It was a long winter. Harsh temperatures and blowing snow caused the rescheduling and cancellations of numerous games in numerous sports this past winter, keeping teams, coaches and athletic directors on edge. That might have just been a warm-up for this spring.
A possible new era in high school boys and girls basketball as well as volleyball could be on the horizon as the North Dakota High School Activities Association introduced its new three-class system proposal last month.
Warning: Being a Center-Stanton boys basketball fan is not for the faint of heart. Staying true to their nature this season, the Wildcats used second-half runs and skillful shooting to earn the third place honors during the Region 5 Tournament last week in Bismarck. But not without a few heart-pounding moments for the fans first. Shiloh Christian 71, Center-Stanton 65
The Center-Stanton Wildcat boys put this theory into practice. After a sluggish start, the Wildcats turned on the defensive intensity to eventually scrap out a 75-69 victory over the Wilton-Wing Miners Monday evening in the first round of the Region 5 Boys' Basketball Tournament at the Bismarck Civic Center.
Jacob Henke may not physically put on a hard hat and carry a lunch pail when he goes to work but the Center-Stanton senior brings that blue-collar mentally to the court every game. No more evident than last week's District 9 Tournament when Henke poured in 42 points in three games as the Wildcats earned a Region 5 berth. "Every team concentrates so hard on Andrew (Anderson) and Shae (Brown)," head coach Scott Jung explained. "When Jacob (Henke) steps up it takes the pressure off. (Opponents) had to back off from doubling down on them. It's a nice compliment."
When asked how much confidence he had late in the Wildcats' game versus the Washburn Cardinals, Center-Stanton girls' basketball head coach Michael Bergstrom couldn't lie. "I'm never very confident," he said with a smile. "No, I knew we needed a basket. We got that 3-pointer from Bailey (Henke) - and that really helped."
The Solen boys' basketball team came to Center last Saturday and 32 minutes later the Sioux won the points off of turnovers battle, 3-pointer points category, points off the bench category and had a higher free throw percentage. What they didn't have were four Wildcats in double figures as Center-Stanton gutted out a 67-60 District 9 victory in the re-scheduled contest. The win should pit C-S in the third place seed as the boys district tournaments begins Feb. 26 in Mandan. The Wildcats only district losses came to No. 1 seed Standing Rock and second seed Shiloh Christian.
Fifty-eight seems to be the Center-Stanton's boys' basketball team's number. Two out of the last three games, when the Wildcats can score 58 points, they walk away with a win. The streak started with a 58-44 topper over Washburn Jan. 30, then a 58-34 victory against Glen Ullin-Hebron Feb. 2. However, Feb. 5 was the day that Standing Rock took the magic out of the number as they beat C-S 58-56 in a District 9 contest.
The Center-Stanton boys' basketball team has faced many different opponents, offensive schemes, defensive styles, size advantages and size disadvantages this season. Mother Nature has only added to the unpredictability for the C-S hoopsters. But through whatever comes the Wildcats' way, they have been able to count on one thing: Shae Brown.