Central Lakes College Raiders men's basketball player Mike Pater has seen success at every stage in his basketball career.
In high school at Southwest Minnesota Christian in Edgerton, Pater won two Class 1A state titles.
As a sophomore forward for the Raiders, Pater was captain of a team that set a school record for wins (21), won the North Division title and guided a program to the Region 13 tournament for the first time in 37 years.
On Saturday, Pater and his teammates fell short in their quest to earn a berth in the nationals for the first time in 55 years when Fergus Falls handed them 72-61 loss at CLC.
"This team has showed the most teamwork that I've ever seen," Pater said. "We did better than we thought we'd do at the beginning of the year but when you get this far you always want to take the next step."
Pater, along with fellow sophomores Ron Jackson, Deejay Mayfield, Chris Metcalf, Michael Peeters and Jesse Dunn, have taken a program to new heights.
"They gave a lot of their heart and a lot of pride," CLC coach Jim Russell said of his sophomores. "For them to give that effort for two years, as a coach, it's tough to explain. They did everything I asked of them and then some. I can't ask for more than that."
Russell pointed out that the sophomores are big reasons why people talk differently about the Raiders' men's basketball program.
"People always talk about this program being in the top three in the division," Russell said. "But no one ever talks about us being No. 1. I think because of this group of sophomores, we're contenders."
A look to the future
With players like Leonard Langdon, Travis Krenske, Andy Schmitz, Eli McVey, Louis Roseman and Adam Carson in their first year, Russell is confident the Raiders can contend for another region title.
Langdon and Krenske were CLC's leading scorers while Schmitz led the team in three-point shooting and assists. Carson and Roseman were reserves that logged considerable minutes and McVey is a defensive stopper.
"We're still a good team," Schmitz said. "We still have me, Travis and 'L' (Langdon) who all played a lot this year. Eli and Adam came off the bench and helped a lot and Louis too. Getting this close just makes you want it more."
Knowing that he will have a strong nucleus coming back has energized Russell.
"There's no question in my mind that we'll be right back here," Russell said of the region tournament. "No. 1, these guys are hungry. When you get a little taste as a player you're ready to get back after it.
"The same goes for the coach. I'm ready to go recruit. We've been there and now we know what it takes to get to that level."
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