Tiger success is tribute to senior leadership
The Morris Area boys' basketball team racked up a 23-5 overall record, winning 12 straight games, and finished the 2008-09 season one game short of the state tournament.
The 23 wins ties two other seasons for the third highest win total in school history. The 1994-95 season ended with a 23-3 record and the 2003-04 team finished 23-5.
The Tigers' best record was set in the 1993-94 season when Morris Area finished a state-tournament run 29-1. The 1997-98 team finished the season 25-2.
Coach Mark Torgerson said that the success of both the boys' and girls' teams brought the fun back into the Morris program.
"We had such nice crowds," he said. "That's because of how fun this team was to watch.
"When you're having fun, it leads to more wins," said Torgerson.
"I did expect us to be fairly good, as we graduated only two players from last season, Kirby Sayles and Ben Ehlers," said Torgerson. "We had a lot of experience coming back."
Torgerson gives credit to senior leadership from Tyler Meichsner, Taylor Nohl, Chris Scott, Matt Wulf, and Josh Love.
As captains Meichsner, Nohl, and Scott kept the team's chemistry alive, while Love and Wulf "kept everybody fired up."
"I give the five seniors a lot of credit for gelling this team together," said Torgerson. "These guys really learned how to play together."
According to Torgerson, balanced scoring and depth were keys to the Tigers' success.
Four players, Scott, Cory Hennen, Lincoln Arnold, and Jackson Henrich, averaged in double figures.
Scott finishes his career ranked 11th on the Tiger point leader board with 821.
Arnold and Henrich are ranked 13th and 18th through their junior year.
"The difference between last year and this year was that the chemistry was better," explained Torgerson. "Everyone knew their role and it wasn't about scoring."
That unselfish attitude helped the Tigers record more assists than turnovers this season.
"We really distributed the ball well," said Torgerson.
In fact, the Tigers out-performed their opponents in all statistical categories, excluding free throws.
"We struggled with free throws, but we got better," added Torgerson.
Another factor in the Tigers' success was defense. Volunteer coach Lonnie Anderson worked with the boys on defensive pressure.
"That's one of the reasons we were able to beat some teams," Torgerson said.
Anderson was the only new face on the Tigers' coaching staff, as all three of the other coaches, Torgerson, Jerry Witt, and Dale Henrich, have worked together for the last 22 years.
The Tigers reached goals of winning the West Central Conference South as well as the Section 6AA finals.
Three of the teams the Tigers defeated in the regular season advanced to the state tournament.
Morris Area won both match ups with Montevideo and split with New London-Spicer before the Wildcats ended the Tigers' play-off quest.
The Tigers also defeated North Sargent, a team that played in North Dakota's state tournament.
"That shows the quality of opponents we played," Torgerson said.
"Hopefully it's the start of good years to come," concluded Torgerson.