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Associated Press, Published March 21 2012

Familiar faces on ND boys basketball all-state team

BISMARCK – If the 2012 Class A all-state boys basketball team seems to have an air of familiarity, it’s not just imagination working overtime.

Four of the five players selected by the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association for this year’s all-state team have been there before.

Dexter Werner of Bismarck is a first-team repeater after earning second-team status as a sophomore. Devin Coyle of Mandan, Mack Arvidson of Grand Forks Red River and A.J. Jacobson of Fargo Shanley moved up from the second team in 2011.

Tom Fraase of Century is the lone newcomer.

Werner, Arvidson and Coyle were Mr. Basketball finalists. Arvidson was voted the state tournament most valuable player after leading Red River to its first championship since 1969.

Arvidson, a 6-foot-2 senior, averaged 20 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.8 steals for Red River, 23-2 on the season. He shot 43.3 percent from the field, 77.8 percent from the free-throw line and hit 62 3-pointers while shooting 35.6 percent. He is verbally committed to Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D.

Red River coach Jason Gregory said Arvidson’s value goes far beyond his statistics.

“He’s pretty fast, pretty explosive and he jumps well. He took a large role and expanded it with his leadership,” Gregory said. “... He made everyone else around him better, whether it was off the court or on the court.”

Coyle, a 6-foot senior, is a multi-sport athlete who is bound for the University of North Dakota to play football. He led the West Region in scoring at 22.6 points per game, averaged 5.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals. He swished 82 3-pointers while shooting 35.3 percent. He displayed 40.8 percent accuracy from the floor and shot 78.4 percent on free throws.

Mandan coach Jason Horner said the hole Coyle leaves behind after a 19-6 season and a third-place state tournament finish is all-encompassing.

“The void is going to be huge,” Horner said. “It’s not just his ability as a player. As a person he’s just a great guy to be around.”

Horner said Coyle has an uncommon fire and passion in whatever endeavor he undertakes.

“He could have played college basketball somewhere and he probably could have run track somewhere, too, but football is his thing. Whatever he does he’ll be great at it.”

Werner, a 6-6 senior, was a 3 ½-year starter at Bismarck, playing on teams that won 76 games and a state championship. He’s signed a letter of intent to play basketball at North Dakota State.

“He had a great career and broke the all-time school record for points in a career,” Bismarck coach Steve Miller said. “He broke Tom Petrik’s record, which stood since 1973. He brought a different skill set for us. He got to be our defensive stopper inside.”

Miller said Werner’s ability never plateaued.

Fraase, a 6-3 senior, averaged 18.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.9 steals. He shot 41.7 percent from the floor and 81.3 percent on foul shots. He sank 45 3-pointers on 36.5 percent accuracy. As the only starter returning from Century’s 2011 state championship team, Fraase was often facing a stacked deck.

“Everybody on the opposing teams knew Tom was going to be the one to take the big shots and they game-planned to try and take him away. But he had a tremendous knack to be successful,” Century coach Darin Mattern said.

Jacobson, a 6-5 junior, led all Class A scorers with a 23.8 average. He averaged 10.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.4 steals and 2.8 blocked shots per game. He was a 50 percent shooter from the floor and shot 80.2 percent from the line. He hit 21 3-pointers while shooting 36.2 percent.

He led Shanley to a 19-6 record and a berth in the state championship game.

Shanley coach Leon Knodel said Jacobson has the versatility to do whatever is asked of him.

“He has a good shot from outside, he can take it off the dribble with either hand and he can post up and score in the paint,” Knodel said.

Knodel said that versatility translates to defense, too.

“He can defend a guard, he can defend a post. He can do whatever you ask him to,” Knodel said. “... And one of the nicest things about him is even though he’s a good player he works hard in practice, always trying to get better.”

The all-state second team consists of:

Brady Syverson, Fargo North: Syverson, a 6-5 senior, was a forceful rebounder and outstanding scorer. He led the Spartans in scoring (19.9 ppg) and rebounding (9.2 rpg). He shot 39.7 percent from the floor and 80.6 at the line. He converted 21 3-pointers on 31 percent accuracy and blocked 31 shots.

Ben Weisbeck, Bismarck St. Mary’s: Weisbeck was a major contributor as a sophomore, helping the Saints reach the state tournament for the first time since 2004. He averaged 19.3 points and 6.2 rebounds.

Nate Mertens, Devils Lake: A

6-2 junior, Mertens was one of the East Region’s top offensive weapons, averaging 22.4 points and 6.4 assists. He contributed 4.2 rebounds a game.

Jeremy Bontjes, Wahpeton: Small but mighty, the 5-9 senior averaged 18.3 points, 3.2 assists and 2.8 rebounds. He was deadly from 3-point land, hitting 53 shots for 39.3 percent. He shot 37.1 percent from the floor and was deadly as a free-throw shooter (90.6 percent).

Mac Kroeplin, Grand Forks Red River: Kroeplin had his fingers in everything for the champion Roughriders. He averaged 17.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.8 assists. He sank 40 3-pointers, displaying 37.0 percent accuracy. He canned 67.9 percent of his free throws and averaged 2.0 steals.