The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Georgie Kulczyk
The Courier 

Bearcub Basketball: Pride and Perseverance

 

Christine Jackson/For the Courier

2016-2017 Frazer boys basketball team. Standing (l-r): Kaylandra St. Marks, coach Jamie St. Marks, Korbin Cole, Nathaniel Clark, Xander Little Thunder, Nathan Hamilton, Damian Montclair, Saunder St. Marks, Clayton White, Raymond Keiser, assistant coach Myron Jackson, Sr. and manager John Hotomanie. Kneeling (l-r) Jayson Jackson, Kayo Jackson, Alex Raining Bird, Tory Jackson and Alex Gardipee.

The Frazer Bearcubs were underestimated by many during the 2016-2017 basketball season. Judging by the sea of columbia blue present at their games, there were also many that knew how special they were.

Led by eight seniors, the Frazer boys basketball team made it to the Eastern C Divisional Tournament and played in the championship game for the first time since the Bearcubs of the '74-'75 season. (Coached by Albert Murdoch and Burdette Newman, the '74-'75 roster included: Brad Dassonville, George Blount, Melvin Flynn, Lowell Standing, Greg Pyle, Doyle Raining Bird, Maynard Jackson, Austin Spotted Wolf, August Spotted Wolf, Stanley Friesen, Russell White and Paul Dassonville; Managers Ronald Moccasin and Reed Firemoon.)

Former coach and long-time Frazer school employee, Dean Blount, attributes the team's success to individual talents and overall depth. "They really have talent," said Blount. "Saunder (St. Marks) is a good guard and Nathan (Hamilton) does a good job as a forward," he explained.

"Korbin (Cole) is just a good team player," Blount added. "He didn't take a lot of shots but focused on defense and did a good job at that."

Blount also pointed out that junior Brayden Jackson typically averaged in the double digits for scoring per game. "Last year, he scored 11 three-pointers in one game," he said.

The five other seniors on the team are: Xander Little Thunder, Damian Montclair, Nathaniel Clark, Clayton White and Raymond Keiser. Filling out the roster and expected to return to the hardwood for Frazer next year are: Brayden Jackson, Jayson Jackson, Alex Gardipee, Kayo Jackson, Tory Jackson and Alex Rainingbird.

According to Blount, who led his team to the divisional tournament every year he coached, the dry spell for the Bearcubs was at least partially due to the difficulty in recruiting effective coaches. "Just like any other school, it can be hard for our small town to find coaches. You can advertise for those positions, but it's essential that you have someone that knows all aspects of the game."

He also noted that coaching can be a thankless job and not everybody wants to do it. "You can't please everybody," said Blount, "and you'll always have people that think they know more than the coach."

Two of the seniors, Cole and Clark, shared some of their experiences with the Courier.

Cole, a multi-sport athlete, has been playing basketball since the second grade, while Clark, who also plays football, has been playing basketball since the third grade.

Both boys credit an uncle for their successes in the sport. For Cole, it was his uncle Rich who got him involved in the sport at an early age, while Clark credits his uncle Desmond. Both of those uncles have since passed, but would likely be proud of what their nephews have accomplished.

Reflecting on his basketball career with the Bearcubs, Cole said, "It was a bumpy road for us at times, but we kept working and got better every year."

A recent bump in the road for the team was the loss of Frazer native and athletic role model, Layne Williams. Although not everyone on the team knew him personally, his death affected them all similarly. A wake was held for Williams the first night of the tournament, and the team attended to pay their respects.

Clark said of Williams' death, "For the ones on the team that knew him, it really hurt." Describing the loss as a shock to everyone, he said, "It all happened so fast."

Williams, who was just 25 when he died, was a 2009 FHS graduate, and participated in several sports for the Bearcubs. Cole described Williams as an inspiring athlete and stressed that he was always humble.

From injuries to personal loss, the Bearcubs faced many obstacles but persevered nonetheless.

Along with those obstacles, the boys had inspiring successes, and the Bearcub fans were definitely a factor in that success.

"I know we brought excitement to the community," said Cole. "Their support was a huge part of our success." Referring to a challenge game between Frazer and Fairview in Wolf Point on Feb. 27, Cole said of the fans, "The energy was extraordinary. When I made a bucket, or when we had a good play, I would hear the roar of the crowd. That helped us out a lot."

The support didn't go unnoticed by other communities, either. Following the Warrior's win of the challenge game that night, Fairview's Tanner Reynolds tweeted, "I'm jealous of how much support Frazer has. I couldn't hear a thing in that gym the entire game."

Although the Bearcub's season has come to an end, their achievements will be remembered with pride.

 

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