Men’s basketball close season at state 4A finals

After leading an undefeated season, the men’s basketball team lost to Johnston at the 4A semifinals at Wells Fargo Arena on March 11. 

The Johnston Dragons scored 31 points in the first half, after the Tiger’s had previously kept their past two opposing teams under 30 points for the entirety of the games. While known for their defense, the Tigers struggled against Johnston’s strong point shooters, eventually losing to Johnston with a final score of 64-51.

Coach Ryan Schultz was the head coach this season, and led the team in their season of 21 wins and 1 loss, and he said that the team uses a number of approaches to prepare for games. “There is a lot that goes into that.  Our scout team and our assistant coaches do a tremendous job of preparing our guys for each opponent in a detailed way. After that is in place, our players did an outstanding job of absorbing and understanding what we needed to do as a team to win each game. Taking a game by game approach is a big key,” Schultz said. 

For senior Carter Janssen, the team dynamic outside of practice came to their aid in games. “There’s so many things that I enjoyed this season, but my overall favorite moments would be bus rides to and from games with all the guys. We all got along really well, and it was so much fun being with them on and off the floor,” Janssen said. “Before every game me and JayVon would go to Jimmy Johns after shoot around and have a pregame meal and get ready for the game. Before the game I would always have a Gatorade to get going. As a team we would go to the weight room or locker room before games and listen to music and stretch out before getting ready to take the court.”

Janssen plans to continue his basketball career next year with the Upper Iowa University Peacocks. 

Schultz said that this season was different due to the pandemic and presented many obstacles. “My favorite moment this season was probably winning the game vs. CR Washington to earn another trip to State. Seeing all the players, fans and parents so happy was a great moment. This was especially true after the ups and downs in a year with COVID,” Schultz said. “COVID was an obstacle all year, dealing with protocols, losing games at the last minute, changing preparation, etc. Also, playing as the number one team with a target on our backs was also difficult because you get everyone’s best shot. Our team overcame these things through hard work, good senior leadership and staying focused on improving each day.”

In terms of next season, Schultz said that the loss of this year’s season will definitely make an impact. “The team dynamic was tremendous all year. This team truly enjoyed playing the game with each other, and it was evident with their approach and their subsequent success,” Schultz said. “Each year is different. We are losing an outstanding senior class, and we will certainly miss their talent and their leadership. With that said, we are very excited about the players we have coming back. We won’t be quite as big, so we will have to defend a little differently at times and also make a few changes offensively. This is nothing new as each team brings their own unique talents, so hopefully we can capitalize on those talents as best we can.” 

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