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Boys Basketball: Lake City pulls away from Stewartville

LAKE CITY – Lake City has had two home games to open the season, including a 57-44 victory over Stewartville on Tuesday. Including a win over Plainview-Elgin-Millville last week, the program is off to a great start even though its replacing two handfuls of players from last year's team.

And filling some of those holes are a some freshmen with immense talent, but little in the way of varsity experience. The future is now for the Tigers, and head coach Greg Berge is not tamping down expectations.

“Those kids have played a lot of basketball in their lives. I'm not worried about them,” Berge said. “I've coached those young kids since they were little, I've known them since they were born. We're defending HVL champs. We lost 10 guys and have a lot of new faces. But our goal is to defend that title. It's going to be a challenge. But if we play defense like we did tonight, and we communicate, I like our chances every night we play.”

Against Stewartville, the youth showed on the offensive end with some missed jumpers, some travels and a couple of missed layups. But senior Mitch Marien and a pair of juniors in Parker Schurhammer and Marc Kjos took over with less than five minutes remaining in the first half and turned a four-point lead that went as high as 12 and sat at 10 at halftime.

“Mitch has played in about 72 varsity games, and Marc has played in 65 or so. Those guys can calm everything down,” Berge said. “And that allows our freshmen to just play. They're talented kids, and I'm confident in them running things, but it's nice to not have to have them do that at such a young age.”

Those freshman, guard Nathan Heise and forward Reid Gastner also pitched in down the stretch. Heise hit a 3-pointer in the corner off a Kjos assist, and Gastner came up with a steal that turned into another possession moments after Kjos hit a layup.

Then, to open the second half, the group picked up where they left off. Heise hit a jumper, Gastner came away with another steal and, a couple minutes later, hit a 3-pointer for a 13-point Lake City lead with 14:40 to play.

“Offensively, we missed some open threes that we're going to hit. We're a good 3-point shooting team. We hit them in the second half, and that's why we stretched that lead,” Berge said. “We were able to spread them out. We have some excellent guards on this team. We're a young team, but I like our team.”

Stewartville cut the lead to five with 8:56 on the clock, thanks in large part to 6-foot-5 center Carter Groski, who finished with 14 points.

But Kjos, Heise, Gastner and Marien immediately took the game back, made it a 17-point game five minutes later, then took a seat to watch the end of the bench get some time in front of the home crowd.

Marien led Lake City with 14 points and added a pair of assists. Heise and Kjos each had 12 pointswith Heise coming up with three rebounds and Kjos leading the team with three assists. Gastner had 10 points and seven boards.

The basketball season is long, and it has only just begun. With eight-straight road games coming up, including a trip to Chatfield on Friday, Lake City is happy with a 2-0 start.

“We're still getting in basketball shape, and we played a lot of minutes. But I thought we played a great game defensively. They're big guy is a load, he's a great player. And we're not a tall team. But we pressured the ball, we fronted, and had great weak-side help,” Berge said. “I like where we're at.”

Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at kstevens@republican-eagle.com, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
(651) 301-7879
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