Colten Kresl carries a big chip on his shoulder into the gym, one that has been there since he was old enough to dribble a basketball, one nobody can knock away.
It will always be there, serving as motivation, giving him a swagger, an edge.
Feeding him the ball for shots is his brother Logan, 21, who is always at his game, always cheering him on, always letting him know never to put any limits on what he can do.
The Scottsdale Chaparral senior guard’s game has risen to Division I college opportunities. Northern Arizona has offered him a spot.
Grand Canyon, where Logan hopes to finish college after obtaining his associate arts degree from Paradise Valley Community College, is recruiting him. He has interest from UNLV, Albany, Boise State, Montana State and Texas Rio Grande Valley.
He is averaging 20.2 points and 3.2 assists on a 13-4 team that is ranked No. 5 in the 5A Conference by azcentral sports.
“Nobody has more confidence that Colten when he steps onto the floor,” said Powerhouse Hoops coach John Ortega, who has worked with Colten since eighth grade. “He feels like he can compete at any level and make any play. I’ve never had to ask him to step up. He’s always ready. Every practice, every game, he leaves it out on the court.”
All of this, he says, is driven by Logan, who wasn’t able to do the things Colten has done on the court after undergoing surgery at the age of 7 to have cancer removed from his brain. He was just starting club ball, and showing promise in basketball, before being diagnosed with a tumor called medulloblastoma, which arose from the left side of his brain stem and cerebellum, his mother, Julie Kresl, said.
The surgery affected the right side of Logan’s body, and he only played basketball for fun after that.
It ended any chance of being a college recruit like Colten is now, and like sister Lexy, 23, who was an All-Arizona basketball player at Phoenix Shadow Mountain before playing at Colorado.
Colten was 3 and Lexy was 9 when Logan had the surgery.
“Colten was too young to understand what the severity was and was usually placed with a babysitter most of the time that Logan went through the treatment,” said Julie, who is a physical therapist. “But many times, Colten and Lexy would spend time with Logan in his hospital bed, reading books, playing games and watching movies together.”
Logan basically ended up playing through Lexy and Colten.
“I remember when I was good, and I could do that,” said Logan, who began playing when he was 4.
Colten, who is 17, calls Logan his inspiration every time he gets into the gym.
“It shows me you can be going great one day and have this taken away the next,” Colten said. “Once I saw it taken from him, I knew I was going to be right in there, in the gym, working as hard as I can every day.”
Logan played football, soccer and basketball before the surgery. Through NYS, Colten, at age 3, played on the same basketball team as Logan and Lexy.
He had to learn how to write left-handed after the surgery. He had to re-learn how to walk, and his vision was affected, making it a challenge to read and write.
Logan was able to return to school and take part in most normal activities, his mom said. But due to his balance and vision, he wasn’t able to return to competitive sports.
“He spent tons of hours and time attending his sister Lexy’s high school and club games and became one of her biggest fans,” Julie said. “He helped with video and kept stats at her Shadow Mountain games.
“As Colten continued to grow and get more competitive, Logan followed right along with cheering for him and liked to stay involved and around the players on Colten’s teams.”
Colten played for former NBA guard Mike Bibby’s club team at one point. Logan was a fixture, and Bibby gave Logan one of his Sacramento Kings jerseys.
Now, Logan is a fixture at Chaparral.
“Logan has been a great support of the program,” Chaparral coach Dan Peterson said. “He’s been around in the summers and at the games. It’s been good to have the family around all four years.”
His balance never returned, but his love of basketball never left.
Logan perseveres, cheers for Colten the way he did Lexy, and works toward becoming an accountant.
“I just get excited when I see him do good plays,” Logan said. “I remember when I could do that.”