Article by Ian Grande
What a week…. Here are my thoughts on the crown jewel of North Dakota high school athletics, Wyatt Hanson’s incredible tournament, a great group seniors, a look ahead to next year, and a couple of bad apples can ruin a bunch.
The Class B is the crown jewel
I really didn’t have much experience with State Basketball Tournaments prior to last weekend. I was fortunate enough to play in a few North Dakota High School Hockey State Tournaments, and to coach in a couple others (more on this later), so that was the extent of my state tournament background.
I had always heard that the Class B tournament was the crown jewel and it always looked good the few times I had watched it on TV, but it really is a spectacle to see in person. The North Dakota State Hockey Championship has a record attendance of 9,191 people (2001), but most years are probably closer to 6,500. The Class B had over 9,500 people at the championship game on Saturday, the place was packed!
Hanson as good as advertised
Wyatt Hanson was relatively unknown outside of Region 8 circles a few weeks ago, it is safe to say that has changed now.
Hanson was one of two unanimous selections on the All-Tournament team (voted on by all members of the media that cover the tournament). He also finished as the tournaments leading scorer.
Requests from media outlets for highlights/information on the Stanley Blue Jays team started pouring in immediately after their huge Region 8 championship win over Kenmare.
The requests for more Wyatt Hanson highlights by the major media outlets quickly followed, and by Tuesday night highlights of Wyatt and Kaedyn Hanson’s high-flying dunks were showing up on TV screens statewide.
The buzz continued to grow in the days leading up to the tournament from all corners of the state. I lost track of the amount of times I heard/received comments like, “I’m really excited to watch those kids from the “dunk video”, they look like they can fly out there.”
*See Also: Stanley Blue Jay Dunk Compilation Video
Once the tournament started the fans/coaches/media personnel were treated to multiple thunderous dunks and all around excellent play from the talented junior. The comments about Hanson from fans/coaches/media from all corners of the state were glowing and plenty throughout the entire weekend.
Blue Jay fans, be thankful that Hanson will be around for another year, players of this caliber don’t come along very often.
Ode to the Blue Jay seniors
As we bid our final farewell to the Stanley Blue Jay seniors, I think it is important to highlight the sacrifice that all three made for the betterment of the program.
Logan Aadnes could have been a 20+ point scorer on a rash of other teams, he is that talented. Instead the senior focused on facilitating, sacrificing individual scoring statistics for the betterment of the team.
Ryan Nesheim also sacrificed offensive statistics, instead focusing his attention to the defensive end. Someone new will have to step in and do all of the little things that Nesheim did for the Blue Jays.
Riley Iverson would likely have been a starter on a majority of the teams in Region 8, he sacrificed playing time to help the team. I have seen many players in Riley’s position completely derail a promising team because they had a poisonous attitude. Riley was an asset to the Blue Jays, he was classy throughout the entire season and was a perfect example of what the ultimate teammate looks like.
The Stanley Girls Basketball team’s lone senior, Caitlyn Enger was also an excellent example for the next crop of Blue Jays.
All four are excellent students, high character people, and solid athletes. This group will be missed.
Quick look ahead to next year
The Blue Jays will have some holes to fill if they want to get back to the state tournament next season, but I’m optimistic. The Blue Jays will return three starters (Hanson, Hanson, and Matt Patten) and their 6th man (Seth Hetzel). Stanley will also return a handful of other players that saw limited time throughout the season.
Blue Jay fans will also get a look at Rhett Hanson next season, the freshman missed this season with an injury. He will help bolster the Blue Jays post game next season, and soften the blow of the departing Nesheim.
The Blue Jays figure to be high-flying once again next season, they will be fun to watch.
A couple bad apples can ruin the bunch
I was constantly bombarded by media personnel/fans/coaches coming over and raving about Wyatt Hanson and the other Blue Jay players. Unfortunately, I was also constantly bombarded by media personnel/fans/coaches pointing out how completely out of line two of the fans in the Stanley parents section were.
As one media member eloquently put it, “You were dead right about Wyatt Hanson, he is the real deal. But who is that buffoon in the Stanley section that was yelling at the refs the entire game, he was out of control?”
Another worthy comment after Friday’s game was, “The Stanley players are class acts on and off the court, unfortunately there are a couple of obnoxious morons in the crowd that made the whole bunch look bad.”
The last comment is what sticks with me. When parent/fan behavior starts taking away from the team on the court, then we have a serious problem that needs to addressed.
We dealt with a similar situation when I was coaching, admittedly it wasn’t nearly as severe as what I witnessed this year in Stanley. We simply told the individual that they are no longer welcome to attend any more games because their conduct was detrimental to our entire organization. It was an uncomfortable conversation but continuing to allow one individual to make our entire organization look bad wasn’t an option.
I had an incredible time watching/covering the Stanley Blue Jays at the State Tournament this last weekend. Hanson and the Blue Jays turned plenty of heads with their strong play. I’m hopeful that this is the lasting memory for most fans—not the small group of fans who couldn’t control themselves.
– Ian Grande is the Editor of the Stanley Gazette. If you have any comments or concerns please email StanleyGazette@gmail.com
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- Sparby, Honrud, Hove tabbed to All-State team from Region 8
- Hove named to NDHSAA Class B Academic All-State Team
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