5 seniors have stepped up for Lyle/Pacelli boys in 8-game winning streak

Published 8:45 pm Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A little experience has gone a long way for the Lyle/Pacelli boys basketball team this season.

The Athletics have rattled off eight straight wins while outscoring opponents 68.4-42.8 over that stretch. They just had their best outing of the season in a 67-50 win over Lanesboro last week to force a tie atop the Southeast Conference with the Burros.

But the team is definitely not ready to start celebrating yet. With six games left on the schedule, the Athletics (13-5 overall, 12-2 SEC) are hoping to win out and at least force a tie with Lanesboro for the conference title and they’re hoping to land a high seed for the subsection tournament.

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“We’ve got to keep peaking steadily,” said L/P center Brady Stier, who scored over 1,000 points in his career. “We want to get to that high goal, but we’ve just got to take it step by step and not be too urgent.”

The Athletics’ big streak came on the cusp of a late December to early January swoon that saw them lose four in a row and five of six. It was at that point that L/P head coach Reid Olson started talking to his squad about working harder and the need for them to win the rest of their games.

“That’s when we started talking about the big picture and we’re gelling right now,” Olson said. “There’s been games in this streak that we didn’t come out with the intensity that I expect our teams to have, but we found a way to win. That Laneboro win was huge and things are changing.”

Experience has been a big plus for the Athletics, who start three seniors and have two more seniors coming off the bench. Stier and guard Cody Meyer, who is also a 1,000-point scorer, have been on varsity since they were freshman and guard Michael Lonergan has been on varsity since he was a sophomore. Seniors Michael Bergstrom and Alex Brennan are getting their first big varsity minutes this season.

The five seniors all go to Pacelli high school and they are very close on and off the court. They also know what their duties are on the court.

“We accept our roles and we have to embrace them,” Stier said. “We do them to the best of our abilities. Bergstrom came in this year and not only is a huge factor on the floor when he comes in, but in practice he makes us work hard, especially on the boards.”

While learning what they can do, the Athletics have also worked on some things to make themselves better players this season. Stier has become more aggressive in the paint, Lonergan and Brennan are learning to be a little more aggressive with their shot selection and Meyer has learned to stay under control.

“Our team really likes to get going, but sometimes when we get going too fast we kind of forget what we’re doing,” Meyer said. “I try to take initiative and slow it down so everybody’s on the same page.”

Bergstrom, who didn’t play basketball his junior year, is gaining confidence in himself and his team, especially after the Lanesboro game.

“So much of my abilities have improved and I feel very confident now. When I get on the floor I know what I’m going to do,” he said. “(The win over Lanesboro) helped prove to both us and our fans that we have the ability to succeed and we’re not just playing games here.”

Brennan drilled three threes in the first half of L/P’s win over the Burros.

“I’m looking to shoot when I’m out there and I got in a rhythm on Friday,” he said.

While the win over the Burros gave the Athletics a lot of confidence, their seniors know that it was just another game and there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Lonergan said the squad must stay focused on the task at hand.

“As long as we don’t look to do too much, we’ll be fine,” he said. “When we do what we can, we produce more than any team could wish to do. We have to use that to our advantage.”

L/P will host Grand Meadow (9-9 overall) Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Pacelli gym.


Understanding roles has been key for Lyle/Pacelli’s five seniors. Here’s what L/P head coach had to say about each of them.

Brady Stier — “We need more of that (Stier had 32 points and 19 rebounds against Lanesboro) from him. He controls the paint and we need him to be the best player on the floor. That’s what we expect out of him.”

Cody Meyer — “We expect him to get us into our offense and give us some scoring. He’s usually guarding the other team’s best perimeter player.”

Michael Lonergan — “He’s our third scorer and we can’t have him reluctant to shoot. When he’s got an open look, he’s got to go.”

Alex Brennan — “If people give him the three, he can make the open one and make the defense come out. He’s also been working hard on defense and he’s earning more and more minutes by sticking his nose in there and being where we need him to be (on defense).”

Michael Bergstrom — “He’s the one that you never worry about, because he’s always going to be in the right place and he’s always going to be in the right position. He’s not going to be the most flashy guy, but he works his butt off and he’s going to get key rebounds and put-backs.”