Wednesday, March 23, 2011

B-B-E sports blog exclusive - Dreams become reality

Dreams become reality
Jaguars stay hungry and stay humble

Earlier last week, B-B-E boys basketball senior Kevin Kuefler, arguably the best male athlete on the hardwood this area had this winter, posted a simple quote on his Facebook Wall.

"Dreams can become reality."

Not surprisingly, within a couple days it had 25 "likes" from his Facebook friends, and all week not only Kuefler, but the entire team, had picked up words of encouragement through social media, in the hallways of B-B-E High, or just passing on the street around the small towns that comprise the 23-year old athletic pairing.

Following his team's historic section championship win on Friday night, Kuefler commented, "Dreams can become reality. It's a long season, but the road to the state tournament starts when you're young. You keep developing your game. We've been waiting a long time for this night. We have to stay hungry and stay humble."

Staying hungry and staying humble is just the formula a coach or parent could ask for as a support system for the only undefeated team remaining (30-0) in Minnesota.

"There's a ton of excitement at school. People are wearing our school colors around. We had to stay focused, though. We've been doing that all year, being focused, and staying patient heading into the games," Kuefler added.

Regarding having an accomplished, veteran head coach Dave Montbriand to oversee their success this year, Kuefler said, "Coach Montbriand has had a lot of good teams that deserved this but fell a little bit short. For us to get through to state for him is really special."

Kuefler noted that he has only been to "The Barn" (Williams Arena) one time before in his life, saying, "I really don't know what to expect. Hopefully we can come out strong, keep this going, and make some noise in the tournament. We're not done yet."

Another senior on the team who played big roles in countless wins, forward Brady Koehler understandably struggled to put into words how he and his teammates felt after they punched down the door to the state tournament, "This is the highlight of my life, I can't find words to describe how I'm feeling. It's unbelievable. We want to keep it going next week at state."

About the keys to the win over Norman County East, Brady added, "We kept them off of the offensive boards and didn't give them easy layups. They had a couple in the first half, but we adjusted and shut them down."

Brady's twin brother Brent Koehler, who ignited the Jaguars' offense in the second half with four three pointers against Norman County East, commented about being 30-0, "We don't let it get to our heads. We go out on the court and play to win every night. We don't think of the record."

Regarding practices and how hard they are pushed when it's not a game night, Brent said, "Our first and second teams in practice are pretty much equal. We challenge one another and push each other to get better.

Asked what the team's formula for success is, Brent added, "We really get after the ball and know how to turn turnovers into fast break points. What is nice too is having so many great defensive players to put on the other guys' best shooters. Our whole bench really picks each other up."

One of those great defensive players on the team, senior Casey Murdock, remarked about the team's crowning achievement thus far in the season, "It feels great to be the first team to get to state. We didn't let the pressure get to us, we just played as a team and stuck together. It was a tough adjustment at first to get on the college floor (at UMM), but we got used to it quickly and it will prepare us for state."

Murdock gave a plug for his team's phenomenal freshmen point guard, Brian Goodwin, saying, "All great players rise to the occasion, and Brian Goodwin is one of those players."

Brian's father, assistant coach Brad Goodwin, summed it up best after the win on Friday, "What is so special about this team, is that somebody might have an off night, but we have too many weapons. Everybody picks everyone else up."

The cohesiveness and mental toughness of the Jaguars will be put to the test this Thursday, when they tip off at 11am with Goodhue in the Class A state quarterfinals. At that point, B-B-E fans will look for a group of truly great players - their Jaguars boys basketball team - to rise to the occasion for a spirited run at the state championship.

Note: See below for more photos and video added on Wednesday this week, the eve of the State Basketball opener. Are you pumped for the game?

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