Century’s Feeney headlines all-state team, Minot’s Johnson named to 2nd team
In athletic terms, Century senior Dalton Feeney has aged rapidly.
A year ago, Feeney found himself a rookie on the Class A all-state boys basketball team. Now he’s the greybeard.
Feeney, a Century senior, is surrounded by underclassmen – three juniors and a sophomore – on the first team.
Joining Feeney on the first team are juniors Jake Mertens of Devils Lake, Aanen Moody of Dickinson and Siman Sem of Fargo North, and sophomore DeSean Eikens of Williston.
Feeney and Eikens return to the first team. Mertens moves up from the second team. Moody and Sem are newcomers to the all-state realm.
Junior KyJuan Johnson of state champion Minot and seniors Ahmed Aden of West Fargo, Braedan Hanson of Grand Forks Red River, Brayden Lund of Minot Noah Wanzek of Jamestown make up the second team. Johnson was named the most valuable player at the state tournament.
Feeney, Hanson, Lund and Wanzek were Mr. Basketball finalists.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Feeney was voted the Class A outstanding senior athlete by the state’s Class A basketball coaches. He shot 47 percent from the field and 71 percent at the free-throw line while averaging 20.8 points per game.
In addition he contributed 5.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game to the Patriot cause. He led Century to a 24-3 record and fifth place in the state tournament.
Feeney ranked third in the West Region in scoring. His 50 steals placed him fifth in the region.
This was Feeney’s final year of organized basketball. He’ll attend the University of Missouri in the fall, where he’s signed to play baseball. He’s played four seasons of varsity basketball for coach Darin Mattern, but this was just his second full season in an injury-marred career.
“We were just happy he was able to compete for a whole season,” Mattern said. “Dalton is all about competition. I think that’s what makes him successful. He’s the ultimate competitor.”
Awards are nothing new to Feeney. He’s a two-time all-state pick in football.
Although he’s grateful for Feeney’s contributions to the CHS basketball program, Mattern said he’s excited to see where Feeney’s baseball path leads.
“Dalton is blessed to throw the ball. … I think he enjoyed his high school career on the hardwood, but I think the decision he made is a great choice and we’re excited to support him,” Mattern said.
Eikens, an all-state player as a freshman, averaged 21.9 points and 11.9 rebounds as a sophomore. The 6-6, 180-pound sophomore ranked second in the West Region in scoring and first in rebounding. He shot 41 percent from the floor and 49 percent at the free-throw line, passing the 1,000-point mark as the Coyotes went 6-18.
However, next season, Eikens will be playing in Utah. He’s scheduled to transfer to Wasatch Academy, a private boarding school in Mt. Pleasant.
Eikens moved to Williston while in middle school.
“He came to us as an eighth grader … and became a starter as a freshman. ,” Williston coach Mark Slotsve said. “He’s always been a natural scorer for us.”
Slotsve said Eikens became more productive on a day-to-day basis as a sophomore.
“He really worked on his perimeter shooting and became a little more consistent. That’s where we saw the biggest jump (as a sophomore),” Slotsve said.
Slotsve said Eikens’ rebounding ability is a result of quickness as much as size.
“He’s such a quick jumper,” Slotsve said. “… The tough part as a coach is to figure out where to play him. We needed him around the basket just for his rebounding.”
Mertens, a 6-3, 175-pound guard, boosted his average from 15 points as a sophomore to 20.9 this season, third-best in the East Region. He sank 123 free throws while shooting 80 percent from the line and swished 50 3-pointers with 35 percent accuracy.
While leading Devils Lake to the state tournament and a 14-12 season, Mertens topped the region with an average of 9.6 rebounds per game and 7.1 assists per outing. He logged 45 steals and rarely rested, logging 32.2 minutes per game.
Firebirds coach Derek Gathman said Mertens is an athlete through-and-through. Mertens has two older brothers and an older sister who played basketball at Devils Lake High School. The boys, B.J. and Nate, were were all-state players and their sister, Steph, was a 1,000-point scorer and all-region selection.
“Halfway through his freshman year he was starting on the varsity for us,” Gathman said. “He played a ton as a freshman and has continued to get better.”
“He’s been around the game so much. He’s so smart and heady. … As a freshman we trusted him the most with the ball. … If someone was pressing us, he’s the one who got the ball,” Gathman continued.
