Lake Park, Minn.

Kyle Haberman was in Texas two years ago for a wedding when Perham boys basketball coach Dave Cresap called him about an opportunity to be the head boys basketball coach at Lake Park-Audubon. Haberman wasn’t sure, as he was helping out with junior high in the Perham boys basketball program with hopes of moving up the ladder, with Cresap as his mentor.

In his second season with Lake Park-Audubon, the 31-year-old Haberman is certainly sure where he’s staying.

“We’re not leaving anytime soon,” Haberman said Monday. “We have a long way to go.”

Haberman took over the Raiders last season, after five straight seasons of finishing below .500. Last season became the sixth straight season. There will not be a seventh, as the Raiders are 18-4 and have won 14 straight games.

“We preach culture,” Haberman said. “Going back to the conversation with Dave (Cresap), we talked about how it’s going to be a long process. It’s not going to be solved today. We certainly can do those little things to begin building. It’s what good programs do. If you look around the area at the Perhams, Barnesvilles, Breckenridges, it’s been about stable youth programs.”

There’s something else that helps turn a basketball program around.

“I had a 6-foot-10 kid show up for my first day of practice,” Haberman said.

That 6-foot-10 kid is junior Jesse Bergh, and he certainly doesn’t play like a kid. He’s averaging a double-double with more than 21 points and 11 rebounds a game, to go along with four blocks a game and a field-goal percentage above 65 percent.

The 18-4 record for Lake Park-Audubon may come as a surprise to most, but not to the Raiders.

“We thought we had a good chance,” Haberman said. “Nobody say the 22,000 shots Jesse took this summer. We knew he was special. He had taken that step we wanted him to take over the summer, as did everyone else. They’ve worked their tails off. They bought in and it’s paying off. We didn’t expect this, but with the way these guys worked it doesn’t surprise us.”

The Raiders are hoping to surprise people with a couple more things this season.

“Lake Park-Audubon has never won a conference outright in anything,” Haberman said. “That’s something the guys really want. Those guys want to have their name on something.”

Haberman is looking for another first in Lake Park-Audubon history. He wants a trip to the state basketball tournament.

“I want the section championship,” Haberman said. “I’m proud of what this group has been able to accomplish. I’m proud we have the first step to this. I have a lot of support from Cresap and so many people and sometimes you start to not believe in yourself. It’s fun to see that support. We’re proud of this as coaches. If it’s a culture change it’s because I have a group of really good high school kids.”

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