Burro boys to battle back with experienced, deep lineup

By : 
Lee Epps

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The Lanesboro boys bring back five of last year's primary seven-player rotation for the basketball season that opens tonight (Nov. 29) at Rochester versus Schaeffer Academy.

With three returning starters, the Burros will feature two of last year's leading scorers and three of the top four rebounders as well as the top two free throw shooters and the assist leader.

Returning players accounted for 81 percent of last year's scoring, 65 percent of the rebounding and 66 percent of the assists.

But the task is formidable; no one expected last year's 2-24 record (1-12 SEC). Progress is certainly a reasonable expectation this winter. Coach Chris Hanson sees better ball handling, more quickness, more speed, improved perimeter shooting and more competitive practices.

This time last year after substantial losses to graduation, Hanson said rebounding and limiting turnovers would be keys to success. He says those two areas still need improvement. This season, a more experienced lineup should make more progress in those two statistical categories as the Burros seek to improve the win-loss record.

Last year, LHS shot 26 percent from three-point land. With no proven point production in the post, the boys need to meet the coach's expectation for better results from the perimeter.

The boys shot 56 percent from the free throw line, a percentage typical of most high school teams.

Carson Schwichtenberg is the most decorated Burro. The 6-foot senior point guard was Second Team All-Conference and was voted Lanesboro's Most Valuable Player.

He had a hand in much of the point production, posting team-best averages with both 15.4 points and 3.0 assists per game along with a team-high 68 percent accuracy from the free throw line. Schwichtenberg was the third leading rebounder with 4.6 caroms per contest.

His accomplishments came while drawing the attention of most opponents' best defender.

Andrew Luck received Honorable Mention All-SEC recognition last year. The 6-1 senior forward was the second leading scorer with 12.5 points per game, buoyed by a team-best 33 percent from three-point range. His 63 percent from the foul line was the second best on the team.

He closed on a hot-shooting streak as the Burros' leading scorer in the final few games.

Connor Ruen, a 6-0 senior forward, was last year's second leading rebounder with 5.1 boards per game. He had a 4.5-point scoring average.

Joe Gathje, a 6-1 senior forward, played in 24 of the 26 games while Sawyer Johnson, a 5-11 sophomore guard, saw action in all 26 contests as a freshman.

Greysen Higbe-Harrah was his teammates' choice for Most Improved Player. The 6-1 senior center is missing early workouts on the injured list.

The seven-member senior contingent also includes 5-11 guard Garrett Melander and 6-1 post Hunter Gehrke.

Other varsity contributions at guard could come from sophomore Wilson Storhoff and the only junior on the roster, Chance Miller.

Other sophomore candidates are guards Ben Eversole, Jake Gathje and Logan Jensson as well as forwards Ben Snyder, Bodie Mayer and Ryan Holmen.

 Talent extends to freshman forward Carter Clarke, freshman guard J. T. Rein and eighth grade guard John Prestemon.

Numbers are strong with promising talent; Hanson said the B team showed considerable improvement during the season. Quality depth, according to the coach, has made scrimmaging more competitive and challenging and therefore better preparation for the primary varsity rotation.

Hanson is back for his fourth season as head coach after 10 years as assistant. Matt Asleson, after experience coaching younger players, will be the varsity assistant and B team mentor this winter.  Bret Klaehn and Justin Howard will guide the junior high guys.

The schedule

Conference newcomer Kingsland will join the SEC East Division along with Lanesboro, Houston, Spring Grove and Mabel-Canton. Schaeffer Academy, which finished in second place last winter, will move to make a six-team West Division this year.

Lanesboro will play home and away games with East Division rivals plus one conference contest with each of the West Division clubs.  The Randolph game will again be played at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

There will also be a non-conference second game versus Lyle/Pacelli. Other non-league action includes Class A competition from Goodhue, Fillmore Central, Christian Life and Alden-Conger.

There are also Class AA clashes with Cotter, Cannon Falls, Lewiston-Altura and Chatfield — the latter two in the annual holiday tournament at Winona State.

The Burros will cross the state line to take on Cochrane-Fountain City (Wis.) and will play again in the Iowa-Minnesota Border Battle at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, this year versus Lansing Kee.

The complete schedule will be in next week's News Leader.

This week and next

After tonight's conference opener at Schaeffer Academy, the Burro boys will open at home on Tuesday, Dec. 4 against Cotter.  Cannon Falls visits two nights later on Thursday, Dec. 6.

It will make four games in five days when LHS hosts Grand Meadow on Friday night (Dec. 7) before a 9:30 Saturday morning game at Decorah versus Lansing Kee.