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Waiting in the Wings: Perham JV basketball team undefeated

As the Perham Boys Varsity Basketball team makes its second consecutive trip to the state tournament with the hopes of bringing back another title, the Junior Varsity team has accomplished a feat no other Perham JV basketball team before them ever has - it completed a perfect undefeated season with a 24-0 record.

Although the feat of going an entire season without a loss is important, sophomore Tyler Glines see it in a bigger picture: "I don't think it was as important to go undefeated, but to get better as a team and as a program. Sure it's nice to win every game, but it's better to see the team being successful and developing a special bond."

Eighteen players made up this year's squad, including juniors Jacob Anderson and Matt Formanek and 16 sophomores: Hunter Salathe, Austin Erickson, Jaden Meyer, Sam Willenbring, Stephen Halvorson, Kyle Sonnenberg, Trey Moberg, Jared Rieber, Nick Bahls, Eli Beachy, Daniel Hill, Josh Still, Josh Meader, Tyler Glines, Jamie Heitala, and Brevin Becker.

Like many of the current varsity players did during their time on the junior varsity, the current JV team has pushed and pressed to not only make themselves better, but to also work hard every day to make the varsity better.

When asked about practices and competing against the varsity, sophomore Nick Bahls said, "Competing against the varsity day in and day out took my game to the next level. Practicing against the number one team in the state is never an easy task. Coach Cresap always pushes us to give the older guys a good look on both offense and defense."

Hunter Salathe echoed the theme of his teammates and stressed the concept of it being a program by adding, "Without all the help from the coaches and varsity we would not have had as successful of a season."

The same can be said for the success of the varsity with the JV players challenging them every day. When asked about the younger players, senior center Mark Schumacher stated, "They're young, hungry and really love to play."

Throughout the season, the team has had several players develop into contributing rolls on both teams. As the season progressed the varsity has found that they needed to extend their bench, adding more JV players to the varsity roster. Those players responded by not only contributing but finding success.

On game nights, Minnesota State High School rules allow for a player to participate in only three of the four halves between the JV and varsity. As players moved into bigger roles on the varsity, that allowed the JV bench players to get more playing time. Those players and the team didn't miss a beat and continued winning.

Jaden Meyer was a player who started the JV season with limited minutes but emerged over the course of the season. As Salathe moved deeper into a varsity role, Meyer moved into a productive role with the JV. He explained it as, "If somebody was hurt or moved to more varsity time, we would have another guy step up to replace that person."

Coach Brian Schwantz had this to say about this year's team: "This group of young men have the opportunity to keep the tradition of Perham basketball at a championship level. I am very proud of this group. With 18 players, there weren't enough minutes in a game for everyone, but they were always good teammates, cheered for each other, and never complained about playing time. They always brought a great attitude to practice every day, and each person got better because of that."

With this kind of success and willingness to play a "team game," the future of Perham basketball looks to continue its winning ways for years to come.