Clippers off to fast startStrasburg/Zeeland’s Brent Kleinsasser is a busy guy. The high school athletic director/girls and boys basketball coach/girls and boys track and field coach/school counselor and shop instructor is kept about as busy as a guy possibly can be during the school year.
By: By Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Strasburg/Zeeland’s Brent Kleinsasser is a busy guy.
The high school athletic director/girls and boys basketball coach/girls and boys track and field coach/school counselor and shop instructor is kept about as busy as a guy possibly can be during the school year.
But concentrating on his many jobs and titles — the young men and women he has dedicated his life to inspire, really — is what has gotten him through the past week.
On Jan. 13 an electrical fire destroyed the longtime coach’s Strasburg home.
“I think playing basketball has gotten me through it,” Kleinsasser said. “It’s been a whirlwind.”
But the coach and his two dogs weren’t displaced for too long, as a former student came to Kleinsasser’s aid literally hours after the fire, which started in the roof of the home, broke out.
“Thank God we’ve just got great people in this town,” Kleinsasser said. “The fire started at 4:30 in the morning, and by 8:30 that morning he had the house ready for me.”
The road to getting back to normal has started for Kleinsasser, and the road his two basketball teams are traveling leads to the Buffalo City today. The Strasburg/Zeeland boys and girls will be facing Central Prairie at the Jamestown Civic Center in the annual Linton/H-M-B Jamboree starting at 3 p.m.
Normally it’s Linton/H-M-B or Central Cass — the other girls and boys teams squaring off today — toting a state ranking entering the jamboree. But this year the Strasburg/Zeeland boys are the lone team in town ranked in the state’s top 10 on either side.
The Clippers are a perfect 12-0 and are ranked No. 8 in the current state Class B boys basketball poll. The 12 victories so far has matched the team’s total win output of all last season, as the Clippers finished last year with a mark of 12-11.
“They really gel and have come together as a team and as a group,” said Kleinsasser, who is up to 355 career victories on the boys’ side. “This summer we played a lot of team ball, and it’s just been working.”
The Clippers faced their toughest test just this past Sunday in South Dakota at Eureka-Bowdle, surviving 65-64 in double overtime to stay perfect on the year.
“It’s a tough place to play. We’ve always had trouble down there,” Kleinsasser said. “We had a nice little lead and they came back, but it’ll help us in the long run.
“We’ve just got that attitude right now that we’re hard to beat, even when it was in overtime.”
Strasburg/Zeeland will face Central Prairie, a team they’ve already defeated this season, today at 4:30 p.m. Central Prairie has just one win on the season (1-11), but the Clippers and the Firebirds have a pretty interesting history at the jamboree over the past few seasons.
Central Prairie has won the past three matchups — defeating the Clippers 63-44 last year — but interestingly enough the last time Strasburg/Zeeland won, the Firebirds were undefeated (10-0) and were state ranked (No. 7).
That was a 53-45 final in favor of the Clippers back in 2009.
The Clippers upended the Firebirds 71-55 back on Jan. 4 in Medina, but that doesn’t mean Kleinsasser and his team will be taking Central Prairie lightly.
“(Central Prairie) has been taking it to us the last few years,” Kleinsasser said. “They’ve got a lot of kids and I’m sure they’re going to give us a ball game.
“We’re playing everyone in the district twice this year, and it’s tough to play teams twice.”
Central Prairie’s Alex Eissinger likes the Civic Center. The junior guard drained five 3-pointers and scored 22 points the last time the Firebirds were in town.
That came during Central Prairie’s only win so far, a 56-49 victory over Midkota in the seventh-place game of the Stutsman County tournament on Dec. 15.
The Clippers have a host of players they can turn to for scoring, but look for senior Kyle Nieuwsma to lead the way. He averaged 10 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists per game last season.
Nieuwsma is one of four returning senior starters, which includes second cousin Cole Nieuwsma, defensive specialist Mason Kramer and post player Jon Stabler.
Freshman guard Brody Nieuwsma — Kyle’s brother — has also led the Clippers in scoring this season. Strasburg/Zeeland is averaging just over 62 points per contest, while allowing opponents to just under 47 points.
“They’ve won the games put in front of them and they deserve it,” Kleinsasser said of his team’s state ranking. “We just battle everyone and take it one game at a time. That’s our motto.”
Jamestown Civic Center
Strasburg/Zeeland girls (6-4) vs. Central Prairie (1-6), 3 p.m.
Strasburg/Zeeland boys (12-0) vs. Central Prairie (1-11), 4:30 p.m.
Linton/H-M-B girls (6-2) vs. Central Cass (5-1), 6 p.m.
Linton/H-M-B boys (11-3) vs. Central Cass (8-3), 7:30 p.m.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com