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Nevis boys look to make run at defending Section 5A title, returning to state

Even though four key players from last year's historic season graduated, Scott Kramer is counting on the Nevis boys basketball team to make a run at repeating as Section 5A champions.

     Even though four key players from last year’s historic season graduated, Scott Kramer is counting on the Nevis boys basketball team to make a run at repeating as Section 5A champions.

     A year ago, the senior crew of Gavin Becker, Courtland Chase, Kevin Hale and Brett Byer led the Tigers to their first section title and first appearance in the state Class A tournament. Becker averaged 17.3 points and 6.0 rebounds a game, Chase averaged 8.4 points and 5.8 rebounds a game and Hale averaged 7.3 points and 5.1 rebounds a game as starters. Byer chipped in 2.9 points and 2.2 rebounds a game off the bench.

     Being counted on to lead the Tigers this season is the 1-2 punch of junior guard Griffin Chase and freshman guard Michael Landquist. Those two return as starters off a team that went 12-2 to tie Red Lake for the Northland Conference title and finish 26-4 overall, defeating Upsala 60-50 for the section title before falling to Central Minnesota Christian 56-47 in the Tigers’ state debut.

     Chase, a 6-1 guard, led the Tigers in scoring last season at 18.4 points a game, hitting 183 of 371 shots (49.3 percent), including 46 for 138 on 3-pointers, and 141 of 174 free throws (80.6 percent). Chase also led the team with 108 assists and 96 steals while grabbing 105 rebounds in 30 games. Chase scored a game-high 31 points last season and finished with 553 points to surpass 1,000 points in his career.

     Landquist, a 6-0 guard, averaged 6.9 points a game with a high of 26 in his varsity debut. Landquist hit 71 of 168 shots (including 30 for 94 on 3-pointers) for 42.3 percent and 35 for 44 free throws for 79.5 percent in scoring 207 points. Landquist also had 90 rebounds, 80 assists and 43 steals in 30 games.

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     “We are extremely young this year with no returning seniors with notable experience,” said Kramer, who will be assisted by Bill Dent and Brian Dewitt. “We return two starters in Griffin and Michael. They will provide the 1-2 punch from the perimeter as well as to provide leadership.”

     Looking to fill the other starting spots will be junior Andrew Dudley (5-10 guard) and sophomores Zach Henry (6-0 guard), Tom Wormley (6-4 forward) and Jack Landquist (5-10 forward). Henry played in 22 games off the bench last season, tallying 34 points, 43 rebounds and 20 assists. Wormley and Landquist both played in 12 games with Wormley contributing 22 points and 15 rebounds while Landquist had 22 points and 16 rebounds. Dudley played in four games.

     Providing depth will be seniors Grant Pappas (5-8 guard) and Gabe Veit and sophomores Caden Kramer (6-0 forward), Jack DeWulf (6-0 forward) and Dylen Spain-Brist (5-10 forward).

     “We expect to be able to compete for the conference title again and hopefully make another run at state. There will not be any easy games in our conference with the quality of teams this year. I don’t think our section has a powerhouse team, but I think our section will be competitive,” said Kramer. “Following up on last year’s achievements will be a tough task. It was a dream season for our program in every area and ended up at Williams Arena for the first time in school history. With that being said, our guys are extremely hungry and motivated to get back to state. We have a half dozen players who played ball in the spring and summer and I really think that by the end of the year that we can be competitive. It is not too difficult to set goals when everyone is committed to staying near the top of the conference and section after tasting success last season. I really think the key for us will be to just be patient and continue getting better. With a young team, we are going to have a few of those nights where nothing will go right, but hopefully our young guys learn to respond and to compete game in and game out. If we can do that, we will have a really successful year no matter how far we play into the tournament in March.”

Related Topics: BOYS BASKETBALL
1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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