Team: Mayer Lutheran boys’ basketball
Head coach: Dan Perrel – Perrel is the new admissions head at LHS and the new head coach of the boys’ basketball team, taking over from longtime coach Kevin Boozikee, who resigned last spring. Perrel brings many years of coaching experience including four years at Bethel University. He was at Watertown-Mayer in the late 1990s, coaching the Royals to their 1999 Class AA state championship game, where they finished runners up.
Assistant coaches: Jered Hokenson and Lukas Radde
Conference: Minnesota River
Section: 5AA(16 teams)
2011-12 finish: The Crusaders have been runners up for the MRC title the past two seasons, finishing 2011-12 with a 22-6 overall record. They fell to Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted in the second round of section competition on March 10 in a 60-50 game.
Key losses: The Crusaders lost four strong leaders in All-Conference athletes Payton Dutcher and Grant Noennig, along with fellow seniors Sam Koch and Logan Radde.
Key returnees: All-Conference junior Anthony Gruenhagen and All-Conference Honorable Mention senior Tanner Luebke return for the Crusaders, along with seniors Phil Burfeind, Dustin Edmison, and junior Chad Anenson.
Teams to beat: While Perrel has been focusing on getting to know his players and introducing them to his style of coaching, he hasn’t had much time to take a look at the other teams in the conference. But he isn’t worried.
“Any team can beat any team at any time,” he said.
Goals: Perrel’s first goal is to create a strong work ethic in the players.
“Wins and losses will take care of themselves,” he said. “We want to play hard every time we walk on the floor.”
Perrel holds high expectations for each player’s performance throughout a game.
“Each movement matters,” he said.
By the numbers: With three seniors, the team is once again a younger squad, so learning Perrel’s new program could be a process. Those that have varsity experience will have to step up and lead those who do not.
With three injured players already on the roster who aren’t expected on the court quite yet, many players will get a chance to step in for the Crusaders. Returning varsity starter Joel Burfeind is recovering from an injury suffered during the state football tournament, as are Taylor Otterstatter and Nathan Weber.
First games: The Crusaders closed the 2011-12 season against Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted, so it is only fitting that the 2012-13 season opens the same way. The two teams faced off on Nov. 30 at Mayer Lutheran. In an 84-72 loss, the Crusaders fell in overtime.