‘17-18 Bucs on the fastbreak
The Blue Earth Area boys basketball team struggled through last season as they finished up the 2016-2017 campaign with a record of 5-19. Losing five senior starters from the previous year certainly did not help the cause.
This time around, third- year head basketball coach Kolby Swanson admits his team is still short on experience. However, coach Swanson is most excited about the youthful exuberance on his roster.
“We had a good summer in terms of getting better and getting ready for this year,” says Swanson.
“The first month is going to get us accustomed to a new group playing together. We have some pretty skilled players, but we’re not very physical so far,” he continues.
One of the more experienced players on the Bucs roster this year happens to be all-conference senior performer Jacob Vaske. Also a talented wide receiver on the BEA football team, Vaske’s skill set on the hardwood works extremely well in the paint. As coach Swanson explains, Vaske’s supreme athletic ability allows the multi-sport star to overcome his lack of height at the center position.
“He probably is faster and more athletic than a lot of the guys he’s playing against,” Swanson says of his six-foot-three center. “He can get up and down the court and he has sneaky strength. Of our returning players, he is probably the one we are expecting the most of.”
Aside from Vaske, fellow seniors Jared Kennedy and Bobby Lindsey look to lead the younger group of Buccaneer hoopsters by example, heading into the new season.
Caelan Sanders, another one of BEA’s top gridiron talents, will be a key contributor to the basketball rotation this season. Now a sophomore, Sanders had the unique opportunity to start a number of games as a freshman last year.
Meanwhile, Buccaneer youngster Austin Thielfoldt also figures to have a prominent role in this year’s lineup. As just an eighth grader last season, Thielfoldt saw a large share of varsity game action as the team’s sixth man.
While some coaches prefer their athletes to focus their energies on one sport, Swanson believes having his players participate in multiple sports year round is a major benefit to his program. That being the case, several members of the Bucs basketball squad have recently wrapped up their fall sports activities.
With so many young athletes in tip-top shape, Swanson envisions this year’s team utilizing a quick paced, fastbreak style of play. As a result, BEA fans should expect plenty of excitement from this year’s run-and-gun Bucs.
“We’re going to try to push the ball up the floor and run as much as we can,” Swanson says. “That’s kind of our identity; sharing the ball, trying to get quick layups. We have quite a few shooters this year, too.”
Coach Swanson feels Blue Earth Area’s high-octane attack gives the Bucs the best chance for success in key rivalry games this year. Going up against Fairmont on Dec. 7, St. Peter on Jan. 9, and New Richland on Feb. 19, such stiff competition will be sure to test the competitive spirit of this year’s Bucs.
While Fairmont finished strong with an 18-10 mark a year ago, New Richland was utterly dominant all season long, going 30-3 and finishing as quarterfinalists in Class 2 AA at the Minnesota State Tournament.
BEA’s schedule is loaded with top quality opposition, however, Swanson is excited about the challenges ahead.
“I’m really looking forward to this year. Even though we don’t have a ton of experience, we have guys that have played a lot of hoops, so that’s exciting”