Hanstads have worked together to help Dickinson succeed

When freshman Joe Hanstad replaced his brother, senior John Hanstad, in the Dickinson High boys basketball team's starting lineup four games into the season, Midgets coach Dean Winczewski didn't expect problems.

When freshman Joe Hanstad replaced his brother, senior John Hanstad, in the Dickinson High boys basketball team's starting lineup four games into the season, Midgets coach Dean Winczewski didn't expect problems.

However, he was prepared for them.

The brothers put their coach's fears to rest almost immediately, helping Dickinson demolish Belcourt and hang tough with Minot High in back-to-back games the next weekend.

"John handled it very maturely and understood. He's played his best basketball of the season in difficult situations," Winczewski said. "He's thrived in his role, and Joe has done an outstanding job for us."

What more could be expected of the two brothers, who live up to the affectionate title of 'gym rats.'


It isn't uncommon to see the Hanstads taking a couple more shots in practice or running shooting drills in the West River Community Center. Because Joe only plays basketball and John's only other sport is golf, they find lots of time to play against each other, their friends or older amateur players.

The Hanstads have put in the additional time with one goal in mind -win a state championship in their only varsity season together.

"I've always wanted to play on a team with my brother and just winning a state championship, that's been both of our goals this year," Joe said. "It's really paid off, our extra time in the gym."

Over the course of the season, the brothers stepped into key roles and helped the Midgets become a mainstay in the Class A top five.

Dickinson won 10 of its final 11 regular-season games and heads into tonight's West Region tournament quarterfinal game against Bismarck Century with a 14-5 record and ranked fifth in the state.

"It's a once-and-a-lifetime opportunity," John said of the possibility of making another run a state championship. "It's a lot better with your brother. You'd be able to share it with him for a long time."

What the Hanstads share now is something rarely seen at the high school level.

Joe is the only freshman starter in Class A and averages 14 points and 2.4 rebounds a game. He's also gradually becoming more of a ball handler and finds himself a worthy assist-man to Dickinson's senior 3-point gunners Taylor Bruhschwein and Jake Bauer.


"For a senior, he's very talented. But for a freshman, the things he is doing are very unique," Winczewski said of Joe Hanstad. "He's only going to get better."

John, meanwhile, is enjoying his sixth-man role. He averages 8 points and 2.9 rebounds a game and has shot 25 of 46 (54 percent) from beyond the 3-point line.

Last year, he was on scout team playing against the Midgets' senior-led state championship team and rarely saw game time.

"He got better from it and you can tell he's just grown so much," Winczewski said. "You can tell it's more than him being able to shoot all the time. John really buys into that fact and that's been a huge key for us."

Joe holds a slight shooting percentage advantage over John, although they both shoot around 56 percent from the field.

Those numbers are a product of countless hours of practice.

"If you look at them, their shots don't change from shot-to-shot," Winczewski said. "By looking at that, you can tell they've put a lot of time in. It's just repetition after repetition after repetition."

Even though Joe is scoring six more points and averaging roughly six more minutes a game, John is doing his best to help guide his younger brother.


As Joe begins to make a name for himself as one of the state's best up-and-coming players, John is mulling over his college options and is looking into staying home to try and play for Dickinson State.

If he does that, Joe will have his gym partner around for a long time.

"He's got a unique opportunity and he's really humble about it," John said. "He can go anywhere I think. He's got a lot of potential there."

Joe wouldn't mind having his brother around for the next three or four years either. The freshman said having an encouraging older brother is the main reason he's doing as well as he is.

"Every day, I got to play against someone older and better than me," Joe said. "He always made it competitive. Every game was a battle."

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