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Maesch has been preparing for coaching role since playing days

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Photo courtesy Phil Wilcoxen/The Daily World

Ernie Maesch, a 1990 Northview High School grad and Indiana State alum, leads the Shakamak Lakers into today's semistate.

- Lakers ready for semistate today at 1 p.m.

Nearly from the very beginning Ernie Maesch wanted to coach basketball, even when he was on the court, his former coaches, teammates and players refer to the current Shakamak head basketball coach as a leader.

Even as a Northview High School senior basketball player, Maesch's first-year coach, Jon Crooks, referred to him as a floor leader for the Knights.

Maesch was the second leading scorer on the 1990 Northview squad that went 15-7 and advanced to the second round of the state tournament before falling to West Vigo. He averaged 16.5 ppg. and nearly four rebounds per contest before taking his talents to Indiana State University.

While there, Maesch didn't put up big statistical numbers, however, his talents again lay in the leadership role that he has brought to his coaching position with the Lakers.

As a senior at Indiana State, Maesch discussed his role with the Sycamores in an article with former Brazil Times Sports Editor Cecil Davis. "I'm looked to for my leadership," Maesch commented. "My goal is to make sure we get a good shot every time down on offense and we play good defense for the full 35 seconds every time as well."

Spoken like a true coach in the making.

Maesch has led the squad on a seemingly improbable run to the Southport Semistate on Saturday where they will face a 23-2 Hauser squad.

The Lakers began the season a bit inconsistent, going 7-6 in their first 13 games, but since have hit their stride, winning 12-of-13 games and five straight through the postseason.

"I feel like we started to click when we started playing better defensively in the middle of the year," said Maesch. "We were able to lock down some of our opponents defensively and also started to win the rebounding battles game after game."

Maesch also believes that despite featuring high-scoring guard Jared Rehmel, the game in the paint is what has extended the Lakers season.

"Our inside game has been very efficient throughout the whole season. Jared Rehmel is our leader and best scorer but he has been able to elevate the play of our inside players and instill confidence," noted Maesch. "Justin Cox is shooting 73% from the field at 6'2 in the post. We are not real big inside but we have a way of scoring."

The third year coach of the Lakers honed his leadership skills in several different spots before taking the top spot at Shakamak.

Following his graduation from ISU, Maesch was an assistant coach at Northview under Jon Crooks before becoming an assistant coach with Grand Valley State for one year before spending a couple of years in the Michigan high school ranks from 1998 to 2000. He returned to Northview from 2000 to 2002 and a one year stint at Rose Hulman led him to his first head coaching job with the Lakers.

According to Maesch, the semistate run has galvanized the Jasonville community much like Northview's regional run several years ago.

"The post season run at Shakamak has been awesome. Sectional week was great, Regional week was even better, but semi-state is just mind boggling. It has really put the community back on the map for basketball," said Maesch.

He also credits the fans for their support of his squad this season and in the postseason. "The fans have been more than wonderful with support at games, pep sessions, and game rally's. I never knew this is what would happen to this community if we got to a semi-state. Jasonville has been aching for a winner in basketball."

In taking on Hauser, Maesch believes in keeping the formula for winning simple and by not complicating things by changing too many things for his squad.

"We have tried very hard not to complicate winning in the post season tourney and I think that is why we have had the success. We have tweaked our defense but not made major adjustments and the kids are able to continue with what they have done all year."

Hauser is led by 6'9 senior Bobby Joliff, an Eastern Illinois signee who averages close to 18 points per game and double-digit rebounds for the Jets along with guard Gabe Mills who dishes out over five assists per contest. The Jets are no stranger to the rarefied heights of the semistate either after advancing to the final eight last year before falling to Loogootee in a one point decision.

For Shakamak to be successful, Maesch believes his squad must play under control and continue to do what has gotten them this far.

"Offensively we must keep our composure vs. their full court pressure and pick our moments to attack

it. A big key for us will be to get to the free throw line. I have noticed Hauser to be foul prone at times with their pressure. One of the reasons our kids are in this position is because they have

overcome adversity better than any team I have ever been associated with and it has allowed us to win close games all year. To beat Hauser we will have to overcome adversity again at some point."

The Lakers will tipoff at the Southport Semistate at 1 p.m.

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