Indians face tall task against No. 5 Crusaders
SPIRIT LAKE — After knocking off two high-scoring teams to earn its first district championship since 1964, the Spirit Lake boys basketball team face a taller task in Tuesday’s substate game with Bishop Heelan.
The Crusaders, the Class 3A runner-up from 2007, feature a lineup that goes, 6-foot-5, 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-9.
“They’re rated No. 5 and feature Brennan Cougill, a 6-9 junior that’s committed to Iowa,” said Spirit Lake coach John Walz. “Zach McCabe is a 6-5 sophomore standout and their leading scorer and they also have John Daniels, who’s 6-7.”
But being undersized is something this year’s Spirit Lake team is used to. The tallest player, senior Andy Pringnitz, is listed at 6-3 with most of the remainder of the Indians’ roster ranging from 6-foot to 6-2.
“Every game we have matchup problems,” said Walz. “But the guys play with a lot of heart and play as a team.”
The Indians, who posted their best record under Walz with a 16-5 mark in the regular season (now 18-5 after two postseason wins), showed that heart in beating Spencer on Thursday.
Walz said the strategy won’t change as they take on Heelan.
“The key as always is tempo,” said Walz. “They like to run. We’ll try to keep their point total around 50. If we do that we have a chance to win.”
Walz knows of which he speaks. The Indians held an MOC-Floyd Valley team that had scored 82 and 90 points, respectively, in its final two regular season games to 42 points. They then held a high-scoring Spencer team to just 47 points.
“It’s been our mark all season to keep it a controlled and patient type of game,” he said.
In Heelan’s district final against LeMars, the Bulldogs attempted to slow the game down and the strategy worked for a while as the Crusaders led 6-5 after one quarter.
But mistakes by the Bulldogs disrupted their plan and Heelan led 20-11 at halftime and 36-21 after three quarters on the way to a 48-25 victory.