Not every game can be judged strictly by the numbers on the scoreboard.
For the Cambridge Christian boys and girls basketball team, proof came in a pair of contests against South Metro played at the Cambridge Armory on Monday, Jan. 13.
While both teams lost, both also learned that success can be measured in terms besides wins and losses.
For the girls, the assessment of a 50-43 loss is tempered by the fact that the Warriors were in a stretch where that contest was one of seven played in an eight-day stretch. And that stretch came almost immediately after Christmas break ended, meaning practice time was limited once the team returned to the court after the break.
Given all of those considerations, the loss came in a game where the team showed improvement.
As for the boys, Monday night’s contest came against South Metro’s junior varsity team. That gave Cambridge Christian a chance to play a team more suited to its skill level after the South Metro varsity hung a lopsided loss on the Warriors early in the season.
And given that the CCS boys also hung with their Monday night opponents before eventually losing, well, there were signs that this program also is improving – although there still is much work to be done.
CCS girls face too many obstacles
Cambridge Christian girls coach Brian Bergman said he felt his team took a step forward in their rematch against South Metro.
“In the first game, I felt we were going through the motions,” he said. “In this game we were much more intense. That was something I didn’t expect, because we’re in the middle of a tough stretch in which we’ve played a lot of basketball. But our girls dug deep and worked much harder.”
The game was tight until late in the first half, when foul trouble sent both Abigail Nyquist and Kristina Gerard to the bench – and the Warriors failed to keep pace with South Metro.
“We were ahead when we fell into foul trouble,” Bergman said. “But then I had to go to some second- and third-string players, and that’s when it was hard to keep up with them. We need to learn to play aggressively without using our hands.”
Cambridge Christian managed to stay close through the second half thanks in part to Claire Christenson, who scored 11 of her 13 points in that period. Nyquist fought through foul trouble to finish with 10 points.
Bergman said this busy stretch of games, which included seven contests in just eight days, has been difficult to navigate.
“What made this stretch tough was that it started right after Christmas break,” he said. “We had one practice, then we played a game, and then another game, then a tournament, then three games after that. So we had a lot of games, and we haven’t had many practices.”
Bergmen said there are some things a coach can do to keep his team fresh during a busy stretch.
“I try to sub a little more, but we’re also dealing with some nagging injuries,” he explained. “That all changes the substitution patterns. We’ve been searching for players to step up and plug holes.
“[Against South Metro] we went with a freshman, Jane Swenson, as our point guard. We gave her a shot, and I thought she did OK.”
One day after losing that contest, Cambridge Christian suffered a narrow 62-60 loss at Willmar despite 21 points by Christenson and 18 from Nyquist. But the Warriors rebounded to beat Faith Christian in Foreston by a 56-31 score two days later.
Christenson and Nyquist both finished with 17 points in that win as Cambridge Christian improved to 11-6 on the season.
CCS boys are building for the future
First-year Cambridge Christian boys coach Josh Faulkner did not enter the game against South Metro looking for specific numeric goals such as points scored, rebounds grabbed or steals made. Instead he looking for his team to do the little things better than it did early in the season.
“I was looking for us to set a tone early and for us to have a level of physicality,” he said. “I wanted us to box out well [on rebounds], take some charges, and just be aggressive on the offensive end.”
The coach did not get everything he wanted early as the Warriors fell behind 7-0. But his team clawed its way back into the contest and tied the game at 15-15 midway through the first half.
“Something that I’ve learned is that this team is full of kids who are what their uniforms say they are: They are Warriors,” Faulkner said. “They’re going to fight until the end of the game, and I’m proud of them for that.
“But we need to realize the reasons we fall behind, and we need to understand that we can’t always dig ourselves a hole like that. That’s the next step.”
Another lesson Cambridge Christian will need to learn is to keep pushing once it comes back. Instead the Warriors fell apart late in the first period, and South Metro made a late run to take a double-digit lead at halftime.
There were spurts in the second half where Cambridge Christian appeared poised to mount a comeback, but the team’s inconsistency never allowed that to happen.
“A lot of that [inconsistency] comes from having young players,” Faulkner said. “Some of them are still growing into their bodies, and it also means they don’t know what they don’t know, at least not yet. That will come with time and with repetition, just continually putting in the work.”
Of the 38 points the Warriors scored in the contest, 9 came from the lone senior on the roster, Kameron Henderson, while freshman Caleb Boettcher added 8.
Cambridge Christian boys basketball coach Josh Faulkner talks to his team during a timeout in the first half of the contest against South Metro on Monday, Jan. 15.
Cambridge Christian senior Kameron Henderson eyes a free throw in the second half of the Warriors game against South Metro played at the Cambridge Armory on Monday, Jan. 15.
Warriors freshman Caleb Boettcher looks to pass the ball from the top of the key.
Cambridge Christian’s Bryan Laska drives to the basket and takes a shot in the lane against South Metro on Monday, Jan. 15.
Cambridge Christian’s Eva Boyum passes the ball to a teammate on the wing during the first half of the Warriors contest against South Metro on Monday, Jan. 15.
Cambridge Christian girls basketball coach Brian Bergman gives his team instructions during a first-half timeout of the contest against South Metro played at the Cambridge Armory on Monday, Jan. 15.
Warriors senior Emma Pankan gives new meaning to the term “no-look pass” as she directs the fast break during Cambridge Christian’s contest against South Metro.
Cambridge Christian’s Abigail Nyquist looks to find an open teammate during the Warriors game against South Metro. Nyquist finished with 10 points in the 50-43 loss.
Photos by John Wagner