When it comes to succeeding at the middle school level, winning isn’t the only variable to look at.
There are so many other ways to achieve success besides being the team with the most points on the scoreboard at the end of the game.
Improving and working towards becoming the very best high school players possible is one, and the 2023 Anamosa Middle School eighth grade boys’ basketball team are a perfect example of that specific variable.
“The improvement we saw from this team this year was night and day from both the A and B squads,” said Raider eighth grade boys’ basketball coach Colby Kleinhesselink, who guided his A squad through a 2-7 campaign while the B team tallied a 3-6 overall record.
“We spaced the floor, moved the ball and rebounded the ball much better as the year progressed. Really proud of how this team came together, especially after a couple of season-ending injuries to starters. This group was a great group to coach and made every practice enjoyable and fun.”
Those practices wound up being pretty intense, too.
“One of the strengths of this year’s team was the intensity we brought every day in practice and games, as well as the way we shared the ball to get open looks offensively,” Kleinhesselink said. “Our keys for success this season were: Bringing the effort and intensity; running the floor and doing the little things right.”
All traits that will help the eighth graders grow as players, as the team also showed signs of being capable of scoring the basketball, too.
“Offensively, I thought we executed well and put ourselves in the best position for success,” Kleinhesselink said. “A couple of guys (Parker Lasack and Hayden Smith) really stepped up this season for us on the offensive end.”
Defense is usually a tougher trait to teach, but Kleinhesselink feels this group shows plenty of potential in that aspect of the game as well.
“Defensively, Coach Sodawasser and I always preached to the kids about bringing the energy on the defense side of the floor,” he said. “Defense translates to offense, and Zeke Claussen-Tubbs was a guy who really set the tone for us each night.
“Collectively on offense and defense, it was a team effort. If each guy did their job, the end result was typically successful.”
The jump to the high school level next winter will be substantial, but Kleinhesselink feels this group could have success, with the right mindset.
“This team has tons of potential to become great on and off the court,” he said. “It is up to them how much they want to tap into that potential in the off-season, and what they do day-in and day-out to reach that potential.”