Championships are forged in the furnace of competition.
Nobody is more familiar with this concept than the members of the Lourdes boys’ basketball team.
Last year, the Knights played against top teams from the season’s opening tip to the final buzzer. Their work earned them a wild card entry into the Class D-1 state tournament, pushed them to the championship final and delivered the school’s first state title.
This year looks to be filled with more challenges. And the Knights are ready.
Lourdes lost some talented players off last year’s squad in big-men Charlie Vasa and Julius Sakinis, not to mention a guy like Nick Whitten, whose off court leadership ability was an equal to his on court talent.
In order to get back to the state tournament and give themselves a chance to compete for a title, the Lourdes players knew they would need an impressive offseason.
They needed to get better.
And Coach Joe Tynon said they embraced that ultimatum.
During the summer, the players got stronger in the weight room and pushed their kills on the court. Autumn brought the chance to compete on the football field and the Knights won a district championship.
They continued to push each other to reach higher during football and on into basketball’s preseason work. The players on the team have developed a family bond on the roster and a desire to succeed that simply will not be quenched by one championship.
Looking at the roster, the Knights are led by senior guard Hayden Miller. Other seniors are Brock Hogeland, Dylan Paap, Colton Davis, Jack Bakula, Manny Garcia and Ivan Valdovino.
Thomas Ragland leads a solid junior class that includes Quinten Vasa, Brandon Fredrichs, Ben Miller, Sam Baumert, Jack Funke, and Daniel Perdomo.
Sophomores include Colter Fulton and Andrew Aldana. And the Knights have a strong six-member freshman class.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good squad top to bottom,” said Tynon.
The solid nature of the roster is beyond question. But what about that inside game? It’s going to be hard to replace Charlie Vasa and Sakinis. Right?
No doubt those players were talented, but Coach Tynon likes the athletic combination of Quinten Vasa and Fredrichs.
How about those leadership skills from Whitten?
Most teams would be crippled. But Whitten’s impact on the team is the very thing that puts them in position to move on without him. Lourdes was grounded by Whitten in fierce competition against top squads.
They can take it from here.
“We return 11 of the 14 that were in the state tournament last year,” said Coach Tynon.
“They were all kind of a part of it.”
This season promised a competitive start as well. Lourdes was scheduled to face off against state rated Johnson-Brock in the tip off game on Thursday, Dec. 1, as part of the school’s home tourney.
The other two teams, Yutan and Elmwood-Murdock, also entered the tourney with state ratings.
Coach Tynon said as the season progresses, he expects tough games on every night of Pioneer Conference play. To conclude the season, Lourdes will play in a district format where four teams could have legitimate state shots. In all likelihood, two of those teams won’t make it to state.
Having a great wild card rating will be critical for Lourdes to cement a place at the state tourney.