Young coaches making positive changes at LP-A and Rothsay
Lake Park-Audubon head boys basketball coach Kyle Haberman and Rothsay head coach Taylor Fuhs are changing the culture of their respective teams and meet Saturday in Rothsay in a big game for both schools.
Haberman brings his Raiders into the matchup riding a nine-game winning streak, while Fuhs’ Tigers look to defend home court on a special day in Rothsay.
Rothsay will be dedicating their new gymnasium in honor of hall of fame coach Bill Rose, who was also the athletic director in Rothsay for a quarter-century and will be in attendance at the game.
Rose remains a fixture in Rothsay and is a huge supporter of Tiger athletics.
“He comes into my office three times a week,” Fuhs said. “It’s fun to listen to him, all the stories he has. In the 70’s and 80’s, he had conference championship after conference championship and he still talks about those. He still has things I use to motivate kids. It’s a great honor just to be in his presence. He’s a great guy and a living legend more than anything in this area.”
Recent facility upgrades in Rothsay have tripled the amount of court space with the brand new gymnasium and an accompanying all-purpose gym, something Fuhs wants to build around.
“I’m hoping the new facility brings in something new,” he said. “We’re starting over here and let’s let our athletics start over too.”
Fuhs, a Detroit Lakes graduate, has been coaching in Rothsay the past three years, but took over the boys program this season after coaching the girls. He took over a team that did not win a game last season.
After dropping two close games early in the year, Rothsay began this year 0-9 before getting the school’s first win since February of 2014 defeating Ashby at home Jan. 8.
“I think more than anything it was a monkey off these guy’s backs,” said Fuhs. “A confidence builder and that’s half our battle right now – the mentality thing. We have some talented players, but our confidence level is where we struggle more than anything. Hopefully, the Ashby win can give us some momentum and we can build off it now.”
Confidence is something new that is going around the communities of Lake Park and Audubon as the Raiders are 13-4 this season coming off a seven-win season last year.
“It’s a community that has been hungry,” said Haberman. “They like watching us play and the best part is we have unselfish kids and they’re nice kids.”
Leading the way for LP-A is six-foot, 10-inch junior Jesse Bergh. Bergh has worked hard to be a dominating presence in the middle for the Raiders.
“I got really lucky that I have a six-foot-ten kid with crazy work ethic and he wants to be a great player,” Haberman said.
“When you surround him with four different shooters that can get hot at any time in the game it really helps,” said senior guard Lane Ulmer.
Bergh is averaging a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds per game. He faces triple team defenses and has found a way to kick the ball out and incorporate his teammates and the Raiders are finding success – something that LP-A has been striving for in basketball.
Haberman credits winning the Calvin Christian holiday tournament in Minneapolis as a turning point for this Raider team to move ahead with a winning attitude.
“We felt like we had a decent chance to win,” he said. “This is a school that hasn’t won anything. It hasn’t had its name on a trophy and it was a little trophy, but you could tell on the way back from Minneapolis that we won.”
Those wins are leading to more than just fun bus rides; they are creating team-level confidence for the Raiders.
“We seem to be having a lot of fun together,” Ulmer said.
The Raiders are learning to yield that fun and morph it into winning on the court.
Ulmer noted that adjustment as the difference in this year’s team compared to recent Raider clubs.
“A half hour before game time we switch to all-business mode,” he said. “This team, we know how to switch that on.”
This year’s LP-A progress is a targeted goal for the near future in Rothsay.
“They’re two years ahead of us,” said Fuhs. “Kyle has done a great job. I use things like what Kyle has done in LP-A and Brett Maass in Ulen. Did it happen overnight? No, but that’s what we’re trying to do here. We’re still miles behind, but we’re seeing the gap shrinking.”
The only way to shrink that gap and be competitive in today’s game is a summer program and developing constructive and successful youth programs. Both coaches have spent a ton of time working on that aspect at their schools.
“The biggest thing was the time commitment; we needed to put in more time,” said Fuhs. “Our fundamentals were lower than where they needed to be if we wanted to be a competitive team.”
“The biggest thing we’ve done for the 9-12 guys is the summer stuff and coach Baune and I have put a lot of energy to make sure the elementary program is run correctly,” Haberman said.
Much of that work is getting players to buy into new systems and time demands to be successful. Both coaches have found ways to do that.
“I give a lot of credit to our seniors; they get it,” said Fuhs. “Last year they didn’t win a game. This year, we want to play well, to our potential, and if we can win eight to 10 games that’s a good year for us. In two years, we want a home playoff game. That hasn’t happened here in 10 years.”
“There is still a lot of season to play and we still have those chances,” Rothsay senior guard Jesse Carrillo said.
The Raiders know how that feels and picked up a big win over Maass’ Titans early in January. NCE/U-H has been a team that has given past Raider clubs fits.
“These kids were dead confident that they were going to win,” said Haberman. “That’s a big one for us because it’s going to click in their heads that we can do this.”
“We’ve all bought into (Haberman’s) ways and it’s turned out really nice,” Ulmer said.
Ending a lengthy losing streak is what Tiger fans and members of the team hope to be the start of new, positive streaks and pushing toward what the Raiders are enjoying this season. The Tigers have posted just one winning season in the past decade.
“Everyone was really happy after the Ashby win,” sophomore forward Landon Lang said. “It was a big change from all the other games. Definitely gave us momentum.”
Fan support is growing at LP-A, as home games are played in front of packed gyms, as well as road games.
“Being undefeated at home, it lets the community come out and see it,” said Ulmer. “A couple of the older gentleman from our community traveled up to Ada and saw us win there and said they were going to head up to Halstad. That helps a lot.”
“Our community is so hungry,” Haberman said. “We had more fans than Ada did.”
Saturday, the team on a streak meets the team trying to start one and Bill Rose will be there for his gym dedication and to watch his Tigers take on the surging Raiders.
LP-A is ready to be successful in front of the Tiger faithful on a big day.
“We’ve been playing in a lot of packed gyms, loud games and for the most part, we’ve been able to keep our composure,” Ulmer said.
“It’s a big game – there’s going to be a ton of people here and it should be a competitive game if we play well,” said Fuhs
“There are a lot of nerves going into that game,” Carrillo said. “It would be nice to get a win.”
Lang, the Rothsay sophomore, summed up Saturday’s matchup perfectly, for both clubs.
“Every game is a big win – a win is a win and hopefully, we can get it,” he said.
The Bill Rose ceremony will take place after the girls’ game between the two schools, scheduled for a 3 p.m. tip. The boys game is set for 5 p.m.