Subscribe for 33¢ / day

Century's Kade Amundson (42) has gone from role player to keg cog for the No. 1-ranked Patriots.


 Century has won and won and won some more in Kade Amundson's three years of varsity basketball.

 The Patriots have won 48 of 54 West Region games, 68 of 78 games overall and have brought home hardware from two state tournaments.

 That makes for an impressive resume as Amundson, a 6-foot-6 senior, traverses the final week of his high school basketball career. Yet he says there's still a void that needs to be filled as the state Class A tournament looms just hours away.

 Century, fifth in 2016 and runner-up to Minot last season, hasn't brought home the state championship trophy since 2011.

 "We all knew it, but we didn't want to look too far ahead," Amundson said of the team's frustration over last year's 56-42 state championship game loss to Minot. "But I think we all know there's some unfinished business there."

 For the second straight season the Patriots will enter the state tournament as the No. 1 seed from the West. They'll take on Grand Forks Red River, No. 4 from the East, at 2 p.m. Thursday in the tournament opener. The game is scheduled for the Sanford Health Athletic Complex in Fargo.

 This year is a little different, though. Century enters the fray as the state's top-ranked Class A team. And the Patriots are fresh off a 71-29 blowout win over Jamestown in the West Region tournament championship game. They're also riding the crest of an 18-game winning streak.

 Amundson said that 42-point spread in the West Region final has some meaning beyond the seeding benefits.

 "As the season ends we're getting right up there to where we could potentially be," he observed.

 He said he likes Century's chances at Fargo "as long as we play Century basketball."

"We don't want to see scores up in the 80s. ... Moving the ball from side to side, working it in and out and playing tough on defense is Patriot ball," he said.

 Amundson said the team turned a corner confidence-wise in the last half of January by winning four straight games against Jamestown, Bismarck, Mandan and Minot. Three of those games were on the road, and the victories over BHS and Mandan came three days apart on two-point buzzer-beaters.

 "That (Bismarck) game kind of set us in motion. ... That was a tough stretch in the season ... and it was a big confidence-booster for our team," he said.

 "It's exciting the way we've grown as a team," he noted. "When you look back you can see the team gradually growing and maturing."

  Amundson said hanging that 29 on Jamestown was the real takeaway from the regional title game.

 "Keeping a good team like Jamestown to 29 says something about your team and your defense," he noted. 

 Century head coach Darin Mattern said the regional final was CHS basketball in a nutshell.

 "We've been a team that's been consistent on the defensive end, we've been a team with great offensive balance in almost every game. ... And I've felt going into each game that we were going to get a great effort," Mattern said.

 Six-foot-3 senior forward Josh Sipes lit it up for 24 points last Saturday, Amundson popped in 15 and 6-1 junior Treyton Mattern tallied 11. Kade Lynch, a 6-1 senior, just missed double figures with nine.

 Balance was the standard for Century through the entire regional tournament. Three Patriots reached double figures in the 70-47 rout of Dickinson in the tournament opener. In Friday's 68-65 nail-biter semifinal with defending state champion Minot, Sipes with 23 led a four-man parade of double figure scorers.

 Amundson said his role with the Patriots has changed over the years. As a sophomore he was used primarily to provide size off the bench.

 Last year as a starter in the frontcourt alongside 6-6 Lucas Mayer, Amundson had some flexibility on offense. This season, though, he's been used primarily inside.

 "Last year I was able to go out on the high post, but this year I started down low and I've stayed down there," he said. 

 Another role Amundson has assumed is that of team captain, and he's enjoyed the experience.

 "Josh Sipes, Kade Lynch and I are captains. ... We feel the responsibility, along with that leadership role," Amundson said. "... We make sure everyone is ready for the games and lead them during the game. ... It's definitely more fun being a captain."

 Amundson said he wouldn't necessarily have predicted a 22-2 record and a No. 1 ranking in the media poll going into the state tournament. Still, he said the Patriots began preseason practice with high expectations.

 "We knew we had some work to do, but we knew we had great potential," he said. "We knew we'd be lacking Mayer on defense. He could basically guard anybody. ... We weren't cocky or anything, but we knew we could do it."

 Now only three games stand between the Patriots and their ultimate goal. Amundson said a determined and focused effort every night will be required to get it done.

 "Any team can beat anybody. There are no guarantees in the state tournament," he said. "Each game you've got to fight for your life. ... We have three more games and we've got to bring it for each one."

 Mattern said he's watched Amundson grow from a raw bundle of potential into a force to be reckoned with over the last three years.

 "You could tell as a sophomore that he had a tremendous skill set. ... He made a commitment to get stronger and has turned into a very good high school basketball player," Mattern said.

 Mattern said Amundson has become a vital part of the team on defense as well as offense.

 "He's kind of our stabilizing force on both ends of the floor," Mattern observed. "He's a very good low post player, but he's also skilled enough that he can put the ball on the floor and shoot the three. That makes him a very difficult player to guard."

  "You go to the other end of the floor and his length on the defensive end presents problems for the opposition because he's a very good defensive player and a good rebounder," Mattern continued.

 Mattern said Amundson, and the senior class as a whole, has given the team a zeal to excel.

 "They know collectively that this is their time, and we asked them what kind of a legacy they wanted to leave as a class," the coach said.


Sports Reporter