Shining bright against the competition

MN boys basketball strives for another record breaking season

Lily Taylor, Sports Editor

The air inside Pinnacle Bank Arena went still. The Thunderbirds had done the unthinkable, coming back from a fourteen point deficit in the fourth quarter during the State Basketball Championship. What MN boy’s basketball thought was going to be a remarkable finish to their best season ever, ended with a loss they didn’t suspect. 

As the 2020-2021 basketball season approaches boys basketball has the previous state championship on their minds. 

“The loss at state last year has every one of us with fire in our eyes,” junior small forward Jasen Green said. “[We have] unfinished business, [and] we are coming back hungrier [than ever].”

Even with the second-place finish at state, the team still has added pressure to return and have a season that rivals their last. 

“We still have a target on our back from every team in the state. We have four D-1 basketball players, and everyone wants to see if they can beat us,” senior small forward Saint Thomas said. 

Head coach Tim Cannon wants to focus not on the pressure, but their unity as a team that drives them towards their final goal. 

“‘Family’ [and] ‘unfinished business’ are our mottos this year,” Cannon said, “[Family] means they are all accountable for each other everywhere, [and then] we have unfinished business. We felt we were in a position to win the State Championship last year, but we didn’t.”

With those mottos in mind, the boys said they are ready to work harder than ever to hold themselves accountable and create their own energy. 

“[We are] really focusing on beefing each other up,” senior shooting guard Hunter Sallis said. “I’m giving them energy, and they are giving me energy, so we can reflect off of each other.” [We are] giving our all 24/7, playing with energy, and remaining motivated.”

As the COVID-19 guidelines have changed for the winter sports season, creating their own energy will be more important than ever.

“I do believe our players really feed off the crowds. We always play with really good intensity in front of crowds,” Cannon said. “We hope to get our fans back in January and February but we are going to play as hard as we can for our fans and our school.”

While they plan to create energy, they also are looking to bring intensity. As the team has a returning starting five lineup, they expect to derive the intensity by predicting their teammates’ plays ahead of time. 

“We’ve been playing with each other for awhile now. We know what we need to do with each other to win games. We have to make every opportunity count,”  Thomas said. 

With the five captains having played together for the majority of their lives, teaching the next generation of the team is crucial. For the younger members of the team, getting in sync might be a challenge, but it is a challenge the boys are ready to face.

“It’s harder for the younger players on the bench since we haven’t been playing with them [as long]. Every practice we are going to have to come together as one and sync in with each other,” Thomas said. 

Nevertheless, every member of the team is motivated to start the season stronger than the last. 

“[I am going to] remind them of that desire. We were right there, and we didn’t finish it,” Cannon said.

The players said they are ready for their season opener against Columbus Dec. 3, and they are ready for anything that comes their way. 

“It’s a long season, and you have to handle adversity as it happens,” Cannon said. There may be a loss or bump in the road, but whatever happens it’s going to be easy to say remember the state championship and remind them of the burning fire [within all of them].”