By Bob San
Last season, the Osseo Orioles captured the state championship with a combination of skilled players and rugged athletes who also played football. The 2012-13 Maple Grove boys’ basketball team is very similar in that regard as its roster are full of players who also played on the football squad.
“We have seven football players and four (Jake Wieneke, Brycen Wojta, Jacob Sterling and Erik Johnson) are all-conference,” Crimson coach Nick Schroeder said. “So we have good athletes who can do athletic things and get up and down the court and make plays to create baskets.”
The Crimson are not only athletic, but they are also very experienced. Wojta, a guard who is skilled at scoring and playmaking, is back for his fourth year on varsity. Wieneke, Johnson and Grant Kauffman join Wojta as the top-returning seniors.
“We had a really good junior class last year and those kids coming back are our leaders,” Schroeder said. “It has really paid off because they have set the tone in practice. I am very happy with the group we have here.”
Another member of that junior class James Morris transferred to Armstrong for his senior season but Schroeder feels other newcomers can step in and get the job done.
Senior Austin Paul, sophomore Elliott Kane and juniors Taylor Schott and Matt Lindgren are some of the newcomers who will see action.
“We have parity throughout the classes,” Schroeder said. “Finding a way for them to jell and play as a team is important and I like what I’ve seen so far.”
Wojta is confident the Crimson will have a good season.
“We are bringing guys back from last year so we have high expectations and I think we can go very far and make a good run,” Wojta said.
Wojta added that the Crimson want to carry the success they enjoyed in football onto the basketball.
“Most of the guys on the varsity team now all played football, so during the past couple of seasons with football and basketball we have bonded nicely,” Wojta said. “We’ve talked about how we want to carry on the great season in football and bring it to basketball and see if we can keep the ship rolling.”
The Crimson will be tested early as they host Park Center Thursday, Dec. 6. The Pirates and Osseo are considered the heavy favorites for the conference title.