In just a few days, the eyes of North Dakota will turn to Minot for the Class B State Basketball Tournament. One of the teams taking that journey north is the Shiloh Christian Skyhawks, a program that has been no stranger to the final eight.
It’s hard to believe after their fifteenth trip to state, that a title has eluded the Class B powerhouse from Bismarck. Despite the heartbreak, Shiloh Christian knows what this week is about.
“It’s really, these first three practices this week are really important for us becaus we want to have good practices,” says junior Carter Englund. “High intensity practices as we’re getting ready for the number one seed in Four Winds. That’s honestly what’s most important to us right now. We’re not looking ahead. We’re not looking at anything else other than Four Winds.”
One game at a time means preparing for the number one team in the state, Four Winds Minnewaukan, who was in their gym just 23 days ago.
“They’re probably one of the most athletic teams that we’re going to play all year,” says head coach Brad Miller. “They play really good defense and they have some guys that can shoot so it’s a challenge.”
Despite the low seeding, Shiloh Christian feels their resume speaks for themselves, playing in a competitive Region 5.
“We honestly kind of like it. We like being the underdog,” says Englund. “We like coming under the radar. We beat Rugby earlier on in this season. That was a tough game. You know, we feel like we have a lot of experience going into these games and we kind of know what to expect. Coach Miller did a good job of getting our schedule ready for that. Kind of just preparing us mentally.”
One of the big players this season has been Luke Wanzek, a player that knows when to take the big shots and make the big stops.
“Defensively, I think that’s what really keeps our game flow up,” says senior Luke Wanzek. “You know, when we’re getting stops, getting hyped, making offensive opportunities off of that, that really helps us out.”
After no state tournament last year, just three players return to the big stage from 2019, knowing what it takes to potentially win it all.
“I think it’s going to be not taking any team for granted because you’re going to get every team’s best shot at the state tournament,” says Wanzek. “They’re going to be playing their best basketball.”