STATE BASKETBALL: Big man comes up huge for SWCMINNEAPOLIS — All streaks must come to an end eventually. Southwest Christian boys’ basketball senior Zach Huisken probably wishes his could’ve lasted two more games, but things don’t always go according to plan.
MINNEAPOLIS — All streaks must come to an end eventually.
Southwest Christian boys’ basketball senior Zach Huisken probably wishes his could’ve lasted two more games, but things don’t always go according to plan.
Entering Friday’s state semifinal matchup with Rushford-Peterson, Huisken recorded a double-double in 33-consecutive games — an SWC record.
But R-P had other plans for the 6-foot-9-inch center, holding him to just seven points and ending his coveted streak.
Huisken finished the game with seven points and 13 rebounds, while he averaged 18.9 points and 12.6 rebounds per game during the regular season.
“It’s a little tough sometimes when Zach is having an off game because he takes a lot of defense from the middle,” SWC junior Eric Talsma said. “So if he’s not hitting, that’s a little difficult for us. We just know that we always have to have shooters that can be ready to knock those shots down if he’s not.”
The Eagles (28-1) won their semifinal game 46-44 and advanced to the state championship game today. And just because Huisken had a tough night offensively doesn’t mean he had a bad game.
In fact, Huisken is such a key factor in every facet of the team’s success, that his contributions to the win were seen in other areas.
The senior had three of the team’s five blocks — including a key block with just seconds left in the game that arguably saved the ballgame for the Eagles — a steal and a game-high nine defensive rebounds.
“What a great kid,” SWC head coach Jamie Pap said. “Zach just played a heck of a ballgame again. Shots weren’t falling for him like they normally do, but he’s great leader for us out there on the floor. He does a lot for our team. He may not always score 25 or 30 points a game for us, but he’s altering shots in the lane, he’s getting key rebounds for us. The biggest thing about Zach is the way he can pass the ball. He can pass the ball deep. My hat goes off to him.”
Huisken’s passing abilities were displayed with five minutes left in the semifinal game against R-P Friday. Huisken made a fast-break pass to teammate Dominic Nibbelink, who rushed down the court to make a layup.
Although Huisken has a center’s build, he has the ball handling and passing skills to make an excellent guard as well.
“He’s got the skills to play at the guard position for sure,” teammate Andrew Top said. “He can dribble and pass and shoot, which makes it really nice too because when we’re breaking the zone, we can put him in the middle and he just takes over for us.
“He’s a luxury to have. Not many teams have a big guy who can do as much as he does.”
But Huisken would never brag about his talents. In fact, he’s more quick to point out the good qualities in his teammates than he is to talk about himself.
So even though his double-double streak is now finished, that doesn’t bother him.
All that Huisken and the Eagles care about is winning games and one more win will give SWC a state championship.
And as long as someone is sinking shots to give the Eagles some points, that’s all the team cares about. And Friday SWC proved that even if their superstar has an off-night offensively, his teammates are quick to step up and get the job done.
“Zach is great, but we feel as a team that we always have five guys on the floor that can play ball and always step up,” Talsma said. “Coach [Pap] always says that anybody should be ready to step up and it can be their game any day. None of us really have egos, and Zach is one of the most humble of us all. We just focus on playing as a team and playing together. As long as someone is hitting the shots, that’s fine with us. We don’t care who it is.”
Daily Globe Sports Reporter Jocelyn Syrstad can be reached at 376-7335.