Replacing Mr. Basketball is a tall task for any team, and that’s the challenge that the Bismarck Demons will face entering this winter. However, it’s a Deja Vu feeling from a few years ago that will caution anyone from counting out Jordan Wilhelm’s team.

With many seniors gone, it’s one of the youngest rosters in the state. The Bismarck Demons will have a lot of work to do to remain at the top in the west, but that’s exactly where they found themselves entering 2019, a season that ended with a WDA championship and a state tournament cut short due to COVID.

“You know, that 2020 team that we had, the very first year we implemented that system, when you look at that box score each night, we’d have different guys in double figures,” says Wilhelm. “Some nights, five, six, seven guys in double figures, and I think, if we’re to have success this year when you look at our box scores, there’s going to have to be different guys on different nights and it’s going to have to be multiple guys in double figures, not just one or two guys doing the job.”

Without a ball-dominant player on the roster, the Demons will lean on depth and their traditional press for wins. However, last year’s state quarterfinal loss to West Fargo was a big eye-opener on how hard they needed to work.

“You just got to be really in shape,” says junior Carter Henke. “We just got physically dominated last year. We were not strong. We have a weight room coach now.”

“Rather than just stuffing the court can we improve our strength?” says Wilhelm. “Can we do some stuff in the weight room? Are there other ways that we can get our bodies prepared so once we get to a state tournament we’re the team that is the force and we’re the team that other teams are afraid to play?”

So with 2022 underway, the players know it will take time to finalize lineups, and where the minutes will go.

“Bring energy,” says Junior Preston Lemar. “Making sure that you come ready to practice. Just knowing that you’re not going to make every shot right now. That will come with the season, making sure you’re sticking with it and it’ll come.”

The Demons know they are back in the underdog role, a spot they feel they can thrive in, as long as they follow what has gotten them to the top as a program year after year.

“Hard work, effort, just going in there and getting the job done,” says Lemar. “It doesn’t matter what it takes, just getting it done.”

“So far this year I have not had to coach effort for one practice,” says Wilhelm. “So for us, the energy has been great, the attitudes been good, and I think you’re going to see a different Bismarck High team this year.”