BOYS BASKETBALL: Three juniors on all-state first team
There is a youth movement on this season’s North Dakota Class B all-state boys basketball team.
Mr. Basketball finalists Briton Bussman of Milnor and Tanner Holte of Des Lacs-Burlington are the lone seniors on the all-state first team, as selected by the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
Rounding out the five-player first team are juniors Brock Robbins of Cavalier, Trayvon McKay of Four Winds-Minnewaukan and Brad Heidlebaugh of Rugby. It is an uncommon makeup for the team — the last time there was more than two non-seniors on the B all-state first team was in the 1986-87 season.
“I think it’s a very strong junior class statewide in Class B,” Four Winds-Minnewaukan coach Rick Smith said. “Look at the state tournament — the kids who really stood out were juniors.”
Robbins had team-leading averages of 19.1 points and 9.6 rebounds for the 25-2 Tornadoes, who finished fifth at the B state tournament. The 6-3 junior also averaged 3 assists and 2.9 steals. Robbins, who made 54 treys this season, is at 1,118 career points.
“Brock plays with an all-out mentality,” Tornadoes coach Bryce Laxdal said. “That’s the kind of kid he is, aggressive. He’s a very good outside shooter. But his strength is getting to the basket and finishing in contact. He’s a player who just makes things happen.”
The 6-3 McKay averaged 22.8 points, making 48 treys. He also had averages of 5.5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2.3 steals a game. McKay has 1,227 career points.
“Trayvon has a well-rounded game,” Smith said. “He was a slasher as a freshman when he moved into our lineup. He’s worked to improve his shooting range and his post moves. He’s a mismatch problem for opponents with his well-rounded game. But he’s still at his best when he’s getting to the rim off the dribble.”
The 6-4 Heidlebaugh was the leader of the 27-1, state runner-up Rugby team. Heidlebaugh paced Rugby in scoring (23.7 ppg), rebounding (11.7 rpg) and blocked shots (1.8 bpg). He also was second on the team in steals (40) and third in assists (113).
“Brad can fill any position on the floor and play it well,” Panthers coach Mike Santjer said. “Against full-court pressure, he was our point guard. His size and athleticism made it tough to press him. We played him in the post a lot. He’s tall, tremendously strong and has a large assortment of moves around the basket. But he also could go outside and make shots.”
Bussman, the Class B senior player of the year as selected by the state coaches’ association, was on the all-state second team last season.
His 28.1 scoring average leads the first-team picks. He was a 41 percent shooter (44-of-107) from 3-point range and also averaged 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists. He had 1,833 career points.
“He ran point for us most of the time,” Milnor coach Ben Nelson said. “But, being 6-foot-3, he could play just about anywhere. We’d run him inside against mismatches. And with his ballhandling skills, we never had to worry about presses. With his height, he could see over the top of defenders and find open teammates.”
Holte is a three-time all-state pick, making the second team as a sophomore and repeating as a first-team selection this season. He was Region 6 senior player of the year.
The 6-4 Holte averaged 22.2 points, 10 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. He wasn’t strictly a post player, as he connected on 43 three-point shots. He is Des Lacs-Burlington’s career scoring leader with 1,946 points.
“Tanner is so versatile,” DL-B coach Doug Wagner said. “He has a great shooting touch from the perimeter. He’s also a great power player around the basket. He has good moves and footwork and, when he goes up, he’s so strong that he takes half the gym with him.”
Three area players – Cavalier senior Ryan Chrest and North Star junior teammates Alex Weston and Christian Kvilvang – are on the all-state second team.
The 6-3 Chrest averaged 17 points and 6.8 rebounds while pacing the Tornadoes in assists (3.7 apg) and steals (3.6 spg). The Region 2 senior player of the year finished with 1,348 career points.
“Ryan is silky-smooth with the ball,’’ Laxdal said. “He was almost too unselfish, always looking for teammates. He’s an excellent passer. And he was tireless, always pressing fullcourt.’’
Kvilvang, a 6-5 center, averaged 18.6 points, 7 rebounds and 2.9 assists. Weston, a 6-6 forward, averaged 18.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.3 blocks. He has 1,008 career points.
“Alex is more of a face-the-basket player,’’ North Star coach Jeff Hagler said. “He’s a really good shooter from the 3-point line. And his shot blocking was a big reason for our defensive success. Christian is more of an inside banger. We liked him around the basket because he plays so physical and he’s very athletic.’’
Other second-team picks are:
- Hunter Braaten, Westhope-Newburg: The 5-10 senior averaged 26.5 points and 7.3 rebounds a game. He graduates as the program’s career scoring leader with 1,815 points.
- D’Angelo Burns, Fairmount-Campbell-Tintah: The 6-1 senior is the top scorer of the 15 all-state picks. He averaged 30.9 points, as well as 6.4 rebounds, 4.1 steals and 3.9 assists. He made 60 treys.
- Austin Cieslak, Hazen: The 6-3 senior, a UND football recruit, averaged 16.9 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. Cieslak, who was named Region 7 senior player of the year, had 1,009 career points.
- Levi Hoiby, Powers Lake: The 6-4 senior averaged 22.9 points, 11 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2 steals per game. He was Region 8 senior player of the year.
- Wyatt Mund, Milnor: The 6-4 senior averaged a double double with 17.4 points and 10.4 rebounds a game. He also averaged 6.7 assists.
- Zack Schmidt, Flasher: The 5-11 Schmidt, the Region 5 senior player of the year, averaged 17.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.4 steals per game.
- Brady Thielges, LaMoure-Litchville-Marion: Thielges, the Region 3 senior player of the year, averaged 20.1 points, 6 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 3.5 steals a game.