All in the family: local high school basketball matchup features mom, dad and daughter as coaches and referee

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 3:59 PM CST
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LEMMON, S.D. (KFYR) - The thing about a small town is that everyone knows everyone, and we’re all connected.

Sometimes, that extends into other nearby small communities.

But this story takes that connection to the next level. This is the story of a family that lives and breathes basketball.

The good news: that shared passion has strengthened their connection and their family bond.

Heather Katus approaches every basketball game with intensity.

This game is a little extra special for Coach Katus. Her Lemmon Cowgirls are hosting the Bowman County Bulldogs. They’re coached by Jaci Mrnak. Jaci is Heather’s oldest daughter.

“She’s got a really good team,” said Heather.

Jaci’s team is ranked 10th in the state of North Dakota.

“I’m really proud of my girls this year,” Jaci said.

This game is a non-conference matchup. On the line: family bragging rights.

This family connection doesn’t end with the coaching staffs.

Heather’s husband and Jaci’s dad, Scott Katus, was one of three referees officiating.

“When I first got offered this game I asked the athletic director, ‘Are you sure you want me to do this?’” recalled Scott.

The athletic director was okay with it and so were the coaches. In fact, they say when it comes to referees, Scott is one of the best.

“He’s going to call a good game. He’s a good official,” said Jaci.

“It’s just basketball, and it’s two teams and he’s doing what he loves,” added Heather.

This is Scott’s 25th year as a referee.

“He’s worked state tournaments. He’s officiated the state championship game in South Dakota,” said Jaci.

Heather has been coaching since Jaci was a baby. She coached all four of her kids.

“I’m proud of my mom for how hard she works with her girls and how much she loves coaching,” said Jaci.

Jaci is in her fifth year at Bowman County, but her first as head coach. Her parents see glimpses of themselves in Jaci, and in how she coaches.

“I do see some of the things that I’ve taught her that her girls do,” Heather noted.

“I see a lot of her mother’s wisdom and her dad’s stubbornness,” said Scott.

And while it can be easy to get wrapped up in the wins and losses, this family works hard to keep it all in perspective.

“It’s just a game,” Heather said.

And they know how lucky they are to share moments like this.

“This doesn’t happen very often. This is a really cool thing for our family,” said Jaci.

Bowman County won Friday’s game 54 to 31 over the Cowgirls, giving Jaci bragging rights for this year.