Boys Basketball: Schommer’s stellar season cut short, earns Player of the Year
That’s all that separated Pierz’s senior guard Peter Schommer from becoming the Pioneers all-time leading scorer in school history before their game in the Section 7-2A finals against Esko Friday, March 11.
News Friday afternoon broke that the game would not be played. Due to the rising concerns of COVID-19, the Minnesota State High School canceled all section games Friday and both the girls and boys state basketball tournament.
Schommer's basketball career ended prematurely, eight points away from the record books. He still finished his senior season with 455 points (15.3 per game), 137 rebounds (4.7 per game), 110 assists (3.8 per game) and 35 steals. He also shot 46% (145-319) from the field, 40% (36-91) from 3-point and 90% (119-132) from the free throw line earning him the 2019-2020 Brainerd Dispatch Player of the Year.
“It was really special to watch him mature as the years went by,” Pierz head coach Joe Kahl said. “He was a non-verbal leader and he ended up turning into a non-verbal and verbal leader, which you need to be both at times.”
The abrupt loss of the season was upsetting to the whole Pierz team.
“Obviously, we were disappointed,” Schommer said. “We wanted our shot at Esko, who knocked us out the last two years, and we were playing good basketball. I know everybody was really disappointed. I just felt bad for all the seniors along with me, and I know the whole team was feeling for us.”
Missing out on the scoring record did not make Schommer as upset as missing the chance to make the state tournament.
“(The scoring record) did not bother me as much,” Schommer said. “I was just more sad for the team. We had a chance to do something Pierz has never done in its history and that kind of got taken away from us.”
One record Schommer does hold at Pierz is being the all-time leader in assists. He dished out 405 assists in his four years playing varsity for Pierz.
“To get assists, you have to have other players who can put the ball in the hoop,” Schommer said. “You need to have a lot of great players on the court with you and good shooters. A lot of times all I had to do was make one pass up court and they did the rest.”
As the point guard, Schommer led the Pioneers in assists and scoring for his senior season.
“It was the combination of both scoring and assists,” Kahl said. “He broke the all-time assist record by over 100. Just to have somebody that you can count on when things are not going your way, to step up and get the ball to him and know he was going to do something special with it. We trusted him with the ball whether we were up or down.”
Schommer is used to making decisions in whatever sport he plays. He quarterbacked the football team to a state title last fall. He is the all-time assist leader in basketball. He pitches on the baseball field. He loves having the ball in his hands.
“I like being the guy who is going to either make the shot or miss it,” Schommer said. “I have a great opportunity to have a lot of experience in all the sports that I’ve played. Being in those positions as the leader, you can calm the team a little when things aren’t going too well.”
As a leader, Schommer is a quiet one. He leads by example, but others follow. Kahl said during the section playoff run after each win Schommer made sure the team stayed focused for the next game.
“After every playoff game as I would enter the locker room with the rest of my assistant coaches, the first person we could hear was Peter Schommer saying that this game ‘doesn’t mean anything,’” Kahl said. “I think that just helped everyone to realize that we are on a mission.”
Schommer credits Kahl for his wonderful shooting numbers his senior season. At 90%, Schommer led the area in free throw percentage and was second in 3-point percentage at 40%. He says free throws are a mental game.
“If you go up there thinking ‘don’t miss, don’t miss’ that’s probably what you are going to do,” Schommer said. “Especially towards the end of the game, you want to be that guy to seal it at the free throw line. Just knowing in your mind that this one is going in helps a lot.”
The big memory Schommer has for his senior season is his last game against Virginia in the Section 7-2A semifinals. The lower seeded Pioneers did not just beat the Blue Devils they crushed them 88-60.
“Just seeing that (Virginia) is an hour away and we are two and a half hours from Duluth,” Schommer said. “I would say we had about 100 more fans than they did. It just shows how much the community supports us.
“It showed the rest of the section that we are here to compete. It wasn’t that we just got lucky one or two games then get knocked out. No, we are here to kick some butt.”
Although he missed the milestone of all-time leading scoring, Schommer did reach the milestone of 1,000 points in the first game of the season against Royalton Dec. 13. He needed 21 points coming into the game and a layup with about three minutes left gave him 21 points for the game and 1,000 points for his career.
“There were five subs ready to come in at the table because we were winning by 20 points,” Schommer said. “Our following game was in Braham and my mom’s family is actually from Royalton so a lot of them were there. Zach Traut stole the ball and threw it up to me and I had the layup. It was special because my grandma and grandpa who usually can’t make it to games were there. It was also good to just get it out of the way.”
Schommer hopes to play baseball at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He also hopes to get to play his senior season of baseball.
“Whatever he chooses he will be successful,” Kahl said.
Position: Point guard
Season Stats: Finished his senior season with 455 points (15.3 per game), 137 rebounds (4.7 per game), 110 assists (3.8 per game) and 35 steals. He shot 46% (145-319) from the field, 40% (36-91) from 3-point and 90% (119-132) from the free throw line.