The dynamic duo
CANDO, N.D. -- Daniel Grande is always on the receiving end. In football, it was all-state quarterback Jake Hagler passing to all-state receiver Grande. In baseball, Hagler was the pitcher, Grande the catcher. In basketball, Hagler is the point g...
CANDO, N.D. -- Daniel Grande is always on the receiving end.
In football, it was all-state quarterback Jake Hagler passing to all-state receiver Grande. In baseball, Hagler was the pitcher, Grande the catcher. In basketball, Hagler is the point guard for the undefeated North Star boys basketball team, with Grande playing the wing.
"Jake's a more accurate thrower than I am,'' Grande said. "I can't complain. He gets it done.''
Whatever the sport, whatever the role, they have been a successful combination.
Hagler and Grande are the one-two offensive punch for North Star, the top-ranked team in North Dakota's Class B state basketball poll. They were the offensive leaders last fall on a Bearcats team that was runner-up in the 9-man football playoffs. And both were all-region picks last spring for the North Star team that won the Region 5 regular-season baseball title.
The 18-0 Bearcats are in Grand Forks today, meeting East Grand Forks Senior High at 4:15 p.m. in the final game of the annual Dick Compton Memorial Shootout at Central High School.
"We're always hanging out together and talking,'' Jake Hagler said. "If you see Daniel, you usually see Jake. We can be pretty competitive with each other, but it's not getting mad. If one is better at something, we can accept that. I think we're both pretty easy going.
"I think our friendship helps in sports. There's a trust factor between us.''
The two are so close that, even in the North Star High School hallway, their lockers are only about two inches apart. In the batting order of the baseball team, it's usually been Grande leading off and Hagler batting second.
"We're best buddies,'' Grande said. "I think it helps. We've played together for so long in everything. We know what each other will do and react to it.''
Hagler and Grande form a backcourt that has had a major impact on a Bearcats team that is bidding for a second straight Class B state title. They're the standouts on a team that has won 45 straight games over the past two seasons.
Hagler averages 27.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists while making 34 three-pointers. Grande averages 18.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists while making 28 treys. They both can make things happen on defense, as well, with Grande averaging 4.2 steals and Hagler 3.6.
"They're both pretty quick,'' said Jeff Hagler, the Bearcats' coach and Jake's father. "Daniel is a little more explosive athletically. He's a better jumper and probably a little stronger. He's more flashy. Jake is probably a little headier athlete. He just finds ways to get things done.
"They've had huge roles in our team since they were eighth-graders. And their roles have grown each year. As we've graduated kids, they've been asked to do more. Their scoring has increased. They're rebounding more.''
Their basketball experience is a long one. "They might have been in diapers when we started them in basketball,'' Jeff Hagler said.
As eighth-graders, Hagler was a starting point guard and Grande the top reserve on a North Star team that finished seventh at state. As freshmen, both started on a team that lost one game all season, in the Region 4 final. Hagler was first-team all-state last season and Grande an all-district pick on the state championship team.
After the graduation last spring of standouts Matt Swanson and all-stater Grant Lindahl, the two juniors both have increased their production. Hagler averaged 18.4 points and Grande 13.7 points last season.
"They are kids with the ability to make everybody else better,'' Jeff Hagler said. "And they're sports rats, not just gym rats. They're always doing something sports-wise. When they're not competing, they're pretty easy going. But they are competitors. And their intensity brings up the intensity of everybody around them.''
Away from the sports venues, however, the intensity diminishes.
"We like to hang out and get some laughs,'' Jake Hagler said. "We'll give each other -- and other people -- a hard time. You have to tease. It's fun.''
In other games at the Dick Compton Memorial Shootout today: Climax-Fisher plays North Border in the opener at 11 a.m., followed by Four Winds-Minnewaukan against Fertile-Beltrami. Free-throw and 3-point shooting contests, as well as dunk contests, will be held at 2 p.m., with the Fosston-Cavalier game to follow at 2:45.
DeVillers reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1128; (800) 477-6572, ext. 128; or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org .