CALEDONIA –– It was a rare case where neither coach was upset after Friday night's game. Caledonia head coach Brad King was very proud of his guys for stepping up after being dealt another tough blow when leading scorer Austin Klug rolled his ankle in practice on Wednesday.
Would Stewartville coach Adam Girtman have been happier if his Tigers had held onto their lead? Of course. But he was thrilled by the toughness, grit and competitiveness that his team showcased on the road against one of the best dynasties in Minnesota High School basketball.
There was plenty to learn from No. 3 Caledonia's 72-60 win over No. 4 Stewartville. Some new faces showed they're up next.
Introducing the Report Card, a breakdown of every player who made an impact in Friday night's clash of Section 1AA powerhouses.
Sam Privet: A
The Caledonia big man started the game strong and finished it even stronger. The Northern Michigan commit really gave Caledonia a shot of offense when Stewartville was shutting them down a little bit in the early going. And then late in the game, Privet took advantage of Tschetter's foul trouble and got some easy buckets at the rim. He finished with 14 points and Caledonia needed every single one of them.
Casey Schultz: A+
Tschetter might have put up 50 if Casey Schultz didn't step up. The North Dakota football commit contained Tschetter to just three second-half field goals after Tschetter erupted for 20 in the first half. And then offensively, Schultz was aggressive and hunted his own shot without Eli King and Austin Klug on the floor. Schultz buried two ginormous 3-pointers early in the second half to erase Stewartville's halftime lead. He finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and a couple assists. But he gets the A+ thanks to his outstanding second-half defense.
"Casey Schultz, you talk about tough, that’s got to be next to his name somewhere," Brad King said.
Andrew Kunelius: A+
Andrew Kunelius has never received much of the spotlight. Noah and Eli King had it last year. Eli King and Austin Klug were supposed to have it this year. But when they both went down with injuries, it's been Kunelius that's risen to the occasion every single night. He was exceptional Friday. He splashed three 3-pointers. He attacked the rim and found open teammates. He rebounded well. Kunelius wasn't fazed by Stewartville's long frontline. And then he delivered a big dunk to seal the win. Kunelius might be the most improved player in southeastern Minnesota.
“(Kunelius) was great,” Brad King said. “Again, you try to tell other kids that the work will pay off. There’s a great example of it. He put in a lot of work when it was hard to get the work in throughout the summer. It’s paying off for him. Some college is going to get a heck of a guard.”
Jackson Koepke: A
Jackson Koepke's defense was exceptional and he delivered seven of his 11 points in the second half. He drilled a clutch 3-pointer to spark the Caledonia rally and had a ton of deflections on the defensive end.
Thane Meiners: B+
Meiners missed a few early jumpers, but he shook it off and delivered four points and plenty of tough defense.
Devin Vonderohe: A
Stewartville led 30-21 with just over four minutes left in the first half, but Vonderohe splashed a corner 3-pointer to get Caledonia back within two possessions. That was the start of a big Warriors 13-0 run that really got Caledonia back in the game.
"They were itching to get a chance," Brad King said. "A lot of these guys have gone against Austin Klug, Sam Privet, Casey Schultz and Eli in practice every day. They’ve played against those guys. If you can handle our practices, most kids can handle the next game and next situation."
Lewis Doyle: B+
He's only a freshman, but Brad King thinks Lewis Doyle has a really bright future. He only scored two points, but he was able to really create offensively and get some really solid looks at the rim. That's not easy to do against Stewartville. He'll want some turnovers back, but Doyle is in line to be the next good Caledonia guard.
Christopher Pieper: A-
Chris Pieper came off the bench in a pinch and started to give Caledonia a spark in the first half. Stewartville murdered Caledonia on the glass in the first half, and that started to change after the 6-foot-2 junior got after it on the glass.
"I thought Chris Pieper came in and played some valuable minutes," Brad King said.
Will Tschetter: A+
Caledonia's entire defensive gameplan was surrounded to stop him. If you were drawing up the best defender to try and stop Tschetter, Casey Schultz would fit the ball. Strong, unmovable, long, athletic. Schultz is the ideal fit. And Tschetter still managed to torch anyone in his path for 20 points and 13 rebounds in the first half alone. He finished with 31 points and 20 rebounds despite having a bunch of double teams and even having to play point guard because of Nolan Stier's absence. Tschetter's midrange game is almost automatic, and Caledonia paid for giving him an inch of space in the first half.
It's almost expected that he's going to get 30 every single night. It's no big deal when he puts up 31 and 20 because that's just what we've grown accustomed to Tschetter doing on a nightly basis. But let's not take him for granted. He's an exceptional, generational-type talent.
“He’s the second-best player in the state, no question,” Stewartville coach Adam Girtman said. “You can’t stop him. The only way to stop him is to put two guys on him. Even tonight, he has 31 points and 20 rebounds with two guys draped all over him. He gets up at 5 a.m. and goes and lifts. He’s earned all the accolades he’s getting. I’m really privileged to get to coach such a special talent.”
Eli Klavetter: A
Eli Klavetter isn't used to being the second option, but he more than held his own. He scored five early points and drilled a key 3-pointer late in the first half to give Stewartville a two-point lead at intermission. He competed admirably on the glass too and finished with 10 points. Klavetter's playmaking and passing were exceptional too. He found Tschetter for a big-time dunk and had a few wizard-like passes.
Miles Hettinger: A-
Miles Hettinger will want a couple point-blank looks at the rim back, but he did everything else for the Tigers. He was super active defensively and a monster on the glass. He had eight rebounds and multiple offensive rebounds.
“That’s all you ask for,” Girtman said. “The thing I always try and tell the kids is the one thing you can control is how hard you work. We’re going to have more talent than 90 percent of the teams we play and the only way we lose is if we get outworked. Offensive rebounding is pure hustle, pure heart. I thought we brought all the heart tonight.”
Kaleb Hellickson: A-
Hellickson was hounded by Caledonia's physical guards all night long, and he more than held his own. The senior guard made a big 3-pointer right at the end of the half, and he had a couple other great looks that just rimmed out. He's never going to be a huge offensive threat, but Hellickson absolutely knows his role and sticks to it. Those type of players are so huge for championship-level teams.
Max Barnes: A+
Is Max Barnes up next? The sophomore played great off the bench for Girtman and the Tigers. He finished with five points and hit two big jumpers in the second half.
"In practice, he’s one of our top-4 shooters," Girtman said. "He’s always been able to shoot and pass. He's a phenomenal passer. As he gets more comfortable, he’s going to keep getting playing time."
Alex Larson: B+
Larson only took one shot all night, but it was one of the more acrobatic finishes at the rim. The junior didn't really have many opportunities to score, but he did a good job of not forcing it offensively.
Noah Looney: B+
With Ben Trenary and Nolan Stier out, Girtman went to senior Noah Looney to provide some help in the backcourt. Facing Caledonia's active, trapping defense isn't a fun task, but Looney helped the press break run a little more smoothly. He hit the game-tying free throw late in the second half.
Mason Schindler: A
Schindler, a 6-foot-3 sophomore forward, is going to continue to get more playing time this year as he gets more and more comfortable. He's just active and he delivered five early points. Just another high-upside player off the bench that Girtman can rely on. He was really impressive.