Defense falls flat, as Monticello takes down Zimmerman
In the opening tip of their game against the Monticello Magic on Dec. 7, the Thunder got off to a hot start.
Junior Carter McEachern scored the first 7 points of the game for the Zimmerman boys basketball team as they took an early 7-2 lead.
Unfortunately, the Thunder couldn’t keep it going, as they were outscored 95-69 the rest of the way in an eventual 97-76 loss to Monticello to drop to 1-3 on the season.
“Obviously giving up 97 points, you know we got to work on defense,” Zimmerman head coach Nathan Christensen said. “It’s hard with four games in a week, but we know it’s a process.”
The night belonged to Magic’s Carson Sawatzke, who tied a school record with nine 3-point baskets in the win en route to 34 points. The Thunder didn’t have an answer, showing fatigue throughout due to the brutal early-season schedule. Luckily for Christensen and company, many of his players have been there before. The team returns a handful of players with a year of varsity experience, making it easier for the coaching staff as they move forward in the season.
“These guys are willing to learn,” Christensen said. “We’ve already had some bumps, and we know what we need to work on.”
The flow of the schedule gets easier for the Thunder with the winter break and 2019 quickly approaching. After the Dec. 7 loss, the team had six days before their next game against St. Francis on Dec. 13. The Thunder closed the week hosting Bemidji in the team’s third of four straight home games.
“It makes it easier for us to put stuff in and for me to be able to coach on the fly a little bit more,” Christensen said about his senior leadership. “It’s nice to have that experience. We also have some young guys that these older guys are making sure fit in nicely and settle down when they need to.”
As the calendar flips to January, the Thunder look to be competitive in a Granite Ridge conference that is anything but easy. Teams like St. Cloud Cathedral, Albany and Becker are all strong, while wins don’t come easily on any given night. Still, Zimmerman knows if they fix little things on the court that they can compete this season.
“We want to be competitive in the conference,” Christensen said. “We have some tough teams but know we can be competitive as we kind of tweak some things we want to work on. Hopefully, in the end, we should be pretty successful.”
Zimmerman boys basketball
Last Year: 8-19 with a first round loss in sections
Head Coach: Nate Christensen (3rd season as head coach, 5th as a coach)
Assistant Coach: Larry Christensen, Jamie Erman, Lynk Downing
Captains: Ian Carlin, Noah Rotz
Key Losses: Jake Pensinger, Dylan Martin
Key Returners: Ian Carlin, Noah Rotz, Carter McEachern
Potential Breakout Players: Jeg Schottenbauer, Jake Deal, Alex Zillmer
Coach Says: “Our team is led by great captains Ian and Noah. These guys put in a lot of work this offseason. I am excited to see the dynamic that we can create this season. This group of boys has great chemistry with each other off the court, so hopefully that can translate. I can’t wait to start the season with this close-knit group. Our goal is to always be the best versions of ourselves. Success is based off of the progress we make from November to March.”
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