In one aspect, it seemed that the Class D Elite Eight captaincy was sewed up on Jan. 9. But everything that happened after that set the decision in concrete.
That night, Noah Schutte of Laurel-Concord-Coleridge went off for what was, at that point, an area season-high of 40 points scored as the Class D No. 4 Bears knocked off then-Class C No. 3 Hartington Cedar Catholic 77-59.
When I walked out of the gym, there was one thought in my mind: “There’s your Elite Eight captain.”
It wasn’t just that the 6-foot, 4-inch senior had one big night in the regular season. It seemed every time the Bears had a big game — and they had quite a few of those down the stretch — Schutte rose to the occasion every time.
He led the Bears to their first state championship since consolidating, and the first one for either Laurel-Concord or Coleridge since 2001, when LCC obliterated Southern Valley 76-31 in the Class D1 state championship.
The numbers he posted this season were something out of a video game: 731 points (23.6 per game), 407 rebounds (13.1), 89 assists (2.9), 83 steals (2.7) and 47 blocks (1.5).
He made 57% (238 of 417) of his shots inside the arc. He was on target at the free-throw line, hitting 78% (183 of 236).
Those allowed him to become just the second player all-time in state history to finish his career with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, joining Bob Siegel of Fairbury, who did it in 1973.
A member of the all-class all-tournament team and the top scorer in all classes in Lincoln this year with 73 points, Schutte was the obvious choice for this year’s Class D captaincy. This year, he is joined by classmate Ty Erwin, a 6-2 guard who averaged 14.2 points per game, on the first team.
After earning Elite Eight honors in Class C as a junior, Schutte is one of five seniors who repeated on the top squad: Keaton Timmerman of Osmond, Trevor Pfeifer of Humphrey St. Francis, along with Jason Sjuts and Bret Hanis of Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family.
Timmerman, Pfeifer, Sjuts and Hanis are all two-time Elite Eight selections after helping their teams to the state tournament. This year, Sjuts and Hanis helped the Bulldogs finish in third place in D1, while Pfeifer led the Flyers to a D2 runner-up finish.
Colby Hansen and Carter Schnoor both moved up from second-team honors a year ago to the top list as seniors.