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Lennon ends history career in style

West Fargo's Luke Lennon battles inside against a Devils Lake defender. Lennon is the first player in Packer history to record both 1,000 points and 700 rebounds. David Samson / The Forum

BISMARCK — Luke Lennon entered the Class A State Boys Basketball Tournament hoping to lead his team to a win with a big final-day performance.

Though it came in a far less satisfying fashion than he hoped, he did get his wish.

Lennon, the first player to record both 1,000 points and 700 rebounds in West Fargo boys basketball history, capped his career with another dominant showing, recording 27 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Packers to an 89-69 win over Bismarck Legacy in the fifth-place game at the Bismarck Event Center.

A weekend of high expectations was altered immediately for the Packers. Believed to be a major contender for a state title, West Fargo instead struggled through one of its worst performances of the year, missing its first 12 shots and surrendering 35 points to Bismarck Century guard Treyton Mattern in a 78-61 loss.

Following a 70-45 consolation round win over Wahpeton, the Packers continued to make the best of a disappointing situation with a resounding win over Legacy, where they leaned on their star senior center, just as they had for much of a 21-6 season.

"I knew this was going to be may last basketball game that I know of and I just wanted to leave it all on the court," Lennon said.

The strong showing against Legacy capped a record-breaking season in a record-breaking career for one of the most decorated players to wear a Packer uniform.

Lennon's program record 777 rebounds were matched by 1,133 points, the sixth-most in school history. His 550 points in 2018-19 were the third most in a season in program history, while his 265 rebounds were second.

The only player to top that rebounding total? That would be Lennon, who grabbed 284 boards a season ago.

And while he didn't achieve the ultimate reward of winning a state title, he got a nice consolation prize on Saturday night, when he was named the North Dakota Senior Athlete of the Year.

Making his success more impressive is that it came in what isn't considered his primary sport. Lennon, who also throws discus and javelin for the Packer track team, will actually be playing football at the next level at the University of North Dakota.

While specialization has become a big trend among high school athletes, Lennon was happy to take the opposite route, believing that competing year-round has been one of the biggest reasons he's been able to thrive in so many environments.

"I think competing all year (makes you better)," he said. "Just being in different situations, different scenarios, it changes your mindset and you're ready for anything."

The biggest challenge Lennon will need to be ready for comes in the fall, when he looks to make the leap to the Division-I level as either a linebacker or tight end at UND.

The consensus in the Packer locker, any Packer locker room, is that it will be a smooth transition.

"This is just the start of what's going to be an even longer career in athletics," Packer basketball coach Adam Palczewski said. He's been a phenomenal player, arguably one of the best in West Fargo history. He's had an amazing career."

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