Boys basketball: Lakers recognized on and off the court

Minnewaska senior guard Grant Jensen drives to the basket against Melrose's Brett Engelmeyer on Dec. 10, 2019. Jensen was named the Lakers' team MVP this winter season after averaging 14.2 points and dishing out a team-high 62 assists. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

The Minnewaska boys basketball team made a run all the way to the Section 3AA title game this past winter season, so there were plenty of players to honor with postseason awards.

The Lakers, who finished 21-7 overall, had a senior point guard at the helm of this year’s run, and Grant Jensen was honored for that by being named the team MVP. Jensen averaged 14.2 points-per game and dished out a team-high 62 assists.

He was tough to keep from the basket as Jensen shot 58.75% from inside the arch on 141-of-240 shooting. He finished his high school career with 919 points, 265 rebounds, 153 assists and 115 steals.

Five other Minnewaska players earned team honors. Sam Hested, a junior forward, earned big minutes this winter and was named the Lakers’ Rookie of the Year. Hested shot 63.1% from inside the arch (77-122) on his way to averaging nearly 9 points per game. He also grabbed 163 rebounds, second best on the team.

Fellow junior forward Aaron Ver Steeg earned the Laker Bulldog Award. He led Minnewaska on the glass with 213 rebounds and also averaged 11.6 points-per game, while dishing out 51 assists. Ver Steeg was an efficient 60.5% from inside the arch (101-167). He did a little bit of everything for the Lakers by adding a team-best 60 steals.


Drew Nelson was Minnewaska’s Defender of the Year. He took away 33 steals, while Luke Barkeim got the Team Player Award after averaging 5.5 points-per game and grabbing 95 rebounds. Mason Stewart was the group’s Scout Player of the Year. Stewart saw action in 13 games and put in six points, grabbed seven rebounds and had six steals and five assists.

Outside of the team-voted awards, the Lakers also kept busy. Jensen, Ver Steeg and junior guard Peyton Johnsrud, who was second on the team at 14.18 points-per game, were All-West Central Conference after leading the team to a third-place conference finish at 10-4. BOLD won the league title at 13-1, and Melrose was second at 11-3 in the WCC. Hested was an honorable-mention All-WCC player for the Lakers.

Minnewaska was good on the court, but maybe even better in the classroom. The Lakers were the Minnesota Boys Basketball Coaches Association Class AA academic state champions. Jensen was an MBCA academic all-state representative. He was part of the WCC academic all-conference team with teammates Mitchell Gruber, Aiden Tank, Peyton Johnsrud, Connor Johnsrud, Jace Lindemann, Hested, Nelson, Ver Steeg, Cole Harste and Damon Uhde.

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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