Duluth East boys basketball coach Rhett McDonald on his young and quickly improving team, which has won two of its last three including a 90-81 victory over North Branch in the Owatonna Holiday Tournament Saturday – "Coming into this season, we knew we had a lot of holes to fill and also a lot of inexperience on our hands. To be completely honest, I have been very pleased with how well all of our players have played thus far. They work really hard and they play for each other. They share the basketball and they are fun young group to coach.
Returning from last year’s group that played extended minutes are junior Brennan Meyer and sophomore Ty Nyberg. Both of these guys have exceeded expectations thus far this year, by taking a lot of the responsibility as scorers. Another player that has been playing extremely well is senior Bjorn Lind. His overall athleticism and feel for the game is really cool to watch.
Coming into the season, we knew we had to play differently in order to be successful. In the past, we’ve been blessed with some bigs that allowed us to get low post touches, create advantages through our post play, which allowed our guards space on the perimeter to make plays. This year we’re not as big, and we have had to be creative to find ways to create advantages elsewhere. This year we play a lot faster we’re shooting a lot more threes and it’s been a fun new style to coach. Our last game included 17 total three-point field goals in a game against North Branch.
Having a team with as much inexperience as we have this year coming into the year, we didn’t want immaturity to be a negative factor on our season, in terms of our play and behavior on and off the court. These guys have worked really hard to stay super connected with each other and focused on the task at hand every single day. In order for us to be successful moving forward, we need to stay focused on our process regarding how we guard the basketball and rebound it."
Note: The Greyhounds (2-4) will play host to Rock Ridge on Thursday and Forest Lake Saturday.
Hermantown boys basketball coach Andy Fenske on his club, which went 1-1 in a pair of Delano boys basketball holiday tournament games last week, losing to Delano 85-61 before blitzing Monticello 80-63 – "Thursday we had the chance to go against a top 10-team in AAA. We came out of the gates hot and had the lead early on. Once they got hot we were in a true battle to keep in it. As the game went on, we cut the deficit we found ourselves in down to six but we couldn't quite hold on. They're a top team for a reason with all the weapons that they had.
After that, the boys had a quick turnaround to prep for Monticello who, despite their record, has some great talent on their team. They're led by two bruisers of seniors and a guard who's tough to contain. However, despite our slow start in game two, we had them doubled up in points for the majority of the game, and maintained a 20-plus point lead through most of the second half.
We had a great weekend from (Abe) Soumis (23 points and 9 boards, 3 assists vs. Delano and 33 points, 19 rebounds, 6 steals, 4 assists vs. Monticello) as well as from Nate Hill (10 points and 7 boards vs. Delano and 29 points, 4 boards against Monticello) and Peyton Menzel (12 points, 7 assists and 2 steals vs. Delano). We saw some great things from guys coming off of the bench, too. All in all it was a great win to wrap up the 2023 calendar year.
This upcoming week we have another section game on the road (Friday night at Rock Ridge) which will be a good test to help with some seeding come March. We follow that up with a game against Becker (Saturday 5 p.m. in a Lake Superior Classic game at Duluth East Gym), which is showing the ability to put the ball in the hoop with ease. That's going to be another great test to see how we handle some new looks and new personnel to take on."
Fargo Force forward Zam Plante of Hermantown has collected 10 points, including five goals, in his last six games. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Bulldogs recruit has 14 goals and 30 points in 23 games overall. Plante's younger brother, Max Plante, and the U.S. Under-18 team faced the University of North Dakota at Ralph Engelstad Arena on Saturday night and plays the University of Minnesota at 3 p.m. Monday at Mariucci Arena.
Issac Howard, a prized, NHL first-round draft pick who bolted from the Bulldogs program after his freshman season, is tied for the Michigan State team scoring lead with 20 points (five goals) in 18 games played.