JHS returns four starters next season
There were flashes of brilliance at home against Bismarck St. Mary’s that really showed what the Jamestown boys basketball team was capable of.
Logan Anderson’s dunk certainly qualifies, but the second half was largely up for grabs. And if not for a disappointing first half, it may have been more competitive than the 20-point margin.
It was another season of ups and downs for the Blue Jays. Inconsistency was all over the place, especially from the perimeter. Jamestown not only struggled to shoot from the 3-point line, it had trouble defending it as well.
For the pessimist, it was a season in which the game-to-game improvement wasn’t evident, at least not until the end of the regular season. For the optimist, it was another young team trying to contend with the giants of the West Region.
Call me the latter.
Jamestown returns four starters next season in point guard Scott Nelson, off-guard Nick Fuchs and forwards Logan Anderson and Noah Wanzek. The Blue Jays could be among the most veteran-savvy teams in the state.
But what does that really mean?
Bismarck Century graduates all five starters, while Bismarck High only returns one starter. St. Mary’s could face a serious rebuilding year, losing all five starters. However, does anyone expect the Patriots and Demons to fall apart? Of course not.
Experience is one of the most overrated aspects of Class A basketball. Many times, a team graduates five starters, only to do well the next year because the next five were just as hungry, though it’s most common in the state’s bigger cities.
Success won’t come easy for the Blue Jays next season, but there should definitely be some wins for the taking. Minot will likely be favored to win the West — if not the state title. Wahpeton graduates a strong player, but returns a fantastic nucleus, making the Huskies arguably the favorite in the East Region, which will be competitive again all the way through.
After Minot in the West Region, I see Bismarck’s Jon Tharaldson leading the Demons to a strong season, and Century’s Dalton Feeney and Riley Henderson will jump into the starting lineup after making strong contributions off the bench.
With what it returns, Dickinson has to be considered the fourth-best team, with the inside presence of Luke Herauf and the outside ability of Mark Erickson and Aanen Moody.
But Jamestown could be right there, if it can improve its shooting ability and do a better job of holding teams down in the first half. Turtle Mountain swept the Blue Jays in the regular season, and it also returns a big portion of its team. Right now, Jamestown appears middle of the pack.
The Jays need to replace outgoing senior Marc Wagner at the center spot. Jamestown coach Kelley Kessler could elect to go with a smaller lineup and take advantage of the team’s tremendous guard depth by starting Tanner Lunzman. Or he could choose a more physical lineup and put Ross Monson down there.
It likely won’t matter who’s starting, as Kessler likes to use a deep bench.
As much as I downplay experience, that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. With the middle of the pack teams returning talent and the top losing a lot, it could mean an ultra-competitive West Region next season.
Sun sportswriter Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or firstname.lastname@example.org