Season Preview: Boys Basketball
Last season, the West Fargo boys basketball team won the East Region tournament, made it to state, and placed third overall.
In retrospect, the Packers had a solid year after going 10-4 against East Region opponents and 18-7 overall. But their biggest accomplishment might not have been how they placed in the postseason, but who they beat to do it.
When the regular season came to an end, West Fargo was runner-up to only Fargo North, a team that hadn't lost a game in Eastern Dakota Conference play. That all changed in the conference tournament. The Packers edged the Spartans 61-59 and were crowned champs.
Then in an interesting twist of fate, these two foes met once more during the state tournament. Again, West Fargo managed to pull one out to win third place by a slim four-point margin.
This didn't happen by accident. The Packers effectively did what any sports team wants to do: peak at the right time.
Leading the charge were five seniors who led by example: Spencer Flaten, Dan Hoy, Kolby Schmidt, Chris Williams and Austin Nelson.
At 6 foot, 2 inches tall, Nelson was a formidable center. The All-State Tournament Team selection led the Packers in points with 286, and averaged 11.9 per game. His 123 rebounds also were tops for the team, and his average of 2.6 offensive rebounds per game was fifth best in the EDC.
Flaten was second only to Fargo North's Nik Savageau in steals after averaging 2.1 per game and accumulating 53 on the season. The All-Conference pick also was solid at the 3-point range, connecting 36.4 percent of the time for seventh best in the EDC.
And while their talent will be missed, the Packers have plenty more where that came from.
Leading this year's team is senior Chase Farkas. An All-EDC selection last season, the 5-9 guard returns the most points to the team after acquiring 258 total and averaging more than 10 per game. Farkas also led the Packers at the free throw line with a 76.1 percent average, which was ninth best in the EDC. His 71 assists and 2.8-per-game average was ninth best in the conference. Farkas also had 29 steals, 60 rebounds and was 32 percent at 3-point range.
Another senior who should play a substantial role this season is Justin Schock. At a recorded 6 feet, 9 inches tall, he returns some much appreciated height to West Fargo's ranks. The lofty center put up 196 points last season for an average of 7.84 per game, and his field goal percentage of 51 was sixth best in the EDC.
Schock also was a terror on defense, and his 28 blocked shots and 1.1-per-game average were second in the conference only to Fargo Shanley's Kevin Buth.
Height also is on Grant Ringdahl's side. The 6-4 forward may not have gotten as much playing time last season as other returners, but when he did he made an impact. Ringdahl was equally deadly at all parts of the court. He was over 40 percent shooting at field-goal range as well as 3-point range, and hit all 13 of his free-throw shots to wind up 100 percent on the season. Ringdahl also had 39 rebounds and averaged 2.6 per game.
With seven seniors on the team, the Packers certainly will be returning some experience. Fans may want to keep an eye on one underclassman in particular, however. Luke Johnson made the sophomore basketball team last year as a freshman. This year, the 6-5 sophomore earned a spot on the varsity squad.
Johnson isn't the only sophomore, however, as 5-9 Kory Wolden also made the team as a guard.
West Fargo's first regular-season game is Friday at home against Fargo Davies. The ball drops at 7:45 p.m.
If the Packers can kick things off with a win, they'll have some positive momentum to carry them into the early parts of the season.