Gathman laughed when asked if Mertens’ 7.1 assists per game was accurate.
“He sees the play before it happens. … It just blows my mind sometimes how he can see things like that. He really likes to create for others, sometimes too much,” Gathman said.
Moody, a 6-3, 165-pound junior guard, more than doubled his scoring pace of 15.6 as a sophomore. He led all Class A shooters with an average of 33 points per game as a junior. He shot 49 percent from the floor. He displayed 37 percent accuracy while connecting on 68 3-pointers and shot 90 percent while converting 212 free throws.
For good measure, Moody had a region-best 84 steals and averaged 3.4 assists per game. He sparked Dickinson to a 16-10 season and a berth in the state tournament. Last week was named North Dakota’s Gatorade boys basketball player of the year.
After injuring an ankle in the first round of the West Region tournament, Moody returned to average 25.4 points and 27.6 minutes in the post-season.
“It’s almost like a mental thing with him that no one will be able to stop him,” Dickinson coach Dan Glasser said. “That’s not a bad thing because of his teammates. They realize that for the team to be successful he has to score.”
Glasser said Moody’s free-throw prowess is almost incomprehensible.
“I can’t imagine being in a gym all by myself shooting 234 free throws and missing 22 of them. That’s unbelieveable,” Glasser said. “He tries hard to get to the basket and doesn’t settle for jumpshots.”
Moody’s high steal count is a measure of his court sense, according to Glasser.
“In our full-court defense we put him right in the middle because he’s such a good anticipator,” Glasser noted.
Sem, a 6-4 junior guard, had his fingers in almost everything Fargo North did as the Spartans finished with a 13-11 record.
He ranked first in the East Region in scoring at 21.4 points per game, was second with 60 3-pointers, third with 58 steals, and seventh in rebounding average at 7.7. His scoring was the product of 43 percent shooting from the field, including 37 percent on 3-point attempts. He displayed 65 percent accuracy from the free-throw line.
Coach Ted Critchley said inheriting Sem in his first year at Fargo North was like receiving an early Christmas present.
“He’s a do-everything kind of guy for us. … With no disrespect to our other players, I don’t know where we’d be without him. … I’ve been coaching basketball as a head coach for 26 years and I don’t think I’ve ever had a player score so high in so many categories as him.”
Critchley said Sem is no jack-of-all-trades. He emphasized that his speedy, high-springing junior standout brings a high skill level to any place he plays on the floor.
“Is he going to play point guard in college? Probably not. Is he one of the best point guards in our state? Yes,” Critchley said.
“He’s developed himself to the point where he’s a combination guard. When we moved him to point guard early in the season we just took off as a group,” Critchley added. “The thing about Siman is we needed to put the ball in his hands, and there’s no better way to do that than to put him at point guard.”
Noah Wanzek, a 6-5 senior forward from Jamestown, returns to the second team. He averaged 20 points and 10.2 rebounds per game while shooting 63 percent from the field. Wanzek, a University of North Dakota recruit, had 53 steals for the Blue Jays, who finished 13-11.
KyJuan Johnson, Minot’s 6-foot junior point guard, led the West Region in assists (4.3 per game), was second in steals (53) and shot 51 percent from the floor while averaging 12 points per game. He shot 44 percent while sinking 34 3-pointers and converted his free throw attempts at a 72 percent rate.
Braydon Lund, a 6-4 senior, was a consistent force in the paint for the state champion Magicians, averaging 10.7 rebounds and 11 points per game while shooting 62 percent. He blocked 25 shots. A two-time all-state selection in football, Lund plans to attend North Dakota State University where he intends to play football.
Braedan Hanson, a 6-7 senior guard-forward, finished fourth in the East with an 18.3 scoring average. He averaged five rebounds and 2.4 assists as Red River placed fourth in the state with a 16-11 record. He shot 45 percent from the field and 74 percent from the line while racking up 114 free throws. Hanson blocked 25 shots.
Hanson has committed to Southwest Minnesota State University.
Ahmed Aden, a 6-4 senior guard, led the way with 17.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game as West Fargo reached the state championship game and finished the season at 23-4. He shot 44 percent from the field and 29 percent from beyond the arc while swishing 65 3-pointers. He connected on 65 percent of his free-throw attempts.