Justin Heitkamp lit up the Willmar Cardinals for 21 points but it's the things he does that don't show up in a box score that have helped the Brainerd Warriors boys' basketball team to a 2-0 start.
The Warriors chart a combination of offensive and defensive statistics. The chart includes points, rebounds, assists, charges, diving for loose balls, turnovers and blocked shots. Statistics are then combined to determine a plus-minus rating.
In the season's first two games Heitkamp led the team with a plus-16 rating against Willmar and a plus-25 against Hibbing.
Sport -- Boys' basketball
Position -- Forward
Year -- Senior
Age -- 18
Height -- 6-foot-3
Weight -- 165 pounds
Other sports -- Golf
Grade-point average -- 3.6
Favorite subject -- Mathematics
Favorite food -- Pizza
Favorite movie -- "Tommy Boy"
Hobbies -- Sports
Future plans -- Attend college, possibly pursue business degree
Athlete he admires -- Golfer Fred Couples
Parents -- Bill and Carolyn Heitkamp
"There are a lot of variables besides scoring, and I like that," Amundson said of the rating.
So far Amundson likes what he has seen from Heitkamp. Against Willmar the lean 6-foot-3 senior made four consecutive 3-pointers in the first quarter and nailed six 3-pointers in all. Heitkamp credited his teammates for their unselfish play.
"After I hit the first shot they set more picks for me," he said. "They gave me the ball and the opportunity to shoot."
Heitkamp is the team's second-leading scorer with a 14-point average. He has shot 41 percent (7 of 17) from 3-point range. Amundson said the Warriors want Heitkamp to continue shooting.
"He understands that we want him to shoot more," Amundson said. "He's shooting with confidence. When he lets go of it he doesn't think he's going to miss the shot.
"We ran some sets for him and set some good screens to set him up. Justin is good at coming off screens."
Despite his size Heitkamp normally plays the perimeter. He is the Warriors' most potent 3-point threat and his size can present mismatches for defenders.
"When I play bigger guys I might be a little quicker but I don't have the strength over other people," Heitkamp said.
Heitkamp uses size to his advantage in getting to the boards. He is the Warriors' second-leading rebounder with an 8.0 average.
"I make sure I block out my opponent," Heitkamp said. "We're not big so everyone's got to rebound."
Amundson said Heitkamp's rebounding has been a bonus.
"In the first two games he gave us some rebounding we didn't know going in that he would give us," Amundson said. "He got some big offensive boards both games. He can get up. He has a nice vertical. A few times he went over people to get a rebound."
Amundson also has been impressed with Heitkamp's leadership.
"Justin comes ready to practice every day," Amundson said. "He does so many things. He's a very smart player. If a guy gets beat on defense he helps. He made five or six dives for loose balls against Hibbing. He does things that don't show up on the stat sheet."
The Warriors are 2-0 for the first time since the 1996-97 season. With four players returning a year of experience appears to have made a difference.
"It helps," Heitkamp said. "We know we have only won two games. It's a long season. We have to keep working. Our schedule isn't easy."
Amundson attributes the Warriors' early success to several players having experienced winning in their other sports.
"That success rubs off," Amundson said. "One of the things going in we had to our advantage was they know how to win. They don't shy away from anybody. We have 22 games left so we have a lot of improvement to make. I definitely like our attitude right now. I feel we're getting better. We don't feel we are peaking."
Other notable efforts by Warriors:
Katie Perpich, gymnastics, won the uneven parallel bars and the all-around against Little Falls.
Molly Smith, gymnastics, won two events against Little Falls.
Amanda Johnson, gymnastics, won the floor exercise in the Warriors' quadrangular.
(Athlete of the week is honored by the Brainerd Sports Boosters Club.)
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