Tigers produced solid 14-12 season
Scott Kramer expected the Nevis boys basketball team to contend for the Northland Conference title and make a run at challenging for the Section 5A championship.
The Tigers made a run at winning the conference title by going 9-5 and finishing in third place. Four of those losses were by a combined 16 points.
Despite being eliminated by Upsala 78-64 in the subsection quarterfinals, Kramer was pleased with his team's 14-12 overall record. That was Nevis' first winning record since the 2002-03 season. Nevis also was named the Section 5A academic champions.
"I thought we had a productive season in which we met some of our goals, but not all of them," said Kramer. "Although we were happy with a winning record, we lost six games that were decided in the final minute or final possession."
The Tigers opened the season with conference victories over Laporte (67-33), Pine River-Backus (52-43) and Blackduck (68-55). Nevis then dropped conference games to Cass Lake (104-89) and Red Lake (82-80) before keeping its title hopes alive by defeating PR-B (55-50), Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (53-48 in overtime) and Northome-Kelliher (68-53). Nevis was denied the conference title with losses to Red Lake (68-63), W-H-A (65-61 in overtime) and Blackduck (61-56). The Tigers wrapped up third place in the conference with wins over Laporte (74-26), Northome-Kelliher (48-43) and Cass Lake (78-74).
Red Lake won the conference title with a 13-1 record while Cass Lake finished at 12-2. Following Nevis were Blackduck at 8-6, W-H-A at 6-8, N-K and PR-B at 4-10, and Laporte at 0-14.
By defeating N-K and Laporte twice each, the Tigers were able to repeat as Longbow Conference champs.
In non-conference play, the Tigers defeated International Falls (75-61), Menahga (55-30), Browerville (63-49) and Verndale (twice by scores of 56-50 and 61-51) and lost to Northland Remer (81-54), Park Rapids (twice by scores of 58-55 in overtime and 50-47), Bertha-Hewitt (53-38), Sebeka (66-44) and Royalton (53-36).
Of those teams, Sebeka and Cass Lake advanced to the state Class A tournament.
The Tigers received the No. 5 seed for the subsection tournament and were eliminated by No. 4 Upsala.
"We were a little disappointed in our finish as we didn't play very well at Upsala after beating Cass Lake," said Kramer.
Leading the Tigers this season were the starting five of senior Jacques Lien; juniors Nolan Toft, Mitch Rehkamp and Hunter Schroeder; and sophomore Dylan Stenberg.
Toft earned Northland Conference honors and was named the Longbow Conference Most Valuable Player after leading the Tigers by averaging 23.3 points and 7.9 rebounds a game. In 26 games, Toft shot 45.6 percent from the field (205 for 450, including 41 for 112 on 3-pointers) and 72 percent at the free throw line (154 for 214) while scoring 605 points. Toft, who scored a career high of 41 points against Cass Lake, raised his career total to 1,857 points. Toft also had 205 rebounds, 42 steals, 28 assists and 14 blocked shots.
Stenberg earned Northland and Longbow honors after finishing second on the team in scoring at 11.3 points a game. In 26 games, Stenberg shot 43.4 percent from the field (99 for 228, including 24 for 97 on 3-pointers) and 70.3 percent at the line (71 for 101). Stenberg led the team with 113 assists, 66 steals and 32 blocks while tallying 293 points and 163 rebounds.
Rehkamp earned all-conference honors in the Longbow and all-conference honorable mention honors in the Northland after averaging 6.9 points and 7.3 rebounds a game. Rehkamp played in 26 games and shot 58.1 percent from the field (68 for 117) and 50 percent at the line (42 for 84). Rehkamp finished second in rebounds with 191 and fourth in points with 180 while adding 17 steals, 28 assists and 10 blocks.
Lien received Longbow Conference honors after averaging 5.4 points a game and finishing second on the team with 86 assists. In 25 games, Lien shot 41.6 percent from the field (52 for 125) and 53.8 percent at the line (28 for 52) while tallying 136 points, 60 rebounds and 29 steals.
Schroeder was named to the Longbow honorable mention list after finishing third on the team in scoring at 7.8 point a night. Schroeder shot 33.6 percent from the field (81 for 241, including 37 for 150 on 3-pointers) while scoring 203 points. Schroeder also had 72 assists, 55 rebounds and 33 steals.
Sophomore Logan Gooch and eighth grader Taylor Chase also played key roles this season. Gooch played in all 26 games, averaging 2.8 points and 3.7 rebounds a game. Gooch had 74 points, 96 rebounds, 20 assists and 16 steals. Chase played in 16 games and had 38 points and 22 rebounds.
Also seeing some varsity action were junior Steve Ziesmer and sophomores Zach Anderson, Beau Daniels, Nick Halfmann and Anthony Becker.
"We are excited about the nucleus we have returning and with a strong group of sophomores coming back, we should be able to add some depth at the varsity level," said Kramer, who was named the Longbow Conference Coach of the Year. "The key to our success next season will be directly related to how many games we play as a team in June and July. I thought going into this past season that we didn't get enough work as a team in the summer. We are excited about getting to work this summer. I think the kids are ready to step up and take commitment to the next level, which is what will be necessary to compete with the likes of Sebeka and Bertha-Hewitt."