The State “B” basketball tournament is an event filled with memories for North Dakotans. This tournament shuts down entire towns for a weekend if the local boys or girls basketball team qualfies. There are teams we’ve grown accustomed to seeing play in this tournament such as May-Port CG, Dickinson Trinity, Four Winds, Fargo Oak Grove, and others. However, there are plenty of schools that wait years upon years to have a special team finally make it.
Last year, the championship game pitted the defending champion, Four Winds, against a relatively new co-oped squad in Hillsboro-Central Valley. The Burros and Valiants hadn’t been to the “B” since the 90’s, so this was a big deal to the communities. HCV was in their fourth year together during the 2016-17 season.
The two teams met earlier in the year in a hotly contested affair that the Burros won 68-63. The second meeting would be far more dramatic. The Burros played pretty poorly for the first three and a half quarters of the game. They didn’t look like themselves and were missing on a lot of routine plays by their standards. It looked all but locked up for Four Winds with five mintues to play in the game.
A mistake I noticed was Four Winds began to play the game not to lose, rather than to win. Instead of keeping their foot on the gas and putting the Burros away, they began to play clock management basketball. It caught up with them as the Burros started making plays and found themselves right back in the thick of it as time was winding down.The game was tied in the final minute of play and Four Winds was looking for one defensive stop to send it to overtime.
Kyle Henningsgard had other ideas.
How many kids growing up played out the final seconds of a championship game until they hit the final shot? Not only did he do it for real, but now he’s got Celine Dion serenading the highlight forever. I hope this year’s State “B” basketball tournament gives Celine another opportunity to immortalize a play forever. Well done, Kyle.