by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
It has been a long, hard winter, but folks in Zimmerman have enjoyed the warm glow of their basketball team since the first snowfalls.
“Around school, there’s been a buzz and energy that’s never been there before,” said Caleb Lunning, junior guard. “Ever since we beat Rocori, people have sensed this is special.”
That proved correct. The Thunder became the eight-year-old school’s first state tournament team in any sport when they blitzed Watertown-Mayer 70-57 for the Section 5AA crown Friday, March 18.
“It is awesome we were able to do that for our town,” said coach Ben Kvidt, “and see the school pride and spirit come out.”
At state, the Thunder lost but were impressive in falling 61-58 to Watertown-Mayer, a 29-2 team, at Williams Arena on Wednesday night, leading by 12 at one point.
As much as that hurt, they were upbeat a day later.
“To be honest, I had the time of my life,” said Brandon Giese, senior guard. “To play at Williams Arena in front of all those fans and family and friends. It’s disappointing to lose at state, but we knew Waterville was a tough team. We are all happy to be the first Zimmerman team at state.”
Six busloads of supporters followed the most exciting event of ZHS sports history.
Giese and Blake Ehley, the only seniors, were the team’s best players, but nine sophomores and juniors played extensively, leaving the Z-Men in good shape for next year.
“Once we’ve gotten a taste, we will want more,” said Lunning. “We are going to work even harder for next year.”