Purintun tops Sun team: Mr. Basketball Langstaff also on first teamLinton-Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock boys’ basketball coach Dan Carr has won over 600 games and has three state Class B championships under his belt in his 30-plus years on the sidelines, but he’s never had a player like Tanner Purintun.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
Linton-Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock boys’ basketball coach Dan Carr has won over 600 games and has three state Class B championships under his belt in his 30-plus years on the sidelines, but he’s never had a player like Tanner Purintun.
Just ask him.
“He is the most fierce competitor I have had in my 33-year coaching career,” Carr said. “Tanner is a coach’s dream.”
Purintun, along with Warwick’s 2011-12 Mr. Basketball Melvin Langstaff, LaMoure’s Tyler Thielges, Napoleon’s Wade Rath-Wald and Central Prairie’s Eric Knodel headline this year’s Jamestown Sun all-area boys’ basketball first-team.
Purintun, a 6-foot-2 senior guard for the Lions, was the key cog in Linton-HMB’s Region 3 championship teams the past two seasons, as they finished seventh at the state Class B tournament the past two years.
He’s the only player to average more than 20 points per game for Carr. Purintun was a Mr. Basketball finalist and earned second team all-state honors this year after averaging 21.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.4 steals per game.
Purintun finished his career scoring over 1,000 career points, and capped his prep ball in style by scoring 32 points in a 68-43 victory over Divide County for seventh place at state. The Lions finished the season with a record of 17-9, after Purintun missed the first five games of the season due to a torn MCL he suffered late in the fall while quarterbacking the Lions’ football team.
“He works very hard on his game and he is self-motivated,” Carr said. “Tanner is a great team leader and motivates other players to be their best.”
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Melvin Langstaff wowed the Class B basketball world over the winter, tossing in 40- and 50-point games with ease on numerous occasions, en route to the state’s Mr. Basketball award and first-team all-state honors for the Warwick Warriors.
Langstaff’s average of 38.4 points per game in 2011-12 was the highest scoring average by a Class B first-team all-state pick since 1973, when Steve Blehm averaged 43.8 points during his senior season at North Dakota School for the Deaf in Devils Lake.
Previously, the closest first-team all-stater to Blehm’s senior scoring average had been Page’s Brian Buhr. Buhr averaged 36 points in the 1986-87 season.
The Warriors finished this season with a record of 19-5, but had to deal with then No. 1-ranked North Star in Region 4 and missed out on the state tournament.
“Melvin’s an average outside shooter,” Warwick coach Kevin Bennefeld said. “His game was penetration, to get into the lane. He could post up and score inside just on sheer will. But Melvin also is a great passer. If anybody was open, he got them the ball.”
The 5-10 senior guard also finished the season averaging 10.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists.
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LaMoure’s Tyler Thielges’ offensive numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, but offense has come secondary the past few seasons to the Loboes’ shutdown defensive-style of play.
Prior to a 65-48 loss to Linton-HMB in the Region 3 semifinals, the Loboes hadn’t given up 50 points to an opponent all season long — allowing a meager 38.1 points to opponents — and Thielges was the one that was called on each night to shut the other guys down.
LaMoure finished the year with a third-place region finish and a record of 23-1. The Loboes were ranked No. 3 in the final Class B boys’ basketball poll.
“As far as highlighting Tyler’s year/career, it is hard to summarize his impact by using a casual fan’s/Sportscenter-like measuring stick,” LaMoure coach, and Tyler’s father, Darren Thielges said. “The flashy numbers do not turn a casual fan’s or box-score watcher’s head. But most coaches and informed fans who have seen him play appreciate the game he brings to the floor every day.”
Tyler held North Sargent’s Josh Hansana (Dist. 1 Senior Player of The Year) to 14 points in a 52-39 LaMoure victory. He also held Hatton-Northwood’s Mike Paulson (Region 2 Senior Player of The Year) to 13 points while scoring 16 in a 59-49 Loboes’ victory, and limited Linton-HMB’s Tanner Purintun to 14 while scoring 16 during the regular season.
Those are just a few examples of Tyler’s defensive prowess.
“Very few players have to play the role that Tyler does,” Darren Thielges said. “For us, he was also counted on as our main offensive threat. When we needed a shot, he was the one that took them.”
Tyler, a 6-0 guard, was the Region 3 Player of the Year after averaging 14.0 points, 3.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. He also sank 55 three-pointers his senior year.
LaMoure posted a mark of 41-8 the past two seasons with Tyler leading the way.
“He sacrificed individual offensive stats each year, because he realized it took more than a star to win games,” Darren Thielges said, “and that has been his sole driving motivation.”
Thielges, Langstaff and Purintun were also Jamestown Sun All-Area first-team picks last year.
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After the Napoleon Imperials won the state 9-man football title last fall, it was no secret that 6-3 senior center Wade Rath-Wald was a beast of an athlete.
The same rang true on the hardwood.
Rath-Wald helped lead the Imperials to their first Region 3 title-game appearance in 20 years, as they finished second to Linton-HMB (63-54) and ended with a mark of 19-5.
Rath-Wald spurred the team on an 11-game winning streak that carried over into tournament time, averaging close to 30 points and 15 rebounds in that span.
“Wade went on an absolute tear over those 11 games,” Napoleon coach Caleb Ketterling said. “He was on a mission.”
The senior big-man led the District 6 champions, averaging 16.5 points, 13.7 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game, while also averaging 1.6 steals and 2.5 assists.
Rath-Wald racked up 1,172 points, 877 rebounds, 250 blocks, 174 assists and 124 steals during his prep career.
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It will be quite some time before those strolling through the halls at the high schools of Medina and Gackle-Streeter forget the name Eric Knodel.
“He was a leader in the locker room and he’ll be a big void to replace,” Central Prairie coach Calvin Kraft said. “He’s Central Prairie’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder.”
Knodel tore up the court in 2011-12, averaging 23 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals per night. He led the Central Prairie Firebirds to a record of 11-12 and a first-round Region 3 tournament berth.
Even though they bowed out to Napoleon 64-54, Knodel’s final performance was a memorable one. He scorched the net on 14 of 25 shooting with a pair of three-pointers, on his way to 34 points and 17 rebounds.
The 6-2 senior guard/forward finished his career with 1,046 points.
“He was the total package. Mr. Everything for us,” Central Prairie coach Calvin Kraft said. “He was also guarding their best player for us every night. It didn’t matter if it was a guard or a center. He guarded their best guy and we adjusted after that.”
Knodel and Rath-Wald were all-area second-team selections last season.
Mason Haley, 5-9 senior guard, New Rockford Sheyenne; Jonah Schwartzenberger, 5-7 senior guard, Napoleon; Michael Jacobson, 6-5 forward, South Border; Beau Diegel, 5-10 senior guard, Edgeley-Kulm; Nicholas Blaskowski, 6-1 sophomore guard, Pingree-Buchanan-Kensal; Scott Burnham, 6-5 junior forward, Carrington; Christian Ironroad, 5-10 junior guard, Four Winds-Minnewaukan; Billy Engel, 5-10 senior guard, Griggs County Central; Kris Wathne, 6-3 junior forward, Griggs County Central; Cody Christ, 6-1 senior guard, Barnes County North; Tucker Nordby, 6-5 senior forward, Harvey-Wells County.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com