Jon Dale’s loss is Mike Durbin’s gain.
He’s the next person Pequot Lakes senior and the 2012 Brainerd Dispatch Player of the Year Mattie Lueck will call head coach. Durbin coaches the College of St. Benedict Blazers, where Lueck’s older sister and last year’s Player of the Year, Emily Lueck, plays.
“I’m happy because of the type of person we’re getting,” said Durbin. “The basketball part will take care of itself. Her versatility and her poise and temperament are years beyond her age. She plays with a certain amount of poise you don’t find in most 18-year-olds. If she gets frustrated you never see it. I like those intangibles.”
Durbin also likes what Lueck brings — versatility. He said she could play the point guard or the post position next year. That’s nothing new for Lueck, who has changed positions more often than the Patriots have won games and that’s a lot.
In Lueck’s five-year career, Pequot owned a 113-37 record. In fact, Pequot’s worst season, record-wise, was this year (20-13). Despite that, Lueck still led the Patriots to fourth place in the Class 2A state tournament.
“She does so many things,” said Dale. “Mattie was a role model for all the younger kids. They just adore her. She would make their day by just acknowledging them. They just loved her. She does so well with our basketball camps. That’s what I’m going to miss. That and her leadership.
“She’s a pretty special kid. She really grew into her leadership role this year. Before she was always so quiet and kind of in the back seat to her older sister and that group. She had to switch roles this year. She developed into a really good leader and a special ballplayer.”
Lueck finished the year with 637 points, 232 rebounds, 149 assists, 79 steals and 98 blocked shots. She shot 46 percent from the field, which is what she shot for her career on her way to 1,746 points. That number puts her sixth on Pequot’s all-time scoring list, which includes three other players of the year.
Her numbers exploded during section play when Dale decided to let his star shine.
“It was a catch-22,” said Dale. “She was so needed on offense that I was so worried that if I had her guarding the other (team’s) best player she was going to get into foul trouble and then we’re really hurting on the offensive end. I was a little hesitant to do it.
“As we went down the stretch and games became do or die it was ‘Mattie, go guard their best player.’ I think that’s where she really shined. Against Hawley she was pretty special. You’re always taking a chance when you’re blocking shots, but she was always capable of playing defense like she did in the section tournament. It’s more of my fault for hesitating in letting her do that for fear of her getting into foul trouble.”
In Lueck’s five seasons as a varsity player, Pequot Lakes owns a 14-3 Section 8-2A record with back-to-back section titles her final two seasons. Durbin hopes that postseason success carries over to college. What he doesn’t have to hope for is whether he’s getting a multi-skilled athlete.
“She honestly could, in a pinch, play all five positions,” said Durbin. “She’s going to give our program a great deal of flexibility. But I want her to have input into where she thinks she’ll be most comfortable. She’ll have some input into where she things she can best help us.
“She can handle the ball. I’m not going to worry about that. That first state game (Pequot’s 57-46 victory over Zumbrota-Mazeppa) she was outstanding on the low block. And I’ve seen her shoot the 3. She’ll be just fine.”
Past Dispatch Players of Year
2010-11: Emily Lueck, PL
2009-10: Nikki Pearson, S-M; Emily Lueck, PL
2008-09: Sara Hoge, Aitkin; Emily Mehr, Aitkin
2007-08: Taylor Sheley, PRB
2006-07: Kayla Huether, Brainerd
2005-06: Chelsea Lundgren, C-I
2004-05: Flecia Foster, PL; Teresa Parker, PL
2003-04: Michelle Honek, SM
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5856.