There wasn’t dipping any toes in the pool for the Detroit Lakes boys’ basketball team, as the majority of the Lakers who were going to play had to jump into their varsity careers headfirst.
At first, it looked as if the young and inexperienced Lakers were in over their heads after a 66-36 loss to Pelican Rapids in the season opener, but by the end of the 2012-13 season, there was much smoother sailing.
“Many of our younger kids grew up through the season and became contributors to the team,” said DL head coach Robb Flint. “Starting off, we obviously had to rely on our two returning players in (seniors) Derek Long and Kirk McLeod, but we started gaining more experience and confidence to get better.”
Even though it could have been considered a rebuilding year, the Lakers finished with a winning record of 14-13 and capped the regular season with a four-game winning streak.
The team was based on the play of McLeod and Long, who each saw valuable playing time on last year’s state tournament team.
McLeod led the team in scoring with 411 points (14.7 points per game), while Long had 386 points (14.8 ppg). Both had triple digits in rebounding with McLeod collecting 101 rebounds and Long 167.
“Those two were the only players with significant varsity experience and you could see that,” Flint said. “They could handle the physicality of the varsity game and they were good enough to create their own shots.”
McLeod shot at a 46-percent clip from the floor, while Long was a 48-percent shooter.
When the Lakers started to turn the corner, sophomore guards Ryan Cihak and Jackson Lyngaas started producing.
Cihak had a third team-high 285 points, while Lyngaas had 201 points. Sophomore point guard Christian Hedstrom added 131 points.
Cihak was a strong shooter from beyond the three-point arc, as he sunk 41 on the season for a 40-percent shooting average from three-point territory.
“We played five sophomores a lot and to have a winning record with such a young team and the inconsistencies it brings, I’ll take it,” Flint said. “But these guys need to stay hungry and not be satisfied with what they accomplished, they still need to get better.”
The Lakers will graduate five seniors in McLeod, Long, Austin Eiter, Karter Smith and Nick Groth.
“They all provided good leadership and accepted the younger guys,” Flint said.
Out of the facets which hindered the Lakers the most was rebounding. When they were outrebounded by the bigger Class 3A schools, it resulted in a loss.
The Lakers collected 23.8 rebounds per game as a team, which will need to go up when they face teams such as Fergus Falls, Bemidji and Moorhead.
“We’ll need to get stronger and more athletic,” Flint said. “The younger guys will need to find ways to gain more rebounds and that means getting stronger. It will be an important summer for the kids to get better.”
The 2012-13 Detroit Lakes boys’ basketball final stats – Record: 14-13
Scoring (2-3-ftm-fta-pts) – Kirk McLeod 123-35-60-94-411; Corbin Duncan 6-3-9-10-30; Christian Hedstrom 26-12-43-52-131; Jackson Lyngaas 32-35-32-42-201; Nolan Singer 7-3-1-3-24; Nick Nordmark 1-0-2-4-4; Derek Long 88-37-99-140-386; Ryan Cihak 45-41-72-103-285; Sam Champa 25-0-9-25-59; Nick Groth 10-14-15-30-77; Karter Smith 11-0-4-9-26; Austin Eiter 22-0-16-33-60; Trey Lyngaas 19-0-5-9-43. TOTAL: 415-180-367-554-1737
Misc. stats (rbd-asst-stls): McLeod 101-85-68; Duncan 6-7-1; Hedstrom 61-51-35; J. Lyngaas 49-58-26; Singer 13-5-4; Nordmark 5-1-0; Long 167-46-51; Cihak 59-60-34; Champa 60-5-12; Groth 49-23-6; Smith 15-2-1; Eiter 57-28-12; T. Lyngaas 23-3-3. TOTAL: 665-374-253
Mid-State All-Conference team – Detroit Lakes: Derek Long, Kirk McLeod…Crosby-Ironton: Caleb Baker, Jacob Goodwin, Daniel Hudrlik…Pequot Lakes: Travis Jacobson, Jordan Redmond…Staples-Motley: Huber, Seth Auger…Park Rapids: Tyler McCollum, Riley Johnson…Wadena-Deer Creek: Dylan Dumpprope
Honorable Mentioned - DL: Jackson Lyngaas…C-I: Riley Jacobs…Pequot Lakes: Brett Peterson…Park Rapids: Chris Goplerud, Kyle Goplerud…Staples-Motley: Jalen Busker, Kyle Janssen…W-DC: Blake Connell
Most Outstanding Player: Caleb Baker (C-I)
Coach of Year: Dave Galovich (C-I)