Senior shatters 27-year-old record
By Erik Buchinger
Senior guard Ryan Krueger became the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Hortonville boys’ basketball program.
Krueger came into the Thursday, Feb. 7 road game against Neenah 14 points shy of the record, which had stood for nearly three decades.
The South Dakota State signee finished with 17 points in a 52-47 defeat to top Mike Riggles’ record of 1,187 career points from 1987-90.
“I wasn’t even aware of it,” Krueger said. “It kind of caught me by surprise. It was a tough having that accomplishment after a loss, but it definitely caught me off guard when [head coach Matt Hintz] came in and told me.”
Hintz said Krueger’s work ethic guided him to become Hortonville’s leading scorer in just three years at the school.
“It’s always nice to reward kids who put in the time and put in the effort, and obviously he’s done that,” Hintz said. “He has a great work ethic, and most importantly, he is a great kid and a great role model for our young kids and somebody you want representing your program.”
Krueger said this record could not have been completed without the help from those in the Hortonville basketball community.
“This is something I can’t do without the support of everybody in the basketball program and the fans that come out and my teammates that work with me every day to help me accomplish a goal like this,” Krueger said.
Despite not knowing the exact number of points needed going into the game, Krueger sensed he had to be getting close after eclipsing 1,000 career points on Dec. 29.
“I knew I was in that range because a few games after I hit 1,000, I knew I had to be getting pretty close,” Krueger said. “I had a slight idea of it, but I didn’t know exactly that it would be that night.”
Over the last three years, scoring has been Krueger’s top strength, he said.
“It’s been the role I’ve played on each of these teams,” Krueger said. “Hintz has really looked to me to step up, and scoring the basketball has really been that thing for me the last couple years here.”
Hintz said Krueger’s attitude and work ethic will have a lasting impact on the Hortonville boys’ basketball program.
“I think his work ethic is starting to show with some of the younger kids,” Krueger said. “It’s nice to put a college player in your program so kids understand what it takes. If people don’t see it firsthand, they maybe don’t understand what it really takes, and I think some of our younger kids understand the hours that he has put in. They’ve seen the commitment you have to make to become the player at that level.”
Krueger’s career point total as a Polar Bear stands at 1,257, and it would be 1,335 if that included his 78 points as a freshman playing for New London.
Hintz also played for New London from 1996-99 and is the school’s second-leading scorer with 1,646 career points. Hintz said he makes sure to remind Krueger that he is the better basketball player.
“Every day,” Hintz said with a laugh. “Never beat me in a shooting contest.”
In addition to playing for New London, Hintz posted a 69-46 record as the team’s head coach in five seasons prior to being hired by Hortonville. Hintz said it has been exciting to be reunited with Krueger, who decided to transfer when Hortonville switched from the Bay Conference to the FVA.
“I was at New London when he was in the youth program there,” Hintz said. “Getting to know Ryan when he was really young, it was kind of surreal when he decided to come here. It’s been very exciting for us and exciting for the guys in the program who get to play with him. I know he’s excited to play with those kids and finish out his senior year.”
Despite Hortonville’s 6-13 overall record, including 5-11 in the FVA, the Polar Bears have kept it close in recent games against WIAA Division I’s top two teams Oshkosh North and Kimberly.
The Polar Bears will play Division II competition in the postseason, which is a few weeks away, and Krueger said he is sticking with his preseason goal to finish out his senior season at Hortonville.
“I believe we talked about this once before,” Krueger said. “But I’d like to get our team to the Kohl Center.”