Looking back on a memorable Class B basketball season

Covering both boys and girls high school basketball can be challenging, but it sure is fun.

Over the course of the past three months or so, I have witnessed enough performances and met so many people that made the 2015-16 basketball season one I will remember for years to come.

Prior to coming to Minot, I covered high school sports in Williston and covered primarily Class A basketball during the winter months. But the switch to a new employer has allowed me to get out and see more of what the state has to offer, especially at the Class B level.

And I have loved every minute of it.

Perhaps, the biggest thing I learned about Class B basketball was all the talented players.

Throughout the season, I usually received word once a week of a player surpassing the 1,000-point mark of their career.

To accomplish such a milestone, an athlete typically has to put in a lot of time and work in the gym. And for it to happen as much as it did speaks volumes about the talent in this part of the state. I’d love to mention all who hit the 1,000-point mark this season, but to be fair I’d probably leave somebody out.

So here’s a shout out to all those athletes, who hit hit the milestone this season.

A job well done.

The biggest milestone of the season was accomplished by Our Redeemer’s Christian School’s junior Morgan Olson, who became the school’s all-time leading scorer in a contest late in the regular-season against Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood.

She ultimately wants to hit the 2,500 point mark by the time next season ends. Based on what I have seen, there is no reason to think that she can’t accomplish that.

While basketball is a team sport – and it typically takes five players working together to have success – individual excellence can go a long ways toward helping a team win.

Former Williston High standout DeSean Eikens had 46 points and 25 rebounds in a game against Turtle Mountain early in the season. That is the greatest high-school stat line I think I have ever seen and I have been covering high school basketball for a few years now.

On the girls side, Westhope-Newburg’s Abbie Jiles had a game of 34 points, 13 steals and 10 rebounds. It was by far the best overall performance I saw from any athlete.

The biggest thing I enjoyed about this season was getting to know the athletes and coaches at various schools in the area. Some of these individuals probably wanted to turn and go running the other way when they saw me coming. But all kidding aside, I do appreciate all the time the athletes and coaches afforded me so I could do my job.

Along those same lines, it was also great getting to know people in the community not connected to any one basketball program in particular. And while I have been here seven months, it’s always nice to be welcomed with open arms and a smile.

This column would not be complete if I didn’t make mention of my two favorite moments of the entire season.

Favorite moment No. 1: Our Redeemer’s Christian School’s John Reiten hitting a halfcourt shot at the buzzer in overtime to give the Knights a 53-50 win over Bishop Ryan in the District 12 championship game.

I had never covered a game with such a dramatic ending. Years earlier in Idaho, I had covered a regular-season contest between two rival schools that went into double overtime. But that game had no postseason steaks on the line.

It was the first 3-pointer Reiten had hit in his high school career. What a time to hit his first. I still remember seeing the expression on his face. I suspect that he was surprised that it went in.

Favorite moment No. 2: During the Region 6 girls basketball tournament, members of the Des Lacs-Burlington student body, for reasons unknown to me, started chanting my name. It caught me off guard, as I was in the middle of sending a text message. But it’s all good. I’m glad they had fun with it.

We had a great basketball season. And I can’t wait to do it all over again next season.

This is the opinion of Mark Jones, who covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @hoopsfan27_MDN.