Zach Horstman leading Winner boys' basketball teamWinner coach Jim Drake is doing everything he can to get Zach Horstman ready to play NCAA Division I collegiate basketball.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
Winner coach Jim Drake is doing everything he can to get Zach Horstman ready to play NCAA Division I collegiate basketball.
Right now, the 29-year veteran coach is dealing with Horstman’s sometimes unpredictable play.
Saturday at the Hanson Classic, Drake watched Horstman put up three potential game-winning shots in a matchup against Aberdeen Roncalli.
The 6-foot-6 senior guard — who, on Nov. 10, signed to play with South Dakota State — missed all three jumpers.
“We’re going to go down with him; we’re going to win with him there,” said Drake, whose team won on a time-expiring tip-in by its shortest player, 5-foot-7 Donovan Brother of All. “Part of the reason we had our best game for three-and-a-half quarters is because (Horstman) had his best game for three-and-a-half quarters. There’s obviously a correlation there.”
Winner led by as many as 13 points in the second half against Aberdeen Roncalli Saturday at the Corn Palace.
Through three quarters, Horstman had 18 of his game-high 21 points. He was showing nearly all aspects of his game, including top-notch defense and long-range shooting.
But once Horstman slowed, so did his team.
Inconsistency has been a recurring theme for Drake, Horstman and the Warriors, who took fifth at last year’s Class A state tournament and are expected to compete highly again this season.
“Our season has been up and down,” Horstman said near the locker room after Saturday’s 54-53 win. “We play good for a quarter and then we’ll fall apart.”
Winner — which is ranked No. 8 in Class A — is 8-2 this season. It avoided its third loss Saturday, when Brother of All pulled down an offensive rebound off Horstman’s missed 15-foot jumper to tip in the game-winning shot.
Despite missing his last three shots Saturday, Horstman said he’s used to late-game pressure at this point in his career.
“I’ve got pressure on me all the time,” said Horstman, who played all 32 minutes of Saturday’s game. “I’m expected to be a leader, because I’ve been here five years. And I embrace that role.”
Since he was a high school freshman, Horstman has been verbally committed to South Dakota State. As a sophomore, he was named to the Class A second-team all-state team. As a junior, he averaged 19.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game and was named to the first-team all-state list. He holds Winner High School career records for points at 1,714 and also holds school records for steals and defensive rebounds.
This season, he’s scored 20 or more points in five of Winner’s 10 games. This year, Horstman is continuing his all-round play, averaging 18 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists.
Drake said Horstman had his best game of the year Saturday through the first three-plus quarters.
In that time span, he was nearly unstoppable.
Winner’s first four points were from Horstman, including a turn-around base-line jumper for an early 4-2 lead. Three minutes into the first quarter, he was the team’s point guard, bringing the ball up the court and setting up offensive plays. Though, he was in control of Winner’s offense on more than one occasion.
He went 3-of-4 from the field in the first quarter and knocked down two 3-pointers in the second— one of which was a step-back shot that was well beyond the college 3-point line. He also took a charge with one minute remaining in the second quarter to help the Warriors to a 30-22 halftime lead.
“What people forget — and they hear about him and his scoring — but what I think of him is that he’s the leader of our team, and I’m not just saying that to say it,” Drake said. “He leads us in rebounds sometimes, he leads us in assists and he leads us in steals. Last year, he led us in taking charges. Those are some of the things I think he’s matured at.”
But once the fourth quarter started, Aberdeen Roncalli made sure each time Horstman touched the ball he was double-teamed. Aberdeen Roncalli went on a 17-6 run in the first five minutes of the fourth. Trailing 53-51 with a minute and a half left, Horstman was fouled driving through the line and hit one of two free throws. From there, he missed a jumper at the free-throw line elbow, a shot from the top of the key and the same free-throw line elbow shot on the final play.
“When it’s crunch time, I like to have the ball in my hands,” Horstman said. “I like to shoot. If I’m open, I’ll shoot it. And even if I’m not, I’ll shoot it.”
Collegiately, Horstman said he’ll be a wing, which is an outside shooter. Sixteen of his 21 points Saturday came by shooting the ball, a trait that Drake said Horstman has excelled at before this season.
“I don’t mean to be negative or mean about it, but he’s not shot well this year or to end last year from 3s,” Drake said.
But it’s not something Drake is overly concerned with.
Instead, he’s focused on getting Horstman — and Winner’s team — to play consistent basketball.
“He’s got to have the ball at the end of games,” Drake said. “The toughest part of our schedule is the second half. Up to this point, other than (Saturday), we haven’t beat a top-10 type team.
“We just have to finish games.”