No one in the Stateline area can quite score the basketball like Lutheran senior Kenny Strawbridge.
“He’s hard to guard in the paint,” says Lutheran coach Tom Guse. “If you put somebody big on him he’s quick enough to make a move in the paint. Obviously he can shoot the ball really well. So if you try to give him some space he’ll hit the shot. But then his ability to get to the rim is tremendous.”
Strawbridge has the skills to put the ball in the hoop in a variety of ways, and because of that he’s put up eye popping numbers this season. Strawbridge has scored 30 or more points 11 times this season, and he’s scored at least 35 points seven times.
“I’m just a scorer,” says Strawbrdige. “I like to shoot. I like to attack the rim. I like to draw fouls. I like to pass the ball too. I can do a lot of stuff.”
It’s not just about how much Strawbridge scores, it’s how he scores. The Crusader can make difficult shots look effortless.
Smooth is a great way to describe his game. But things didn’t go smooth for Kenny in his junior season. He missed the second half of the year with knee tendinitis and then tearing all of the ligaments in his left ankle.
“It was hard just seeing my team play,” says Strawbridge. “There was a time where they were like winning ten games in a row. I just wanted to be a part of it. It was still nice cheering them on from the bench, but I like to be on the court too.”
“I knew it was killing him from the time he got hurt,” says Guse. “I think that night he hurt the ankle he knew it was something he’d be back in a couple of days. Like a true champion he came to every practice, cheered his guys on. He had a new role. His role was to be a cheerleader, and to be there for his teammates. But I know deep down it really crushed him.”
Watching from the sideline last season undoubtedly motivated Kenny to come back stronger his senior year.
“Yea, there was a lot of motivation because we lost our first game last year in regionals against Jefferson so that was tough. I wish I could have been a part of that. But yeah it took a toll on me.”
“He’s always been driven probably well before I knew him, and he’s in this gym all the time,” says Guse. “He’s a gym rat. But I know that I’m sure that I think what he took from that the most is that the fact that I better play really hard tonight because you never know what could happen.”
With his responsibilities on offense come some even bigger ones defensively. Strawbridge is the tallest player on the team which means often drawing the bigger match-ups on defense.
“He’s drawn the toughest defender, and guys like Andrew Morrissey,” says Guse. “We’ve played a host of really big schools with some big guys, and you can see sometimes it does wear him out in the fourth quarter. But no questions asked he’ll just go with the assignment, and go play to the best of his ability.”
The best example of that was Lutheran’s matchup with Winnebago in early February. Strawbridge scored 37 points while having to guard 6’9″ Indians center Andrew Morrissey.
“A very efficient 37 too,” says Guse. “He was being guarded. Everybody knows where he’s at. There’s no secret you’ve got to stop Kenny with us if you play us. But teams have had a hard time doing that, but Kenny does a great job of making everybody else around him better, and finds the open guy, and trusts his teammates to hit that open shot.”
“Yea, it’s tiring playing with big guys,” says Strawbridge. “Some big guys I think I’m just as strong as, but when I’m playing against like Andrew Morrissey who’s just super big it’s just hard playing. (You played pretty good that game, though). Yea, I tried my best.”
“Kenny comes to practice everyday, works hard, everybody knows that he wants to win,” says Guse. “But his leadership is more than just scoring, and playing well. It’s locker room, bus rides, all the the things that go along with a winning season.”