For the first time since 1997, the Elks began a basketball season with a new bench boss. After 21 seasons of Randy Klasen, who was head coach of Elk River’s boys team from the 1998-99 season until he retired in August, Elk River opened a new era of basketball on Friday night with a loss.
Elk River (0-1, 0-0) fell to St. Michael-Albertville (2-1, 0-0) 79-66. It was head coach Ryan Servaty’s first game since being named to the position on Aug. 22. Servaty graduated from Elk River High School in 2002 and is also the head coach of Elk River’s boys soccer team.
Servaty said there was mixed emotions on Friday night after the first season opener in 22 years without Klasen.
“Randy’s a good friend of mine and a mentor, so it’s tough not walking up the floor by his side like I have for so many years. At the same time, [it’s] exciting to get it started and to show Elk River and show the people were playing the new style that we’re going to play with new energy. Hopefully, we can maintain it.”
The Elks took an early lead, but the Knights responded and played with the lead for most of the first half. St. Michael-Albertville led 38-31 after the first half.
Servaty said the Knights, who had already played 2 games to open their season, had a slight advantage on Friday night.
“There were moments in that game where you could see their two games that they had under their belt,” Servaty said. “The adjustments and IQ that they had in certain moments to make certain plays, in comparison to our guys, where they were a step slow. As we continue to progress, those things, where we saw some miss a little bit either offensively or defensively, will get cleaned up. We’ll see us end up on the positive sides in a lot of those moments moving forward.
St. Michael-Albertville outscored Elk River 41-38 in the second half, pulling off a 79-66 win. Elk River has lost its past two season openers and hasn’t won its first regular-season home game since defeating Buffalo 76-46 on Dec. 15, 2016.
Senior guard Braydon O’Connor said Servaty did a good job in his first game as head coach.
“I know its his first game here, a little stress on him,” O’Connor said. “Overall, I think we did [well].”
Offensive Player of the Game
St. Michael-Albertville senior forward Kale Hoselton led all players with 27 points.
Elk River was scheduled to face Tartan (2-0, 0-0) on Tuesday at 7 p.m before facing Andover (0-2, 0-0) on Friday. The Elks lost to Tartan in their most recent meeting against the Titans 68-46 on Dec. 11, 2018.
St. Michael-Albertville was scheduled to host Andover (0-1, 0-0) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. before visiting Orono (1-2, 0-0) on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Servaty said he wants the Elks to play a fast, up-tempo style of basketball this season.
"We're going to play super fast," Servaty said. "We're going to change things up constantly and keep opponents on their toes. We're going to move the basketball and move it side to side and try to establish an inside game using our big guys."