With four losses in five games, the St. Thomas Academy boys’ basketball team got a wakeup call midseason. The alarm button? North St. Paul.
As they head into section play with a conference title and an 11-game winning streak, the Cadets can thank the Polars for a 64-52 defeat Jan. 10.
It capped a bad streak, including three consecutive losses against Henry Sibley, Armstrong and Minnehaha Academy.
At the next practice, players held a team meeting.
“We just said, ‘Guys, we’re not doing things the way we need to do them in order to be successful based on our personnel,’ ” coach Mike Sjoberg said. “Ever since then they’ve bought in.”
It wasn’t Xs and Os. It was about heart and belief.
“We just had to make them believe that we weren’t going in the right direction,” Sjoberg said. “It was about our energy and our effort. If we could become a little more physical and a little tougher all around as a five-man unit, we had a chance to be a pretty good team. If we were going to play soft, it was going to be a long year.
“The guys have responded remarkably well.”
The Cadets won 13 of their next 14 games to win the Classic Suburban Conference title by two games. It was an impressive feat considering Hill-Murray, Tartan, Simley and Henry Sibley had typically strong clubs this winter.
The Cadets were thrilled to pass the 20-win mark.
St. Thomas Academy toppled Tartan, Simley and Hill-Murray twice each this season to help secure the conference title. The Cadets were most recently No. 6 in the Class 3A state rankings.
Everybody chips in
Jalen Patterson leads the squad in scoring at 16 points per game. He was asked to step up his defensive game.
“He’s a guy that’s really had to buy into the defensive philosophy that we have,” Sjoberg said. “And he’s done that. We give him a lot of credit.”
Junior Ryan Jacobsen is coming off a broken jaw earlier in the season. He was missing during the Cadets’ midseason struggles.
“He’s key,” Sjoberg said.
Jacobsen was averaging a double-double per game during conference play. He feeds off the two guards — John Henry Neuberger and Jake Wright — and they create energy.