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Friday, May 24, 2024
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Agates Boys Basketball Concludes Successful Season Despite First Round Playoff Loss

Eight seniors and one team manager complete their high school basketball careers with the Two Harbors Agates. #1 Thor Tokvam, #3 Oren Dewey, #22 Cash Williams, #25 Isaiah Hietala, #32 Michael Loisel, #34 Jacob Estby, #45 Trevor Kleive, #55 David Gunter, and team manager, Becca Blaisdell (photo credit: Coach Bill Anderson)

Walking into Two Harbors High School on Fri­day, the 1st of March, I found the hallway was crowded with parents, guardians, and families lined up with their favorite Agate on the boys basketball teams or cheerleader on this winter’s squad. Roses were being handed out and Head Coach Bill Anderson was matching envelopes to their recipients, thanking the parents as he went along. I would later learn that these were letters the coach had asked the players to write to their par­ents or guardians.

The line of Agates fans and athletes marched into the gym, almost circling it in full, where they were honored for their contributions throughout the season. “We’re pretty proud of our support,” said Coach Anderson, as I remarked on the in­credible turnout that night. The Color Guard marked the special occasion, presenting the flag during the National Anthem. Afterwards, there was cake in the lobby for the parents and free popcorn at the concessions for all the fans.

The excitement in the atmosphere was elevat­ed by the winning streak the Agates had found themselves in at the end of the regular season. They had won against International Falls in a blowout game where the final score was 74-37. They then traveled to Greenway High School and took over the court once again, coming home with a 67-46 victory against the Raiders.

The evening before Parent’s Night, the team harnessed their momentum and put the Flood­wood Polar Bears on ice. It was Senior Night and Leap Day and the Agates leapt into the lead quickly and stayed there. At halftime, the score was 39 – 24. At the end of the game, it was 75 – 36 Agates. It was particularly special to have a win on Senior Night. The lobby held a display for each of the seniors containing mementos from their basketball careers. They even made time during the event to sign trading cards for younger kids and players who look up to them and hopefully will grow up to play varsity bas­ketball themselves one day.

The seniors played some of their best basketball on their spotlighted night. “We had a lot of produc­tion from Oren, Mike, Jacob, and David,” Coach Anderson said.

Coach Anderson describes the class of 2024 boys basketball players as competitive. A major­ity of the seniors go to Two Harbors High School and Cash Williams, a senior who attends school in Silver Bay, joined the team his junior year. “He played quite a bit,” said the coach. “He fit right into our family.”

The team will graduate eight seniors this year: #1 Thor Tokvam, #3 Oren Dewey, #22 Cash Williams, #25 Isaiah Hietala, #32 Michael Lois­el, #34 Jacob Estby, #45 Trevor Kleive, and #55 David Gunter. Their team manager, Becca Blais­dell will also graduate this year.

Hietala was recently selected as the 1st Team All-Conference in the Polar League Big Schools. Ju­nior Rachel Bopp, of the Two Harbors girls bas­ketball team, was also selected. They will play in the Polar League All-Star games on March 25th, hosted this year by Two Harbors High School.

“Isaiah is a very good all-around player,” said Coach Anderson. “He’s got the ball in his hands all the time. He’s very competitive. He gets out there and gets after it.”

He is the leading scorer on the team. He’s also the leader in assists and he’s a great pass­er. At 5’9” he’s not the tallest on the team yet he’s also number one for steals and re­bounds. “He can jump very high!” said his coach. “He’s strong. He spends a lot of time in the gym. It’s helped him. He doesn’t leave the court much. His stamina is very good be­cause of that.” A couple colleges are looking at Hietala who has not committed to any team yet. We’re sure any team that he becomes a part of will be better for it.

Friday night against the Bombers was not as blow-out-ish as the Agates previous games in their streak, but it was just as exciting. The Agates were prepared for the challenge, hav­ing played Barnum once earlier this season where the Bombers won 75-69 in a close game. In the first few minutes, an early foul gave #1 Thor Tokvam the chance at two free throws. He made both.

A couple minutes later, Barnum drew a penalty while still sinking the ball. The re­sult was a 1-point lead. The score stayed in­tensely tight throughout the remainder of the game. At halftime, the scoreboard read 29-31 with Barnum in the lead. Two Harbors would win by just 1 point by the end of the night in a 67-66 edge-of-the-seat victory.

Coach Anderson expressed a lot of pride in this year’s team. The previous year, the team had 11 seniors graduate leaving the team with a couple of experienced players and several that were not yet as experienced. “It’s been a work in progress, and I think our play on the court is showing it as we’ve improved and gelled as a team as the season has gone along,” he said.

He also expressed how proud he is with the team’s sense of volunteerism and help­ing others, including mentoring and doing community service. “They do a lot of volun­teer time,” said the coach. “They work with our youth program, they come in on Satur­day mornings, work the tournaments and also do community service like helping people move, projects from the Legion, helping with Veteran’s Day, they help at the golf tourna­ment, and other numerous things.”

They are also fun to get to know. One of the coach’s favorite parts of this season was traveling up to Ely for a holiday tournament. “It’s just good hanging out with them. That’s what this time of year is about. Trying to ex­tend that.”

The team did their best to extend their sea­son, prepping on Saturday before going into their first playoff game. They had played the Hilltoppers earlier in the season and the game resulted in a double overtime loss for the Ag­ates. “We had built a nice lead and let it go away. So, we got to focus on what we did to create that lead and not give it away,” said the coach before the Monday March 4th game.

Unfortunately, Duluth Marshall bested the Two Harbors team 76-83 during the Class 2A, Section 7, Round 1 playoff game. “Our season comes to a close tonight,” posted Coach Anderson on the team’s Facebook page. “Give credit to the Hilltoppers, as they came out executing and were on fire, opening a quick 28-10 lead.” According to the post, the Agates were able to battle back to get the score much closer at the half, but ultimately lost 76-83.

It was very fun to follow the Agates boys basketball team this season. I, like so many others in the community, am feeling a bit down after hearing the news that the season has come to an end. However, few would disagree if I were to say this season was a success in many ways. I’ve seen the team im­prove leaps and bounds from the sidelines. I’ve watched them maintain their sportsman­ship in challenging moments. I’ve reported on the sense of volunteerism of the players after seeing frequent posts online and hav­ing the opportunity to meet a couple players while they volunteered at the youth Hoops Club practice. The Two Harbors Agates boys basketball team, their coaching staff, the families, the students, and the fans have a lot to be proud of.

Congratulations on a great season and best of luck to the seniors in their future!

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