By Brady Ambrose
If there were any doubters or nay-sayers left, the Caledonia Warriors’ effort Friday night should put them to rest.
The Warriors turned in a masterful effort when they won their 14th game in a row and avenged their only loss of the season, as they beat undefeated and #2 ranked Rushford-Peterson 60-49 Friday night at CHS.
The win was the highlight of a week where the Warriors won three more games to improve to 15-1 overall after they beat Fillmore-Central 90-46 Jan. 20 and then followed up with the win over R-P. Finally, the team notched another non-conference, 88-56 win over Waukon, Iowa, Saturday night.
“That’s a big win – it’s fun. This group is so fun to coach,” coach Josh Diersen said. “We contested a lot of their shots and, with the zone that we were playing, they were going to get some offensive rebounds, but we finished well and were patient at the end. It was a great win for us against a great program.”
The win over the Trojans may set the tone for the rest of the season. The Warriors turned in a great defensive effort, holding the Trojans to just 31 percent from the floor, including a 7-33 effort from the 3-point line, and used their defensive pressure to take control of the game.
The Warriors trailed 4-0 to start the game and fell behind by five points at 16-11 with 12:02 left in the first half. But an 8-3 run by the Warriors knotted the score at 19-19, and the Warriors took the lead for good at 21-19 when Colton Lampert knocked down two free throws at the 8:55 mark.
Lampert then hit a 3-pointer, and Kyle Sorenson hit a free throw to give Caledonia a 29-19 lead. But the Trojans then mounted a run and cut the lead to 33-29 on a trey from Charlie Krambeer that ended an 8-0 run by R-P. The first half ended with the Warriors clinging to a 33-29 lead.
Caledonia dialed up the defense in the second half. Leading 37-33, Caledonia scored five straight points as Owen King hit a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 42-33 at the 10:44 mark.
Caledonia then used an 8-3 run fueled by their defense and moved out to a 50-36 lead on Josh Nord’s 3-pointer with less than seven minutes to play. But R-P cut the lead to 50-41 with four minutes to play.
Sorenson responded with a short jumper to push the lead back to double-digits at 52-41, and Lampert hit another jumper to put the game out of reach at 56-43 with less than two minutes to play.
“We really crashed the boards tonight. Kyle, West (Spier) and Josh Nord played a huge game for us tonight, and Austin (Bauer) was a tough competitor tonight, who got some threes and got in the lane.”
Bauer finished with 15 points to lead Caledonia with Sorenson adding 13 and Nord 12. “It was a huge win for us,” Bauer said after the game. “The conference title is what we’re after and this win will help us. Rushford plays pretty consistent the whole game so you just have to keep going at them. Coach Diersen tells me to just play and that’s what I did. We just wanted to take away their shooters. Charlie (Krambeer) is a great shooter and we just tried to keep them contained.”
The Warriors opened the week with a 90-46 thrashing of Fillmore Central as Sorenson scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Warriors, who also got 17 points each from Nord and Spier, as well as 14 more from Gavin Schroeder in the win.
Caledonia ended the week with the win over Waukon as West Spier led all scorers with 21 points and five other players, Sorenson, King, Nord, Lampert and Bauer, all scored in double figures.
The Warriors were scheduled to host Kingsland Tuesday night and will travel to Southland Thursday.
RUSHFORD-PETERSON (16-1, 12-1): Alex Vix 17, Charlie Krambeer 6, Seth Thompson 6, Austin O’Hare 9, Jacob Merchelwitz 10, Cole Kingsley 1.
CALEDONIA (14-1, 10-1): Seth Twite 2, Josh Nord 12, Owen King 7, Colton Lampert 7, Gavin Schroeder 2, Kyle Sorenson 13, Austin Bauer 15, West Spier 2.