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Mix of youth and experience comes together for new Mitchell Christian boys basketball season

The Golden Eagles are hoping that game experience and a committed offseason program will result in more success in a new season, which kicks off Thursday at home against Freeman Academy/Marion.

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Mitchell Christian's Joseph Tegethoff (3) goes up for a layup during the second half of a Region 4B first round boys basketball contest against Colman-Egan on Feb. 28, 2022, at Mitchell Christian School.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL — Mitchell Christian’s boys basketball team was young last year in a seven-win campaign.

In the words of coach Jesse Tolsma, they’re still young this year.

But the Golden Eagles are hoping that game experience and a committed offseason program will result in more success in a new season, which kicks off Thursday at home against Freeman Academy/Marion.

“This team, they’ve been working. I think you’ll see a lot of kids take a leap forward,” said Tolsma, who is in his seventh season as Mitchell Christian’s coach. “We want to be a great defensive team and we want to battle on that side of the ball. We’re not going to be a big team so we’re really trying to play to our strengths and the fundamentals.”

The Golden Eagles were 7-15 last season and averaged 42.6 points per game, while allowing 53.6 points per game on defense. MCS hopes to get a boost from Nahum Anderberg, who is returning from an ACL injury to his knee. Anderberg is the lone senior on the roster, with only two juniors on the team in guard Aiden Lieber and forward Joseph Tegethoff, while other returning letterwinners include sophomore forward Syver Enga and sophomore guard Braedon Nebelsick.

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“Nahum is coming back from his ACL,” Tolsma said. “We’re excited to have him back this year and he’s going to be a big piece. His leadership does a lot for us.”

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Mitchell Christian's Aiden Lieber shoots a layup during a boys high school basketball game against James Valley Christian on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022 at Mitchell Christian.
Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic

Lieber was the Golden Eagles’ primary scorer last season as a sophomore. He had 33 points in a playoff game late last season against Colman-Egan and averaged 21.5 points per game over the final month of games.

“He’s spent a lot of time in the gym this summer and hopefully he’s able to take another step this year,” Tolsma said. “But we know we’re going to need more than him and that’s where we’ve challenged the rest of the team this year.”

Lieber is the team’s tallest player at 6-foot-2, so Mitchell Christian will find themselves at a height disadvantage but the team plans on remaining undaunted, Tolsma said.

“You look at the history of Mitchell Christian, all the way back, we’ve never been a very tall team,” Tolsma said. “So we’re talking about playing bigger than we are and then we’re really looking for matchups. … Offensively, we have some speed and some shooting and try to create those openings. We want to have five guys on the floor at all times that can score but we want to have players that are going to be aggressive and looking to score.”

Among the highlights on the season's upcoming schedule, the Golden Eagles will play in three classics, starting with the Huron Holiday Classic at the Huron Arena on Dec. 30, the Sacred Hoops Classic at the Corn Palace on Jan. 7 and the Dakota State Classic on Jan. 21 in Madison.

“Those are always a highlight for the kids, getting to play in a different venue and against a team that are a little different from who we typically play,” Tolsma said. "Overall, we're just looking forward to getting on the court and seeing how much we've improved and getting that competition again."

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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