Title game foes now teammates for Lions all-star game this week
FARGO—What might have been is a matter of inches for Tronis McKay.
With a state championship on the line, Kyle Henningsgard spotted up for a 3-point shot in the right corner of the basketball court. McKay rushed to defend from Henningsgard's left side, with his leaping block attempt nearly deflecting the jump shot.
Nearly wasn't good enough. Henningsgard's shot swished as time was expiring, breaking a 60-60 tie to give Hillsboro-Central Valley a 63-60 win over McKay's Four Winds-Minnewaukan team in the Class B boys high school basketball championship game in March.
"I actually felt the ball nick my middle finger on the shot,'' McKay said. "I thought it wouldn't go in. But I turned around and saw it.''
The two players in the corner of the basketball court with history on the line now are teammates.
Henningsgard and McKay will play for the Class B boys team in this week's annual North Dakota Lions all-star basketball series. The games, which match outstanding Class A seniors from this past season against their Class B counterparts, will be played Monday in Bismarck and Tuesday in Fargo. On both nights, starting time is 6 p.m. with the girls game.
The teams began practices Friday. As of noon Saturday, Henningsgard said he and McKay haven't mentioned the B championship game. "We haven't yet,'' he said. "I'm not going to bring it up.''
If Henningsgard's shot didn't go down, the teams faced overtime. Maybe the Burros still win in OT; maybe Four Winds-Minnewaukan wins to repeat as Class B state champion.
But there is no maybe about the fact that Henningsgard made the shot while being conscious of the presence of his current teammate.
"I had to put more arc than I usually do,'' Henningsgard said. "He's long and can really jump. I knew if he got to me, he'd put the ball out of bounds. He'd put it into the third row (of the bleachers). He can jump out of the gym.''
The 6-foot-3 McKay averaged a block a game and had approximately 25 dunks during his senior season.
The one failed attempt at a block—with a state championship on the line—won't diminish the prep career for McKay, who was named Class B senior player of the year after averaging 21.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.9 steals a game.
"We made it to state three years in a row. We won it (his junior season),'' McKay said. "We were that close to winning it again. It kind of hurt. That won't be so great of a memory. But the whole weekend of state was good.''
If McKay would like to forget the final shot of the 2016-17 season, Henningsgard never will.
"That will be a lifetime memory for me,'' said Henningsgard, a second team all-state pick as a senior after averaging 16.4 points, 5.3 assists and 2.4 steals a game. "To be able to make the game-winning shot in the state championship game, that's something you dream about. To actually live it, that's insane.''
The two may be opponents again. Henningsgard plans to play basketball at Lake Region State College and McKay has signed to play at Bismarck State College. "It's pretty cool to be teammates now,'' McKay said.
Steve Redfox of Four Winds-Minnewaukan also is on the Class B Lions team, as are area players Ian Chandler of Mayville-Portland-C-G and Jayden Komrosky of North Star. Other area players in the Lions games include:
Class A boys: Jacob Mertens and Zach Dahlen, Devils Lake;
Class A girls: Lexi Robson, Grand Forks Red River, and Lauren Dub, Grand Forks Central;
Class B girls: Bailey Beneda, Park River/Fordville-Lankin; Peyton Halverson and Macey Kvilvang, North Star; and Zoie Breckheimer, Finley-Sharon/Hope-Page.