A top-five Class 2A state ranking, several top-five statistical leaders in the WaMaC, a district title and state tournament appearance — check off a season well-played for the Beckman boys.
During their run, the Blazers stopped a number of Class 3A and 4A teams, as well Class 2A’s No. 8 West Branch in the substate to earn their first trip to Des Moines since 2007. While that state game didn’t end as they would have liked, being one of the best eight 2A teams left in the state bodes well for next year, despite the loss of five seniors.
The five include Mason White, Jack Gehling, Jake Hermsen, Nate Schaefer and Sam Oberbroeckling. According to coach Michael Molony, “We will really miss how great this group got along and continued to mentor the younger players. All five were a part of almost every off-season workout we could have and always made sure others were in attendance. Obviously, losing their on-court offensive abilities and their size will be big holes for us to fill, but more importantly, the leadership offered by our captains will be missed.
“The grade in front of them established a new expectation of Beckman basketball and it is a joy to see these guys pick up right where they left off. Each one improved immensely over the years and stuck it out when others might have walked away from a prior less successful season (they were 8-12 as freshmen). These five can say as juniors they were on the first-ever No. 1-ranked team in Beckman history and also finished as one-of-six teams in school history to make at least the final eight in our class. All are very intelligent young men and are headed to bright futures.”
Some of those WaMaC stats include No. 2 in defense, top numbers in three-point make percentage and top five in points scored per game.
“I thought full strength, we might have been able to get as high as second in points scored,” added Molony. “But it was like two different seasons this year after we lost our leading scorer (White, to ACL in January). It took some time for us to readjust and I was extremely impressed with the group’s willingness to continue to guard like they did and put forth a winning effort night in and night out despite our early troubles putting the ball in the hole after Mason departed. You have to tip your hats to the kids for their work on the defensive end.
“Offensively, I want to point out how well we continued to shoot the ball. We routinely had five guys on the floor capable of hitting from three. This opens up the floor and, when your team is unselfish and balanced, puts the defense in tough decision-making. While our turnovers spiked a little, a lot of that was worked out by the end of the season and we made much better decisions.
“The run we went on in the playoffs and, even late in the season, will be one the team will never forget. They found a way to win every night, rattling off six games in a row to get us to State. That takes some toughness and some guts. This group never let anything get them down and realized, going through losing a captain like we did, we were still going to leave everything we could out there every night. Being able to see the hard work pay off for your athletes is what you dream of as a coach all off-season.
“I just want to thank all the players, parents and fans — we had amazing support when they were able to attend the games. The week before the state tournament was incredible for the kids and the experience was once-in-a-lifetime for many of them, something they will remember forever.”
Even losing five seniors, the cupboard is not empty for the Blazers. Returning are most of the backcourt players though the inside will lack the size of Gehling and Hermsen. “Scoring on the block will be different for us,” said Molony. “It will be a more hands-on-deck approach. The good thing, with our backcourt experience and ability to shoot the ball, teams will still need to come out and guard us. I also think we will have a strong group of athletes who should be able to guard with pressure. I really like this group if we continue to get better in the off-season like we have the past few years.”
Returning players include Logan Goedken, Logan Burchard, Ryan Burchard, Padraig Gallagher, Cayden Gassmann, Jude Brehm and Eric Heinrichs. Newcomers entering will be Aiden Wessels, Trent Arens, Luke Schieltz, Ben Westhoff, Nate Offerman and Eli Kluesner.
Beckman’s leaders were: scoring — Gallagher 327, Gehling 261, Goedken 204, Hermsen 175, White 168, Logan Burchard 76, Ryan Burchard 25, Schaefer 23, Gassmann 14, Oberbroeckling six; rebounds — Gehling 158, Gallagher 132, Hermsen 108, Goedken 88, Logan Burchard 67, White 37, Schaefer 19, Gassmann 13, Ryan Burchard nine, Oberbroeckling five, Brehm and Heinrichs three; threes made — Gallagher 40, Goedken 30, White 17, Logan Burchard 14, Gehling 13, Hermsen eight, Gassmann and Ryan Burchard two, Schaefer one; steals — Logan Burchard 33, Goedken 30, White 25, Gallagher 20. Gehling 17, Schaefer 15, Ryan Burchard 11, Gassmann nine, Brehm two, Wessels one; blocks — Hermsen 33, Gallagher 26, Goedken 11, Gehling six, White four, Logan and Ryan Burchard, Schaefer one; assists — Goedken 97, Gallagher 56, Gehling 37, Hermsen 24, Logan Burchard 22, Schaefer 17, White 12, Gassmann seven, Ryan Burchard five.