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High School Boys: Veteran Lakers eye a deep run

Minnewaska returns four starters from a 21-win team

031320.S.WCT.Waska BBB Peyton Johnsrud (1).jpg
Minnewaska's Peyton Johnsrud puts up a runner against a pair of Jackson County Central defenders during the Section 3AA championship on March 12, 2020 at the R/A Facility in Marshall. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

GLENWOOD — Winning more than 20 games for the second time in three years, the Minnewaska boys basketball program had plenty of moments during the 2019-20 season.

Facing the No. 1 ranked team in Class A on the road, the Lakers handed West Central Conference foe BOLD its only loss of the regular season. Minnewaska finished on top of the Section 3A-North standings and outlasted Redwood Valley in the sub-section championship game before falling to Jackson County Central in the section final.

The Lakers haven’t lost much from last year’s squad and are geared to get over the hump with a veteran group.

“We return some solid experience along with some good athleticism,” Minnewaska head coach Phil Johnsrud said. “We hope to be able to fill the shoes of graduating seniors. If so, we could be a good team in the WCC and Section 3AA.”

Four of the team’s five starters are back, led by all-conference players Aaron Ver Steeg (6-3, sr., G/F) and Peyton Johnsrud (6-2, sr., G). Ver Steeg led the team last year with 213 rebounds and 60 steals. Johnsrud was second in scoring at 14.2 points per game at 51 percent shooting.

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An all-conference honorable-mention, Sam Hested (6-4, sr., F) is a long and athletic player on the wing. Brady Hoffman (6-5, sr., P) is another returning starter who led the team in blocks last season.

Connor Johnsrud (6-2, sr., F), Mitchell Gruber (5-11, sr., G) Jace Lindemann (5-10, sr., G) and Cole Harste (6-3, sr., P) round out the senior contributors.

The Lakers lost three rotation players due to graduation: Grant Jensen, Luke Barkiem and Drew Nelson. Jensen was the biggest departure after earning all-conference honors in 2019 and 2020.

031320.S.WCT.Waska BBB Ver Steeg.jpg
Minnewaska's Aaron Ver Steeg looks to drive to the hoop as a Jackson County Central defender looks on during the Section 3AA championship game on March 12, 2020 at the R/A Facility in Marshall. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

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