Waukon boys basketball team plays to best NEIC result in over a decade, sets some team, individual records during 15-6 campaign for 2020-2021

The Waukon boys basketball team turned in one of its better seasons in recent history and one of its best Northeast Iowa Conference (NEIC) seasons in over a decade, eclipsing the 15-win mark for just the third time in the past decade and playing to its best NEIC record and team finish in well over a decade, all while setting some records along the way to a 15-6 overall result and 9-3 runner-up effort in NEIC play. All those achievements were accomplished under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that veteran Waukon boys basketball coach Jed Hemann says dealt his team somewhat of a bittersweet hand this past year.

“COVID-19 had an impact in many ways this season,” Coach Hemann shared. “Our offseason was very limited due to the restrictions that the pandemic placed on us. The lack of gym time was evident as we struggled to shoot and pass the ball early in the season. However, the pandemic also taught our guys to appreciate the opportunity to play the game. We weren’t sure if we would have a season, and when the season started, we weren’t sure how long the season would last. The appreciation brought our guys closer together and motivated the team to make the most of the opportunities we had.”

That slow start to the season included a 1-3 early record that included two of the Tribe’s three NEIC losses on the year to teams the Indians would later gain revenge on to earn a season split with them, including Coach Hemann’s first-ever win over Waverly-Shell Rock that snapped a 12-season and 25-game losing streak the Indians had when facing the traditionally-strong Go-Hawk program. The Indians’ turnaround began with handing eventual NEIC champion Decorah its first of just two NEIC losses the Vikings would suffer this season, although the Tribe later fell to Decorah and had its NEIC finish hang in the balance until a final league contest between the Vikings and Crestwood that came right down to the wire before a Decorah victory clinched the Vikings’ second consecutive NEIC crown and left the Indians in second place and Crestwood in third in the final NEIC team standings.

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