MANKATO — Ryan Van Blarcom is in his final season with the Mankato Loyola boys basketball team and he has a pretty good handle on what his role will be this season.
He understands that teammate Carson Seifert will likely lead the team in scoring and rebounding but he also realizes that Seifert can’t do it alone. That’s where Van Blarcom comes in.
“I just want to play well and do whatever I can to help the team,” said the senior guard, who averaged 2.8 points and pulled down 46 rebounds last season. “We have a lot of seniors on this team who have been playing together for a long time and our dream has always been to make it to the state tournament.”
If that’s going to happen, the cast that surrounds Seifert will have a lot to do with it. With Connor Tanhoff and Evan Ellingworth graduated off last year’s team, the opportunities should be ample for Van Blarcom and his teammates to contribute.
“We’re not a big team so we’re going to try to run a lot,” he said. “That means we have to get the rebound on the defensive end so we can start the fast break. We’re also going to try to get a lot of steals.”
The other seniors on this year’s team — Lance Gaspar, Reilly Knutson, Mark Kortuem and Ben Torgerson — represent a collection of players who have been shooting hoops together for about as long as they can remember.
“We grew up together on the basketball court,” Van Blarcom said. “We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and that helps us on the court.
“Carson’s a senior, too, but he’s from Lake Crystal and didn’t transfer to Loyola until he was a freshman. He’s been part of group for the last three years now, too.”