Male Area Athlete of the Week: Leidenfrost effects both ends of the floor for Pierz

Michael Lieidenfrost of Pierz heads to the net against Virginia Wednesday, March 11, at Duluth. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Defense leads to offense.

For Pierz forward Michael Leidenfrost his six-foot frame comes with long arms that can reach in the passing lanes and ignite fast breaks.

“It’s just his hustle,” Pierz head coach Joe Kahl said. “His willingness to put his body on the line. I know he took a big charge (against Moose Lake-Willow River). Just the effort he puts out on both ends of the floor -- he’s a special player.”

Against Crosby-Ironton in the Section 7-2A opening round, Leidenfrost poured in 23 points to help the Pioneers advance to the quarterfinals.

In the quarterfinals against Moose Lake-Willow River, Leidenfrost finished with 16 points.


“I think we have all been playing really well since playoffs,” Leidenfrost said. “We have been moving the ball a lot better and it’s really opening it up for everybody. I think everyone has been playing a lot better and with good teams, that’s what happens. Your good players play better in the playoffs.”

He may be only a junior, but Kahl thinks Leidenfrost’s experience plays a big factor in his success.

“His brother Andy is on the coaching staff and he has helped a lot with Michael and his grade,” Kahl said. “Throughout the years, he coached them all the way up and a lot of the credit goes to Andy Leidenfrost in helping them learn that sense of basketball.”

Leidenfrost says he’s been finishing at the rim better which contributes to his big scoring games.

“I’ve been getting a lot more open looks,” Leidenfrost said. “And that comes from everyone knocking down their looks. It really opens up it for anyone to get inside and score.”

Kahl says Leidenfrost is a dual-threat on offense. He’ll knock down an open 3-pointer, but is also dangerous driving to the rim.

“When (the defense) get to close that’s when he attacks the hoop,” Kahl said. “The ability to play an inside-outside game is what separates him at times.”

The strategy on defense for Leidenfrost is to get his man in front and look to pounce for a big play.


“Whether it is a steal, a rebound, a rebound that leads to a fast break, whatever it is, I’m always looking to make that one play,” Leidenfrost said.

Leidenfrost and most of his teammates are no stranger to playoff success. Many were on the Pierz football team that walked away with the Class 3A state championship. It was Leidenfrost who picked up a key interception in the state football tournament to help the Pioneers win.

“Playoffs is a lot of experience,” Leidenfrost said. “The more experience you have, the calmer you are in situations. A lot of us came off the playoffs last year for basketball, a lot of us were on the football team, so when we get in a lot bigger games we stay a lot calmer than other people.”

Kahl notices Leidenfrost leading the team by example and through non-verbal cues.

“Whether it’s coming in the mornings before school and shooting around — I know we have a lot of guys come in here,” Kahl said. “I know he was injured throughout the year and we lost a couple of games and I think sitting out a couple of games and seeing the game from a different perspective really has motivated him to take his game to the next level.”

Michael Leidenfrost

Year: Junior


School: Pierz

Sport: Basketball

Position: Forward

Highlights: Scored 23 points against Crosby-Ironton and 16 points against Moose Lake-Willow River.

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