Tigers had bittersweet ending to season
Not getting the 'true state tournament atmosphere' can't take away from successful 20-3 season.
After being denied a chance to play for a state berth last season, the Nevis boys basketball team was determined to qualify for the Class A tournament this season.
The Tigers accomplished that goal by winning the Section 5A title to officially qualify for the state tournament for the third time. Despite falling in the state quarterfinals, Nevis put together a successful 20-3 season.
“We reached our goal of getting to the state tournament, but our kids have still been denied the true state tournament atmosphere of getting to play at the venues in the Twin Cities,” said Nevis head coach Scott Kramer, whose team qualified for state in 2015 and 2017 before COVID denied the Tigers a chance of earning a state trip last season. “I thought the season was an exceptional one for our kids considering all of the distractions with COVID, limited fans, fan lists and all of the restrictions that came with it. Other than the hiccup in the middle of the season with back-to-back losses to Cass Lake and Mahnomen, we were able to navigate everything pretty well.”
The Tigers had high expectations after entering the season rated No. 1 in the state Class A poll. Nevis lived up to that ranking by opening the season with eight straight wins. The Tigers defeated Northome/Kelliher (70-32), Red Lake (71-52), Cass Lake-Bena (52-48), Laporte (101-25), Pine River-Backus (82-51), Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (87-56) and Blackduck (84-53) in Northland Conference play before posting a 57-43 win over Nashwauk-Keewatin, which was rated No. 8 in the state poll.
A 53-49 loss to Cass Lake-Bena and an 83-78 overtime loss to Mahnomen/Waubun ended that streak. Mahnomen/Waubun was rated No. 4 entering that game while Cass Lake-Bena moved into the No. 7 spot in the state poll after defeating the Tigers.
Nevis, which dropped to No. 3 in the state poll, rebounded by ending the regular season with an eight-game winning streak. The Tigers defeated Northome/Kelliher (94-50), Blackduck (83-55), Red Lake (80-47), Park Rapids (74-43), Upsala (74-49), W-H-A (95-47), Pine River-Backus (86-69) and Aitkin (51-46) for a 16-2 record.
Nevis and Cass Lake-Bena shared the conference title with 12-1 records while Red Lake (9-5), Blackduck (8-6), Pine River-Backus (7-9), Northome/Kelliher (3-11), W-H-A (3-11) and Laporte (0-12) followed.
As the No. 1 seed in the West, the Tigers received homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs and earned a return trip to the Section 5A title game with wins over No. 9 Bertha-Hewitt (91-41), No. 5 Browerville/Eagle Valley (60-45) and No. 2 Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (59-50). Nevis completed its quest for a state berth with a 54-48 win over Upsala, the No. 2 seed in the East, in the section championship game at Wadena.
Hancock denied the Tigers a chance to play at Target Center with a 57-50 win in the state Class A quarterfinals at Perham. Hancock advanced to state by defeating Mahnomen/Waubun 77-71 in the Section 6A title game.
In addition to repeating as conference champs, the Tigers finished with 20 wins for the sixth time in the last seven years. For the season, the Tigers averaged 73.1 points a game while allowing 49.7 points a night. Nevis shot 46.6% from the floor (612 for 1,314), 37.9% on 3-pointers (197 for 520) and 68.5% on free throws (261 for 381) while averaging only 6.8 turnovers a game.
Leading the Tigers this season were seniors Derek Lindow, Jack McNamee and Dan Aman; juniors Eddie Kramer, Ty Warrington and Cain Mitchell; and freshmen JohnPaul Benson and Joe Houchin.
Lindow led the team by averaging 18.3 points a game with a high of 32. In 20 games, Lindow scored 366 points to surpass 1,000 in his career and led the Tigers with 101 assists. The senior guard also chipped in 68 rebounds, 31 steals and 12 blocked shots while making 39 3-pointers.
Kramer led the team with 78 3-pointers and was second in scoring at 16.6 points a game. Kramer started all 23 games and had 382 points (with a high of 28) to surpass 1,000 in his career while chipping in 80 rebounds, 34 assists and 30 steals.
Warrington averaged 14.5 points a game in 23 starts, finishing with 333 points with a high of 25. Warrington finished second with 93 assists and 62 steals while adding 48 rebounds, 38 3-pointers and 13 blocked shots.
