Bucket Hats and Beachwear: Meet the Strangely Dressed Basketball Bench Leader of the Boys of Mount Horeb | boys basketball

At any Mount Horeb Boys basketball game this season, there’s the usual cast of characters.

Coaches. Players. Referees. The student part. Parents. etc

On the Vikings bench, however, there are three conspicuously dressed individuals.

One of them would like to be on the ground. Instead, he’s sidelined, dressed in something other than a uniform — and something different every night.

A bucket hat, sunglasses and beachwear? To verify.

Safari gear? This one will be checked off on Thursday when the Vikings hit the road for a Badger West Conference game against Baraboo.

Senior Anthony Lange is out with a torn ACL for the second season in a row. Both injuries — to the same knee — occurred in preseason, meaning he hasn’t been in action since averaging 7.1 points per game as a sophomore starter.

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But he’s still a team leader and he’s still having fun.

“We have a group chat. It’s called “Gameday Fits”. We have a sort of board meeting a few days before every game to decide what we’re going to wear,” Lange said.

That board includes ball boys Kam Nesheim and Josh Manchester, both in eighth grade.

Lange has always been competitive on game day and has now channeled that energy into game day fashion.

Which helped game day feel like game day.

“It’s pretty much exactly what it is,” he said.

Nesheim, whose father, Todd, is the Vikings head coach, is yet to see a game as a player, but he agreed with Lange on the effect of the wardrobe change.

“After school, coming home quickly, eating, putting on that cut and then hitting the gym — it definitely feels different than just wearing what you wore to school,” he said.

Fun aside, this season has been a growing experience for Lange, a 6-foot-1 guard who Todd Nesheim says had NCAA Division III potential before back-to-back torn ACLs got him. effectively allowed you to show your skills to university recruiters. . Not only did Lange lose his last two varsity seasons, but he also missed the AAU season last summer.

“In my mind,” he said, “I always think, ‘Something good always comes from something bad.’ I replay that in my head, and it helps a lot.

The good that came from blowing your knee twice?

“I understood what I wanted to do with my career,” he said. “Working with a physiotherapist every day for the past two years made me realize that was what I wanted to do in the future.”

Lange said he wanted to be able to help athletes in the same position he held for the past two seasons as a physical therapist.

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It can relate to the consequences that mental rehabilitation can have. He walked in those shoes. Twice.

He went under the knife for his first reconstructive knee surgery on Nov. 30, 2020. Then, after beating the nine-month recovery process — one of his goals, he said — and being cleared last August , he re-ripped the ACL in a fall league game in mid-October.

He went back to the knife on Nov. 5, and now he’s in rehab. Again.

But through it all, he remained a leader among his peers.

“Anthony,” said elder Madden Thome, the team’s second-leading scorer this season averaging 10.7 points per game, “is the reason for a lot of the chemistry on our team.”

Lange’s family has a shed on their property with an enclosed wood-floored basketball court and scoreboard that once stood at Sun Prairie High School. And it’s inside that hangar that this year’s team has spent a lot of time over the years, training, training, competing in a 3-on-3 basketball league organized by Lange and to create links in general.

“And they still spend a lot of time there,” Todd Nesheim said. “It’s a natural meeting place.”

Mount Horeb was predicted by the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook, an annual publication compiled by high school hoop guru Mark Miller, to finish last in Badger West’s four-team South group.

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The Vikings (9-9, 6-4) are currently tied for second with Oregon (6-4) behind Monroe (10-0) in the pool, and also tied for second in the West.

Even if Lange does not play, he has something to do with it.

“A huge amount,” Todd Nesheim said. “He hasn’t been cleared for full play this summer, so we had the advantage of playing without him all summer. So we sort of had an idea of ​​that. But we also expected him to return.

“The last few years we’ve lost touch with the weight room – our basketball players have – and he’s embraced it. We’re back in there, and he’s been a big part of that.

Lange is also an emotional leader.

“He’s the one who always picks up his team-mates when they’re down, and he always has his arm around a kid if he’s struggling during training,” said Manchester, whose father Paul is the coach of JV.

Manchester and Nesheim have been ball boys since they were freshmen, in the 2014-15 season which ended with the Vikings going to the state tournament for the first time since 1941 and then won the Division 2 Championship.

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So they’ve seen a lot of college basketball up close and personal over the years. They know what winning looks like and why it happens.

Manchester see the impact of Lange from the bench.

“When they’re playing,” he said, “I know they’re thinking, ‘If I’m not giving 110 per cent and Tony’s sitting on the bench, it’s not really fair to him.’

“They know he would play his ass for everyone. I think they all rallied around him so they can all have a great senior year.

Lange’s leadership will continue next year when Kam Nesheim and Manchester join the high school program.

Kam Nesheim said sitting alongside Lange on the bench and spending time with Lange in training taught him a lot about “what it takes to be a college player”.

“Mentor is a perfect word for it,” Todd Nesheim said. “It’s passing the torch.”

“Josh and Kam have been around all these guys their whole lives, so they’ve seen it all. But that’s exactly what happens on the bench – just to be part of the conversation about the game stuff and hear Anthony being a vocal leader and the importance of that and then taking the role he was given due from the injury and doing his best, that’s pretty awesome.

Follow Dan on Twitter @Danny_Larson_8 or contact him at 920-356-6753.

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