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Tom Mix, Published March 13 2013

Deacons boys look to avenge last year's title-game defeat

Fargo - A small gesture from a teammate following last season’s 78-74 loss to Grand Forks Red River in the North Dakota Class A state boys basketball championship game still sticks out a year later to Fargo Shanley senior Dylan Alderman.

It was Shanley standout A.J. Jacobson going down the Deacons bench putting his arm around each of his teammates. The gesture was made in hopes of consoling the sting of defeat, but also to spread a message that the following season would be dedicated to getting back to the title game.

“A.J. put his arm around us the last game of the year and said, ‘Hey, next year we are getting back to the state championship,’ ” Alderman said. “He went one by one down the bench and took it upon himself to inspire us and get us over the loss in a way, but also get us ready for what this year was going to bring.”

The season brought the No. 3-ranked Deacons (18-4) a lot of success.

Shanley’s quest to return to the title game begins at

6 p.m. today with a quarterfinals matchup with West Region No. 1-seeded Bismarck St. Mary’s at the Bismarck Civic Center.

“As a team we know what it feels like to be there and what it feels like to get the accomplishment of making it to that game,” said Jacobson, who is a North Dakota State basketball signee. “We came a little bit short last year. Red River was a great team and they had a great game. … This year it has been our goal to get back to that title game and write a different ending.”

Jacobson – a 6-foot-6 senior forward – is averaging 25.9 points per game and 12.9 rebounds per game. He also is averaging 15.9 points per game in eight career state tournament games.

The Deacons opened the season as preseason as favorites to win Class A and were ranked No. 1 in the first two state polls.

First-year head coach Shane Alderman – Dylan’s father – said his team knew from the beginning there would be lofty expectations across the state and within the team, too.

“The guys have always had the goal of getting back to the state tournament and win that tournament,” Shane Alderman said, “I think that it is a realistic goal for our team to put that out there and it has been a gradual process toward that.”

Shane Alderman was an assistant coach for Shanley prior to his hiring last spring and said he has been pleased with how his team has progressed. It helps when your starting point guard is your son.

“It has been very fun,” said Shane Alderman on coaching Dylan. “That was one of the things that made me most nervous about taking this job, but it was one of the most rewarding things as well.

“Dylan is a great competitor, and we have been at this together for a long time. He gets us in things before I even bark out what to do.”

Dylan Alderman is averaging 11.7 points and 6.5 assists per game for the Deacons and said he has enjoyed his senior year playing for his father.

“My dad and I have a unique relationship on the court,” Dylan Alderman said. “Point guard and coach is an important relationship. It is nice to have that subconscious way of me knowing what he wants me to do on the court. … It’s been special.”

Shanley’s four losses have been to Red River twice, Fargo Davies in the East Region semifinals and St. Mary’s on Dec. 28.

The Deacons started out flat in their early season meeting with the Saints, something Jacobson knows can’t happen again.

“We are going to have to show up ready to play right away,” Jacobson said. “If we come out and get going defensively, get the ball moving on offense and let the game come to us, I have a lot of confidence we’ll be in the game at the end.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562