Mount Burromore: Henningsgard the latest in long line of standout Burro ballers

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Posted: Friday, January 17, 2020 6:00 am

Carson Henningsgard has cemented his place in Burros basketball lore, even if his high school career hasn’t wrapped up yet.

The Hillsboro-Central Valley senior point guard has two Class B titles under his belt after the Burros’ last-second championship game wins in 2017 and 2018.

Henningsgard took home state tournament MVP honors in Bismarck in 2018 as a sophomore after guiding H-CV to a dramatic 73-71 overtime win over Minot Ryan.

Midway through his senior season – and fresh off carrying his team to a come-from-behind 53-43 win over the Thompson Tommies a week ago – Henningsgard has a chance to make history for the Burros in the months ahead.

Twice named first team all-state by the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, Henningsgard should be a near-lock to be picked for the honor a third time this spring.

Only two players have been named first team all-state three times since the awards were created in 1977: North Star’s Jacob Hagler (2011-13) and Grenora’s Hunter Berg (1993-95).

There’s a good chance Henningsgard will be included as a finalist for Mr. Basketball as well, putting him alongside a trio of Burros: Andy Leraas (2005), Chipper Hanson (1991) and H-CV boys basketball coach Elliot Rotvold (1986).

Where does Henningsgard rank among the greats who have worn Burro blue under Rotvold and the late Hall of Fame coach Ed Beyer, who led Hillsboro to four titles?

The Banner reached out to a dozen people ­– former players, coaches, athletic directors and a longtime radio broadcaster – asking them to pick four ballers they’d carve in stone on the Mount Rushmore of Burros basketball. Here are their picks.


Elliot Rotvold

Rotvold piled up 494 points (19 ppg) as a senior in 1986, when the Burros went 21-5 and finished fourth at the state Class B tournament. He scored 1,274 in his career.

The Hillsboro native hasn’t done too badly as a coach, either, winning more than 400 games and three state titles in his stints in South Dakota and Hillsboro.

Rotvold’s picks for his foursome of best Burros: Hanson (23.8 ppg in 1991), Doug Waters (23.6 ppg in 1984), Kyle Meyer (17.2 ppg in 1981) and Henningsgard.

“Doug was a tough matchup for everybody,” Rotvold says. “Carson isn’t the greatest athlete I’ve coached, but he’s as good a basketball player as I’ve been around.”

“He understands the game. I’d put him right up there.”


Dave Nelson

Dave Nelson, H-CV’s athletic director, averaged 17.6 points a game and led the 26-3 Burros to the state Class B title over tiny Epping in 1977.

Nelson’s picks: Hanson, Waters, two-time state champ Tom Olsen (8.7 ppg in 1974) and Bill McLean (18.6 ppg in 1968).

Olsen didn’t compile gaudy offensive numbers, but Beyer, who passed away in 2016, didn’t ask his guards to shoot, says Nelson, Beyer’s son-in-law.

“Tom never scored but he was one of the best players around,” Nelson says.

“Bill McLean was a really good player, but nobody was on TV at that time so you didn’t get to see those guys play. He was smart, heady, gritty.

“Chipper and Doug were really good players on really good teams.”


Kyle Morehart

Morehart, a Hillsboro junior high math teacher, was a junior guard on Beyer’s 25-1 Hillsboro team that took third at state in 1984.

He averaged 12.3 points a game as a senior when the Burros went 21-2.

There’s no doubt in Morehart’s mind the best Burro to ever suit up was Waters.

“He was a Gatorade All-American. He was the best player, the most gifted, the most talented, and I got to play with him,” Morehart says.

His other choices: Nelson, Hanson and Meyer, a member of Beyer’s only undefeated team that went 26-0 en route to the state championship in 1981.

The Burros crushed Edmore 80-53 for the title that year.

“Meyer was probably the best post player we ever had,” Morehart says. “He was called ‘The Enforcer’ for a reason.”


Tom Olsen

Olsen, the owner of Olsen Hardware in Hillsboro and a longtime area referee, was a point guard on Hillsboro’s back-to-back championship teams in 1973 and 1974.

He picked Hanson, McLean, Waters and Rotvold on his basketball Mount Rushmore, although he had high praise for Morehart’s abilities in the backcourt.

“Kyle was entertaining to watch. He was a great passer,” he says.

“Doug Waters was a force. Chipper was a force. Billy McLean wasn’t a normal guard because he shot the ball,” Olsen says.

“If you talk to most Burros guards coached by Ed Beyer, you know that it wasn’t necessarily one of our jobs to score.”


Doug Waters

Waters averaged 23.6 points and 9.4 rebounds a game as a senior in 1984, when Beyer’s Burros finished 25-1 and placed third at state.

He went 87-5 in his career and was a freshman when Hillsboro won the title in 1981.

The former power forward tabbed Morehart, Meyer, Nelson and Leraas on his fab four.

“Basketball was a little bit different back in that era,” Waters says. “We had one of the first teams that Eddie let run up and down the court a little bit.

“My freshman year every game was 40 to 25. I think they added the 3-pointer my senior year, but if there were 7 or 10 attempts the whole year that would have been it.”


Randy Vigen

Former longtime Central Valley athletic director Randy Vigen saw his share of talented Burros over the years before becoming H-CV’s co-athletic director when the sports co-op with Hillsboro started in 2012.

