by Eric Oslund
The Zimmerman boys basketball team dropped their first two games of the season, but have been on-point since then, winning three straight as of Tuesday, Dec. 13. They defeated the Cambridge-Isanti Bluejackets 63-59 on Tuesday, and things were not looking pretty to start.
One of their leaders, senior Chandler Wellman recorded two fouls early on in the game and had to sit for a good chunk of the first half. The Thunder also found themselves trailing 19-23 early on, but were able to turn things around in a hurry.
Head coach Nathan Christensen subbed in a couple of new players and they were able to provide the spark the team needed – propelling the Thunder to a 37-27 lead at halftime. Thunder Heyer led the way in the first half, scoring 18 points – he would finish with 26.
The team was able to stay hot to start the second half, increasing their lead to 15 points, but then they began turning the ball over.
“They just couldn’t handle the ball,” Christensen said. “(The Bluejackets) put a lot of pressure on us – good game by Cambridge when they were trapping us up the sideline. Some things for us to work on as we just kept turning the ball over. (The Bluejackets) eventually hit some shots and then all of a sudden they were ahead at one point, by one or two points. Luckily, we pulled away again. Taking care of the ball, that was a problem tonight.”
It was a game that came down to the wire for the Thunder, and their players had to come away with some key free throws. Brett Bauer and Alex Russell were the ones to step up to the line for the Thunder late in the game and were able to make what they needed, preserving the win for their team. If they had missed those it may have been a different outcome.
Christensen knows that his team will need to take care of the ball better in future games, because turnovers like the ones they had can really cost them. But, at the end of the day, a win is a win and the Thunder have recorded three straight.
“It’s nice, especially when the first two were winnable games,” he said. “I’ve seen that we’ve grown already. Guys are stepping in, ready to play, I feel confident playing the guys we are right now. It’s nice to see that three-game win streak and hopefully we can keep it rolling into Friday night.”
Up next, the Thunder are up against conference- and section-opponent Becker on Friday, Dec. 16.