Rough stretches are always a part of sports, and every team has its ups and downs throughout the course of a season. The Glenwood Rams boys basketball team has become a bit unfamiliar with the ‘down’ part, considering they have only lost six games in the past two full seasons. However, the Rams (11-4, 6-1) might have wandered into some uncharted territory, as they have now lost two games in a row by 25+ points. The silver lining? Those games were against two of the best basketball teams the state of Nebraska has to offer.
Last Monday night, Glenwood traveled to Omaha to take on Nebraska Class B No. 3 Roncalli Catholic in a border battle that was an inaugural matchup between the two squads. The Crimson Pride came out red-hot from the three point line, and never cooled off, besting Glenwood 77-50. Following the loss to Roncalli, the Rams hosted Nebraska Class B No. 4 Omaha Skutt Friday night. Unfortunately for Glenwood, this contest was much of the same, as the Skyhawks opened up a 20-point lead early in the second quarter and never looked back, coming away with a 75-50 victory.
While the Rams aren’t necessarily used to losing in this fashion, head coach Curt Schulte believes that these losses could prove useful for his squad as they move closer to the postseason.
“Those teams are obviously two of the top teams in the state of Nebraska, so we can’t get too down on ourselves,” Schulte said. “We’ll learn a lot from those games, and we’ll benefit from them and try to use them as a learning tool in the long run.”
Glenwood’s leading scorer against Skutt was Dax Lappala, who dropped a season-high 12 points on the night. Lappala was inserted into the starting lineup just a few weeks ago, and according to Schulte, has stepped into his role nicely.
“Dax is really coming along. He’s continuously getting better every game. He’s really become a good defender and he’s knocking down open shots when we need him to,” Schulte said.
Lappala came off the bench for the first half of the season, but is starting to settle into the change of pace that comes with being a starter.
“It was definitely an adjustment moving into the starting lineup,” said Lappala. “It took me a while to get used to it, but once I did, everything fell into place, and I’ve gotten much more confident.”
Also finding his way into double digits was senior Christian Stanislav, who dropped 13 points against Roncalli and 12 against Skutt. Stanislav still sits atop the Hawkeye Ten in points per game (22.1), but his numbers have gone down lately compared to what seemed like a scoring clinic earlier in the season.
Schulte said: “A lot of teams are face guarding [Stanislav] right now, playing gimmick defenses on him, but that’s just part of the deal when you put up his kind of numbers. We just need to make sure we execute on offense and make sure he’s working to get open shots.”
Glenwood’s overall offensive struggles have undoubtedly attributed to their recent woes, but they have taken the ‘back to the drawing board’ approach headed into the final two weeks of the regular season.
“I think the last two losses showed everyone on the team that we aren’t where we need to be right now and still have a lot to work on,” Lappala said. “We went back to our goals for the season and talked about what we need to work on to get where we all want to be, just to make sure everyone was on the same page heading into the end of the season.”
Naturally, the place the defending state champions want to be is, of course, the state tournament. However, Schulte, as he always does, stressed the importance of taking the remainder of the season in small chunks.
“At this time of year we try to reduce our practices, make sure all the guys have fresh legs and stay sharp on the mental side too,” said Schulte. “We’re just gonna continue to take it one game at a time, continue to get better, and we’re hoping by postseason time we’re gonna be ready to go.”
The Rams will host Harlan Friday, followed by a home date with Clarinda Monday.