Home » GGF boys basketball preview: Sacred Heart guard Josiah Sundby wants teams to overlook him

GGF boys basketball preview: Sacred Heart guard Josiah Sundby wants teams to overlook him

GRAND FORKS — Josiah Sundby knows he’s typically the shortest basketball player on the court.

He wants the opposing team to notice, too. He wants them to overlook him.

“When you’re shorter than people, people don’t expect as much from you,” the 5-foot-5 guard said.

That motivates Sundby, because he knows what he’s capable of on the court. The reigning North Star Conference player of the year averaged 13 points per game, 7.0 assists per game and 6.0 rebounds per game in Sacred Heart’s second consecutive section championship season last year. It was also Sacred Heart’s second state tournament appearance in as many years.

His season averages don’t tell the whole story. Sundby adapts his game to fit what the team needs that night.

“He’ll have three points but 14 assists. And there’s other games where he has 25 points and three assists. He just does what needs to be done,” coach Destry Sterkel said. “It’s horribly sad that we’ve come to our last year with him, but he’s had an unbelievable career for us.”

Sundby wants another section title and state tournament appearance before graduation. That’s a team goal for Sacred Heart this season.

The lineup will be smaller than previous years, so the biggest question Sacred Heart enters the season with is who will step up on defense.

Sterkel said his team could have a deep rotation, with nine or 10 players available.

One bench player is sophomore guard Isaac Sundby, Josiah’s brother. This season, Isaac will be the shortest player on the court at 5-foot-3.

Josiah Sundby’s killer mentality on the court and ability to do anything to win stand out to Sterkel.

Isaac Sundby has a similar mindset to Josiah.

“I’d say he might be a little, maybe a year ahead of where Josiah was as a sophomore,” Sterkel said.

Josiah Sundby said Isaac had a better freshman year, but he disagrees with Sterkel because Josiah started his sophomore year.

Brotherly banter aside, the Sundbys will be key players this season on and off the court.

“They’re just a coach’s dream,” Sterkel said, “because you don’t have to really coach their attitude and effort.”

GGF boys basketball at a glance

Coach: Kirby Krefting.

2022 record/finish: 19-8, state runner up.

Key returners: Jr. G/F Pearce Parks (15.1 ppg, 2.7 apg); jr. F Cameron Klefstad; sr. F Zachary Oehlke.

Top newcomers: Sr. G Tate Parson; sr. G Hayden Hong; sr. C Seth Miller; jr. C James Walters.

Coach Krefting says: “With graduating five seniors, we have a lot of different roles to our team. We feel that the boys have put in their time in the offseason, are hungry and are willing and ready to step up and prove to themselves and the team that they can play their roles. We are going to play our system – get up and down the court as fast as possible and, at the same time, play smart and protect the ball.”

Coach: Dan Carlson.

2022 record/finish: 13-12, lost in state qualifier.

Key returners: Sr. F/C Erick Paye (all-EDC, 18.8 points per game, 10.6 rebounds per game); sr. F/G Jack Simmers (3.2 assists per game); sr. F Leo Strandell (5.9 rpg, 2.9 apg, 2.0 blocks per game); sr. G Ross Wilber (all-EDC, 16.2 ppg); jr. G Cole Wilber (3.4 apg); sr. G/F Kendall Kjonaas.

Top newcomers: Jr. F Trey Wyman; soph. G Brooklan Bruce; soph. G Brayden Delorme.

Coach Carlson says: “We are excited that our core group is returning from last season. We think we can build depth this year with the addition of some young guys. We were a game away from the state tournament last year, and our goal is to get there this year and compete with the rest of the state at that point.”

Coach: Josh Perkerewicz.

2022 record/finish: 14-12, lost in Section 8AA quarterfinal.

Key returners: Jr. Austin Rusling (all-Northwest Conference); sr. Drew Carpenter; sr. Brady Loer; soph. Chase Lindgren.

Top newcomers: Soph. Carson McDonald; soph. Jez Jones; sr. Zach Jeuch.

Coach Perkerewicz says: “Coming into the season, as a coach, you are a little nervous not knowing how the team is going to mesh from one year to the next. We have a lot of young guys and guys that have not played many varsity minutes coming into the year, but we have great leadership from our upperclassmen, especially our seniors, who have been a part of our program now for the last three years. They know what’s expected and how to conduct themselves on game days. They come into practice everyday with a strong work ethic and are teaching the underclassman how to be great teammates and showing them how to stay positive in the face of adversity. We’ll come into most games undersized and, hopefully, underestimated. Our guys have been working hard for one another and coming together as a team.”

Coach: Destry Sterkel.

2022 record/finish: 28-6, Section 8A champion, lost in state Class A consolation final.

Key returners: Sr. G Josiah Sundby (all-North Star Conference, conference MVP, 13.0 ppg, 7.0 apg, 6.0 rpg); jr. G Isaac Ortiz; jr. F Parker Erickson; jr. C Greg Downs; sr. F Mike Gapp; soph. G Isaac Sundby.

Top newcomers: Jr. G Elliott Arntson; jr. F Sawyer Horken; jr. F Will Zavoral; jr. F Jake Satterlund; sr. F Jonny Speicher.

Coach Sterkel says: “We feel pretty good. We’re kind of chomping at the bit to see someone different than ourselves. Basically our biggest question is how our rotation’s going to look. I don’t think anyone necessarily knows right away. We’re going to rely on our depth. We don’t think there’ll be much of a drop off, so we’re pretty excited by how consistent we’ll be.”