Guen wins area Player of the Year
Senior leads Tigers in turnaround season
Albert Lea senior Chay Guen led the Tigers in numerous statistical categories this year and was a catalyst for the team’s turnaround success, earning him the Tribune’s Area Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year title.
Guen led the Tigers with 501 points, 224 rebounds, 53 steals, 43 blocks and in overall shooting percentage with 45.5%. He also racked up 53 assists, third on the team.
Not only was Guen a force on the floor, he played at an elite level against top tier opponents such as Austin, Mankato East and the rest of the powers in the Big Nine Conference.
Last season, Guen was a solid role player on a team that went 3-23. This year, Guen dominated the paint and was a constant threat to score any time he touched the ball. His ball handling and touch under the basket were second to none and he could send shockwaves of electricity through the crowd when he tracked down breakaway dunks.
Guen talked about his transformation from last season to now.
“With it being my last season getting to wear Albert Lea across my jersey, I felt like I wanted to go out fighting,” he said. “Our school had gone through some pretty rough years and I wanted to do everything on my part to change that.”
Guen played a major role in the team going 13-13 this season, a 10-win improvement from one season ago. He said the team’s main goal this season was to get physically and mentally tougher. They didn’t want to be the team that was getting beat night in and night out.
In order to get to that point, Guen said he played on a summer team with teammate JJ Mucha-Owens and dedicated himself to coming into voluntary weight room and practice sessions the team held at the school over the summer.
One of Albert Lea’s biggest moments of the season was when they beat I-90 rival Austin for the first time since 2006, reigniting one of the Big Nine’s oldest rivalries. Guen talked about that and some other moments as his favorite of the season.
“Definitely beating Austin and knowing what we as a team are capable of,” Guen said. “Also, playing in front of my mom and those Albert lea crowds was amazing, too.”
On top of their first defeat of the Packers since 2006, the Tigers claimed their first .500 or better season since 2004-05 and were set to play in their first section championship game since 2005-06.
The Tigers’ historic season was cut short when the Minnesota State High School League made the decision to cancel the rest of the season in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Guen said he was disappointed the team didn’t get to play out the rest of the season, but understood why the decision had to be made.
“I’m going to miss playing with my great teammates and all the things we’ve been through since middle school,” Guen said. “It was all totally worth it.”
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