Riding a real roller coaster
Character of team outweighs ups and downs of the season.
The highest of highs came for the Gothenburg boys basketball team six games into the 2009-10 season when the Swedes outlasted Class B Holdrege in double overtime.
The team was feeling fairly confident again midway through the year when they strung together three wins against Sutherland, Cozad and Chase County.
Peppered throughout the season, though, were a variety of lows: a two-point loss to Lexington, dropping both games of the home holiday tournament, falling to Broken Bow in the opening round of the Southwest Conference tournament and a meager-at-best performance in the sub-district game against Kearney Catholic.
“It was like riding a roller coaster,” said coach Kent Koehn. “For every step forward, we’d take two steps back.”
That’s certainly not what Koehn or any of the seven seniors expected for the season.
“I think we all had pretty high hopes,” Koehn said. “The only disappointment, though, is in the win-loss record. I can’t be disappointed in the effort and desire of these kids.”
As a group, he said, the seniors have an unmatched level of character.
Included are Andrew Collins, Derek Franzen, Landen Haake, Mark Hilderbrand, Patrick Reeves, Tyler Sheets and Joel Teahon.
“Those boys represented our school and our community well regardless of the situation,” Koehn said. “We need to appreciate that character, emulate that character. When it comes down to the really important things in life, it’s not wins and losses. It’s character.”
And with seven of them graduating, the Swedes will have a giant hole to fill next year.
“No doubt it will be a rebuilding season,” Koehn said. “When you have two kids who start for three years and seven seniors who played the majority of minutes this season, you pretty much have to start from scratch next go round.”
None of this year’s Swedes jump into the school’s all-time Top 10.
Haake came the closest, finishing the year with 291 points and career scoring of 617.
Haake did tie a school record, though, hitting seven three-pointers in the first game of the year against Hershey. He shares that record with Jeremy Yilk who also hit seven during the 1999-2000 season.
As the team’s point guard, Haake also led the Swedes in assists with 95 and in steals at 49.
Other team leaders include Reeves, Hilderbrand and Franzen,
Reeves pulled down 90 rebounds and swatted 23 blocks. Hilderbrand and Franzen had high shot percentages.
Hilderbrand made 48-of-110 field goal attempts for 44% while Franzen was the team’s leading free throw shooter at 77%.
“It’s going to take a lot of work for underclassmen to replace these guys,” Koehn said. “It starts in the off-season.”
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