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Tigers delivered historic season

Griffin Chase compiled a team-leading 652 points, 127 assists and 88 steals in earning Northland Conference MVP honors. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

It was a historic season for the Nevis boys basketball team.

The Tigers put together a 23-game winning streak, captured the Northland Conference title with a 14-0 record, won the Section 5A championship to advance to the state Class A tournament for the second time in school history and ended the season with a 28-3 record to break the school record for wins in a season.

Despite losing both games at state, head coach Scott Kramer was ecstatic about how his team handled the pressure all season.

"I knew that we had a really good coming back, but I really didn't expect us to be this successful," said Kramer, who was named the Northland Conference and Section 5A Coach of the Year. "To go undefeated in our conference is no simple task as the last team to do it was the 2007 team from Cass Lake. I think the keys to us being so successful were being healthy for the most part and having a really well-balanced team. We had a lot of games with multiple guys in double figures scoring and that really becomes difficult for other teams to defend."

Nevis opened the season by winning the first five games, starting with a 79-36 Northland Conference win over Laporte. The Tigers then defeated Sebeka (82-54), Blackduck (86-33 in a conference game), Browerville/Eagle Valley (61-54) and Bertha-Hewitt (71-38).

Cass Lake defeated the Tigers 73-70 in the semifinals of the Park Rapids Holiday Tournament as Nevis settled for third place following a 73-36 win over Park Rapids.

That was the beginning of a 23-game winning streak.

Nevis followed with conference wins over Pine River-Backus (74-47), Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (67-44) and Cass Lake (73-64) before edging Pequot Lakes 49-47 and defeating Mountain Iron-Buhl 64-40 at the Martin Luther King Classic at Duluth.

After another win over Park Rapids (70-30), the Tigers posted conference wins over Northome-Kelliher (76-40), Red Lake (60-40), Cass Lake (59-46), Laporte (78-48), PR-B (55-39), W-H-A (66-45) and Blackduck (85-33).

Nevis ended the regular season with a 74-47 win over Verndale, a 67-60 win over Red Lake, a 79-55 win over Northome-Kelliher, a 56-34 win over Menahga and a 90-50 win over Fond du Lac.

Nevis earned the No. 1 seed in the North for the Section 5A tournament and used wins over No. 8 Menahga (60-31), No. 5 W-H-A (52-35) and No. 3 Verndale (41-37) to reach the section championship game. The Tigers earned a trip to state with a dramatic 55-52 win in four overtimes over Browerville/Eagle Valley, the No. 1 seed in the North.

At the state tournament, the Tigers opened with a 73-65 loss to Springfield before falling to Red Lake 52-43 in the consolation bracket.

For the season, the Tigers averaged 67.1 points a game while shooting 50.8 percent from the field (763 for 1,501, including 181 for 488 on 3-pointers) and 72.3 percent at the free throw line (373 for 516). Nevis' defense gave up an average of 45.6 points a night.

"It was tough going down the stretch for us," said Kramer. "One thing many people don't realize is that we played some senior-oriented teams in the tournament and they are never easy outs because they are normally playing with a sense of urgency that you just can't teach. We just focused on doing what we do and if we do it well, we should have a chance to win."

Leading the Tigers this season were seniors Griffin Chase and Andrew Dudley; juniors Jack Landquist, Tom Wormley, Caden Kramer and Zach Henry; and sophomore Michael Landquist. Those seven played in at least 26 games this season with Chase, Jack Landquist, Wormley and Michael Landquist receiving all-conference honors. Dudley was an all-conference honorable mention selection.

Chase led the team in scoring with 652 points (21.0 per game) and in 3-pointers (70), assists (127) and steals (88). In 31 games, Chase shot 53.6 percent from the field (232 for 433, including 70 for 171 on 3-pointers) and 80.3 percent at the line (118 for 147) while finishing second with 173 rebounds and 21 blocked shots. Chase, who finished with 2,219 career points, had a high of 35 and was named the conference's MVP and an all-state academic player.

Michael Landquist was second on the team in scoring with 411 points (13.3 per game) to surpass 1,000 points in his career. Landquist shot 56.6 percent from the field (159 for 281, including 26 for 78 on 3-pointers) and 72.8 percent at the line (67 for 92). Landquist had a game high of 27 points while finishing second with 108 assists and 63 steals while adding 154 rebounds in 31 games.

Jack Landquist also played in all 31 games and averaged 11.8 points and a team-leading 6.1 rebounds a game. Landquist scored 365 points (with a high of 21) and had 188 rebounds, 40 assists and 35 steals while shooting 61.7 percent from the floor (129 for 209) and 75.6 percent at the line (102 for 135).

Dudley played in 29 games and averaged 7.1 points a game, scoring 206 points with a high of 19 while shooting 43.3 percent from the field (71 for 164, including 43 for 117 on 3-pointers) and 63.6 percent at the line (21 for 33). Dudley also had 79 rebounds, 27 assists and 27 steals.

Wormley averaged 6.4 points and 5.0 rebounds a game with 191 points and 150 rebounds while leading the team with 53 blocked shots. Wormley made 46.0 percent of his shots (80 for 174) and 55.6 percent of his free throws (62 for 88) with 29 steals and 24 assists in 30 games.

Kramer played in 26 games and shot 36.0 percent from the field (32 for 89, including 16 for 51 on 3-pointers) and 90.9 percent at the line (10 for 11) while scoring 90 points. Kramer also had 42 rebounds.

Henry played in 29 games, shooting 39.5 percent from the field (30 for 76, including 12 for 34 on 3-pointers) and 71.4 percent at the line (15 for 21). Henry finished with 87 points, 52 rebounds, 35 assists and 31 steals.

Also contributing this season were freshman Luke DeWulf (23 points, 19 rebounds, 25 assists, 14 steals in 17 games), junior Donny Peet (18 points, 11 rebounds in 12 games) and junior Dylen Spain-Brist (17 points in 11 games).

Even though the Tigers have to replace two key players in Chase and Dudley, Kramer is counting on next year's team to produce another successful season.

"There is no doubt we will miss Chase a lot and Dudley gave us stability at the 2 guard all season, but we feel that we have a very good nucleus coming back with a lot of skill and experience," said Kramer. "We return six of our top eight guys and are excited about getting to work for next season."