Tigers finish 22-7, live up to expectations
Scott Kramer expected the Nevis boys basketball team to have a successful season.
Challenging for the Northland Conference and Section 5A West titles and going 22-7 overall lived up to Kramer's high expectations.
"I was extremely pleased with the success of our season," said Kramer. "I was proud of the guys and the way that we worked hard every day and the way that we competed."
The Tigers set the tone for the season early by winning their first eight games. Nevis defeated Laporte 80-40, Pine River-Backus 68-60, Blackduck 62-50 and Northland Remer 63-41 before winning the title at the Park Rapids Holiday Tournament with wins over Sauk Centre (54-41) and Frazee (77-44). Wins over Menahga (66-53) and Royalton (57-36) gave Nevis an 8-0 record.
An 88-72 loss to Red Lake ended that winning streak before the Tigers followed a 47-40 win over PR-B with a 62-48 loss to Sebeka. Nevis then put together a three-game winning streak by defeating Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (80-55), Park Rapids (83-42) and Northome-Kelliher (70-64) before dropping a 77-61 decision to Cass Lake.
The Tigers avenged the loss to Red Lake with an 89-85 victory to start a five-game winning streak. Nevis followed with victories over Laporte (86-33), Verndale (79-45), W-H-A (69-49) and Blackduck (67-49) before dropping a 62-50 decision to Norwood-Young America at the Target Center.
After a 71-65 win over Northome-Kelliher, the Tigers were denied a share of the Northland Conference title with an 84-75 loss to Cass Lake. Nevis ended the regular season with wins over Browerville (63-51) and Verndale (77-41) and a 56-44 loss to Bertha-Hewitt.
The Tigers entered the Section 5A West playoffs as the No. 3 seed and advanced to the West title game with wins over No. 6 Menahga (77-61) and No. 2 Bertha-Hewitt (69-49). The win over B-H proved costly as leading scorer Nolan Toft suffered a knee injury and was lost for the season.
Despite that loss, the Tigers battled No. 1 Sebeka in the subsection title game before falling 68-48.
"We played for the conference championship and made it to our first subsection title game in nine seasons," said Kramer. "I still believe we were playing well enough to go to the wire with Sebeka if in fact we would have had Nolan available. I thought our guys showed a tremendous amount of heart in the championship game being a little uncomfortable without him."
Of Nevis' seven losses, five were to teams that were ranked during the season. Sebeka and Cass Lake both qualified for the state Class A tournament with Sebeka earning runner-up honors. Sebeka was rated No. 3 in the final state Class A poll while Bertha-Hewitt ended the season rated No. 6 in the state Class A poll.
Nevis ended Northland Conference play with an 11-3 record to trail Cass Lake's 13-1 mark and Red Lake's 12-2 record. The Tigers did win the Longbow Conference title with a 4-0 record while Northome-Kelliher went 2-2 and Laporte finished 0-4. Nevis was named the Section 6A academic champs.
Leading the Tigers this season were the five players who earned all-conference honors: seniors Toft, Mitch Rehkamp and Hunter Schroeder; sophomore Dylan Stenberg; and freshman Taylor Chase.
Toft, Stenberg and Chase received Northland Conference honors while Rehkamp was an honorable mention player. Chase was also named Rookie of the Year. Toft was named the Longbow Conference Most Valuable Player and was joined by Stenberg, Rehkamp and Chase as all-conference players. Schroeder was a Longbow Conference honorable mention selection.
Junior Logan Gooch and freshman Shawn Anglin also played key roles in the Tigers' success this season.
Toft graduates as the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,367 points. In 28 games this season, Toft led the Tigers by averaging 18.2 points a game with a high of 37. Toft shot 45.2 percent from the field (176 for 389, including 54 for 146 on 3-pointers) and 74.8 percent at the free throw line (104 for 139). Toft finished the season with 510 points, 156 rebounds, 54 assists, 36 steals and 15 blocked shots.
Stenberg finished second on the team in scoring at 13.4 points a game and led the team with 166 assists, 78 steals and 19 blocked shots in 29 games. Stenberg shot 46.4 percent from the field (134 for 289, including 16 for 94 on 3-pointers) and 63.9 percent at the line (106 for 166) in scoring 390 points with a high of 24. Stenberg also had 127 rebounds.
Chase averaged 10.4 points a game, shooting 44.7 percent from the field (109 for 244, including 45 for 123 on 3-pointers) and 65.6 percent at the line (40 for 61). Chase scored 303 points (with a high of 21) and had 103 rebounds, 47 assists, 44 steals and 14 blocks in 29 games.
Schroeder played 28 games and averaged 8.3 points a game with a high of 20. Schroeder shot 37.3 percent from the field (88 for 236, including 29 for 122 on 3-pointers) and 51.9 percent at the line (27 for 52). Schroeder finished the season with 232 points, 76 rebounds, 57 assists, 57 steals and eight blocks.
Anglin played in 27 games and averaged 8.3 points a game, including a high of 18. Anglin made 50 percent of his field goals (83 for 166) and 48.4 percent of his free throws (59 for 122). Anglin tallied 225 points, 156 rebounds, 23 steals, 17 blocks and 15 assists.
Rehkamp played in all 29 games and averaged 6.2 points a game, including a high of 22. Rehkamp shot 41.5 percent from the field (59 for 142, including 8 for 28 on 3-pointers) and 63.5 percent at the line (54 for 85). Rehkamp tallied 180 points, 149 rebounds, 26 assists, 14 steals and seven blocks.
Gooch played in 28 games and contributed 62 points, 66 rebounds, 13 steals, 13 blocks and six assists.
Also seeing some varsity action this season were senior Zach Johnson; sophomores Matt Gustafson and Bryon Schuldt; and freshmen Jake Keranen, Robbie Hine and Gerald Beckerleg.
The Tigers have three starters to replace, but Kramer is counting on another successful season next year with the return of four veteran players and the addition of some younger talent.
"On the one hand, our seniors are going to be tough to replace. Nolan, Hunter and Mitch are the first group of guys that I was able to coach since ninth grade. They have provided an infinite amount of leadership and have become role models for the younger student-athletes at Nevis," said Kramer. "On the other hand, they have laid the groundwork of success for our underclassmen to follow. They have set the bar for our next teams to strive for. I am pretty certain that now that our kids have experienced some significant success, they will work even harder to get to the next level. We have four of our top guys returning with some talented kids coming back. We hope to be knocking on the door again next winter."