John Hanstad was certain his days of playing organized basketball had ended at Dickinson High School.
Though he had planned to attend Dickinson State University, Hanstad was not convinced he had what it took to suit up for the Blue Hawk men’s basketball team.
“I remember sitting in the hallway outside the office, talking to John and saying, ‘Hey, give it a try. You never know what’s going to happen,’” DSU head coach Ty Orton said.
Five years later, Hanstad is preparing to wrap up a career in which he has become his team’s most trusted leader and, along the way, cemented himself as one of DSU’s all-time leading 3-point shooters.
Hanstad wraps up his surprisingly successful five-year career at DSU this week as the Blue Hawks host the University of Great Falls (Mont.) at 7:30 p.m. today and Montana State-Northern at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Scott Gymnasium. The team’s season ends Saturday since they are out of the race for the top six spots in the Frontier Conference and will be left out of the league’s postseason tournament.
Though he would have liked his senior season to have lasted longer, Hanstad said there’s a silver lining in being able to end his career on DSU’s home court.
“It’s definitely better than being on the road,” Hanstad said. “That’s what I was telling my dad yesterday. It’s going to be fun to have the last two here at home.”
Dickinson State senior Jarek Hansen isn’t a type of basketball player who can be easily categorized. Hansen has steadily increased his output each of the three seasons he has been with the Blue Hawk men after transferring from Williston State College.
He is averaging 10.6 points and three rebounds per game while shooting 89 percent from the free-throw line and 39 percent from 3-point range, all of which are by far the best marks of his collegiate career.
The Dickinson State sophomore has the attitude and demeanor of an upperclassman — of which there aren’t many on the Blue Hawks’ roster — and all season she has played like one too.
“That’s what makes me most excited is if she just stayed where she is right now, she’s a great player,” DSU first-year head coach Caleb Harrison said. “We’ll get to the end of the season and her numbers are going to go up and she’s going to be playing at an even higher level.”
Moore, a 5-foot-11 forward from Sidney, Mont., leads the Blue Hawks in just about every major category coaches expect a frontcourt starter to lead — and even some they wouldn’t.
Johnie Sanders’ time at Dickinson State is already supposed to be done.
Before the 2011-12 season, Sanders had committed to spend his final year of college basketball eligibility playing for the Blue Hawks. Then, he ran into eligibility issues that forced him to bail on DSU and return to Northwest Oklahoma State, where he had played his junior season.
When DSU head coach Ty Orton gave Sanders a second chance to be a Blue Hawk last spring, he jumped at the chance.
“I should have been here last year, but things happen for a reason,” Sanders said. “I’m here this year. I’m happy that coach Orton took me back under his wing.”