August 7, 2001, is the date that brought two local teammates, state champions and college recruits into the world. Come this fall, they will be playing on different teams for the first time.
Jared Kallenbach and Mason Walters, both members of Jamestown's 2019 state-championship winning boys basketball team, have been playing organized basketball together since the third grade, and as aspirations grew throughout middle school so did the duo's talent and ability. Four years later, with the state championship trophy in hand and the pair's longtime dreams accomplished, Walters attributed the Jays' 2019 success to the decade-long bond he, Kallenbach and the rest of the team shared.
Walters and Kallenbach will play alongside each other one more time during the Lions All-Star basketball series. The series begins Monday at Bismarck Legacy High School and wraps up Tuesday at West Fargo High School.
"You couldn't really ask for a much better season than we had," Walters said. "To be able to share that with (our) teammates ... was just a really special moment."
The desire to win and better their game hasn't slowed, it has only shifted. And, in Kallenbach's case, switching to a different sport.
Kallenbach is leaving the competitive basketball scene this fall and is heading to Moorhead State University to start his college football career. A former all-state defensive back for the Jays, Kallenbach said as a recruit he got more attention on the field than he did on the court, in part because of an injury he sustained before his 17 AAU season.
"I love whatever (sport) I am playing," Kallenbach said. "I love football and that's where the opportunity was."
His decision to pursue football did not lessen his passion for basketball.
An all-conference selection for the Jays this past season, Kallenbach only averaged nine points per game but JHS head basketball Jacoby Lloyd explained Kallenbach had something other than just skill, which will make his presence in the gym and on the court dearly missed.
"He kind of fit that role of whatever the team needed ... he did," Lloyd said. "He had some games where he would have 20 points. He'd have some games where he'd have zero points but have 10 assists. He's just the kind of kid that (says), 'Whatever you need coach, I'll try to do it.'"
That's exactly what Walters, the 2019 Mr. Basketball award winner, is going to try and do for head men's basketball coach Danny Neville at the University of Jamestown.
"Going into my first year, I am just trying to do whatever I can to help the team win," Walters said. "It doesn't matter if I have to score, if I have to rebound, if I need to sit out, (or) whatever else just to help the team get wins and be a successful program."
Walters averaged 21.1 points and 11.7 rebounds per game during his last season with the Jays. The all-state performer shot 69.4% from the line and averaged 1.3 blocks per game.
Walters and Kallenbach said they are both excited to move on and begin the college journey, but added the experiences and friendships they have made as Jays are things they will forever be grateful for.
"It's been a blessing to grow up around this kid," Walters said referring to Kallenbach. "It's just been a blessing to be a Blue Jay."