02/27/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/26/2021 18:36
February 26, 2021 6:00 pm
By Tom Mix
NDHSAA Media Specialist
WHITE SHIELD, N.D. - The points have piled up for White Shield senior basketball standout Jesse White over the years. It seems like every night there is a new video clip of the 5-foot-11 guard draining a 3-pointer at the buzzer or making a highlight-reel pass to one of his teammates.
White is the definition of a 'must see' player and his ascension on the state's unofficial Class B career scoring list this winter has made him a household name on the North Dakota prep basketball scene.
'He is playing outstanding basketball for us this season,' White Shield head coach Brad Kroupa said. 'The amount of work he put in on his game last spring and summer is really showing up on the court. He has studied the game and has improved his skills. We knew the amount of work he was putting in during the offseason so what he has been doing on the court was something we expected he would be doing.'
White Shield is the No. 1 seed in the Class B, District 15 Tournament that begins Friday, February 26 at the Rough Rider Center in Watford City. The Warriors have a first-round bye and will play in the semifinals on Saturday, February 27.
White is on a trajectory to make some more history in that semifinal game on Saturday.
White currently has scored over 2,700 career points which is good for No. 3 all-time on the state's unofficial Class B career scoring list. He's catapulted up the list this winter and is only single digits away from eclipsing Ron Waggoner of New Town who scored 2,714 points for the Eagles in the 1960s. Steve Blehm of North Dakota School of the Deaf holds the unofficial Class B career scoring record with 3,930 points.
White first started logging varsity minutes as a seventh grader and his ability to score was prevalent early. That led many to think one day he could be one of the names every basketball fan inevitably sees when looking at the annual North Dakota Hoopster Magazine. Appearing on a list of some of the best Class B players of all-time is great in all, but White wants the White Shield Warriors to appear in this year's Class B State Tournament. That and that alone is what White and his teammates are focusing on as the postseason draws closer.
'It was always something that has been there and my family has talked about it,' White said of the career scoring list. 'All I'm focused on is making it to the state tournament. It's OK to stop and admire your hard work and I'm so blessed to be in the position that I am in. To see all of the names of the great players that played the game before me is cool. I'm honored to be where I am.'
White is serious about basketball. He puts in numerous hours in the gym year round, but basketball is also a source of enjoyment that White never takes for granted.
'I love the sound the ball makes on the court when you dribble and I love seeing the ball go through the net,' White said. 'I also love the friendships playing basketball creates. Basketball brings my people together. It's also an escape for me to get my mind off things and enjoy myself.'
The Warriors have played a tough non-district schedule this winter. White and the Warriors have thrived on the competition.
'Our goal from day one this season was work toward making it to state,' White said. 'We have great chemistry on our team. If we do the little things like hustle for 50/50 balls and rebound come tournament time we'll get there.'
White's been a player to watch for some time now, but this winter his profile has increased. A lot of people outside the western region of North Dakota were introduced to White's prowess on the basketball court through a MIDCO-TV feature story produced by Jody Norstedt.
Perhaps his greatest highlights of the year came in a 73-70 overtime win over District 15-rival Parshall on February 9. White hit a buzzer-beater 3-pointer to force overtime and then another buzzer-beater 3-pointer to win the game. The video clip made the rounds on social media, but again Kroupa wasn't surprised.
'He thrives in those situations,' Kroupa said. 'He wants the spotlight and the ball in his hands during those crucial possessions.'
White said he was happy to just get the win.
'That was a fun moment,' White said. 'There was a lot of excitement in the gym. I didn't want to lose.'
If there has been a 'slam dunk' about this unique boys basketball season it has been that if Jesse White is in the gym something exciting is likely to happen.