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PREP BASKETBALL: Sacred Heart, Climax-Fisher to meet in basketball

In Polk County West's run to the championship game of the Section 8A football playoffs last fall, Devin Evavold ran the PCW offense. The quarterback's primary receiver was Beau Byklum.

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In Polk County West’s run to the championship game of the Section 8A football playoffs last fall, Devin Evavold ran the PCW offense. The quarterback’s primary receiver was Beau Byklum.

At a different venue, Evavold and Byklum make the switch from teammates to opponents. The two anticipate guarding each other when Sacred Heart hosts Climax-Fisher in boys basketball at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

“Now we’re going against each other. It feels weird,’’ Evavold said.

Evavold is one of three starters in the Sacred Heart basketball lineup, along with Riley Wavra and Nolan Hallaway, who were starters on the PCW football team.

The other partner in the football co-op, Climax-Fisher, will have football regulars Byklum, Paul Gapp and Pelon Pruneda in its starting basketball lineup. Both basketball teams will have other football players on their benches.

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Sacred Heart takes a 3-2 record into the game, while Climax-Fisher is 0-3.

“I’m looking forward to it,’’ Byklum said. “It will be a little different being on opposing teams, playing against rather than with each other. But I think it will be fun.’’

Evavold was 50-of-101 passing for 862 yards. Byklum led PCW in catches (20) and receiving yards (372). Likewise, Wavra (1,058 yards rushing), Gapp (813 yards rushing) and Pruneda (745 yards rushing) were key members of the football offense whose blocking helped each other wrack up big yards.

“You want to win,’’ Evavold said of the basketball matchup. “But you don’t want to see them lose. I’m sure they’re thinking the same way. That makes it tough.

“But it’s definitely fun playing against your buddies. I’m sure there will be a little trash talk. But it will all be in fun.’’

The friendships became closer as the football team’s success increased.

Polk County West was 2-6 in the co-op’s initial season in 2014. This season, the team improved to 8-3 and took the No. 3 seed into the section playoffs. The Thunder beat No. 2 seed Fosston 35-21 in the semifinal round to reach the section title game. But PCW’s bid to reach the state playoffs came up short when Mahnomen handed the Thunder a 44-7 loss in the 8A championship.

Even during the football season, the talk drifted on occasion towards the day when the teammates would oppose each other on the basketball court. Climax-Fisher athletes owned the talk last fall after sweeping Sacred Heart in the 2014-15 basketball season.

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“It’s more of a bragging rights game for when the fall rolls around,’’ Byklum said. “We talked about how we were going to beat them. They talked about how they’d beat us. It was all in fun.

“We’ll be playing against guys who are our friends and teammates. We’re all friends off the court. We’re just not the greatest friends on the court. We’re all pretty competitive.’’

The talk isn’t limited to the athletes.

Scott Thomas is the Climax-Fisher head boys basketball coach. He’s also an assistant football coach for PCW.

“Coach Thomas would tell me I can’t play well the two times we play; other than that he told me he hoped I would have my best season ever,’’ Evavold said. “I’d tell him that I planned to try to have my best two games of the year against Climax-Fisher.’’

The friendships have gone beyond the football association. Evavold said the sacred Heart and Climax-Fisher football players still get together.

“I’m sure during the games will throw some (verbal) jabs and some razzing at each other,’’ Evavold said. “Maybe we’ll make each other smile.

“Then after the game a bunch of us from both teams will probably get together to go out and eat.’’

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