Central Valley had one first team all-state player, his son, Brent, in 1993.

Curt Hong, Jack Camrud, Kyle Henningsgard, Chris Hong and John Schumacher were named to the second team.

Vigen would put Carson Henningsgard, McLean, Nelson and Rotvold near the top of his list as the best to wear a Burros uniform.

But a half-dozen Hillsboro players from the ’60s and ’70s aren’t far behind.

Along with Waters in the 1980s, Steve Letnes, Bill Koering, Steve Carnal and two-time champ and big man Keith Meyer deserve consideration as well, Vigen says.

“Carson is a multi-sport guy who is also a leader. He’s someone who can really take his game up a notch and dominate a game when it’s needed,” Vigen says.


John Hutchison

John Hutchison played on Beyer’s first team in Hillsboro in 1960-61.

The longtime Northwood coach and athletic director was a junior when Hillsboro went 19-6 and made its first state tournament appearance in 1962.

Hutchison’s top four Burros: Hanson, Leraas, Kyle Meyer and McLean.

Hanson finished his career two points shy of 1,900, while Leraas had more than 1,400 and Meyer notched more than 1,300 as a three-year starter, Hutchison points out.

“McLean was probably Coach Beyer’s best floor leader,” he adds.

Other notables for Hutchison: Waters, Nelson, Rotvold, Don Halvorson (another member of the 1962 state team) and Grut Anderson.


Dan Keating

Announcer Dan Keating of KMAV Radio has covered his share of Burros boys basketball games the past 27 years since moving to Mayville.

Keating picked Carson Henningsgard, Rotvold and Leraas as a few of the best Burros he’s had the chance to cover on the radio.

Keating broke tradition and tossed Beyer up on his basketball Mount Rushmore.

“Ed was the guy that really got them rolling,” Keating says. “Rotvold was really good and Leraas was a Mr. Basketball finalist.”

Keating’s honorable mentions include Kyle Meyer, Hutchison and Kacey Coles, who made first team all-state as a senior in 1999 playing for Rotvold.


Andy Leraas

Andy Leraas averaged 20 points and 14 rebounds and was picked as a Mr. Basketball finalist as a senior in 2005.

The 6-6 Hillsboro native tallied double-digit rebounds in all 25 games that year and had double-doubles in 23 of them.

The financial adviser at Thrivent Financial in Minot called it an honor to be included on the list of Burros greats.

“There’s such a tradition with Burros basketball through the years, so for anyone to recommend me on that list is pretty incredible,” he says.

Leraas selected Hanson, Carson Henningsgard, Waters and Rotvold as his top four.

“Carson has the state titles and the personal stats to go along with it,” Leraas says.


Chipper Hanson

Chipper Hanson averaged 23.8 points a game as a senior in 1991.

The Burros went 22-2 that year but fell 42-33 to Litchville in the region title game.

Hanson finished his prep career with 770 rebounds and a school record 1,898 points.

Now a project manager at Boston Scientific in Maple Grove, Minn., Hanson picked Morehart, Waters, Kyle Meyer and Rotvold as his fab four.

“(Morehart) was amazing with the basketball and Doug was probably the most talented player that I ever saw play,” Hanson says. “(Meyer) was really good and Elliot was a basketball mind out there, just a really smart player.

“Hillsboro had so many talented players in the early ’80s and early ’90s, but the one guy who made us all good was Ed.”


Keith Meyer

Like Olsen, Keith Meyer was a key cog in the Burros’ state title wins in 1973 and 1974.

He had 849 points in his career and averaged 16.1 a game his senior year when Hillsboro went 26-2 and beat Minto 65-62 for its second straight championship.

Meyer picked McLean – calling him the finest pure shooter Hillsboro has seen – and Kyle Meyer – the best big man to play for the Burros – as two of his top picks.

His final pair includes Morehart and Carson Henningsgard.

“(Morehart) introduced Hillsboro to moves and shots we had never seen before,” he says.

“(Carson) is the best pure scorer we’ve ever had. If H-CV needs points, he goes and gets them. … He gets his points, but not one person could dream of calling him a selfish player because he finds his teammates so well.”


Carson Henningsgard

Carson Henningsgard entered the 2019-20 year with 1,212 career points after averaging 20.9 points a game as a junior.

He’ll finish his senior year as the Burros’ all-time assists leader and ranked first in career steals before H-CV even tipped off its first game in December.

Does Henningsgard think he belongs among the Burros’ all-time hoops greats?

“I don’t really know. I wasn’t around when all the people played, but it’s an honor to be thrown out there in the top four,” he says.

He’ll at least claim to be better than his older brother, Kyle, who hit the last-second shot to help the Burros beat Four Winds-Minnewaukan in the title game in 2017, right?

“We’d have to play one-on-one and see,” Henningsgard says, laughing. “That’s not a question I like to answer. I’ll let other people answer that.”

Henningsgard and the Burros still have their sights set on another state tournament berth in March. And believe it or not, he thinks he can still improve his game by then.

“I’m doing what I can to help the team and win a state championship,” he says.

“I can still be better. But in order to do that we need to come to practice and work hard every day.

“And I need to keep working and doing what I can to help the team win.”

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