I have been beyond lucky to meet some great people during our state tournament coverage over the last eight years.

One of those great people passed away this morning. Brent DeKok passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer.

DeKok was the long time coach at St. Mary's, who guided his Saints to the 2014 state title game. I'll never forget him laughing on the sidelines during the middle of that game as teams were trading three-pointers.

His battle with cancer became known across the state, which included him returning to coach a week after he had brain surgery.

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His peers loved him and that was none more evident than at the 2017 state tournament when he was named coach of the year and received a standing ovation from his fellow coaches.

DeKok would routinely have a chemotherapy treatment during the day and find the strength to be on the sideline that night.

His strength became the story of legend for those that follow North Dakota basketball.

The gyms will be darker without Brent's smile and energy and I will miss seeing him each year at the state tournament. But everyone tonight will remember the toughness of one of Bismarck's very best.