Central boys lose to Wapsie Valley

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Hazen Loan goes up for the shot over a Wapsie Valley defender. The senior had a team-high eight points in the Warriors’ playoff loss. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Caden Erickson passes the ball to a Central teammate in the game against Wapsie Valley.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


“We will need to take care of the basketball and limit Wapsie Valley to one shot per possession if we want to compete. We put together a great practice on Sunday to make sure we are prepared, and we will have to work together come Monday to ensure that we give our best performance yet because we will need it,” Central head coach Brady Stramer said prior to Monday night’s tough 62-13 loss to Wapsie Valley in the first round of the playoffs. 


The Warriors’ 13 points marked their lowest point total of the season. They never scored above six points in any period, and even went scoreless in the fourth. Central also shot just 13.2 percent, or 5-38, from the field and 14.3 percent from three-point. 


Conversely, Wapsie Valley could not be contained, dropping 10 of 30 from behind the arc and shooting 45.7 percent from the field. 


“Playing against an opponent like the defending state champions Wapsie Valley was a huge challenge for us. Their length, size, strength and speed were all more than we had seen throughout this season. Along with that, it was the loudest environment we have had to deal with. This combination put our players into an experience unlike any that they had dealt with before,” Stramer explained. “Unfortunately, these factors, along with our lack of aggressiveness, led to our lowest scoring output of the season. We know that we did not play close to our potential, but our guys gave great effort until the final buzzer sounded, as they always do.” 


The Warriors were led by Hazen Loan with eight points and Corey Weber with three points, while Dan McGreal had the other two. 


Evan Pensel and Parker Smith dished out the team’s only two assists, with one each, while Elliot Kelly led the team in rebounds with four. Loan and James Eberhardt came down with three rebounds each, and Pensel and Tommy Seeland finished the game with two apiece. 


The Warriors finished the game with 19 rebounds, while Wapsie Valley had 40. Central managed to lead in one category with two blocks, both by Loan, but everything else tilted toward Wapsie Valley, who finished with 13 steals and forced 16 Warrior turnovers. 


The aftermath of the game left time to reflect on the challenges and successes of the season. One of the major challenges that plagued this squad were turnovers and inconsistency. 


Off the court, the team was an illustration of character and team chemistry, which makes a coach’s job easier. Central was a cohesive unit that got along and supported each other. They embodied the “no man left behind” culture. 


As for the success stories on the court, Stramer pointed to the game at Central City earlier in the year and the team’s last home game against Starmont.


“The game at Central City was a back-and-forth game throughout and it ended by senior Hazen Loan nailing a three-point shot as time expired to give us the win. Our last home game was, by far, our best performance of the year,” he said. 


While Stramer has  maintained there is more to basketball than wins and losses, he admitted there were a couple games where a victory was left on the court. The real focus for expectations was on “consistent improvement.” This expectation also followed the team into the offseason, as did improving strength, speed and ball control. 


This offseason, the Warriors will lose seven players to graduation. 


“It is very rare to have seven seniors out for a sport…and while we are losing some scoring leaders off of the team, I think the biggest void that they will leave is in terms of leadership. This group led by example both on and off the court…They also did a great job of holding their teammates accountable and to a high standard both in practices and in games. We will look for our returning players to step into those leadership roles in this offseason and into next season” Stramer said. 


As the team heads into the offseason, Stramer commented on how he appreciated the support the players get from their families and the community, and on how the team grew as people. He spoke about the “confidence” he has that the players, “especially this senior class, will go on to succeed in whatever they decide to do in the next chapter of their lives.” 


Mostly, Stramer noted how “seeing them grow into young men has been a pleasure” and, next year, the program will once again focus not just on winning and losing, but on continuing to build quality young men.

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