Despite some tough challenges, Scott Kramer is counting on the Nevis boys basketball team to make a run at defending the Northland Conference and Section 5A titles this season.
The Tigers return three all-conference players from a team that went 14-0 in the conference and defeated Browerville/Eagle Valley 55-52 in four overtimes in the section championship game to qualify for the state Class A tournament for the second time in school history. Nevis ended a 28-3 season with losses to Springfield (73-65) and Red Lake (52-43) at state.
Three main challenges face the Tigers in their quest to repeat as conference and section champs.
The first challenge is replacing Griffin Chase and Andrew Dudley. Chase graduated with 2,219 career points after leading the team by averaging 21.0 points a game, dishing out 127 assists, making 88 steals and hitting 70 3-pointers last season while Dudley averaged 7.1 points a game and was second on the team with 43 3-pointers.
The second challenge is battling a talented Cass Lake team in the conference and having Hinckley-Finlayson and Braham added to the section. Hinckley-Finlayson went 23-5 in Section 7AA while Braham had a 16-11 record in Section 6A.
The third challenge is catching up after several players missed the first week of basketball practice while the football team was playing for a state championship.
"Cass Lake will be a tough conference opponent with a lot of guys returning and Hinckley-Finlayson and Braham will only make the section more competitive," said Kramer. "We just hope to get better as our football team's season just concluded and we are a little behind schedule in getting going."
Returning to lead the Tigers this season are seniors Zach Henry (guard), Caden Kramer (forward), Jack Landquist (forward) and Tom Wormley (forward) and junior Michael Landquist (guard). The Landquists and Wormley were all-conference players last season.
Michael Landquist was second on the team in scoring at 13.3 points a game. Landquist scored 411 points to surpass 1,000 in his career while adding 154 rebounds, 108 assists and 63 steals in 31 games.
Jack Landquist also played in all 31 games and averaged 11.8 points and a team-high 6.1 rebounds a game. Landquist had 365 points, 188 rebounds, 40 assists and 35 steals.
Wormley led the team with 53 blocked shots and contributed 191 points, 150 rebounds, 29 steals and 24 assists in 30 games.
Henry contributed 87 points, 52 rebounds, 35 assists and 31 steals in 29 games while Kramer played in 26 games and tallied 90 points and 42 rebounds.
Also returning from last year's varsity are senior forward Donny Peet (18 points, 11 rebounds in 12 games), senior guard Dylen Spain-Brist (17 points in 11 games) and sophomore guard Luke DeWulf (23 points, 25 assists, 19 rebounds, 14 steals in 17 games).
Rounding out the varsity roster are senior forward Evan Butcher, junior forward Ben Soldwisch, junior guard Keanu Yabandith, sophomore forward Ben Bloomquist, freshman guard Derek Lindow and eighth grade guard Eddie Kramer.
"We look to try and defend our conference title and make another run in Section 5A," said Kramer. "Our guys had a productive summer and I think we can have another great season."