by Eric Oslund
The Zimmerman boys basketball team hit a rough patch after going on a stretch where they won 11 of 12 games. It all started with a game against St. Cloud Cathedral on Friday Feb. 10, which they lost 77-70.
They followed that up with a game against Chisago Lakes on Feb. 14, which they lost 70-62, and then another loss to Anoka on Feb. 16 by a score of 46-45. It was the first time all season that the Thunder had lost three games in a row, but those losses weren’t necessarily bad things.
The team was able to see where they still needed to improve and work on fixing those weaknesses. They had a four-day break to improve themselves and it showed when they retook the court against Princeton on Feb. 21, winning 89-63.
“It’s good to play the games we have,” said head coach Nathan Christensen after the win. “The last four games have been 3A, 4A schools or top 2A schools, so it’s been really good competition. I think that definitely helped us get to the level we’re at now. Yeah, we lost our last three, but it helped us see what we needed to improve on, and that definitely showed tonight.”
The biggest thing that the losses showed the Thunder was that they needed to take what the defense was giving them. They would run a play correctly, but not get the ball to where it needed to be, so they worked on fine tuning the offense to help them out with that.
Things were beginning to click with the players on the court, and there was no better example of it than senior Chandler Wellman, who was able to break the school’s single-game scoring record by putting up 40 points.
“Chandler took what the defense gave him,” Christensen began. “He hit some shots early and then that opened up the lane, so he was real aggressive today, it was good to see.”
Another senior who was able to step up and work with what the defense was giving him was Thunder Heyer. He finished with 23 points on the night, but was also able to score his 1,000th point, a milestone that every high school player hopes to reach.
The Thunder followed their blowout win over Princeton with their final road game of the season Friday, Feb. 24, at Milaca.
Now, they have two more home games before the section playoffs begin. Christensen knows there is still some more work to do, but is excited about the progress his team has made this season.
“Things are feeling good, especially now that we have more home games. It’s a lot easier to play at home than on the road,” the head coach said. “It’s good to have that and I think they see the momentum. See that things we’re doing are workings. Hopefully we can just fine tune those things and be at our peak when sections come.”