The Minnewaska Area boys basketball team, which went 1-25 this year, will lose four seniors to graduation from this year’s team; Paul Johnson, Jr., James Ward, Noah Palmer and Hunter Kloos.  However, the team could return as many as 10 other players that hit the scoring column this season.

Earning All-Conference for the team this year was senior Hunter Kloos, while senior Paul Johnson, Jr., earned placement on the WCC honorable mention team for 2022-23.

Kloos led the Lakers in scoring with 339 points, averaging 14.1 points per game, and also had team-highs of 14 blocks and 37 steals, while pulling down 95 rebounds and dishing out 30 assists.

Johnson scored 169 points, averaging 6.5 points per game.  He also had a second-best 83 assists, 90 rebounds and 28 steals this season.

The Lakers were seeded eighth in their half of Section 3AA this year and lost to top-seeded Morris Area in the opener, 65-38.  Morris lost to fifth-seeded NLS in the next round and NLS fell to second-seeded Eden Valley-Watkins in the sub-section finals.  

EVW moved on to beat Redwood in the Section 3AA championship to earn a state berth.  Redwood was the fifth seed in the other half of the section.

•  Sauk Centre won this year’s WCC title with an 12-2 league mark, followed by West Central Area (10-4), Morris Area (9-4), Melrose Area (9-5), BOLD (7-6), Montevideo (6-8), Benson (2-12) and Minnewaska Area (0-14).

The only win for the Lakers this year was a 67-45 victory against Hope Academy during the Howard Lake-WW Holiday Tourney, Dec. 28.

Other closes losses were to NLS (65-54), HLWW (72-66), BOLD (69-59), BBE (72-64), Benson (59-56) and EVW (54-41).  In fact, the Lakers played some of their best basketball against the stronger teams in the area this season.

Coaches this year for the boys basketball team were head coach Hunter Salathe, along with assistants Dan Dahl, Nick Danielson, Brian Walker, Zach Traphagen and Gabe Eisenbacher.

Laker season statistics

The Lakers had five players score at least 100 points this season.  Hunter Kloos led the way with 339 points, averaging 14.1 points per game.  He was also the team leader in steals with 37 and blocks with 14, while pulling down a third-best 95 rebounds and dishing out a fourth-best 30 assists.

Tenzin Dahl was the second-leading scorer with 273 total points, averaging 10.5 points per game.  He also had a team-high 124 rebounds, a second-best 29 steals, 24 assists and 8 blocks.

Alex Panitzke had 169 points and averaged 6.8 points per game.  He also had 68 boards, 28 steals and 55 assists.  PJ Johnson matched Panitzke’s point total with 169 points, averaging 6.5 points per game.  He also had 28 steals, 90 rebounds and a second-best 83 assists.

And, Dylan Alexander scored 104 points, averaging 4 points per game.  He led the Lakers with 87 assists and was second with 121 rebounds while recording 28 steals.

The Lakers shot 35 percent as a team on field goals, including 27 percent (190-for-689) on three-pointers.  Minnewaska was also 61 percent on free-throws, making 139-of-225.

The top field goal shooter for the Lakers this season (with at least 20 attempts) was Panitzke, who shot 59 percent (29-for-49), while Dahl shot 45 percent (85-for-186) and Marc Gruber also shot 45 percent (10-of-22).

The leading 3-pointer shooter (with at least 20 attempts) were Kloos (36 percent, 66-for-179) and Ryland Martin (30 percent, 6-of-20), while the leading free-throw shooters (minimum of 15 attempts) were Panitzke (80 percent, 12-of-15) and Kloos (45-for-67, 67 percent).

•  Senior Hunter Kloos led or tied for the team lead in scoring in 16 of 26 games, while sophomore Tenzin Dahl led the team seven times, senior PJ Johnson led the team three times and junior Alex Panitzke led the team in scoring twice.

Dahl had a team-high 25 points during a loss to Howard Lake-WW during the HLWW Tourney and also had 23 points during the win over Hope Academy, while Kloos had high point totals of 21 (twice) and 20 points this year.

Junior Dylan Alexander led or tied for the team lead in rebounding 11 times, while Dahl led the team eight times, Kloos led the Lakers in rebounding seven times, PJ Johnson was the leading rebounder four times, and Panitzke led the team twice.

Kloos also had the team-best for rebounding this season with 10 boards during the win over Hope Academy.

•  The Lakers scored over 60 points only five times this year with a season-high 67 during the win over Hope Academy and a season-low 30 points during a 69-30 loss to Paynesville.

Opponents scored 70 or more points 14 times this season with a season-high 83 points by Montevideo during an 83-66 win over Minnewaska during the second game of the year.  Hope Academy’s 45 points was a season-low for an opponent this  season.

•  The Minnewaska Area boys basketball varsity roster included  seniors Paul Johnson, Jr., James Ward, Noah Palmer and Hunter Kloos; juniors Alex Panitzke, Ryland Martin and Dylan Alexander; sophomores Tenzin Dahl, Levi Johnson, Zachary Palmer, Owen Meulebroeck and Connor Frey; and ninth-graders Marc Gruber and Luke Danielson.

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