Huskies ready to live up to high expectations

Derek Klecker, Writer

Last season, the Owatonna Boys Basketball team found much success throughout the season. They finished last season with an overall record of 17-4 and earned themselves the three seed in the Section 1AAAA Tournament. After a quarterfinal win against New Prague, a semifinal forfeit by Farmington, and an upset win against the number one seed Lakeville North in the championship game, the Huskies earned their trip to the state tournament. Although the Huskies lost in the opening round to Shakopee, it was their first time in the state tournament in 10 years. This experienced Huskies team is looking to have similar success this season. Head Coach Josh Williams said, “Out of the 19 years that I’ve been a head coach, I’d put this team up there as one of the top teams that I’ve had come through the program.”

The Huskies return four out of the five starters from last season’s team including All-Conference seniors Brayden Williams, Evan Dushek and Tyrel Creger. These three were named captains for this season and will all once again play key roles on the court for the Huskies. Junior Blake Burmeister is another key contributor and returning starter from last season. With the fifth starter, Payton Beyer, and critical players off the bench, Lincoln Maher, Jack Titchenal and Abdi Isman graduating this spring, others are going to need to step up. Look for seniors Nick Williams, Connor Ginskey and Avery Hartman as well as junior Collin Vick to fill those roles. Although the Huskies have postseason hopes, they can’t look too far ahead as they still have to get through the regular season and conference play. Coach Williams said, “Being one of the favorites to win the Big 9, I think a lot of teams have us circled as a primetime game so we got to approach each game as important games on our schedule.”

COVID-19 impacted high school basketball last season with many guidelines and restrictions. Players had to wear masks while playing as well as only a limited number of spectators were allowed in the gym to watch. This season many of those guidelines and restrictions are no longer in place and high school basketball will look closer to what it was two seasons ago with loud crowds and full bleachers. Creger said, “I think fans brought a lot of the energy back and it just makes the game a lot more fun and makes it easier to get going as a team.”

Huskies have started their season out strong with a 68-59 win at home against the Rochester Century Panthers and a 62-52 win on the road against the Austin Packers. Huskies will look to stay in the win column when they face the Northfield Raiders at home on Monday, Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m.