Lutherans in the Twin Cities, Uncategorized

West Lutheran High School hosts national tournament

Hosting a basketball tournament for Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod high schools is only partially about the sport, according to West Lutheran High School basketball coach Steve Jensen. It is really more about the experience, he told Metro Lutheran.

“Well, this was the first time that West Lutheran has hosted the tournament,” Jensen said. “And we found out that it is a lot of work. We had many committees made up of parents of the students, and they were all busy.”

West Lutheran senior Megan Steffel goes up for a shot during a game of the Great Western Lutheran Shoot-Out Tournament, hosted by West Lutheran High School, Plymouth, Minnesota. Photo provided by West Lutheran High School

“Fellowship is really, bottomline, what it is all about,” basketball coach Steve Jensen added.

The logistics may have been challenging, but the opportunities to build or renew relationships made it well worth it, according to Jensen. “Fellowship is really, bottomline, what it is all about,” he added.

Of course, there are the games too. Six teams from around the country participated in the inaugural Minnesota effort, including Arizona Lutheran Academy, Phoenix; Evergreen Lutheran High School, Des Moines, Washington; Illinois Lutheran High School, Crete, Illinois; Nebraska Lutheran High School, Waco, Nebraska; and Northland Lutheran High School, Mosinee, Wisconsin.

The host Warriers did quite well. West’s girl team beat the squad from Arizona for the tourney championship, and three members of the team — Erin Oakland, Laura Kolander, and Jordyn Stromback — were named to the all-tournament team.

The boys almost came up with a come-from-behind victory in the championship game, losing by only five points, 69-64, to the Arizona Lutheran team. Two boys —- Dustin Barth and Riley Gehl — made the all-tournament team.

Jensen was pleased with the response of his school. “We had good turnout, even from kids not on the team, at games between other schools.” Students from the various schools were intentionally mixed together, Jensen explained, to facilitate the sense of fellowship. “And I think it worked. I saw lots of cell phones out with numbers being exchanged.”

That level of relationship carried over to adults as well. “You must remember,” said Jensen, “that there were lots of teachers there, and all of them went to Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota. They have a lot of shared history.”

Jensen hoped the students recognized that camaraderie, even as they were taking care of business on the court.

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