Eye on the prize

No. 1 St. John boys basketball has sights set on going to state

Submitted Photo Kyler McGillis, 34, of St. John, guards Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood’s Cole Southam in a high school boys basketball game on Jan. 8. McGillis hit his 1,500th career point during this game. Photo courtesy of Al Christianson.

It’s been hard not to notice the complete domination coming from Region 4 boys basketball. The St. John boys basketball team could be on its way to an undefeated regular season, with big postseason goals.

“We really want to get the monkey off our backs and finally get to state,” senior co-captain Dalton Prouty said.

The Woodchucks (17-0) have had their fair share of close calls when it comes to going to state. In the past, something has always thwarted their postseason aspirations. This year, one team in particular really stands in their way in the upcoming region tournament — Four Winds/Minnewaukan.

“Four Winds has always been the team to get past,” senior co-captain Kyler McGillis said. “They have such a good coach. They’re the team to get past to get to state.”

If the Woodchucks make it out of their region, it would be their first-ever state appearance in St. John school history. Getting to state is something not only McGillis and Prouty are reaching for, but the whole St. John community stands behind them as well. A state appearance, or better yet winning state, would be a huge milestone for the community and a great legacy left behind by McGillis, Prouty, and the rest of the seniors.

McGillis and Prouty started their basketball careers together in the fourth grade. And since then, it’s been a basketball match made in heaven.

“My number one man is Dalton Prouty, he’s a crazy good player,” McGillis said. “We have a bond no one else does on the court.”

The bond McGillis and Prouty share really sets the tone on the court for how the rest of the team needs to play because of the experience, history, and basketball chemistry the two share, according to Prouty. It’s no wonder the pair were named co-captains.

Joining this senior duo are seniors Dylan Davis, Zachary Poitra, Bryor Parisien, Robert Herman, Evan LaVallie and Steven Gillis.

The rest of the team is comprised of four sophomores and one junior.

“We have a great group of sophomores,” Prouty said. “They’ve really matured, and they’ve all been playing together for a long time like me and Kyler.”

The team puts in a lot of work during the summers and is something that helps the team “gel well together” according to Prouty. From their time spent in the off-season, the guys can anticipate where their teammates will be and communicate really well.

But it’s not just the players that have built this team. McGillis also credits success to “a great coaching staff and a community that really wants us to get out of this state drought.”

So far this season, the team is 17-0 with no signs of stopping. Their closest games have been against New Rockford Sheyenne (60-53 and 80-71) and Dunseith (87-71).

On Jan. 8, McGillis was able to hit a career goal he never thought possible–1,500 career points.

“Honestly, I didn’t think I’d get that high,” McGillis said. “But the more I work, the more I put my goals higher.”

The next goal? Not only going to state, but winning.

“If we win, it’d be the best thing ever for all of us. We’re not looking to just go to state, we’re looking to win,” McGillis said.

The St. John boys basketball team hits the court Friday for their last regular season road game against Dakota Prairie. The teams hit the court at 4:30 p.m. in McVille.