SHELDON, Iowa | Kyle Boerhave spent time last summer perfecting his post moves and developing his outside touch.
Ryan Van Marel bulked up. He worked on his offensive technique under the basket and continued to realize the value of raising his arms as a defender instead of jumping.
The hard work was no doubt noticed by Sheldon point guard/shooting guard Jaden Kleinhesselink, who has at his disposal, one of Northwest Iowa’s top Twin Tower combinations. Both are shooting well over 60 percent for a 21-3 squad that’s in the Class 2A state tournament for the first time since winning the title in 2013, going into tonight’s 8:15 game at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines against Carroll Kuemper (15-8).
Van Marel, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound senior, is shooting 67.5 percent while averaging 10.3 points and 8.8 rebounds. His classmate, the 6-6, 200-pound Boerhave, is a 64.6 percent shooter who averages 13.0 points and 8.9 rebounds.
“I try to give Ryan the ball deep inside because he is so strong on offense,” said Kleinhesselink, a senior who averages 12.7 points and has thrown 101 assists for the tournament's second seed. “He gets to work and he’s so strong, he’s hard to defend against.
“Sometimes when Kyle gets the rebound, he brings the ball up court and gets us running. Kyle can take the ball inside, but he’s more outside. He can drive. He’s versatile. He’s good in the post. He shoots 3s. He’s good at everything he does.”
Boerhave’s goal was to get Sheldon back on the basketball map. A year ago, Coach Eric Maassen’s Siouxland Conference champions were 18-5, but fell 70-60 to Sioux Center in a district final.
Sioux Center won this season’s Siouxland Conference title, but Sheldon beat the Warriors in each of the last two meetings, including 59-55 in a district final.
Boerhave called the district win over Sioux Center a defining moment. He tries to establish his perimeter game from the start and is confident if his shots aren’t falling, the inside route will work.
“The guys look to me in tough situations,” said Boerhave, who like Kleinhesselink, will continue his basketball career at Briar Cliff. "We preach defense. We’re one of the best defensive teams in the Siouxland Conference. Ryan, Jaden and myself, we focus on defense. The scoring will come. Offense will win games, but defense wins championships.”
Boerhave can do both with career defensive totals of 62 steals and 51 blocked shots in three seasons as a stater. Sheldon’s leading scorer in each of the last three years, he’s a career 62.5 percent shooter.
“Kyle is a versatile shooter,” said Maassen. “He can shoot from the perimeter, put it low off the dribble and finish inside. He has a solid post game. He’s a good help defender and a solid rebounder as well.”
Both Boerhave and Van Marel have seven point/rebound double-doubles. Van Marel, who averaged 12.0 points and 10.4 rebounds a year ago, has 57 career blocked shots, 49 coming in his last two years as a starter.
A career 62.1 percent shooter, Van Marel’s brute strength proved valuable in Sheldon’s weekly Siouxland Conference battles. The future South Dakota State defensive tackle said the league and its share of tall, physical talent made him step up his game.
“I’m physical in the paint and that’s something I enjoy,” said Van Marel. “I’m used to playing inside. You have to be mentally ready to play physical all the time. Sometimes you don’t get the calls. It goes with the game. The (Siouxland Conference) is definitely great. Every week you have to play your best.”
“Ryan is a very good rebounder,” said Maassen. “He is so cerebral. He sees everything out there. He does a nice job positioning inside. Sometimes, it’s a challenge for him to control his strength and not bull over people. He does a good job of playing vertical. Instead of jumping he has learned to challenge people to make shots over him.”
Kleinhesselink faced a challenge entering his third year as a starter.
He had passed for 1,353 yards and 18 touchdowns in his final season as the Orabs’ quarterback. However, he missed the final three games due to a freak weightlifting accident when a 140-pound bar fell, cutting off the tip of his right ring finger while he had four stitches in the middle finger of the same hand.
“The ring finger, I let it heal on its own,” said Kleinhesselink. “It took four weeks. It was tender for a while. The second week (of basketball season) it hurt if it was hit hard enough. Now, in games, I don’t feel it at all. It hasn’t affected my shooting at all. It hasn’t affected my passing.”
During each of his three seasons, Kleinhesselink has been the team leader in steals, he’s been a consistent double-digit scorer and his assist totals have gone up. One thing Maassen has noticed is Kleinhesselink’s 3-point shooting, as his career-best 43.9 percentage (40 of 91) includes 5 of 11 shooting in three tournament games.
“If his shot is not there, he’ll hit big for a dump pass around the rim or he’ll kick outside for a shot,” said Maassen. “He’s unselfish, 100 assists is a good number. His shooting has improved as the season has gone on. He trusts his teammates. He makes the right passes and the right reads really consistently.”