Four Winds-Minnewaukan boys basketball coach Rick Smith always knew Jason Feather had talent. But even he was surprised by Feather’s senior season.
“It’s hard to envision a year like the one he just had,” Smith said. “To have the awards that were given to him and to have the year that he had, that’s just a dream season for most kids.”
The first Mr. Basketball winner in school history, Feather capped his dream senior campaign with yet another individual honor. Also named the Class B state tournament’s most valuable player, Feather — the Region 4 senior athlete of the year — was the only unanimous selection to this year’s all-state team, as voted on by the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
A 6-foot-1 shooting guard, Feather led the state champion Indians (26-1) in scoring and steals, and converted more than half his attempts from 3-point range.
“He just shot the ball at such a high percentage. It was unbelievable,” Smith said. “It got to be where the defenses got tighter and tighter on him, and he still would just get open and knock them down.”
Feather averaged 22.7 points per contest, and chipped in per-game marks of 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 3.1 steals. He also buried 51 percent of his 3-point attempts, making him the “best pure shooter” Smith has ever encountered.
Feather is committed to Lake Region State.
“Everything about his shooting motion was just picture perfect, and with him being a left-hander, it’s even prettier coming out of his hand,” Smith said. “It’s just an art form that he has; the rotation on his ball and the release, where his hands and his arms are. You could draw a picture of it and use it as a model for young players to follow.”
Four others joined Feather on the first team.
Strasburg-Zeeland senior Brody Nieuwsma, Enderlin senior Graham Hurlburt, Hettinger-Scranton senior Hayden Sadowsky and St. John senior Dalton Poitra were also voted to be first-teamers.
The Region 3 senior athlete of the year, Nieuwsma paced the Clippers to their first region championship in 14 years. Along with Northern Cass junior Cody Springer, Nieuwsma led all scorers at the state tournament with 69 total points (23 per game), including a single-game tournament high of 35 in Strasburg-Zeeland’s final game.
A 6-2 guard, Nieuwsma averaged 22 points, 7 rebounds and 7.8 assists per contest. He will reportedly attend Bismarck State College in the fall.
“He was the one that made things go for us,” Strasburg-Zeeland coach Brent Kleinsasser said. “Our kids bought in that they just needed to play hard around Brody. He was our glue, and he absolutely put in the necessary time to become that.”
Hurlburt led the Eagles to a fourth-place finish in Region 1, and was subsequently named the region’s senior athlete of the year. A 6-7 guard, Hurlburt registered per-game averages of 24.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 blocks for Enderlin.
Though his college choice is not yet determined, Hurlburt is reportedly considering Concordia College, St. John’s and St. Olaf, all NCAA Division III institutions in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Considering his size, Hurlburt was a “one-through-five scorer,” Enderlin coach Calvin Kraft said.
“We needed him to score to be successful, so we knew we had to go through him no matter what we were up against,” Kraft said. “No position was left unturned for him. We needed him to be everywhere to make us tick.”
Sadowsky is the lone two-time first-teamer on this year’s all-state list. He brought the Night Hawks to the brink of a state-tournament berth, and was later named the Region 7 senior athlete of the year.
A 5-11 guard, Sadowsky — who has reportedly garnered interest from both Williston State and Mayville State — averaged 21 points, 5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game for Hettinger-Scranton.
“Hayden’s been very vital to our success the last couple years,” Hettinger-Scranton coach Jeremy Dietchman said. “Any time you have a kid with Hayden’s ability to shoot the ball while also getting other teammates involved, it’s very beneficial to your basketball team.”
Poitra completes the list of first-team honorees after leading the Woodchucks to a 20-4 overall record.
A 6-1 guard, Poitra led St. John in scoring each of the past four years. He poured in a per-game mark of 26.7 points this season — good for second among all-state honorees — while also averaging 5.8 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 3.8 steals.
Poitra will golf and play basketball for Minot State next season.
“He led us in just about every facet of the game,” said St. John coach Steve Poitra, Dalton’s father. “He’s done a phenomenal job of getting his teammates involved and moving the ball around. It all just came down to Dalton being a great leader, and that kept us going in the same direction for just about the entire year.”
Grady Bresnahan, Central Cass: The 5-8 senior guard registered per-game averages of 23 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4 steals. The No. 5-seeded Squirrels advanced as far as the quarterfinals of the region tournament.
Ethan Brown, Finley-Sharon-Hope-Page: The 6-3 senior forward was the engine that made the Spartans tick. Brown ranked among the top scorers in Region 2 at 24.2 points per game. He also averaged 9.4 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.2 blocks while hitting just under 50 percent of his field-goal attempts.
Wyatt Carr, Hazen: The 6-4 junior guard led this year’s all-state honorees in per-game scoring, and led the Bison to a Region 7 semifinal appearance. While connecting on 40 percent of his 3-point attempts, Carr poured in just shy of 30 points per game (29.7), and also averaged 5.7 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals per contest.
Jayden Grover, Griggs County Central: The 6-3 senior forward paced the Cougars with 20.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, and was subsequently named Region 2 senior athlete of the year for his efforts.
Jayden Komrosky, North Star: The 6-3 junior guard led the Bearcats to a Region 4 semifinal appearance, leading them in scoring at 22.2 points per game. He also averaged 6.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.1 steals.
Zac Martin, Shiloh Christian: The 6-2 senior guard led the Skyhawks to a fourth-place finish at the state tournament, and paced them with 16.8 points per game en route to being named Region 5 senior athlete of the year. He also produced per-game averages of 4.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.8 steals, and enjoyed 46-percent accuracy from the field.
Tronis McKay, Four Winds-Minnewaukan: The 6-3 junior forward led the Indians in scoring at the state tournament, helping them to their first title in school history. McKay averaged 18.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game during the regular season, and converted 57 percent of his field-goal attempts.
Logan Nelson, Northern Cass: The 6-2 junior guard led the Jaguars to their first Region 1 title, and a fifth-place finish at the Class B state tournament. While enjoying 43-percent accuracy from behind the arc, Nelson poured in 20 points per game, and also averaged 5.1 rebounds and 4 assists.
Hunter Pinke, South Border: The 6-6 senior forward caps his career with another second-team selection. Pinke averaged a double-double with 20.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. He also added 4.2 assists and 1.2 blocks per contest, and led the Mustangs to the semifinals of the Region 3 tournament.
Deyondre Simpson, Parshall: The 6-5 junior guard is now a two-time all-state selection. Simpson recorded per-game averages of 18.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 3.4 blocks and 3 steals for the Braves, who were upset by New Town in the semifinals of the Region 8 tournament.
Cordell Volson, Drake-Anamoose: The 6-6 post was a force inside for the District 11 champion Raiders. Later named Region 6 senior athlete of the year, Volson — a North Dakota State football commit — averaged 22.1 points, 14.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks while connecting on 55.4 percent of his field-goal attempts.
Josh VanLith, Our Redeemer’s: The 6-3 senior point guard led the state runner-up Knights with 14.8 points and 4.7 assists per game. VanLith finished as the state tournament’s eighth leading scorer, and led Our Redeemer’s to its first and only Region 6 title.