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KHS basketball coach says this will be a year to "reload"

“We don’t say rebuild,” said Thurstan Johnson, head coach for the KHS boys basketball team. “We say reload.”

11/23/11 (Wed)


“We don’t say rebuild,” said Thurstan Johnson, head coach for the KHS boys basketball team. “We say reload.”


The Honkers will take the court next week and reload with two returning starters and a host of players ready to take part in the tradition of Kenmare High School basketball.


Johnson cited the team’s work ethic. “They’re showing up, working and playing hard,” he said. “It’s their turn to get some playing time and earn some respect. They know they have to fill the shoes of the former players.”


He described the team as a good mix of athleticism and height. “We have some guys who can shoot,” he said. “Now, we need to find the mix of guys who can play well together. It’s going to be interesting.”


The senior players agreed with their coach, and they know what they want to see in that mix.
“There are some guys with good fundamentals,” said Austin Heidel.


“Most have some speed,” Jon Essler said.


“And they’ve got some height,” added Kolby Iverson.


“Now, they need improve their awareness,” said Essler, “and they need to listen and do the right thing.”


And impress the coaches,” Iverson said.


“They’re used to playing more one-on-one or driveway basketball,” said Heidel. “They’re not used to playing as a team.”


As a team, Johnson wants his players to emphasize defense. “We’ve got to be able to stop the other team,” he said. “We may struggle to score at first, so we need to be stingy on defense. We need to mentally tough and we need to be physically tough as well.”


When that toughness results in consistent defense and rebounding, night after night, Johnson will be happy. “If we focus on our defense and rebounding, the offense will come,” he said.


Fans will see the Honkers still playing a fast-paced style of ball, with more of the younger players coming in off the bench. The seniors said the shot clock will be used this season, but they didn’t expect that to impact the Honkers’ offense. “It’ll be the same pace as before,” said Essler.


Johnson said a shot clock has been used at the Super Saturday basketball events in Minot during the last couple of years, but it never seemed to rattle the Honkers. “Your better teams are going to benefit from it,” he said, “and it’s good for teams. They can’t stall for a whole minute. There will have to be more strategy and more efficiency on defense.”


He laughed and added, “Whoever’s operating it will have a harder time adjusting to it than we will!”


District 12 will be a dogfight

With six seniors and juniors on a roster of only 17 players, Johnson said fans will likely see some growing pains through the season. “A lot of these guys are unknown commodities at this point and they know they’re not going to just show up and intimidate anybody,” he said. “They know they have to work hard to be competitive, and I think the fans will see a team that’s going to improve throughout the year.”


Most of the District 12 teams are in a similar situation. “Berthold is bringing just about everybody back and they have one of the best players in the region and state in Dan Yale,” said Johnson, “but the rest of the district is going to be a dogfight.”


He noted MLS, Bishop Ryan, Glenburn and Surrey were all working like Kenmare to develop the right mix of players. “We have a lot of good coaches in this district,” he said. “[The season] is going to depend on how teams gel.”


The results of those efforts will be seen at the District 12 tournament. “We’ve got all the pieces,” said Johnson. “We just need to put it together. I think this will be a very good district tournament. We all play the season, but then everyone has the same chance at the district tournament.”


He continued with a positive outlook. “We’re going to be getting better all the time and be at our best when tournament time comes,” he said. “We expect to be competing for a spot in the regional tournament.”


Kacy Keysor on the bench

as assistant coach

Former KHS basketball standout Kacy Keysor returns to the team this year as the assistant coach. Keysor is completing a student teaching assignment in Mohall, but lives in Kenmare and will be working with the Honkers.


“He brings experience to the team, being a former college player,” Johnson said. “He brings enthusiasm because this is his first high school basketball coaching job.”


Johnson believes Keysor’s background with the Honkers will benefit the team in another way as well. “He knows what it’s like to win,” he said. “He knows the tradition. He knows what it’s like to play in Kenmare.”


Honker roster and schedule

Seniors leading the Honkers’ flight this season include Jonathan Essler, Austin Heidel and Kolby Iverson.


Juniors running the court are Mason Ankenbauer, Tyler Ellsworth and Jace Helmers.


Sophomores testing their wings with the team include Patrick Farrell, Blake Iverson and Kirkland Melby.


Freshman putting on the maroon and gold uniform are Brett Froseth, Levi Goettle, Hunter Harris, Spencer King, Tye Rasmusson and Jack Skjordal.


Eighth graders Kyler Melby and Tanner King will play in the Honkers C-squad games.


Stats for the team will be handled by Elsa Condit and Dani Kling.


The Honkers will open the season on November 29th at home against Ray.


December games will take the Honkers to New Town on the 2nd, then hosting Parshall on the 8th and Westhope-Newburg on the 15th.


The Fab 14 begins December 19th at Glenburn and continues on the 20th, 29th and 30th on the courts at Stanley.


Kenmare welcomes Bottineau to the home floor on January 3rd, then opens District 12 play on the road against Our Redeemer’s on the 5th. The Honkers travel to Des Lacs-Burlington on the 10th, then host Mohall Lansford Sherwood on the 13th.


The Super Saturday event in Minot has Kenmare scheduled against Dunseith on January 14th. District 12 action resumes when Surrey comes to town on the 19th. The Honkers go to Glenburn on the 24th, then host Berthold on the 27th before closing the month on the road at Bishop Ryan on the 31st.


February begins with non-district games at Divide County on the 3rd and Stanley on the 6th.


The District 12 boys basketball tournament will be played February 9th, 10th and 11th at the Minot Auditorium, followed by the Region 6 tournament on the same court February 20th, 21st and 23rd.


The state Class B boys basketball tournament will be held March 1-3 at Grand Forks.


The senior players agreed the team’s first goal of the season was to qualify for the regional tournament, and they hope their fans support that effort. They are also looking forward to the opening tournament, the Fab 14. “We should make it pretty far there again,” said Essler.


“It’s a fun way to see who’s doing what and how they’re doing,” added Heidel. “Then we can look ahead to our next games and know what we need to do.”