BOYS BASKETBALL: Senior High Green Wave prepare for state tournament
When the East Grand Forks Senior High boys basketball team hits the court Wednesday at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, the Green Wave will fully understand the historical significance of their trip.
Senior High faces Esko in the Minnesota state Class AA quarterfinals at 6 p.m. It’s the first state tournament appearance for Senior High since 1971.
On Tuesday night, the star of the 1971 Senior High team and one of the school’s all-time greats — Kurt Knoff — addressed the team. At the team’s sendoff pep rally, three other 1971 Green Wave players spoke.
Knoff was named the Minnesota High School Athlete of the Year in 1972. He attended the University of Kansas, becoming an All-American football player in 1975. He also played baseball and basketball for the Jayhawks.
Knoff was then drafted in the NFL, playing as a safety for the Denver Broncos, Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings.
“His message was that, basically, you can do anything,” Senior High coach Travis Lindgren said. “He said it doesn’t matter where you’re from or where your beginnings are from if you believe in yourself.”
Lindgren said the message appeared to stick with his players.
“Kurt talked for about a half an hour,” he said. “The guys were really engaged.”
Knoff’s 1971 team finished third at the state tournament.
Big task ahead
This year’s Green Wave team will be underdogs.
Senior High is 20-9 on the season and will face the tournament’s No. 2 seed Esko, which is 26-3 and coming off a fourth-place finish in 2013.
Esko outscores opponents by an average of 33.6 points per game. The team has three career 1,000-point scorers.
The leader of the group is Kory Deadrick, the school’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder. He averages 25.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.
The game will feature a matchup of prolific 6-foot-7 players. Both Deadrick and Senior High’s Jim Warmack are 6-7.
Warmack, his school’s all-time leading rebounder, averages 19.2 points per game, while also contributing 9.5 rebounds. Senior High’s Ty Misialek chips in 15.6 points and 5.7 assists per game.
“Jim has stepped his game up,” Lindgren said. “He’s been a force. When we’ve needed a bucket, he’s been huge for us.”
The Warmack-Deadrick matchup will be one to watch.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out,” Lindgren said. “(Deadrick) can play inside or outside, depending on who’s guarding him.”
Senior High’s defense has fueled the team’s run down the stretch. During the recent section tournament (four games), the Wave limited opponents to 46 points per game.
Senior High’s role players have keyed that improved defensive effort, Lindgren said. He said Brock Scheving, Tanner Seim and Micah Friez have stepped up their defensive games.
“Guys have really bought into trusting each other,” Lindgren said.
Although it’s a rare trip to the state tournament, Lindgren said he isn’t worried about his team’s psyche regarding the hoopla surrounding the event.
“They’ll handle it fine,” he said. “If we were young, I’d be worried. It’s a senior-led team with high-character guys.”