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Kerry Collins, Published January 05 2010

Preps plus: Park Christian’s Schwandt says he’s enjoying every moment

Tom Schwandt got some good advice going into his final basketball season at Park Christian.

Former teammate Kyle Ulstad, who was a senior last year, told Schwandt to enjoy every moment, and to make every moment count.

Schwandt has followed through, averaging 22.7 points and 13 rebounds per game for the Falcons this season.

“He’s a pretty good friend of mine, and I just wanted to make sure I did that,” Schwandt said. “I’m not worrying about anything except having no regrets.”

Park Christian coach Randy Schauer said that Schwandt is heeding Ulstad’s advice on pretty much a play-by-play basis.

Schwandt only is concerned with the current play, and doesn’t let any struggles bother him.

“Tom always forgets about what happened the plays before,” Schauer said. “He’s going to attack the basket with confidence every time.

“He doesn’t get bothered if he misses two or three in a row, he’ll still shoot the next six. He’s never shied away from scoring.”

Schwandt has benefited from playing on a balanced team all three of his seasons as a regular varsity player.

While Ulstad was a go-to guy last year, he still has Jacob Fletcher (14.9 points per game), Brett Harmelink (13.6 ppg) and Drew Eggers (9.7 ppg) around him to lighten the load.

“That’s definitely made a difference,” Schwandt said. ‘Teams can’t focus on one guy, and sometimes it makes things easy for you.

“There have been games where they told me I scored 20, and it just doesn’t seem like it because we move the ball and I’ll get layups.”

The 6-foot-4 Schwandt has always been good around the basket, using sharp footwork to slip around defenders for points and rebounds.

But he’s bulked up a little this year, and Schauer said that added mass has only improved the senior’s game.

“That’s made a difference for a number of our guys,” Schauer said. “They’ve bought into our program and it’s really made a difference.”

Park Christian (9-1) is ranked sixth in the Class 1A poll, and the only loss was to No. 5 Ada-Borup – on a buzzer beater.

But that’s nothing new in Class 1A, Section 6. For the past few years it was a toss-up to who was going to come out of that section.

“It seems like you can always look at the top four or five teams as having a legitimate shot to come out of the section, and last year it was the top eight,” Schauer said.

Park Christian has had a couple of close calls the last couple of years.

Last year, the Falcons lost to Ada-Borup by five in the section semifinals – and the Cougars went on to take third at state.

Two years ago, Norman County East beat Park Christian in overtime in the section semifinals. The Eagles took fourth at state.

For Schwandt and the other five seniors on this year’s crew, this is their last chance to get to a stage they’ve been oh-so-close to reaching.

“The guys before us set a good example, and they’ve helped us a lot in making all of us better players,” Schwandt said. “It’s something we really want to do, and every guy has been doing what is asked of them.

“When you are a sophomore or a junior, you have next season to look forward to. In your senior year, you have to capture the moment.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kerry Collins at (701) 241-5548