Boys basketball: Jaguars’ streak hits 40
Coming off a 33-0 state championship season last year, this season’s Brooten-Belgrade-Elrosa boys basketball team is 7-0 heading into its game against Minnewaska on Friday in Glenwood.
That 40-game winning streak sure is impressive, but look a little deeper and you’ll find that the Jaguars are in the midst of a splendid run of sustained success matched by very few teams in Minnesota prep basketball history.
Before the undefeated championship season in 2011-12, the Jaguars were 32-1 in 2010-11, with their only loss coming in the Class A title game. That means BBE currently is 72-1 the last three years. In the last five seasons, the Jaguars are 121-10.
The Jaguars have won 68 straight regular-season games, last losing in the regular season on Feb. 4, 2010, at Dawson-Boyd. They last lost at home to Benson, 58-56, on Jan. 30, 2009. Their 50-game home winning streak is the third-best in state history, trailing only Esko (56 straight from 1973 to 1979) and Braham (55 straight from 2003 to 2008).
If the Jags repeat last season and win out, they will end the year with 59 consecutive home wins and 66 straight wins overall. Edina has the state record of 69 consecutive victories from 1965 to 1968.
That’s a lot of streaks and would seem to pile a lot of pressure on a 14-player roster that features just three seniors, 10 juniors and a freshman.
“I think we’re handing it differently than some other teams in that we’re not afraid to talk about it,” said BBE head coach Dave Montbriand. “We take the attitude that we like the pressure. We don’t pretend it’s not there.”
Montbriand’s high school coach at Bloomington Jefferson, Jack Evans, had a team motto of “Welcome the pressure,” and the Jaguars have embraced it, too. The phrase as taken on added significance, he said.
“We accept it and feed off it,” Montbriand said. “That motto has come in handy the last couple of years.”
Three starters — Brian Goodwin, James Kuefler and Billy Borgerding — are back from last year’s team and they’re all juniors. The Jaguars are missing some of the inside presence they had last year with the graduations of Connor Goodwin and Kirby Montbriand so they’re putting a new twist on the same offense.
“We’re more of an outside team, where we can drive and penetrate,” Brian Goodwin said. “We run kind of the same offense but we run it a little differently. We’ve been working and improving since our first game so it’s getting there.”
The Jaguars’ have junior Trey Heinsius, a sixth man last year, in the starting lineup along with senior Alex Wosmek. Senior Austin Imdieke and junior David Rodgers, both guards, are the first players off Montbriand’s bench. What the team lost in rebounding and post defense they are making up for in other ways.
“We found out we’re quicker now,” Montbriand said. “What we’ve lost, maybe we’re picking up as much with our quickness. I think our traps are better and we’re quicker defensively.”
Despite their young age, the Jaguars are not green, having played 14 postseason games, including six state tournament games, the last two years, Montbriand said.
Case in point: BBE fell behind Eden Valley-Watkins 17-2 in the opening minutes of their game on Tuesday. By halftime, the Jaguars led by eight points and won by 16.
“They have great poise,” Montbriand said. “As juniors, that’s really amazing. (Against EV-W), there was no panic and you could really see their maturity. They kept grinding it out.”
“We just stayed calm and fought back with our defense,” said Goodwin of the Jaguars outscoring EV-W 28-5 after the huge early deficit. “And we started hitting some shots.”
With that kind of resolve and quick-strike ability, it’s little wonder the Jaguars don’t mind staring down the streaks.
“Our team goal is to win the state tournament; we put it right out there,” Montbriand said. “We want to win our conference and be undefeated at home. If the streaks end, they end. We want to have fun with it while it lasts.”
The players are in agreement, Goodwin said.
“We just take each game and we don’t look ahead,” Goodwin said. “You have to play the game right in front of you. With the streaks, if we lose, we can move on. We’ll just try to go on and win some more.”