Three games into the regular season, the Mayer Lutheran boys’ basketball team is still looking for its first victory.
After an overtime loss to Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted in the season opener on Nov. 30, the Crusaders faced Legacy Christian Dec. 7. In the 71-66 overtime loss at home, the Crusaders dropped to 0-2 on the season.
Fortunes did not improve Monday night as Mayer Lutheran traveled to Brooklyn Center and lost 66-63. Head coach Dan Perrel said the Centaurs were “terrifically athletic,” and challenged the Crusaders with their highly aggressive level of play.
LHS led most of the game and was ahead by six points with 30 seconds to play, but missed free throws while the Centaurs sank theirs for the win.
While no conference teams have faced off yet, the Crusaders are at the bottom of the conference with their 0-3 record, trailing LeSueur-Henderson, a team that is also winless at 0-2.
Free throws, or lack thereof, are what plagues the team in all three games this season, according to Perrel. In all three losses, the Crusaders have held a lead into the final minutes of the game, but lose on free throws.
Perrel is also introducing the team to a new way of thinking about basketball. System basketball, as the Crusaders are learning, puts the game at the mercy of the coaching staff, and each player is trained to do everything on the court, preventing the team from putting all their “eggs” in one basket.
“Virtually every aspect of the game is under the control of the coach, so they’re trained to do very specific things,” Perrel said.
System basketball is not about “star” players and setting those athletes up for shots, but tailoring each member of the team to make those crucial shots.
“System basketball trains every kid to be a scoring threat, not two of them, not one of them,” Perrel said.
He admits the system is difficult, demanding on players both physically and mentally, and rarely fully works in high school athletics.
“It’s a transition, and that transition is really showing great signs [for the Crusaders],” he said.