Looking back on a fun-filled sports year

Not trying to age myself or anything, but I have covered high school athletics in North Dakota for eight years now.

At the end of each school year, I always like to look back on the year and reflect on the accomplishments and milestones of the athletes and coaches that I have covered.

This year is no different.

For much of the year, I covered the Class B schools, which has been my beat since I arrived in Minot nearly two years ago.

But I want to start this column off with a huge kudos and tip of the cap to Minot High School.

While I didn’t cover Minot High a lot this season, I did take it a Minot High wrestling match against Williston in November, which kicked off what would be a magical ride to the Magi’s first state title since 1993.

In December, I covered a Minot High boys basketball game against Dickinson. It was a matchup of two of the best teams in the state. And for the much of the game, it seemed the Magi would let one slip away. The Magi, however, went on a run in the final 10 minutes of the contest to rally for a 64-58 win.

Not only was it the best game I covered all season, it seemed to set the tone for the Magi en route to winning their third straight Class A state championship.

Moving to the Class B ranks, the sports year was a memorable one for several area schools in a variety of sports.

The year started off as the Des Lacs-Burlington football emerged as the Class A Region 3 champion. The Lakers (8-3) defeated region rival Bishop Ryan twice during the season, including a 32-20 win in the state semi-finals. While the Lakers eventually lost to Ellendale/Edgeley/Kulm in the state championship game, that was a season the DL-B faithful should remember for years to come.

It was a big year for Class B in other sports as well.

Our Redeemer’s Christian School entered the year having never won a state championship. While the year didn’t produce a state title, the Knights came awfully close in two different sports.

Behind the play of senior Morgan Olson, the ORCS volleyball continued it dominance of District 12 and Region 6. The Knights advanced to the state tournament with a 40-2 mark. ORCS took care of Ray and Kindred in three games each in its first two state tournament matches. However, the Knights’ quest for a state tournament ended with a five-set loss to Lamoure in the state title match.

ORCS carried that momentum into the winter season. A late-season surge by the Knights got them a berth in the basketball state tournament in Grand Forks.

Their journey to state wasn’t easy. ORCS held off Rugby 51-50 in the Region 6 semifinals and needed overtime to defeat Velva-Sawyer in the Region 6 semifinals.

Once at state, the Knights lost to eventual state runner-up North Star in the state semifinals. ORCS capped the season with a 55-46 win over Grant County in the third place game. Olson capped her career by scoring her 2,500th career point at state. Olson became a finalist for Miss Basketball for North Dakota.

Another significant moment of the year came on Jan. 20 when Des Lacs-Burlington’s Drew Pearson scored his 1,000th career point in a road win at Stanley. There were a lot of other athletes who reached milestone, but Pearson’s milestone was significant because it came on the same night as his coach, Doug Wagner, recorded his 600th career win.

Those were just some of the events that made this sports year a fun one. I can’t wait to start it all over in about three months.

This is the opinion of Mark Jones, who covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MarkJones27_MDN.

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