By Brady Ambrose
It has now been over 70 days since the Caledonia Warriors have lost a basketball game. With Saturday’s win at Decorah, Iowa the Warriors (21-1) extended their winning streak to 20 games since losing Dec. 3 at Rushford-Peterson, a game that is quickly becoming a distant memory as Caledonia continues to roll through the end of the regular season.
With just one loss, the Warriors have also moved to #8 in the latest class AA poll. “It’s hard to describe – having a team like this,” coach Josh Diersen said. “We have guys who can score 20 points and two or three others that score 15. I believe that this is the perfect example of the team concept. They just want to win, and I don’t have to deal with guys mad about their minutes. They all understand their roles.”
The win in Iowa, an 86-43 blow-out of the Vikings, was the latest in a line of lop-sided wins that the Warriors have put together with their up-tempo, fast-pace offense and smothering defense that has allowed them to out-score their opponents by an average of 23.8 points per game since the loss at R-P.
Playing four games in six days, Caledonia started the week hosting Lewiston-Altura and cruised to a 71-37 win over the Cardinals (5-18) Feb. 3. The Warriors broke open a close game in the early going with a 9-0 run that gave them a 23-10 lead that they extended to 36-20 at the break after West Spier scored 10 points and Seth Twite added six more to lead the charge.
Josh Nord then blew the game open in the second half when he hit four 3-pointers and scored 14 points after scoring just three points in the first half. Nord hit back-to-back 3s less than 20 seconds apart to push Caledonia’s lead to 48-24 and then hit another trey at the 9:15 mark, his fifth of the game, to put the game out of reach at 54-27. Over the next seven minutes Caledonia outscored L-A 17-6 and led 71-33 with two minutes to play on a basket from Justin Burg, as they rolled to the 34 point win.
The Warriors then faced a tough test on the road Feb. 6 at Chatfield (15-6) to take on the Gophers, who Caledonia beat at home 73-63 Dec. 17.
What first looked like a loss for the Warriors turned into one of the best comebacks of the season. Caledonia trailed by 16 points (40-24) at halftime and then went on a 51 point scoring outburst to storm back and hand the Gophers an 18 point, 75-57 loss in front of a stunned Chatfield crowd.
The Gophers hit 8 of 10 3-pointers in the first half and were shooting at a 54 percent pace and appeared to be on the way to handing Caledonia a loss. But instead, the Warriors answered with a second half performance that included shooting at a 50 percent clip from the 3-point line after making just 3 of 20 in the first half. Nord scored 28 points, including seven 3s as Caledonia, who shot just 28 percent from the floor in the first half, opened up the second half with an 8-2 run to cut the lead to 42-32 on a trey from Nord. Kyle Sorenson followed with another 3-pointer, and Colton Lampert added a basket that capped a 13-2 run and pulled the Warriors within five points at 42-37.
With 11:09 left to play, Caledonia cut the lead to 44-42 and took the lead for good when Nord hit another 3-pointer to put Caledonia up 45-44.
Leading now 52-46, Caledonia increased the lead to eight on a pair of free throws from Nord, and then extended their lead to double-digits when Sorenson and Nord hit back-to-back baskets to give the Warriors a 66-54 lead with 4:59 to play. Sorenson added two more free throws and a basket off an offensive rebound with 1:33 to play to push the lead to 70-56, and Nord capped the night with a layup for his 28th point of the game with 25 seconds left.
“I don’t think we’ll see another one like that for a while,” Diersen said. “These guys keep playing like they are 20 points behind the whole game. We just try to keep our shot selection good and keep contesting their shots.”
Kyle Sorenson added 15 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, and Colton Lampert scored 12 more for the Warriors in the win.
The boys then returned home the next night to take on Dover-Eyota and showed little sign of fatigue as they cruised to a 79-59 win over the Eagles with Lampert and Austin Bauer each scoring 15 points and Sorenson adding 14 more in the win. On Saturday night the Warriors ended the run by doubling-up Decorah 86-43 as Nord scored 28 points for the second time in three days and again hit seven three-pointers in the game, just one shy of the school record.
“Josh Nord is playing out of his mind right now,” Diersen said. West Spier scored 16, and Lampert chipped in 14 more in the win as the Warriors improved to 21-1 going into Tuesday’s game at P-E-M.
Following that game the Warriors travel to Cotter Thursday night, Wabasha-Kellogg Friday and Southland Saturday.
Caledonia 13 32 26 15 — 86
Decorah 8 8 16 11 — 43
CALEDONIA (21-1): Tanner Gran 1, Seth Twite 3, Josh Nord 28, Owen King 9, Colton Lampert 14, Henry Russert 3, Gavin Schroeder 1, Kyle Sorenson 3, Justin Berg 4, Austin Bauer 4, West Spier 16.
D-E 24 35 — 59
Caledonia 41 38 — 79
DOVER-EYOTA (8-16, 6-11): John Rowe 3, Garret Stader 10, Joe Riess 2, Brandon Jech 6, Jake Borst 4, Thomas Pankonia 2, Ben Hintz 3, Wes Braun 4, Gunnar Schwartz 7, Cole Martin 4, Travis Austin14.
CALEDONIA (20-1, 14-1): Josh Nord 8, Owen King 9, Colton Lampert 15, Gavin Schroeder 2, Kyle Sorenson 14, Justin Burg 6, Austin Bauer 15, West Spier 10.
Caledonia 24 51 — 75
Chatfield 40 17 — 57
CALEDONIA (19-1, 14-1): Seth Twite 3, Josh Nord 28, Owen King 2, Colten Lampert 12, Kyle Kyle Sorenson 15, Austin Bauer 6, West Spier 9.
CHATFIELD (14-6, 10-6): Jayme LaPlant 10, Brandon Adler 4, Chrisitan Vance 13, Nate Skare 16, Jake Neis 9.
L-A 20 17 — 37
Caledonia 36 34 — 70
LEWISTON-ALTURA (4-17, 3-13): Landon Kieffer 3, Hunter Matzke 3, Mitch Rasmussen 4, Brad Prudoehl 4, Peyton Schumacher 8, Destin Dowler 7, Jordan Drier 6, Cullin Neeck 2
CALEDONIA (18-1, 13-1): Seth Twite 11, Josh Nord 17, Owen King 5, Colton Lampert 2, Gavin Schroeder 3, Justin Burg 2, Austin Bauer 9, Kyle Sorenson 5, West Spier 17.