Photo by Matthew Scherber
Nate Dahl and Jacob Bakeberg rush into the mosh pit student section with the section 8 AAAA champions plaque in hand. A roar from hundreds of students filled the gym as they celebrated with the team. The basketball team had just beat the Moorhead Spuds and was headed to the State Tournament for the fourth time in school history.
Hungry for a trip to the State Tournament the Buffalo boys basketball team has been dominant all season, finishing 21-6 and ranking 4th in all of AAAA. Led by Mr. Basketball finalist Nate Dahl ‘23, this year’s team has been one of the best in Buffalo history.
“I thought we were going to be pretty good going into the year, we had a lot of talent but we didn’t have a lot of varsity experience,” said Nate Dahl ‘23. “Coming back from last year. I knew it was going to take a while getting used to each other. We put in hard work and gained each other’s trust and we kind of figured it out.”
With little varsity experience, the team put in a lot of work in the offseason. They started off the season with nine straight wins and were regarded as one of the top AAAA teams in the state. Their games were heavily attended; Jake Bakeberg ‘23 said that the team was fueled by the support they received from their home crowds.
“It feels like the whole community is behind us,” Bakeberg said.
“The team is grateful for that and it makes them feel more confident and play harder.”
Head Coach Josh Ortmann knows all about the support from the community. When Ortmann’s 2009 State Champion team went to the championship game, the stadium was bursting with Buffalo fans. The community sold out the venue for that game, but Ortmann knows the dangers of overwhelming support.
“Coach tells us to focus on the game,” said Bakeberg, “and not let the things people are saying around the school get to our heads or inflate our egos.”
The boys basketball heads into the state tournament Tuesday, March 21st looking to earn another title. They will face off against the second ranked team in the state, Lakeville North. The support from the community will be present with over 1000 fans attending the majority are from fellow high school students.
At Target Center shirts reading “Section Champions” overwhelmed the arena. An unknowing fan would think both teams’ student section theme was purple since Buffalo fans took up the majority of the arena. There was a constant roar from the Buffalo student section that overpowered Lakeville’s student section. The game was a hard fought battle throughout with Lakeville’s shortest player being almost the same height as Buffalo’s tallest. As the seconds counted down the score 87-59 in favor of Lakeville. The Buffalo student section did their last chant “We still love you” three times and all the energy in the arena came to a screeching halt when the dreams of winning state were crushed. Underneath the defeat they knew they’d be back next year.