The Four Winds-Minnewaukan boys basketball team entered Saturday's game a definite underdog against No. 1 North Star.
Despite losing the game, the No. 10 Indians served notice that they are not to be messed with this season.
FW-M fell behind by 14 to last year's state runner-ups, rallied to take a two-point lead late and was eventually defeated 72-71 in the Ramsey County tournament thanks to a few timely buckets from Bearcats star Jacob Hagler.
The loss wasn't enough to dissuade the media from moving the Indians up three spots to No. 7 in this week's poll.
"It's hard to know where to rank teams early on," North Star coach Jeff Hagler said. "I would think they're one of the tougher teams on our schedule. They've got a lot of talent and they're going to make a lot of noise."
When Trayvon McKay was relatively shut down (10 points against North Star), other pieces filled in for the Indians' leading scorer. Austin Longie poured in a team-high 21 points and big man Collin Delorme cleaned up on the inside and recorded 17 points.
FW-M also has depth like few other teams in Class B. Five players average in double-figure and, in senior reserve Brody Cavanaugh and junior bench players Jason LaRock, Jasten McKay and Clarence Morin, 14th-year head coach Rick Smith sees four athletes that could start for most Class B teams in the state.
"Anytime you can play eight, nine guys and not have trouble, that's big," Smith said. "It's really encouraging to go to your bench and not have that falloff. You can throw them in there anytime."
Perhaps nothing symbolizes the program's depth like the play of the junior varsity team. The Indians' JV squad won two games at the Ramsey County tournament, including a 10-point victory over Lakota-Adams-Edmore on Dec. 7.
"That's something we've really been working hard on is getting out in the summer time and offseason and building our programs from way down in the younger grades," Smith said. "These kids are starting to come up through the system. ... It's really starting to pay off."
North Star isn't on the Indians' schedule for the rest of the season but, barring upsets, the two could be on a collision course for a rematch in the Region 4 championship.
Powers Lake gets scoring from many places
There isn't just one way the Powers Lake boys basketball team can beat somebody. The Ranchers have gotten double-figure scoring from a handful of players in three early-season wins and are receiving votes in the latest media poll.
In a 78-22 win against Burke County on Monday, five Ranchers scored at least 11 points.
Powers Lake drubbed Glenburn 60-41 on Dec. 8. In that game, three Ranchers scored 11 points or more, led by Levi Hoiby's 21 and Collin Marden's 18.
That game came seven days after a 44-point thumping of Divide County. In that contest, four Ranchers tallied at least 13, led by Marden's 25.
Powers Lake aims to continue its winning ways Thursday against Ray.