One game sits on Bryce Tesdahl's wish list.
If he gave the question more thought, that list might expand to a Section 1-4A title game and a Class 4A state championship game, but on a Wednesday morning reminiscing about past success, the former Associated Press Player of the Year said the one game he wants on his schedule would be played in the Ranger Gym-a gym he and his 2008 teammates often filled to capacity.
Tesdahl, the second-year head coach of the New Prague Trojans, hopes to bring his team to his old stomping grounds and face his former team, the Crosby-Ironton Rangers. He said he even tried setting up the matchup this season.
"I asked my activities director to line it up, but he said their schedule was full," Tesdahl said. "It's the one game I want. I would love to bring my team up there and show them where I played.
"We went to a tournament up in Hibbing with a lot of my family and that was fun, but the one game I want to get on our schedule is against Crosby. I don't care how long it takes. I think it would be great to travel up there. We'll be available Sunday to Sunday for that one."
Tesdahl, C-I's all-time leading scorer with 1,943 points, led the 2008 Rangers to a 32-1 season, a top ranking in the state and the Class 2A state title game, where they eventually suffered their only defeat. Tesdahl still holds the Minnesota State High School League state record of 30 assists during the 2008 state tournament.
After high school, he played four years at Bemidji State University where he became the school's all-time assist leader with 561. His season best of 183 assists during the 2011-12 season also is a BSU record. On BSU's list of top 15 assist totals in a game, Tesdahl's name is on 10 of the slots. He also led the team in rebounding during the 2009-10 season and was an All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference player in 2012.
After BSU, Tesdahl became a graduate assistant at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He was offered an assistant coaching position at UMD, but felt his career was in prep basketball. He landed the coaching position at New Prague and it's been a successful two-year run.
Last year the Trojans finished 20-8 and advanced to the section semifinals where they fell to eventual state runner-up Lakeville North.
"I've learned more in two years than I ever thought I would," Tesdahl said. "Everywhere I've gone I've experienced success. I learned a lot from my dad and coach Galovich at C-I and I learned a lot from my four years at Bemidji and then as an assistant at Duluth I felt I learned a lot, too, but nothing prepares you for moving over a few seats to that head position. It's a spot I've always wanted even as a player, but now you're in charge of everything. You're thinking about so many different things.
"So when we started out 1-3 last year, you start questioning things. But we finished out the season 18-4 and played North in the semifinals. I felt we were prepared for North and defensively we made enough stops, but offensively our shots just weren't falling."
He sees many similarities between this year's Trojan team and his senior year with the Rangers.
"We have eight seniors on the team and we play a very unselfish style of basketball," Tesdahl said. "If you look at our box scores after games, we have a number of players in double figures. We like to work the ball around, be patient and try and work it inside."
Yes, Tesdahl is the grandson of the state's winningest boys basketball coach in Chisholm's Bob MacDonald and he said his grandfather taught him a lot about the game and about dealing with student athletes, but much of his coaching style comes from his father Neil Tesdahl, who coached the four-year varsity player and his teammates from fourth grade through graduation.
Tesdahl also stole from his high school coach Dave Galovich and his college coach Matt Bowen, who was the one who offered him the assistant job at UMD.
"We run a motion offense with a lot of screens," Tesdahl said. "Ideally, if we're playing well, there isn't a lot of dribbling going on. We pass the ball around and look for the best shot. If you look at our scores, it's not very often we're in the 70s or 80s.
"Our focus, however, is on the defensive end and the kids have bought into the defensive principles we go over every day in practice."
Those principles must be working as New Prague sits 11-0 and is the eighth-ranked team in Class 4A. It's only the second season the Trojans are playing in 4A. New Prague plays in the Wright County Conference with teams like Orono, Delano, Annandale and New London-Spicer, the team that handed the 2008 Rangers their only loss. It's a conference filled with 3A and 2A schools, but Tesdahl likes the competition.
"We start conference play this week," Tesdahl said. "It's a good conference. If you look at the names, you see a lot of teams that are often in the state tournament. But we're always looking to fill out the schedule with bigger schools. Teams like Lakeville South, Rochester Mayo and Eden Prairie. We're a new 4A school. We've been to state as a 3A team, but we would like to go as a 4A."
Tesdahl said the difference between Year One and Year Two has been immense. A full summer to implement his game philosophies helped. But as a young 26-year-old coach, he said one key for him has been communication.
"I'm not so far removed so I think I have a handle on how to talk to these guys," Tesdahl said. "Communication is so important, not just on the court, but off the court. I think being in the classroom, I always get to interact with these guys off the court so I get to know them as athletes, as students and more important as young men. I think that's really important.
"I understand there are different ways of reaching kids. Right now this team is pretty vocal so there's good communication happening, but I also understand there are some kids who will hide behind their phone and you have to be able to communicate with them, too."
Tesdahl hopes to build a winning program just like his grandfather did in Chisholm, just like the one he graduated from in C-I. He said he would love to have the kind of success that a team like Hopkins has enjoyed. That's fitting since his younger brother Brock is an assistant for Ken Novak at Hopkins.
"That would be great to meet them at state," Tesdahl said. "The Novaks have been family friends for a long time and that's the type of program you hope to have. Just the success every year."