Houchin averaged 7.0 points a game playing in all 23 games. Houchin scored 161 points and had 40 rebounds, 32 steals and 28 assists while scoring a high of 17.
Mitchell played in all 23 games and averaged 6.1 points a night with a high of 17. Mitchell tallied 141 points, 89 rebounds, 43 steals, 23 assists and 19 blocked shots.
Benson averaged 5.6 points a game off the bench, scoring 123 points with 22 3-pointers and a high of 13 while adding 55 rebounds in 22 games.
McNamee led the Tigers with 112 rebounds, 66 steals and 29 blocked shots while chipping in 105 points (4.8 per game) and 65 assists while starting in 22 games.
Aman contributed 35 points and 16 rebounds in 15 games.
Also seeing some varsity time were juniors Ian Ahrendt (15 points in 14 games), Ethan Lewis (nine games) and Tyler Lindow (eight games); sophomores Spencer Lindow (six games) and Ethan Klimek (five games); and freshman Austin Ahrendt (one game).
Even though the Tigers have two starters to replace in Lindow and McNamee, Kramer is expecting another successful season from his team next season.
“We will really miss Lindow and McNamee, as they have been the heart and soul of our team for the past three years. We also lose Aman to graduation. We will really miss the leadership that our seniors provided on and off the court this year. Lindow was a three-year starter who was the leader and backbone of our team. McNamee was the firecracker that kept everyone working and was just inspiring to his teammates. Aman was also an inspiration for our guys by coming back from a knee injury to even be able to play. I can't express how proud I am of these guys for their hard work and leadership for our team,” said Kramer. “We return a very talented group of guys who should be very hungry to keep things rolling. We will have a number of seniors to lead us, and with the development of Houchin and Benson, we should be able to add more offense to what we already had, as well as to add some depth to the lineup. The keys will be to get these guys in the gym and to get stronger over the summer.”
Points: Kramer 382, D. Lindow 366, Warrington 333, Houchin 161, Mitchell 141, Benson 123, McNamee 105, Aman 35, I. Ahrendt 15, S. Lindow 8, Lewis 6, T. Lindow 4, A. Ahrendt 3.
Scoring average D. Lindow 18.3, Kramer 16.6, Warrington 14.5, Houchin 7.0, MItchell 6.1, Benson 5.6, McNamee 4.8, A. Ahrendt 3.0, Aman 2.3, S. Lindow 1.3, I. Ahrendt 1.1, Lewis 0.7, T. Lindow 0.5.
Rebounds: McNamee 112, Mitchell 89, Kramer 80, D. Lindow 68, Benson 55, Warrington 48, Houchin 40, Aman 26, I. Ahrendt 8, S. Lindow 7, Klimek 5, Lewis 3.
Assists: D. Lindow 101, Warrington 93, McNamee 65, Kramer 34, Houchin 28, Mitchell 23, Benson 8, Lewis 4, T. Lindow 4, I. Ahrendt 2, Aman 2.
Steals: McNamee 66, Warrington 62, Mitchell 43, Houchin 32, D. Lindow 31, Kramer 30, Benson 7, Aman 4, I. Ahrendt 1, Klimek 1.
Blocked shots: McNamee 29, Mitchell 19, Warrington 13, Kramer 13, D. Lindow 12, Benson 8, Aman 3, Houchin 2.
Field goals: Kramer 137 for 292, D. Lindow 136 for 305, Warrington 116 for 248, Houchin 62 for 128, Mitchell 55 for 113, Benson 45 for 94, McNamee 31 for 63, Aman 16 for 35, I. Ahrendt 6 for 15, S. Lindow 3 for 7, T. Lindow 2 for 4, Lewis 2 for 7, A. Ahrendt 1 for 1, Klimek 0 for 2.
Free throws: Warrington 63 for 82, D. Lindow 55 for 71, McNamee 42 for 62, Houchin 32 for 61, Kramer 30 for 40, Mitchell 23 for 37, Benson 11 for 15, I. Ahrendt 3 for 7, Aman 2 for 6.
3-pointers: Kramer 78 for 196, D. Lindow 39 for 101, Warrington 38 for 103, Benson 22 for 58, Houchin 5 for 18, Lewis 2 for 5, S. Lindow 2 for 6, Aman 1 for 1, A. Ahrendt 1 for 1, McNamee 1 for 3, I. Ahrendt 0 for 1, T. Lindow 0 for 1.