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Experienced cast returning has Midgets eyeing state title

Entering the 2016-17 season, the opportunity is there for the Dickinson High boys basketball team to make its best run at a state championship since its last title season in 2007.

Dickinson High's Aanen Moody attempts a layup against Bismarck Legacy on Feb. 5 at DHS gymnasium. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson High's Aanen Moody attempts a layup against Bismarck Legacy on Feb. 5 at DHS gymnasium. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)

Entering the 2016-17 season, the opportunity is there for the Dickinson High boys basketball team to make its best run at a state championship since its last title season in 2007.

The Midgets were bounced out of the Class A state tournament last year after back-to-back losses to Fargo Davies and Bismarck Century. With two of the state's top players returning - guard Aanen Moody and center Jordan Meidinger - alongside an experienced cast of supporting players, Dickinson High - which went 16-10 last season - has the makeup of a team that should contend for the top of the West Region and beyond.

"We would be cheating ourselves if we didn't have the highest expectations," second-year head coach Dan Glasser said. "Our goal last year wasn't to get to the state tournament - it was to win it. We set the highest expectations every year."

The state's coaches ranked the Midgets No. 3 in the state - behind Davies and Minot - according to the North Dakota Hoopster Magazine, providing another morsel of motivation as the season begins.

"I'm excited to prove that we're No. 1," said Moody, who led Class A at 33 points per game last season and is signed to play basketball at the University of North Dakota. "Everybody in this gym believes we're capable of winning a state title. We have the talent to get it done."

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Moody, who was seventh in the state in assists (78) and second in steals (78) a year ago, remains the Midgets' greatest scoring threat. He sits at 1,365 career points, putting him in shouting distance of Class A's all-time mark (A.J. Jacobson, Fargo Shanley, 2,002 points), or at the very least the school record, Joe Hanstad's 1,576 points.

"Teams can only do so much. I think Aanen's going to be able to do what Aanen does," Glasser said. "If he's healthy, it doesn't matter what defense they play. ... He's added some offensive stuff to his arsenal. He's got this Euro-step down that, I don't know how anybody's going to stop him on a fast break."

North Dakota State commit Meidinger, meanwhile, will control the paint. He averaged nearly 10 points and eight rebounds per game last season, and he tallied 50 blocks.

With the graduation of Wyatt Kainz and Tanner Binstock, however, getting the 7-foot Meidinger some help in the post will be a point of emphasis, Glasser said.

"Kaiden Steckler is a big kid (6-foot-4) who's coming back, and he'll be a senior," Glasser said. "And there's (junior) Krew Mathern, who may not have the height (6-foot-2), but he's so strong, and you can tell that from his all-conference football season. But he's strong, quick, fast. Those two didn't see a lot of time last year, but they're very capable of stepping in and helping now."

Glasser added that senior Eli Jung will be valuable in the post, as well.

Around the perimeter, the Midgets will look for shots to fall from Cam Jorda, Tanner Ouellette, Conner Hoenke, Shawn Steffan, Chase Ballard and Isaac Egli - all seniors save for Hoenke, a junior. They'll fill other roles, as well; Steffan will likely run a lot of point, and Jorda is widely seen as the team's lockdown on-ball defender.

"There's a bunch of kids that could rotate in, and we'll focus on using all of them," Glasser said. "They've all worked on their shooting because they know they're going to get shots because people will have to help to stop Aanen and Jordan. If they have the ability to knock it down, that's the key for us."

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Ouellette, a senior, has had bits of each of the last three seasons cut short due to concussions. He's hoping that neck exercises and added muscle to his frame help him stay healthy throughout the whole season.

"Aanen and Jordan are going to have to work very hard because teams are going to prepare for them. That means the rest of us have to step up and show what he have," said Ouellette, who shot 39 percent on 3-pointers last season, leading the team. "I hope I get a lot of shots up. I've been doing a lot of shooting in the gym, and I hope it pays off."

Dickinson High Midgets

Head coach: Dan Glasser (second season)

2015-16 result: 16-10 overall, 12-6 West Region, lost in consolation semifinals of state tournament

Returners: Aanen Moody, Sr., Jordan Meidinger, Sr., Cam Jorda, Sr., Shawn Steffan, Sr., Eli Jung, Sr., Tanner Ouellette, Sr., Isaac Egli, Sr., Chase Ballard, Sr., Conner Hoenke, Jr.

Newcomers: Kaiden Steckler, Sr., Hunter Schatz, Sr., Krew Mathern, Jr.

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