By Brady Ambrose
Josh Diersen looked around the gym at Caledonia High School and told his team, “Look at the crowd; there’s a lot of people here.” The Caledonia boys basketball head coach and his Warriors have been giving the Caledonia faithful some pretty good entertainment in the early going this season, sporting a 7-1 record after dismantling Dover-Eyota 62-37 Friday night at CHS.
What the Warriors have done is use an aggressive 1-3-1 trapping defense to frustrate their opponents and create a little bit of havoc in nearly every game this season which has resulted in a ton of turnovers that lead to points for Caledonia.
The defense puts a lot of pressure on the opposing point guard, who must make some quick decisions or face being trapped by the defense. In this case the long and tall Josh Nord, West Spier, Kyle Sorenson and Kevin Lapham, among others, used their size, athleticism and long reach to pin down the D-E players and force turnovers and points.
“Defensively it’s fun to watch these guys,” Diersen said. “They are all over the place. It’s in-your-face and that’s what we are; we’ll get in your face and we want them to make mistakes.”
Caledonia used a big run in the first half to basically put the game on ice. Leading 6-5 at the 15:43 mark the Warriors then went on a 21-6 run over the next 11 minutes and took a 27-11 lead on Alex Varney’s basket with 4:44 left in the first half. Varney, who led all scorers with 15 points, hit a 3-pointer at the 9:06 mark to give Caledonia a double-digit lead at 19-9 that they would maintain the rest of the game. A free throw from Sorenson pushed the lead to 30-13 with a little over a minute left in the half, and the Warriors took a comfortable, 33-16 lead into the locker room at the break.
The Eagles got a three pointer from Joseph Riess less than two minutes into the second half to make the score 37-21, but the Eagles would not get much closer, as they were only able to get within 15 points at 42-27 with 8:46 to play.
Nathan Rohrer scored five straight points to push the lead to 51-29, and a basket by Austin Bauer put the Warriors up by 26 points at 55-29 with 5:12 to play. Lapham, who finished with 13 points, hit a basket and added a free throw for a 62-32 lead with 2:06 to play, and the Warriors cruised to the 25 point win. West Spier added 11 points with a total of nine players scoring in the game. “We have 10 guys that can each score seven points per game,” Diersen said. “That’s great to have. Would you rather have two guys score 25 points or these guys – they can’t guard all of us.”
After traveling to Southland Tuesday night Caledonia will play a weekend game when they host Rushford-Peterson at 6 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 12. Southland is 8-3 overall going into Tuesday’s game, and the Trojans are 7-2 so far. “Those will both be big games,” Diersen said.