Young but seasoned
Blue Earth Area boys basketball coach Colby Swanson expects a lot from his team and not just on the basketball court.
“I want each player to be a difference maker on the basketball floor, in our school and in our community,” states Swanson.
The boys wearing the maroon and gold for BEA this year may be a young squad, but they are also a group that has seen a lot of action on the hardwood.
Swanson only had three seniors on the team last year. However, the three boys he lost to graduation were also the three tallest members of that team.
Gone are Bobby Lindsey, Jacob Vaske and Jared Kennedy. Those three boys ranged in height from 6- foot-3 inches to 6-foot-4.
“We don’t have a lot of size this year,” comments Swanson. “We need to play fast, spread the floor and utilize our outside shooting.”
This year the squad will also have three seniors. They are forwards Parker Kienitz and Eric Becker along with guard Brayden Barnett.
Junior guards Grant Strukel, Carter Bell, and Caelan Sanders gained a significant amount of playing time last year as sophomores. They are joined by fellow classmates Brady Olsen, Xavier Morrow, Luke Carr, Jack Barke and PJ Christensen.
There are also two sophomores on the team who have already been exposed to the rigors of varsity basketball.
Austin Thielfoldt first started playing varsity ball as an eighth grader and added to his experience last year. Left-hander Cameron Anderson worked his way on to the varsity squad as a freshman last year. He was able to increase his minutes on the court as the season progressed.
Other sophomores on the squad are Gavin Storbeck, Braden Gudahl and Sam Keister.
Zach Hermann, a freshman, will also dress with the varsity squad.
When it comes to the Big South Conference East Division, Swanson says that there is Waseca and then there is everybody else.
“Waseca has a real nice team, there really is no one else close in our division,” Swanson explains. “Fairmont and St. Peter are expected to be good while St.?James should also be pretty good.”
Marshall figures to be the team to beat in the Western Division according to Swanson.
Leading the boys basketball program requires other people lending a hand. Coach Swanson added he feels fortunate to have Randy Kuechenmeister as his assistant-varsity coach. He is also appreciative of B-squad coach Nate Carr and C-squad coach Tanner Nawrocki.
As for how he expects his team to compete, Swanson says, “Our first step is to challenge for the sub-section championship, we can do that by improving our play throughout the year.”
The team began play with a game on the road on Friday, Nov. 30, against Maple River.
Their games this week take them to Lake Crystal on Monday, Dec. 3, before hosting New Ulm on Thursday, Dec. 6.
“I’m really excited to work with a group of players as they grow as a team both on and off the court,” Swanson notes.
Results of the team’s opening contests will be in next week’s edition of the Faribault County Register.