'A lot of pride': Jays expect to do well at State tournament
The Jamestown High School boys basketball team is headed into its first state tournament since the 2019-20 season.
JAMESTOWN — Mason Lunzman has watched his older brothers, Tanner and Ryder, play in three of the last seven Class A State Basketball Tournaments.
Come Thursday, it will be Tanner's and Ryder's turn to watch from the seats at the Fargodome.
"I know Mason didn't want to be the only Lunzman brother to not make it to the state tournament," JHS boys basketball coach Jacoby Lloyd said with a laugh.
After a stellar performance in the WDA tournament last weekend which was capped off with a massive 81-57 win over Bismarck High in the state qualifying round, the Blue Jays punched their ticket to the Class A State Tournament for the first state tournament since 2020.
"I was very excited," Lloyd said. "I was very proud of the effort that our team put into the last two weeks. We've won six of our last eight games to put ourselves in this position. We are playing some of our best basketball at this point. Our biggest attribute right now is how much tougher and physical we are playing."
The Blue Jays are the fourth-seed out of the West Region and are set to match up against top-seeded Fargo Davies in the quarterfinal round of the tournament. The Jays and Eagles are set to tip off at 2 p.m. on Thursday at the Fargodome.
"There are not as many crossover games anymore so this will be the first time anybody from the West has played against Fargo Davies this year," Lloyd said. "They are the No. 1 team out east for a reason. They have a 6-foot-8 player who hasn't played a single minute this season because of an ACL injury and then they have a sophomore who, for the second year in a row, is leading the state in scoring and he didn't even play in the EDC tournament and they still won the championship by 17 points."
Mason Klabo, is the state's leading scorer with 440 points accumulated across 16 games for an average of 27.5 per game. The sophomore is nabbing 5.8 rebounds per game. The sophomore has dished out 84 assists and has averaged 3.1 steals made against opponents.
Senior Raymond Brown, another All-EDC selection, is averaging 17.3 points in every game he plays. The senior has racked up 415 to go along with his 124 rebounds. His 71 assists and 55 3-pointers are a testament to his ball-handling ability.
Dan Yorke's 298 points were enough to earn him an All-EDC selection. He is one of the Eagles' assist-leaders with 106.
"Even with all of their injuries they are still an extraordinarily deep program," Lloyd said of Davies. "They shoot the ball really well and they've got great athletes who defend and can handle the ball. They are a really, really talented and skilled and well-coached team."
On paper, Thursday's game seems like a David vs. Goliath-type of matchup, but luckily, games aren't decided on paper.
"I've seen them mature a lot throughout this year," Lloyd said. "Early on in the year when we faced some heavy deficits or play against a top-ranked opponent when bad things would happen — like missed shots or turnovers — it would kind of snowball or they would look around with a poor-me kind of look on their face.
"Now I don't see that from my players," he said. "They play pretty physically when they have a mistake, they don't let it compound to the next play, they have a very good mindset and that has been our greatest growth and has helped us become a better team."
Dalton Lamp is leading the Jays in total scoring with 305 points while Thomas Newman, Payton Hochhalter, Ryan Larson and Noah Meissner have all scored more than 250 points. From the field, the Jays are shooting 44% while from long-range the squad is 32.7%. At the charity stripe, the Jays are 70%. Lunzman is shooting 35.7% from 3-point range and is the team's best free-throw shooter, going 87% from the line. All told, the senior has accumulated 148 points.
"I think that we really started competing harder in practice and also in games, really just giving it all we can for each game," Lunzman said. "I am excited just to be able to play in that type of atmosphere and be able to show people what type of team we are.
"It was really fun going to watch the top eight teams in the state compete against each other but yeah, ever since my oldest brother's team played at State in 2016, it was a goal of mine to play in a state tournament," he said.
The Blue Jays were picked to finish ninth out of 11 teams in the West Region this season, but step by step, the Jays have continued to prove the media, opposing teams and critics wrong.
"Every state tournament is unique because of the kids that you have and the opponent you face," Lloyd said. "But, the standard that we have in Jamestown with our Blue Jay basketball program is making it to State. That's our goal.
"We're not showing up just excited and happy to be there," he said. "We want to be there, we expect to be there. We're going to do everything we can to be the best team at the end of the season. There's a lot of pride within our program and standards have been set by previous classes and this group is no different."