Ready to show off their senior skills and leadership for the Vikings are (front, l-r) Braden Elton, Keaton Solberg, Matthew Franzen, Logan Halverson, Seth Shindelar, Andrew Magner, Sam Robinson and Patrick Bockman. (Photo by Becky Walz)
Ready to show off their senior skills and leadership for the Vikings are (front, l-r) Braden Elton, Keaton Solberg, Matthew Franzen, Logan Halverson, Seth Shindelar, Andrew Magner, Sam Robinson and Patrick Bockman. (Photo by Becky Walz)

The ball is in their court.

With a nucleus that begins with the starters from the 2018-19 season, the Decorah boys’ basketball team has the cupboard full of talent. On the bench will be five additional athletes that could also be in the new starting line-up.

Finding a role for everyone could be a challenge facing head coach Jonathan Carlson, who is entering his eighth season with the program and has a 75-82 career mark. He will be assisted by Jerry Robinson, Gunnar Rollins, Jim Heick and volunteer assistant Raef LaFrentz.


A recap

The Vikings of 2019-20 were building off the four returning letter winners and a host of juniors that provided depth and a balanced attack at the rim.

The Vikings put together a 5-7 conference mark to finish fifth in the team standings.

In the first round of the playoffs, the Vikes paired with Webster City, falling 55-47 to end the year with a 9-13 mark.

As a team, Decorah averaged 56.2 points per game, hitting 41.9 percent of their shots from the field. The squad pulled down 28.8 rebounds a game, with 197 on offense and 437 on defense.

Decorah lost six players to graduation — Clay Johansen, Kolin Krauskopf, Tynan Nelson, Dalton Green, Jared Holthaus and Jordan Courtney.


Big seven

Decorah has seven athletes back with a letter.

At the top of the list are seniors Patrick Bockman, Matthew Franzen, Logan Halverson, Andrew Magner, Keaton Solberg and Sam Robinson, as well as junior Charlie Robinson.

Bockman (guard) led the squad in scoring with 10.0 points per game, hitting 47.6 percent from the field and 75.4 percent from the free throw line. He also led the team in assists with 73, while sitting second in rebounds with 87 (21 offensive, 66 defensive). He was a second-team all-conference honoree.

Playing guard, Franzen put up 9.9 points per game, with a 34.4 percent average from the field. During his junior campaign he led the Vikings in steals with 33 and provided 50 assists. Under the rim, Franzen pulled down 59 total boards (12 offensive, 47 defensive). For his efforts, he was named honorable mention all-conference.

Halverson (center/forward) led Decorah in rebounding, averaging 8.0 boards per game. He tallied 176 total rebounds (56 offensive, 120 defensive) and had a team-high 10 blocks. Third in scoring, he added 9.2 points a night with a 65.1 field goal percentage.

Finding his way into the starting line-up midseason, Magner (forward) contributed 3.5 points and 2.4 rebounds per game last year, to go with 13 steals. Solberg (forward) connected for 5.9 points per game and 3.0 rebounds and had 11 steals for the Vikings. S. Robinson added 6.2 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.

Also back with a letter is junior C. Robinson (guard/forward). He averaged 7.7 points per game and 39.5 percent from three-point range. He had 17 assists, seven steals and four blocks to go with 12 offensive and 36 defensive rebounds.

Carlson is also looking to hopefuls Braden Elton (Sr., guard), Briggs Duwe (Jr. guard), Mason O’Hara (Jr., forward), Gunnar Steine (Jr., forward) and Joe Bockman (Soph., guard).

From the coach

With a large group of athletes, Carlson has a full deck.

“We feel as though we have a good returning nucleus of players this season,” he said. “We had a good summer of work, and are excited to continue coaching this group of young men. If this group can accept their roles, and come together as one unit, we like our chances against anyone.”

Carlson knows the team’s biggest concern will be size.

It will be another tough year in the conference, with Waverly-Shell Rock, Crestwood and Charles City all looking to be strong again. However, the veteran team feels they could make a good push to be at the top of the conference as well.