WITH THE NEED FOR SPEED AT STATE, THE WARRIORS ARE LOOKING TO BE TOP GUN - MSHSL BOYS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT 2016
With the need for speed at State, the Warriors are looking to be Top Gun - MSHSL Boys Basketball Tournament 2016
By Dugan Thomas
CALEDONIA, MN - 03/09/2016
The Caledonia Warriors boys basketball team used speed, athleticism, and shooting to cruise through the Section 1-AA tournament, sending them to State for the third year in a row.
93-47 over Kenyon-Wanamingo, 71-56 over Triton, 89-62 over Cannon Falls, 92-71 over St. Charles.
That's your scoreboard, that's your stat-line. The Warriors were dialed in like a fighter jet. Not just any fighter jet, a U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat.
Head Coach Josh Diersen, call sign "Viper", he's the commander of this elite unit. He's unleashing the jets, letting these Warriors go at top speed, because that's what they do best.
When the Warriors get in clean air, Diersen demands they pull the trigger, and they do it well. With a rate of 39% behind the 3-point line for the season, they shot a blistering 53% from three in the section championship versus St. Charles.
Senior Colton Lampert is "Maverick". He's reckless, he's unpredictable. The cross-over dribble and drive, the step-back three, the lightning-quick fast-break to the hoop. He's got it all. 14.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists on the year, Lamps poured in 20 against St. Charles. He's so quick the defenders can't move fast enough to get defensive body position. Multiple times on the break Thursday night he split defenders, then jumped over or around to finish at the hoop. He's so slick, he garners attention and opens up the Caledonia offense, making everyone around him better. Lampert is the clear leader of this group, and he's one of the big-three.
From freshman phenom to sensational sophomore, Owen King is a scoring machine. He's the "Iceman". He flies and shoots so clean, he's ice-cold. He makes no mistakes, and misses no opportunities. His game is to create, shoot, and drive, to score however he can. Owen hit the 1,000 point mark already this season as just a sophomore, then tied Aaron Middendorf's Caledonia career scoring record Thursday night to put him at 1,326. King averages 19.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 6.4 assists a game. He's a phenomenal basketball player and a first-team all-state championship winning quarterback. King's leadership and state experience will be key.
The last of the big-three is the high-flyer. 6-5 Senior Gavin Schroeder is "Hollywood". The rebound in the lane and the put back, the presence inside, the man doing the dirty work. The alley-oop dunk to ignite the crowd. Schroeder's height and leaping ability give the Warriors rebounding, and second-chance points. 14.2 points, 6 rebounds, and a 54% field-goal shooter on the year, Gavin has that valuable state experience like King and Lampert. He can shoot from the outside like everyone else, but that height is valuable inside, the Warriors need his body in the paint.
Sophomore point-guard Andrew Goergen is "Merlin". He's the assist man, the distributor. Score when it's there, but get the ball to the trigger men and let them do their thing. Andrew has the speed, and he definitely has the athleticism like his older all-star wrestling brothers. His role will definitely change in years to come, but he has a valuable role this year. Control the basketball and be an assist machine.
Rounding out the starting line-up is the new kid on the block, 8th-grader Noah King. I'll call him "Slider", the Iceman's rio and sidekick, Noah King is a prodigy who is learning fast and playing well beside his older brother Owen. Noah averages 9 points and 2.8 rebounds a game. He can hit the three, the pull-up mid-range jumper, and he can get to the hoop. His all-around game brings speed, athleticism, and another scorer to the Warriors. This is no ordinary 8th-grader, state defenders better not loose track of this one.
The spark plug off the bench showcased itself in the section championship. Senior Ethan DuCharme entered the game and lit it up. Four daggers into the heart of the Saints before they even knew what hit them. Three 3-pointers and a runner in the lane for good measure. DuCharme is "Jester", the cagey veteran who gives the team a shot of adrenaline when they need it, a true sixth man off the bench. Ethan will be relied on to do that again and again in the state tournament, defenses better not loose him, or he'll make them pay.
Sophomore guard Sam Barthel comes off the bench and chips in 4.6 points a game. He's "Goose", Maverick's buddy and partner. Scoring, assists, rebounds and defense, just be another spark plug to help out Maverick and the team, and give quality minutes. Barthel also shoots 48% from the field on the year, the kid can get it done when needed.
Senior Sean McGonigle, sophomore Jordan Burg, senior Henry Russert, senior Tristin Ott, and junior Thomas Jergenson will be the next men up off the bench. All reserves need to be ready when their number is called, and provide quality minutes if needed. The Warriors bench has had plenty of opportunity this year.
The Warriors received and deserved the #2 seed in this year's tournament. They will play Jackson County Central at tonight in Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus. The 23-5 Huskies are the 3AA champs, and this is their first trip to the state tournament. They boast some height in 6-9 senior Bodey Behrends, and 6-5 senior Colton Timmer. Cal's speed versus JCC's inside presence, this should be a great one.
The winner will play in the semi-finals 8:00 PM Friday night at TargetCenter downtown Minneapolis (Annandale or Esko), the loser unfortunately goes home. The state championship is Saturday at TargetCenter.
The Warriors are battle tested and prepared from the tough schedule put together by athletic director Scott Sorenson and Coach Diersen. They've been to State and done all they could the last two years (2nd-2015 and 3rd-2014). Caledonia's trio of coaches Josh Diersen, Brad King, and Jeremy Leis have mentally and physically prepared this team for what lies ahead. They have the talent, they have the skill, they have the experience.
It took 3 years to get to the top in 1997, maybe it'll take 3 years to get to the top in 2016. I definitely can't wait to find out.