in Tuesday's road loss at Shakopee or Friday's home loss against Chanhassen. She has practiced with the team, according to athletic director Matt Schultz.
Red Wing Supt. Stan Slessor declined to specify how Buck is being disciplined.
Slessor said the school's administration had a role in determining punishment.
It seems unlikely that either the legal system or the Minnesota State High School League will become involved in the issue.
Speaking in general terms, assistant Goodhue County attorney Dave Grove said someone who throws a punch could be subject to assault or disorderly conduct charges. First, a report would need to be filed with the police and Rynda said her family does not intend to take action against Buck.
"We don't want to create any waves or anything ... we're just gonna let it go," Rynda said.
MSHSL associate director Lisa Lissimore called it "a local school issue" and said the league was not involved because an incident report was not filed. The game's officials had no reason to file a report because they didn't see Buck throw the punch.
New Prague athletic director Brad Skogerboe said he has no plans to file an incident report.
As of Thursday night, Rynda said she'd had no contact with Buck since the game. Slessor declined to comment when asked if Buck had been instructed to apologize.
Red Wing coach Kraig Ulveling declined to comment as did Buck's dad, Rich, an assistant coach with the team.
Rynda said she didn't say or do something to provoke the punch. New Prague coach Ron Gunderson seconded that assertion.
"It's very clear she didn't do anything," Gunderson said.
Rynda recoiled from the blow, grabbed the side of her face with her right hand and crouched down for a moment before making her way up the court to start the Trojans' offensive possession.
Officials stopped the play because it appeared Rynda was injured. Kopp said he thought Rynda might have caught an inadvertent elbow while being boxed out. Rynda said she knew right away that she was hit in the face, but she didn't complain to the officials or correct them.
"They just came up to me and asked me if I was OK and I didn't want to get taken out of the game or anything," Rynda said. "So then I just tried to stop crying and I said I was OK."
She added: "It was a close game and it was toward the end so I figured I could just suck it up for a little bit longer."
The Trojans went on to win 72-64. Rynda held Buck to 11 points and scored 21 of her own.
Buck is Red Wing's leading scorer, averaging 15.5 points per game, and has caught college coaches' attention. Buck has said she's been offered a scholarship to play for Wisconsin-Green Bay and that she is interested in Minnesota.
Kopp worked the game with Jason Bakke. Neither official was aware that a punch had been thrown until contacted Thursday.
"I am really oblivious, in all sincerity," Bakke said.
Kopp said officials missed the incident because it took place in what he referred to as a two-person crew's "blind spot." Buck and Rynda were on the wing near the Red Wing bench while the ball was on the other side of the court. Red Wing's Marisa Toivonen was putting up a shot in the paint at the time Rynda was hit.
Slessor said he thinks coach Ulveling didn't see the punch either because it occurred away from the action.
"I'm looking at this situation believing that in this particular case knowledge came to everybody well after the fact," Slessor said. "This is not how anyone coaches. Our coach has the highest respect for the rules of the game and how we want young people to develop."
While Rynda expressed a desire to drop the issue, it might not be long before the incident is brought up again. New Prague and Red Wing are both members of Section 1AAA. The teams have met in the section tournament each of the last four years with the Trojans winning all four meetings.
The section tournament begins Wednesday and Rynda said she is preparing to play the Wingers once more.
"I would be a little timid (of guarding Buck again)," Rynda said. "I would still do it without even double guessing myself."