Fallen teammate, family bonds inspire Henning basketball team for state tournament

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For the first time since 1966, Henning High School is playing in the state tournament. It’s an accomplishment they believe is in part due to a teammate who passed away two years ago.

“They’re good kids - number one,” said Randy Misegades, Henning High School basketball coach. “I mean every kid on the team is an honor student.”

Being from a town with a population of about 850 people and having a high school study body of about 125, to be on the Henning High School team you simply have to show up. No tryouts. No cuts.

“We’re walking around the hallways like, ‘Hey we need you to show up for practice because we don’t have enough kids,’” said Misegades. “So, if you’re willing to show up and put in the work and put in the time, you’re part of the team.”

This state tournament bound team has been through a lot together. They’re family - for real. Seven of them are related.

“We’ve got two sets of twins, they’re first cousins,” said Misegades. “The Bjorkin family, Luke and Lee are twins, they’re juniors. Their older brother Jack is a senior. And they’re cousins to people on both sides of their family and then I have two nephews myself on the team, so it’s just a really tight knit group.”

There’s small town heart and big time motivation. But with this team, there’s another strong source that inspires them. That’s number 33, Jacob Quam, a teammate killed when his car was hit by a semi two years ago. He’s a teammate who has been with them every step of the way. Jacob was originally from Delano, which earned him the nickname, “City Boy.”

“We’re just always motivated by ‘City Boy,’ ‘cause he was the hardest worker on the team,” said Dylan Trana, Jacob’s best friend. “Yeah, we’re just always motivated to keep playing for him and we bring his jersey to every captains meeting and we say ‘City’ at the end of every time out and everything.”

Misegades and Trana say there have been signs number 33 is on the court with them, so the team says they play 6-on-5 with Jacob being the sixth player.

“He was just always working hard, and he wanted to be here as much as we did,” said Trana.

“Maybe I’m reaching for something that’s not there, but I sure feel like someone’s looking down on us,” said Misegades. “I think the kids feel it too.

The upcoming tournament is a big moment for the Henning Hornets. The players know they’ll be facing teams that are taller, from bigger schools with a long-winning history. But they believe in themselves, their team and they believe in Jacob.

Henning plays its first game Thursday at 1 p.m. The team will be bringing number 33’s jersey with them to the state tournament, where it will be displayed on the bench.