March 18, 2004 at 3:45 p.m.
Chisago Lakes 33
Herb Jangor knows a thing or two about championships, after all, he has three Rum River titles since taking over at Chisago Lakes in 1996. He’ll tell you that the number one key to success for a team is the play of their seniors. How they lead determines how far the team goes. Perhaps that is the best way to sum up last Thursday’s loss to Totino-Grace in the first round of the section 6AAA playoffs. Perhaps that is the best way to sum up the entire year.
Take into account that one of their senior captains, Todd Froberg was missing against the Eagles, while their other senior captain, Marcus Burgin, wasn’t even 50 percent, still recovering from an injured ankle that kept him out of the first 21 games of the season. If that wasn’t enough, senior guard Mike Golv had a problem of him own to deal with, out for the season thanks to a shoulder injury. That left Tony Corradi as the only healthy senior in uniform last Thursday against Totino-Grace.
Early on, despite having to change up almost their entire starting line-up, Chisago looked to be unfazed, matching Totino basket for basket until the Eagles jumped in front late, sinking four three-pointers in the quarter, putting them in the lead 14-9 after one.
The back and forth continued for the start of the second, actually favoring the ‘Cats at one point before Totino answered back with a run to close out the first half with a 23-17 lead.
“We really took it to them early. We got off to a good start. I’m not sure Totino took us seriously right away, but then they turned up the pressure and we didn’t respond,” said Jangor, Chisago Lakes boys basketball head coach. “Offensively, we just never got into a sync. When you have players playing out of position, that puts you out of sync because they are all playing different positions.”
After closing the second quarter on a run, the Eagles carried that momentum into the third, outscoring the Wildcats 15-6 in the quarter. David Olson and Devin Swanberg accounted for the only two third quarter field goals for Chisago, putting them behind 38-23.
Despite five more points from Olson in the fourth and two each from Burgin and Blane Maher, the Eagles wrapped up the win by hitting five of six free throws down the stretch, sealing a 49-33 win. The 16-point victory eliminated the Wildcats from the playoffs and ended their season at 13-14 overall. It just wasn’t in the cards.
“I really believe that with the right personnel and staying healthy, we could’ve won that game. Not to make any excuses but Marcus’s ankle was bothering him, he wasn’t even playing at 50 percent. He went out there and never quit. He gave us everything he had but he just didn’t have it, his ankle never let him do it,” replied Jangor. “Our offense never got into sync, but defensively, we wanted to hold them under 50 points and we did that. Except for about a six minute stretch, we played pretty well. Give Totino’s defense credit, they played great defense and we never responded.”
Olson led the Wildcats with 11 points, leaving him roughly 230 points of 1,000 for his career. Olson is just a junior. In addition, Corradi finished with six points and Burgin five, both playing in their final game in a Wildcat uniform.
“In high school basketball, in a town of this size, you win championships with your seniors and we have had a lot of injuries to deal with,” commented Jangor. “Todd missed five games earlier this season, Marcus was out most of the year, and Mike finished the season injured. That forces some of your younger guys to play some difficult roles, even though they might not have been ready. I was really proud of the way everyone sucked it up, kept working, and never quit.”
As for next year, like at the beginning of this year, the prospects look great on paper. Mike Tschida should be back after sitting out the entire season with a knee injury, along with 11 returners who saw varsity time in 2003-04. Most of those returnees are coming off a year where because of injuries, they were forced to play significant minutes. It’s about the only good news that comes with a season plagued by bumps and bruises.
“Realistically, at one point, we could’ve finished with six or seven wins, but the kids responded and played hard and we won 13 games,” said Jangor. “We had Secord (Levi) step up and show great promise. Trevor Johnson wasn’t even supposed to play a lot of varsity ball this year and he and Jason Kellum played well. Those are three young kids right there who had to step it up. The problem was that even though we had a lot of kids step up, they all stepped up at different times. We never got that consistency we needed, but we showed promise for next year. All in all, I think it was a good year and I thank the kids and coaches for all of their hard work.”
Chisago Lakes 33
1 2 3 4 F
Chisago Lakes 9 8 6 10 33
Totino-Grace 14 9 15 11 49
Olson 11, Corradi 6, Burgin 5, Swanberg 4, Secord 4, Maher 2, Johnson 1.