Westminster’s Steiner hits scoring milestone for basketball Wildcats
By: Warren Mayes
He crashed the 1,000-point club but Westminster Christian Academy senior John Eric Steiner said it was not high on his priority list. Instead, he just wanted the Wildcats to win basketball games.
“Scoring 1,000 points honestly has not been on my mind,” Steiner said. “I have just been focused on playing basketball and helping my team win basketball games. I did not even know I was close to it until my coach told me that I had passed it.
“I am very blessed to be able to make the 1,000 point club. I could not have made it without amazing teammates.”
Westminster coach David Klyn said that attitude is typical of Steiner.
“In order to score 1,000 points, you have to be consistent over your entire career — game in and game out,” Klyn said. “John Eric has scored 1,000 points while being a very unselfish player and sharing the ball generously with his teammates.”
The big basket that sent him past the milestone came in game against Lutheran North.
“My teammates and coach were all very supportive and congratulated me on the accomplishment,” Steiner said.
The 6-foot-5 forward is more than just a shooter. Steiner is team player. He can find the open man and he is good rebounding.
“John Eric can shoot the ball very well,” Klyn said. “He has a soft shot and is a tough matchup for most teams because he is 6-5, and can go inside or outside.”
He has the respect of his teammates, Klyn said.
“One of the sophomores on the team, Brendan Bognar, said it best earlier this year when I asked the team who their role models were,” Klyn said. “Brendan said John Eric has been his role model since John Eric was a freshmen and Brendan was in seventh grade. As good as he is on the court, he is even a better person off the court.”
Steiner began playing basketball since he was in third grade. He has liked playing ever since.
“I have actually been playing on the same team as Jack Dohr, who also plays on the team, since I first started,” Steiner said. “It has been a cool experience to have played with him for so long. I became interested in basketball when my dad introduced it to me at a young age.
“I love the team aspect of basketball. I also love the competition that each game brings and the fans that come and support us.”
Klyn has seen Steiner since he was a freshman. He ability made him a starting member of the varsity right away.
” I came in as an assistant John Eric’s freshmen year and he started from the beginning,” Klyn said. “He always had a soft jumper with a high release, which was hard to guard because of his length. He made countless baseline jumpers his freshmen year.
“He has expanded his game to be able to handle and drive the ball and also go inside from time to time. Since his freshmen year, the stat book has always been filled up with John Eric’s scoring. Even on quiet nights it seems like he reaches double digits one way or another.”
The season is winding down. There is just one regular season game left. Westminter plays at 7 p.m. Friday (Feb 22) at Priory. Then comes the district tournament next week.
Naturally, Steiner would like the Wildcarts to last as long as possible. His hopes are high.
“I would love to go as far in the playoffs and win a state championship,” Steiner said. “It does seem like my years at Westminster have flown by. It seems like just yesterday I was a freshman playing on varsity. I have had a great four years playing though.”
Steiner said he has benefited from good coaches throughout his playing career.
“Coach Klyn has been very helpful. He is a constant encourager and has complete confidence in me,” Steiner said. “I would also like to thank my select basketball coach (Rick) Klohmann. He has helped me develop my skills since I started playing with him.
“I would like to thank coach (Eric) Bain most of all. He has helped improve my basketball game, as well as, been a great inspiration to me. He is such a strong Christian man and I am so thankful to have him as my role model in life.”
In addition to being a talented athlete, Steiner is also a good student, Klyn said.
“John Eric is very humble on and off the court. He is a great student and role model for other students,” Klyn said. “He is a mentor in a Peer Counseling program at Westminster. He has a strong faith. He cares for others and is a joy to be around.”
Klyn said it will be different without Steiner being around the program.
” It will be different on the offensive end of the court because teams have always had to key in on him with their game plan,” Klyn said. “It will be odd not to have him around at summer basketball camps, little kids camps and throughout the season because he has been here since I arrived at WCA.
“He has been a great example for the other guys in the program. He has been a constant in this program for the past four years and he will be greatly missed.”
When the season is over, it will be the end of Steiner’s competitive career.
“After much deliberation, I have decided not to play college basketball,” Steiner said. “I plan to attend Mizzou and focus primarily on my studies. As an athlete though, I will definitely be playing multiple intramurals.”