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Warriors Athlete of Week: Ahonen elevates game during senior season

When your first name is Kobe, you're bound to be a basketball player. Kobe Ahonen has been one of the Brainerd Warriors' top players in each of his three varsity seasons. In this his senior season, the 6-foot-6 post has elevated his game to anoth...

Brainerd’s Kobe Ahonen looks to pass the ball during a game against Fergus Falls. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)
Brainerd’s Kobe Ahonen looks to pass the ball during a game against Fergus Falls. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)

When your first name is Kobe, you're bound to be a basketball player.

Kobe Ahonen has been one of the Brainerd Warriors' top players in each of his three varsity seasons. In this his senior season, the 6-foot-6 post has elevated his game to another level recording double digits in points and rebounds five times and helping Brainerd win eight of its first 10 games.

---

Kobe Ahonen

Sport: Basketball

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Position: Post

Year: Senior

Age: 17

Height: 6-foot-6

Grade-point average: 3.47

Favorite food: Burgers

Favorite movie: "American Sniper"

Favorite TV show: "Friday Night Lights"

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Hobbies: Duck hunting

Future plans: Attend college, play basketball, possibly study engineering

Favorite basketball player: Kobe Bryant of the L.A. Lakers

Parents: Keith & Jenny Ahonen

--- His double-doubles included 20 points and 12 rebounds in the opener against Grand Rapids, 15/12 vs. Rogers, 19/10 vs. Rocori, 15/11 vs. Fergus Falls and 24/12 vs. Moorhead. He just missed his sixth of the season Tuesday against St. Cloud Tech with 24 points and nine boards.

Through 10 games, he leads the team in scoring with 151 points (17.5 average), and leads the team on the glass with 90 rebounds (9.0 average).

He owes his success to his teammates.

"They are all my success, every bit of it," Ahonen said.

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Warriors coach Scott Stanfield said Ahonen is the hardest-working player he has coached in his five seasons at the helm.

"Along with being our hardest-worker, he is a very talented basketball player," Stanfield said. "This is Kobe's third year starting for us and the continued growth as a player and young man has been the most rewarding thing I've experienced as a coach.

"He consistently meets and exceeds expectations in practice and games. In three years, he has never made an excuse for mistakes, or blamed anyone."

Basketball consumes Ahonen's life. He works on his game outside of practice. He played for the Minnesota Comets AAU Top Elite 16U team during his sophomore summer and its Top Elite 17U team last summer. The Comets have traveled as far as Louisville, Ky., Sioux Falls, S.D., and Milwaukee to play in tournaments.

"The 16U team helped me a lot," Ahonen said. "AAU is so much faster than high school that it kind of slowed high school (basketball) down a little bit. For 17U, I was out for half the season with a broken ankle."

Ahonen has added the 3-point shot to his game. He's stepped out to attempt 13 threes in the first nine games, swishing four.

"We shoot behind the arc every day in practice," he said, "and I go to the YMCA on Sundays with my dad (Keith) and we shoot around."

Stanfield said Ahonen has become an inside-out player.

"He's able to stretch defenses on the offensive side and has become a very good defender," Stanfield said.

One of Ahonen's top attributes, according to Stanfield, is his unflappable personality as a player.

"Year in and year out I've received more compliments from referees about Kobe's attitude and demeanor on the court than all other players combined," Stanfield said. "Kobe is the first to retrieve the ball and hand it to the officials even after some tough calls that went against him.

"He has become a son to me and the other coaches, and it's going to be very tough for us to see him leave our program. He has been an absolute joy to coach and has made me look very good more times then I can mention."

Ahonen credits a coach at the youth level for cultivating his on-court demeanor.

"Mike Day was our coach when we were younger," he said. "He raised our team to be that way, to always hand the ball to the official instead of passing it to him, and never talking back to anybody."

He also credited teammates when he was promoted to the varsity for helping him adjust to that level of basketball.

"I felt blessed," Ahonen said. "The seniors when I was a sophomore kind of took me under their wing. Then things have gotten easier, the mental aspect of the game has gotten easier for me."

Other notable efforts:

• Kylee Heurung, girls basketball, scored 34 points and grabbed 11 rebounds vs. Grand Rapids and scored 22 points and snared 10 rebounds vs. Tech. She has scored 1,006 career points.

• Robb Pike, Nordic skiing, won the boys race at Andes Tower Hills and was runner-up at the Grand Rapids Invite.

• Michael Russell, boys basketball, scored 20 points and collected 10 assists vs. Tech.

• Preston Owen, boys swimming, won two events and was on two winning relays vs. Alexandria.

• Brady Mick, boys hockey, made 35 saves against Moorhead.

• Millie Klefsaas, gymnastics, won three events & the all-around title vs. Alexandria

• Matt Majerle & Peder Smith, swimming, each won two events and were on two winning relays vs. Sauk Rapids.

• Gunnar Niemeyer won two events and was on a winning relay vs. Sauk Rapids.

 

MIKE BIALKA may be reached at mike.bialka@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .

Brainerd’s Kobe Ahonen shoots the ball during a game against Rocori. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)
Brainerd’s Kobe Ahonen shoots the ball during a game against Rocori. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)

Related Topics: BOYS BASKETBALL
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