After the Caledonia High School football team defeated Pipestone 57-6 in the MSHSL Class AA football championship, there was little time to celebrate for a good chunk of the team.
Because basketball season had already begun.
The Warriors’ football season wrapped up on Nov. 24, and by that time basketball practice had already been under way for a week. There was little — if any — time off for some of the athletes, which could lead to a stressful situation with no time to unwind. First-year Caledonia basketball coach Brad King took a different look at the situation, however, as he saw it as an advantage to prepare a bit differently for the upcoming season.
“It’s a very good problem to have,” King said of one team coming off a state championship. “I was happy when that happened. It gives me, the head coach, more time to work with the younger guys during that first week. Because we were missing 20-some kids that are usually in the gym, it’s a really nice opportunity as a coach.”
Things have worked out pretty well, as Caledonia (8-1, 4-1 Three Rivers) was unbeaten heading into Thursday night’s TRC showdown with St. Charles, but the Saints drained 10 3-pointers — including five by Kaden Vaughn — in beating the Warriors 79-75.
As the Caledonia underclassmen got some additional, quality time to spend on basketball, most of King’s top players — including sons Owen and Noah — were still on the football field. To make sure that their bodies got enough rest, King gave the football players the option to rest for a week. But, that also means missing another week of practice for a number of his starters.
King said some athletes chose to take the entire week off while several took time to squeeze in a little basketball into their schedule.
Then after a short break, it was time to get into the swing of basketball again, but at a slower pace than normal.
“We were very careful with them,” King said of practicing with his athletes that were also football players. “Some were still banged up with injuries and didn’t get much practice in before our first game. Basketball is a very long season and every coach’s goal is to be the best as they can be at the end of the season.
“We were stressing (to them) to work hard and have fun. We had to win or lose some of the early games to be the best as we can be in the end.”
The Warriors didn’t skip a beat in their early-season games, and now seniors Owen King, Andrew Goergen, Jordan Burg and Marten Morem — each of whom played crucial roles in the championship football season — have quickly burst onto the basketball court to help propel the Warriors.
The smooth transition from football to a basketball can be attributed to all of the athletes’ dedication to the sports they love, according to King.
“We’re very fortunate at Caledonia that kids put in a whole lot of time in multiple sports,” King said. “The guys did a great job of transitioning and it’s hard to go through those football practices and then right away pick up a basketball and do the same thing — compete at a high level.”