May 24, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Crean Lutheran boys basketball team, under new coach, hopes to keep winning ways going in Empire League

Nate Klitzing, a former Orange Lutheran assistant coach, is the new Crean Lutheran coach.

Crean Lutheran’s boys basketball team, under first-year coach Nate Klitzing, figures to get some tough challenges this week in the Beach Bash Tournament at Corona del Mar.

The Saints, 3-4 overall, face Roosevelt today, Tuesday, Dec. 4, in a second round game at 3:30 p.m.

Klitzing, a former Orange Lutheran assistant coach, takes over a program that won a CIF 3AA title last season under Coach Josh Beaty, who was dismissed after the season. Beaty is now the head coach at Valley Christian in Cerritos. Klitzing comes to Crean Lutheran after being an assistant at Orange Lutheran for the past seven years.

Three Crean Lutheran starters transferred after Beaty’s dismissal, but the Saints still have some talent, led by 6-8 senior forward Gum Majak and senior guards Aiden Gilbert and Chris Swardstrom to be competitive.

Some players are in new roles and the players are getting used to playing with each other.

“We’re only as good as all together because we can’t point fingers, we can’t do it one on one. It’s not going to win against good teams and I put them in tough tournaments for a reason,” Klitzing said after Monday’s game against CdM.

“We want to play against the best competition around and get these early tests to see where we stack up as we head into a new and improved really good league.”

Klitzing said there are areas the Saints need to improve on.

“Offensively, we’ve been scoring a lot,” he said. “And we got guys who can spread the floor and do some things offensively. We still have to have a different mindset defensively and rebounding. So far, I feel like we’ve been able to gut out the wins that I thought we could win and been in every game otherwise.”

Klitzing said he wants to keep the winning ways going for Crean Lutheran and realizes there are challenges ahead as the Saints move from the Academy League to the Empire League.

“We want to continue to carry on that winning tradition and what that feels like, the atmosphere at our home gym can be electric and keeping that going,” he said. “As we head into a new league, which is going to be a great challenge for us, we get to go against some top ranked teams in the county, Cypress and others. We have to be ready to bring it every day and bring our hard hats so to speak. It’s going to be a good challenge for us but our goal is to contend for a league championship. That’s our team’s goal and that’s my goal.”

Klitzing, who is in his first head coaching job, said he gained valuable experience at Orange Lutheran.

“I really learned a lot from that program and from Coach (Chris) Nordstrom and working with all of the assistants and staff I was able to grow a lot as a coach,” he said. “And what it means to be a team and a family together and continue to grow and obviously our faith is a big part of it and I love to get continue doing at Crean.”

CdM TOPS CREAN LUTHERAN 79-67 IN BEACH BASH OPENER

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com