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Caledonia boys basketball ended season on their terms, with a win

Caledonia boys basketball ended season on their terms, with a win
The Caledonia boys basketball team posing after winning the Class 2A sectional finals over Stewartville in their final game of the 2019-20 season. (Courtesy: Ryan Pitts/Vision Media, LLC)

CALEDONIA, Minn. (BVM) — In 2018, the Caledonia boys basketball team lost in the Class 2A state finals to Minnehaha Academy.

“It was still a heck of a journey. Getting to play the last game of the year is always a goal of ours,” Warriors head coach Brad King said.

Last year, Caledonia had the same goal but was unable to achieve it, losing to St. Charles in the sectional semifinal. That loss fueled the Warriors to come back this year and get to that last game.

“I couldn’t have been more proud with how hard everyone worked,” King said.

That hard work paid off as the Warriors went into the postseason with only one loss which came against Minnehaha Academy. Led by senior Noah King, with a supporting class of young talent that included sophomore Eli King, junior Casey Schultz and junior Austing Klug, Caledonia looked to make a strong run for the 2A title.

“We felt really good,” coach King said. ”I think most people liked our chances.” However, as the postseason began in early March, there was uncertainty about the tournament’s status due to COVID-19.

“Even before the Stewartville game we would talk about it at practice and say, ‘it’s changing by the hour all that we can do is control what we can control and that’s our effort and our attitude,” King said. “Let’s approach this like it might be our last game. If it is the last game let’s end it on a good note.”

That game was the sectional final. The Warriors were ready, but they were still unsure if it really was going to be their last game. There was another factor though that was adding to the importance of the game, and that was the fans.

“Now you’re hearing most places aren’t even allowing fans in so then we were telling the guys, ‘this is it, this is the last game in Minnesota that’s going to be played with fans so even if we’re fortunate enough to play another game we will not have fans so let’s go out there and give them what they’ve been wanting all season long, an opportunity to play in the state tournament’,” King said.

The thought of the fans not being able to continue on with the team into the tournament was a big deal to the players and coaches because the Warriors are special to the community. The Caledonia community loves their sports and loves to support the town’s athletic teams.

“Our community is top notch,” King said.

According to King, the combined pressure of it being the last game with fans and possibly the last game of the season weighed on Caledonia in the first half. The Warriors only had a one-point lead at the break. That’s when King talked to his team in the locker room.

“They are pretty much telling us we may not play another basketball game,” King said. “This is the last one that you’re going to get to play; let’s leave it on the court and they were fantastic.”

Caledonia held Stewartville to 19 points in the second half, winning the sectional final, 71-55.

“Even if we had lost that game I would have still been grateful and so would the kids that we got to play the game,” King said.

The finale provided a little bit of closure during a time of uncertainty. It was something to look back and be proud of, to show that this season was not a failure because it ended abruptly, but a success for how the Warriors handled it. The Caledonia boys basketball team achieved its goal of playing in the last game of the season and winning.

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