As Oakland-Craig took step after step toward a state football championship, a Jamboree exhibition basketball game against Fort Calhoun became impossible.
The Pioneers rescheduled and were set to face Cedar Bluffs on Nov. 26 instead, but it snowed, thwarting those plans.
New boys basketball coach TJ O'Connor now won't be able to get his team into game action until Thursday's season opener at Platteview.
“We always want to play basketball — that's the funnest part,” Fort Calhoun senior Kaden Therkildsen said. “Practice is fun and all, but at the time, playing games is the best part. So, yeah, it was a little disappointing.”
“It just didn't work out, but they've done a great job in practice,” O'Connor added. “We've been fortunate that we've got enough bodies that we can make things pretty competitive in practice.”
The coach, who previously coached at Arlington from 2013-2016, continued.
“It's always nice to, maybe, get a dress rehearsal — especially with a new coach,” O'Connor said. “But we'll roll with it and just get ready for Platteview.”
The Pioneers are excited about the team they'll trot out onto the court against the Trojans after they went 15-10 last winter. They'll have six players with previous starting experience, including a junior transfer from Arlington, Brant Hilzendeger, who averaged 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game for the Eagles.
“I think last year we were uneasy on how far we could go, and beating Boys Town and getting to the district final gave us a super big boost this year,” sophomore Carsen Schwarz said. He averaged 5.4 points and 4.6 points as a freshman, while his brother, Zane, tallied 11.1 points, five rebounds and 2.8 assists per outing.
“I feel like last year was a great stepping stone, but, at the same time, we've been working our butts off and everything,” Therkildsen said. “I feel like everyone's going to see how big we are, truly. And how much we can actually accomplish with our size.”
Of Fort Calhoun's six players with starting experience, just Tyler Strauss — who missed Wednesday's practice to prepare for an all-star football game — is under 6 foot.
“We have great kids. The attitude has been great,” coach O'Connor said. “They've been very coachable and buying into what we're trying to sell, so to speak.
“They've got a little bit of an edge to them,” he said.
The Schwarz brothers, Therkildsen, Strauss, Hilzendeger, senior Grant Halford and their teammates didn't get to play an exhibition game together for coach O'Connor, but they're greatly anticipating the start of the season.
“Once we get all of the chemistry down with our new guy, Brant, we'll all start clicking when that first game hits,” Carsen Schwarz said.
Unless the snow thwarts plans again, of course.