Suspension extended: Jays' Lamp at peace with basketball season
Jamestown High School’s Carson Lamp has come to terms with the state Class A boys basketball tournament and COVID-19.
Whatever happens, is gonna happen.
“I’ve kinda made peace with it, the fact that it might not happen,” said Lamp, one of five junior starters for the Blue Jays in last month’s state quarterfinal victory over Devils Lake at Fargo’s Scheels Arena. “We haven’t really talked much about it as a team. Obviously, there’s no gyms open right now so if the tournament were to get rescheduled a lot of guys would have to get back in the gym.”
The North Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors voted to extend the indefinite suspension of its winter sports tournaments and all spring sports activities on Tuesday. The NDHSAA plans to revisit the situation again May 1.
Tuesday’s decision came as no surprise. The state’s K-12 schools have been closed by order of the governor since March 16 in response to the novel coronavirus. The NDHSAA’s state Class A basketball tournaments and Class B boys basketball tournament were placed on suspension March 13.
The Blue Jay boys were scheduled to play West Fargo Sheyenne in the state semifinals on March 13 when informed of the news. Edgeley/Kulm/Montpelier, the Class B boys basketball Region 3 champion, was supposed to begin state tournament play March 19 against Beulah at the Bismarck Event Center.
“The tournament committee recommended to the full board today that we continue to suspend activities, as per guidelines from the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the governor’s executive order to shut down schools,” said Beulah High School Superintendent Travis Jordan, the chairman of the NDHSAA tournament committee. “Basically, the discussions at the board level have surrounded on whether we come back or not.
“If school is back in session on site, then there’s definitely a possibility that these activities could be played out. If school is not in session back on site by the end of the (school) year, the likelihood of these activities is really slim.”
Jamestown boys basketball was well in the hunt to possibly earn a second consecutive state championship when all things sports was silenced by the ongoing pandemic. Lamp was a major factor in galvanizing the team in the postseason after first-team all-state senior Boden Skunberg was sidelined by a broken finger in his shooting hand.
Lamp’s overtime takeover against Williston in the West Region tournament quarterfinals on March 5 in Bismarck will live on in JHS lore. The junior scored all 12 of the Blue Jays’ points in OT, lifting JHS to a 69-65 victory.
Lamp converted 2 of 2 at the foul line and 4 of 5 from the field -- including 2 of 3 from 3-point range -- in the extra frame.
“Obviously, Boden was not playing and I knew that in a game like that someone’s gotta step up,” Lamp said. “I don’t know, everything I threw up was going in.”
Lamp was one of the Jays' main offensive facilitators all season, averaging 15.9 points and 4.2 assists per game. Lamp's assist numbers rank in the West Region’s top five.
Following the late-season injury to Skunberg, Jamestown’s starting five of juniors Lamp, Shea Carroll, Brooks Carroll, Jacob Hilgemann and Keith Levin helped carry the team to five wins over its final seven games. Brooks Carroll recorded an impressive 17 of 25 3-pointers and 65 points during the West Region tournament, while Hilgemann scored 23 in Jamestown’s 71-54 state quarterfinal victory over Devils Lake and 2020 Mr. Basketball winner Grant Nelson.
“Our kids were so locked in for (the state) tournament,” said JHS boys basketball coach Jacoby Lloyd. “The amount of time we put in as a coaching staff, if it’s not matched by the amount of effort that the kids put in then we feel like we’re wasting our time. But every single time with this group of kids we felt like we could give them more and more, and we’re willing to invest more into them because they want to put in as much time as they can.”
The school’s reinvigorated basketball culture through Lloyd’s first three years at the helm helped lead to the state’s fourth unbeaten Class A championship last year (27-0) and a second 20-win season in 2020.
"I think we're setting ourselves up to not be a team that underachieves because of how hard they work and how determined they are to work together and put the team in front of their own interests,” Lloyd said. “21-4 is still a pretty special season, regardless of it being cut short. You don't get 20-win seasons in the WDA very often."
And, regardless of whether or not this year’s state tournament is completed, all five JHS postseason starters will return in 2020-21 as seniors.
“We definitely put our team on the map for next year,” Lamp said. “The possibilities for next year are endless right now.”