DWU men's basketball "Senior Salute"
Win or lose, Dakota Wesleyan gave fans their money's worth.
"I think just, playing basketball, you gotta have fun with it. It's not a quiet game. We were out there to have fun. We were yelling and screaming." DWU Senior Guard Ty Hoglund says.
"They (fans) just really rallied around them. Very blue collar type of players, diving on the floor, working hard, doing all those things. But then you throw in a guy like Hoglund who loved playing to the crowd." DWU Head Coach Matt Wilber says.
They also loved playing together despite the fact that they grew up as rivals at their high schools.
"Kramer and Hoglund were kind of tied together. That was a deal where those two guys wanted to go to the same spot. They were really close in high school even though they played against each other. These guys will see each other in the summers and talk to each other. A lot of that stuff is going on behind the scenes." Wilber says.
"Once you get into college, and once you put on the same uniform, it's a whole new story. You jell right away and we're all there for the same purpose. We love to hoop and that's what we did. We just got better together." Ty says.
It showed in the win column. During their for years the Tiger seniors won 92 games, more than half of those coming at the Corn Palace.
"We were so passionate and we loved the game of basketball. Playing the game, that was part of it, but we were entertainers too with Kramer dunking and Mason Larson dunking." Hoglund says.
Their grand finale would have been at the national tournament in Sioux Falls. Though that never happened, it was something they need to.
"Our message every year is hey, we're not going to wait to the end to make sure we're taking advantage of this so when this is ending you can leave with a clean slate and it's not a regret. We got their best all the time and so, as disappointing as it was to end, there wasn't this 'oh we needed the national tournament' to validate our career." Wilber says.
And the real value for these Tigers....
"We still find ways to get together. We still travel however long it takes to hang out with each other and I don't think there's really been a weekend where one of us weren't with each other." Hoglund says.
...is that they'll stick together long after their last game.
Zach Borg, Dakota News Now Sports.