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Peeters becomes Mills 6th 1,000 point man

By John George sports@eot.com "It's no big deal." Those were the first words out of New York Mills senior Erik Peeters' mouth when asked about reaching the 1,000 point milestone last week. Well, trust me, as someone who played high school basketb...

By John George

sports@eot.com

"It's no big deal."

Those were the first words out of New York Mills senior Erik Peeters' mouth when asked about reaching the 1,000 point milestone last week.

Well, trust me, as someone who played high school basketball and would have liked to score even 100 career points, it is a big deal. Big enough of a deal that he became only the sixth Eagle player to reach the plateau. But the very humble Peeters just shrugs it off.

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"It's not something that really matters to me that much," he added. "It's not something I looked forward to. I just figured if it happened, it happened."

Peeters has basketball in his blood. He said he tried baseball one year, but that didn't work out so well.

He grew up in a family where all his siblings, Laura, Cory, Mike, Anthony and Ryan played, and according to Erik played well. His father, Tony, is no slouch on the court either, having started for Mills in the 70's.

"He is still able to play pretty good ball," Erik said. "We was able to beat us for a while.

"I'm not so sure anymore," he added with a sly grin, almost as if he knew how his dad would react to hearing that.

Peeters remembers going to see brothers Cory and Mike play. He also remembers giving them a hard time at home.

"I used to tell them that I'd be better than them some day," Erik said, probably the only moment in his life where he was cocky and self-promoting. "They'd say, 'Not a chance', they still think they are better than me."

"Well, are they still better than you?" I asked. "I don't know," Peeters answered. Then, before finishing his thought, he began smiling and had a little chuckle to himself and said, "I think they are afraid to play me anymore." Again, speaking as if he could already imagine how his brothers would react.

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Having cut his teeth in the driveway against his family, Peeters was ready to make a splash for the Eagles. He scored his first varsity points as an eighth grader in garbage time against Sebeka.

"That was pretty fun," he said. "That's something I'll never forget."

By the end of his freshman year, he was starting, along side brother Ryan. He said it was a lot of fun playing with his brother. What made that season more fun was the Eagles getting to State.

"Being a part of that team was great," he said. "Beating Cass Lake-Bena in the Section will be something I'll remember forever."

He learned a lot from playing on that team. He hopes to take what he learned and apply it to this year's Eagle squad along with fellow senior Alex Helmeke, the other current NY Mills player who saw regular action on the 2006 State team.

"I learned about leadership. About playing in tough situations. About staying calm," he said. "Nothing good can happen when you lose control of your emotions and get in trouble."

When guys like his brother Ryan, Ted Rud, Dave Klinnert, Chris Baune and Josh Hendrickx graduated after the 2006 season, it was time for Erik to step into the spotlight. He responded with a stellar season, averaging over 20 points per game, shooting over 50 percent from the field and 68 percent from the line, and earning Park Region Conference M.V.P. honors.

"One of the best qualities about Erik as a basketball player is his love for the game," said Eagle head coach Bryan Dunrud. "Erik's season doesn't only go through the basketball season, but he plays basketball all year and never gets bored with the game. Some days you will see him shooting by himself and other days he is will be playing competitively with his friends or teammates."

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But Peeters is not about stats. He doesn't think about the past, and doesn't worry about the future. He's about the here-and-now, and he's about team.

"I think this team can make a good run at Sections," he said. "First we need to try to go for the conference title and we need to start playing a little better, but this is a good team."

"Erik is not only in the game for himself, but he is in it to make the team better," Dunrud added. "He is not concerned how many points he scores as long as the team does well. The games before he scored his 1,000th point, that was not even on his mind, he just wanted to get a "W" , and that is his personality. As a coach I have told him numerous times that he needs to be more selfish at times and shoot the ball because he is not just a shooter, but a scorer...and he has been reluctant at times to do this because he is such an unselfish ballplayer. This is not only his attitude on the floor, but off the floor as well. He is not only a quality basketball player, but he is even a better person. He is willing to help out whenever asked and has good family morals from a healthy upbringing and a good supporting cast of friends. He is a quality individual who we are fortunate to have in New York Mills as both a student and an athlete. Through his hard work and dedication he will have a bright future in whatever direction he decides to go."

Despite having the all-time school scoring mark in sight (1,221 points by J.J. Weller), the school's single game rebounding record (26 against Verndale on Jan. 4) and a 3.8 GPA, Erik hasn't given much thought to next year and where he'll play college ball. He's thought about going to Central Lakes College in Brainerd, where brother Ryan is currently playing, and he's considered Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa.

But he hasn't spent much time thinking about a possible major, or a future career. He just wants to finish this season and take the Eagles as far as he can.

"I think about playing well and winning," he said. I'll do whatever it takes to make myself better, and make my team better. I don't think about too much else."

Funny, but I bet that's all any of his opponents ever think about as well.

Player Points Graduated

J.J. Weller 1,221 2001

John Karvonen 1,093 1975

Ryan Peeters 1,088 2006

Dean Windel 1,028 1980

Troy Becker 1,011 1996

Erik Peeters 1,002 2008

Erik Peeters scoring by year

Grade Year Points

8th 2003-04 4

9th 2004-05 94

10th 2005-06 184

11th 2006-07 507

12th 2007-08 213*

*Through Jan. 8--14 regular season games left

Tuesday at W-DC

Peeters and the rest of the boys team traveled down Hwy. 10 Tuesday night to take on Wadena-Deer Creek. The Wolverines came out on top, 79-73. It's the second straight win for W-DC (8-2, 2-1 Mid-State) over Mills, as they won last year's meeting, 80-68.

Returning home

The Eagles return home for their first game at the Sports Center since the Holiday Tournament before Christmas when they host Menahga tonight (Jan. 17). Mills will be looking to extend their seven-game win-streak against the Braves. Menahga (2-11, 0-3 Park Region) had lost 10-straight before beating Pine River-Backus Tuesday night, 71-64.

Following that, NY Mills returns to the road when they play at Pillager (3-8, 1-3 Park Region) on Jan. 22. The two teams split their games last season, both winning in the other's gym.

Tuesday, January 15

Wadena-Deer Creek 79, New York Mills 73

Park Region Conf. All

#6A Bertha-Hewitt 4-0 10-0

Henning 3-1 5-5

Sebeka 2-1 6-3

New York Mills 2-1 6-5

Pillager 1-3 3-8

Verndale 0-3 2-8

Menahga 0-3 2-11

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