Standing 6-feet-3, Martin County West senior Austin Krumwiede is probably considered undersized for his position - power forward - on the basketball court, but that hasn't stopped him from being a rebounding machine for the Mavericks this season.
Thanks to his two older brothers - Zach and Geoff, who are 24 and 22 years old and former all-Valley Conference basketball players in their own right, Austin learned at a young age what it was like to have to fight for the ball.
"I started playing basketball when I was really young against my brothers. It was really challenging and definitely hard at times," Austin Krumwiede said. "I think it helped me to be better (overall) and really helped my rebounding."
DRIVING LANE — Martin County West power forward Austin Krumwiede (right) looks for a lane to drive around Fairmont defender Bryce Holm during nonconference basketball action on Tuesday night at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. Krumwiede has proven a powerful force in both scoring and rebounding for the Mavericks. Photo by Leanna Becker
Through five games this season, Krumwiede was averaging 11.2 boards per game - which is even better than his 9.0 per game from last year - and has helped the Mavericks to the No. 10 spot in the Class AA state rankings on the strength of a 5-0 start.
Unfortunately, Maple River dealt Martin County West its first loss of the season via a 62-46 Valley Conference decision on Thursday night in Sherburn.
Pulling down the missed shots isn't always a glorified job, but one that Krumwiede certainly enjoys.
"I take real pride in my rebounding," Krum-wiede said. "It doesn't always get noticed like when people score a lot of points, but I really like doing it."
Krumwiede has earned recognition for his play both this year and last season. In his junior season, Krum-wiede was named to the all-Valley Conference team, in addition to earning Sentinel All-Area co-player of the year for his efforts.
His 54-percent shooting from the floor, 15.7 points per game average and 73-percent free-throw shooting helped garner him honors, while 50 steals added layers to his game.
"I've been a coach here (MCW) for 12 years and I've coached some good rebounders, but he's the best rebounder I've ever coached," said Martin County West head coach Cliff Anderson. "He is one of the hardest-working players on the court. There is no one who is going to out-work him in a game."
While his rebounding may attract a lot of attention, Krumwiede's offense is not something for opponents to overlook. The senior has amassed 838 career points during his four years on varsity and in this, his final prep season, is averaging 13.6 points per game.
"I know that I could use some work on my jumpshot, it isn't as consistent as I'd like, and my ball-handling could be better," said Krumwiede.
For coaches, the individual accomplishments are great, however, the other intangible qualities are just as important.
"This year, Krum has really turned into a team leader. It's like having a coach on the court," said Anderson. "This team gets along really well and their team chemistry is great. All of them will do whatever it takes to win, and that getting the team win is more important than any individual accomplishment."