By Mike Max

MAPLE GROVE, Minn. (WCCO) — Winning during the regular season certainly increases your chances of making the state tournament. But it’s not mandatory.

Heritage Christian Academy went just 9-17 during the regular season, then benefited from a re-aligned section and a team that came together.

It was not supposed to happen. Heritage Christian Academy entered section play with a 9-17 record, got on a roll and made it to the state tournament.

“Not a lot of our players had played a lot of basketball, and so all year long we were teaching shot selection, playing with smart movement and spacing, and at the end of the year it started to come together,” Tim Herman said.

They did it in part with a unique coaching staff. Tim Herman is joined by his son Stu, who used to play for him.

“Coaching with my son is fantastic. Playing for me years ago wasn’t so fun for him. I think it cost him about 500 points,” Tim Herman said.

A son that has found this coaching thing is a pretty good thing for father-son time.

“It’s the best thing ever. Spending more time with your dad as he gets older and getting more time with him away from family in a basketball setting, it’s really cool,” Stu Herman said.

They are joined by the school’s baseball coach, Jon Loderbor, and they are watching the growth of basketball, an athletic program and a school.

“I think it’s just been a cool spot for me to see how the school’s grown. I’ve been doing baseball there for seven years also, and so relationship-wise at a small school like us we have a lot of carryover between the two sports,” Loderbor said.

See this game of basketball and this coaching staff understand something — that sport and coaching together are part of a fulfilling life.

“Basketball is just a vehicle we have for creating relationships and connections,” Tim Herman said. “We love basketball, but we love the connections and relationships better.”

On this day they have to look hard, blown out in the first round. But they see some of the growth as they exceeded expectations.

“Having the kind of teams that we had over the last few years, kind of expecting and hoping to get there and then this year graduating so much talent, we just knew we had to do it with chemistry,” Loderbor said.

That was what this season turned out to be about.

“You never know when a high school team’s going to get it, and we finally did it at the right time,” Stu Herman said. “Everything kind of played out for us and we got the right matchup.”

A year they will not forget for many reasons, as they continue to grow a program to grow a school.

“A small Christian school, it means everything. Visibility. Exposure. And it’s a great experience for us,” Tim Herman said.

Heritage Christian lost its opening game to North Woods, and to Rushford-Peterson in Friday’s consolation game.

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