It’s always exciting getting to watch the best of the best from both the Class A and Class B go head-to-head for one last State Tournament. The Lions All-Star Basketball Tournament begins tomorrow on Monday over in Fargo, and both the boys and the girls have been practicing for the event.
For one, these players can have their once-were rivals score with them, rather than against them. "It's awesome you know, it's so nice knowing that you don't have to worry about these guys hitting shots against you, and now they're hitting shots for you, and that's a great feeling.”
Brody Nieuwsma, graduate from Strasburg-Zeeland says. “I think a lot of people are going to have us underrated because we're class B and whatever, but you know, to me that doesn't mean anything, we're just going to go out and play."
For some of the players, they’re just excited they can be a part of a team and play in the tournament.
Bismarck High grad, Connor Hellebust says, "I mean, it means a lot, growing up as a kid in elementary school and middle school, watching they guys I idolize play this game. It just means a lot. Coming and playing with all these guys that you play against, it's just kind of cool to be on one team and play with the guys."
And the boys won’t be the only ones on the court for the All-Star game, as the girls from both classes will be competing as well; and it’s no different of a situation with a mix of girls playing together, but so far, so good.
And being able to play6 in these games is a great opportunity, and a bit of a change from what they’re used to.
Graduate from Rolette, Lexy Wittmayer says, "It's different. I come from a smaller school, smaller community, so, back there it's kind of like, you know, teach them, teach the younger players, kind of get them going with the varsity game. But here, it's total different story, you know, they all know what to do and where to go, and, it's like I'm kind of the younger girls in this situation. But no, it's really fun playing with them."
As for Mandan graduate, Hannah Hanson, she says, "It's been so much fun. Really high intensity and fast moving pace, but it's a blast to get to play with them and such a privilege because, it's the most talented girls across the state of North Dakota, so it really has been a lot of fun."
Not only has it been fun, but a good start back up on the court before these girls play summer ball for college, as the Class A girl’s Head Coach, Ron Metts says, "I think just the dynamics of a new group of people to play with, I think that's good for them too, in that situation there's just, in a different group of people, a different system of things.
Metts adds, “You know we put in some basic stuff here, we try to keep things as simple as we can in a short period of time so they don't have too much to think about and worry about. But we try and make sure we have all out bases covered so we're ready for the game so. Them having to learn new things, I think that's good for those to develop for their next level."
The Lions All-Star game 1 will take place in Fargo at the Fargo Civic Center with the girls game to begin at 6:00 CT, with the boys to follow. Game 2 will be on Tuesday in the Capital City at the Bismarck Event Center.