Eagles ready to continue climb
November 19, 2012By Doug Erlien of Heritage Christian Academy Boys Basketball
Head Coach Tim Herman talks with the varsity on the first day of practice.
For the first time in the history of the program, the Eagles defeated Maranatha to advance to the section championship game. With a roster filled with talented juniors, the opportunity to play on the biggest stage seemed too good to be true. The only thing standing between them and a game at Williams Arena was Prairie Seeds Academy.
Leading by six points with five minutes to play, the Eagles watched as the Lycans forced overtime and then outscored them 17-12 in the extra session. The dream of a state tournament appearance had slipped through their fingers.
"Thinking about that last game against Prairie Seeds, and overtime and how many little things. You can't blame one mistake," said senior captain Christian Pieper. "As a team, a couple of things we could have done better could have sealed state. But we can't change that and we've got senior year, but yeah it drove every effort out of me in off-season to go out senior year strong."
That feeling has driven their mindset for the last eight months and one day. That was then, this is now. While the emotions of that loss are still present, one doesn't need to travel back too far to remember when the program wasn't in as good of a position as it is right now.
"We were for a long time the little engine that couldn't," said head coach Tim Herman about the program he has led for nine years. "Slowly, we began building, adding a piece here and there. Now our senior class is the best one we've ever had."
33 kids in grades 9-12 took to the floor in the Eagles first practice of the season. That number is by far the most in the history of the program. It will take all 33 in one form or another to make this season something special. To fully understand the moment of what this team has, and the opportunities that lie before them.
"It's our one goal, to get to state and to get as far as we can," said senior captain Zach Weld. "We know teams are looking at us to be good. It strives us to be a little bit better than we were before."
Led by captains Weld, Pieper, Brad Basco and Evan Parkhurst, all starters a year ago, the Eagles boast a deep team with plenty of varsity experience. It will be the seniors that will be the catalyst for success.
"This is what it is going to come down to. It's this last senior year, it's a last hurah," said Parkhurst. "I'm hoping that all the work that this team has put in can eventually pay off this year."
Special teams are not only able to understand the opportunity, but are also able to grab it. This team will create it's own definition of success. As is often the case in sports success is judged by wins and losses. The truth is you don't need to win a trophy to be called a champion. Regardless of how many wins or losses this group has, they have a bond that was evident even on the first day of practice.
"I've been playing with some of these kids since like 5th grade. It's just fun," said Basco. "It's the chemistry you build, it's the relationships you have with each other that carry on the court as well as off the court. That's why the team atmosphere is so fun."