LANESBORO, Minn. (WCCO) — A visitor walking into the gymnasium at Lanesboro High School might notice a couple of unique things. First, it would be the mascot.
“The Burros? I think it’s a half donkey-half horse. Something like that,” said junior Luke Rogers.
The Burro is an animal known for working hard. Coincidentally, the boys’ basketball team is full of hard-workers and they have to be, considering most nights Lanesboro uses just six players.
“Last year, it was a smaller team and this year it’s even smaller,” said Rogers, who is a starting forward.
Three seniors and three juniors make up this varsity squad. Some sophomores sit on the bench, but they don’t rack up many minutes.
“I think the team chemistry is really a lot better than you see at the city schools because we are all friends and we all enjoy playing. And it’s just the six of us,” said senior guard Erik Peterson.
You’d think a team that small would want to slow things down, but not these guys.
“Shooting, shooting, and some more shooting. Run and gun. That’s our style,” said Peterson.
They condition very hard and practice entails a lot of running.
“We have to be very conditioned. During our practice, all we do is up-tempo stuff. Just keep conditioning all throughout practice,” said Rogers.
Coach John Smith knows it’s tough.
“I’m not the most popular guy on the floor during practice. But when it’s all said and done, we kind of laugh about it,” said Smith.
But it pays off. The Burros stress the “T-O’s,” using Time Outs and Turnovers to their advantage.
They did both on this an early February night against rival Houston. The created turnovers and shot threes. They led by 30 at halftime on their way to a conference win.
Lanesboro’s biggest rival is Spring Grove and they are just as small. They start three seniors, no juniors, and they have two freshmen on varsity. The teams have split this year.
Glenville-Emmons and Mabel-Canton are also rivals with small teams, but Lanesboro is still as unique as its mascot. Every player here plays for free.
“We’ve never had to pay for a sport here. We don’t have any athletic fees, which is pretty rare for the entire state, even our surrounding communities have athletic fees. We had some struggles with our numbers, but the kids that came out have worked for me and I’m proud to have them,” said Smith.
Coach Smith said the community and the school have been good about managing money, so kids don’t have to pay to play.
Lanesboro is in first place in the southeast conference and hold a record of 7-1.