Young and old: Nice mix working well for LoboesHaving a senior-laden lineup often brings a higher winning percentage than the season before. But LaMoure-Litchville-Marion coach Darren Thielges sheds light on the balance of classes with this year’s Loboes.
By: By Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Having a senior-laden lineup often brings a higher winning percentage than the season before.
But LaMoure-Litchville-Marion coach Darren Thielges sheds light on the balance of classes with this year’s Loboes.
“It’s kind of ironic; we talk about being a young team, but we do have three seniors,” Thielges said.
Jared Meiklejohn, Kenny Hodem and Nolan Alber serve as the veterans and all three seniors are in the starting lineup.
However, the team’s only junior — standout Brady Thielges, who is Darren’s son — also starts. And rounding out the starting lineup is sophomore Anthony Olson. Add to that reserves in sophomore Parker Stemen and freshman Drew Thielges, and the Loboes draw water from every well.
Darren Thielges said he enjoys the uncertainty that can come with playing underclassmen — the positives of it, anyway.
“That can create improvement in teams,” Thielges said. “When you get freshmen and sophomores, their upside is so high. … As they improve and mature, it makes their teams better.”
Thielges admits that coaches often know what they’re going to get out of juniors and seniors because of their maturity to that point. It’s that “upside” from the underclassmen that could push a team over the top.
“Those (young) guys are able to make bigger strides throughout the season,” Thielges said.
But don’t mistake him for undervaluing his veterans. With those three seniors and a longtime guard in Brady, the coach knows experience carries L-L-M more than anything.
The players with experience are in charge of executing a game plan that minimizes mistakes and capitalizes on their opponents’.
“Our theme has been to take care of what we take care of; we need to make less mistakes,” Thielges said.
The Loboes are 12-2 and have been in and out of the Class B state media poll all year. They’re receiving votes right now.
They have quality wins over Linton and Maple Valley, but the latter was able to avenge the loss in the Barnes County Tournament shortly thereafter. The Loboes also lost by three to seventh-ranked Carrington, a game that was close till the end.
To win those games, Thielges said it’s going to take clutch shots and extra possessions.
“It’s just a matter of making a play and somebody not making a play,” he said. “We need to work on getting the probability in our favor, where we can steal possessions and cut down on turnovers, so we can get a few more (possessions) a game to overcome that gap.”
The defense has been sound to this point, allowing 44.4 points per contest. The offense — more often the Loboes’ Achilles’ heel —is averaging 60.5 points per game. Not bad for a team that doesn’t have a 6-foot starter.
“We’re not a prototypical type of basketball team where we have posts and centers with an inside-outside game,” Thielges said. “We have athletes that play all over the place. Whatever spot we ask them to match up in, they’re willing to do it.”
However, gearing up the offense for a postseason run could be easier than in years past, as Thielges said he likes the way the Loboes have been able to secure more points.
“Maybe there is a little difference compared to the last few years,” he said. “Maybe our overall quickness is better and we’ve been getting a few more transition points.”
L-L-M’s toughest regular season games are behind it, but don’t expect the Loboes to lag. They have a chance to seal the No. 1 spot for the District 5 tournament when they visit Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier on Friday.
“I’ve always been kind of a believer that a season record is nice and it might look good as far as the polls, but iron sharpens iron,” Thielges said. “You need to play competition to be the best.”
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at email@example.com