MEMORIES MADE: JHS championship feeling will last
Jamestown's 1987 Mr. Basketball Award winner Bryan Flam was certain coach Jerry Meyer was smiling Saturday, March 9.
The legendary Blue Jay boys basketball coach stressed team play over individuals, which is what Flam saw while watching Jamestown High School storm to its seventh state championship in Class A boys hoops. Jamestown cruised past Fargo Davies 66-49 at the Bismarck Event Center, snapping a 26-year title drought in 27-0 fashion.
Meyer, who passed in 2014, led Flam and the Blue Jays to the top of the Class A mountain in 1987 with a come-from-behind, 69-64, victory over Fargo South.
"I hadn't seen Jamestown play, quite honestly," said Flam, 50, who resides in Fargo. "Everything I heard about them was they were a two-man show with (Mason) Walters and (Boden) Skunberg. But I was just really impressed with how they passed the ball—a very unselfish team. I wasn't expecting that."
Of course, Walters got his 19 points and 15 rebounds in the title game against the Eagles—en route to tournament MVP honors—and Skunberg scored 23. But with all the marbles up for grabs JHS senior Ryder Lunzman stuck two big 3-pointers in the first half and senior Noah Wegenast produced 7 points and 9 rebounds off the bench in the game of his life.
The Blue Jays led Davies by as many as 20 points before halftime.
"One of our strengths was moving the ball," Flam said of the Jays' 18-7 championship season 32 years ago. "Coach Meyer was very insistent on sharing the basketball and moving it around."
Current team players like Jared Kallenbach, Dawson Douty, Carson Lamp and Jacob Hilgemann where much like '87 players Bruce Dobson, Kory Wahl, Jeff Gould and others who were able to take the heat off go-to-guys Flam and 6-foot-3 junior Steve Koenig. Koenig, a 1988 first team all-state selection and Mr. Basketball finalist, scored 82 points (27.3 ppg) in the tournament held at the Bismarck Civic Center.
"It was a pretty good day to be an alum (Saturday)," said Gould, who also resides in Fargo. "A lot of memories came back. I thought of coach Meyer and the guys I played with.
"State champion. That's the two words that'll always follow their names. Those kids ... I was so proud of them."
Coach Meyer told The Jamestown Sun in 1987 the championship win over South was his favorite of the four state titles he guided the program to between 1976-87. South had not only defeated Jamestown for the Eastern Dakota Conference crown just days earlier, but the Bruins had also defeated the Jays for the 1986 Class A state title.
"We've never gone up against a team like South and won," Meyer was quoted as saying. "This title is really special because of the players I have. They're smart, they work hard and they play good team basketball."
Current head coach of the Blue Jays, Jacoby Lloyd, could probably offer similar words on his 2018-19 athletes. But unlike the '87 team, which overcame a seven-point deficit to the Bruins in the fourth quarter, this year's No. 1-ranked Jamestown team was no underdog.
"We were in a much different situation. We peaked at the right time," Flam said. "This year's team, coming in undefeated, maybe had a little more pressure on them. But they just came out and hit Davies in the face and they just couldn't recover."
Flam and Gould explained the highlights of last weekend might fade for the current Blue Jays, but never will the memories.
"I can't remember all that much about the actual games themselves," Flam said. "But you never forget how it made you feel, how it made your parents feel or how it made the fans feel."
And, thanks to the arguably surprising longevity of 1980s VHS video tape, Flam's father, Jerry, is still able to recapture the excitement.
"My dad, 32 years later, will still occasionally pull out the VHS tapes from the 1987 boys basketball tournament, because they make him feel good," Flam said. "The parents who have kids in Jamestown, they're going to be doing the same thing years later."