30 years after playing in state tournaments, 3 Central Cass dads now get to watch their sons do the same
Mike Kobbervig, Corey Cruchet and Ryan Bosse each played in the North Dakota state A and B basketball tournaments in 1993 and their sons are set to play on the same stage.
FARGO — It's been three decades, but Mike Kobbervig, Corey Cruchet and Ryan Bosse remember their state tournament experiences like it was yesterday.
"Every year when basketball season rolls around, it's a story I can share with my kids and my family," Bosse said. "They get sick and tired of hearing about it, so the most exciting thing right now is that (Bosse's son) Mason is going to get to participate in the same tournament and he'll have these same stories to tell one day."
Bosse played for the Sargent Central team that qualified for the State B tournament in 1993. Kobbervig and Cruchet were part of the Valley City team that advanced to the State A tourney that same season.
Now, 30 years later, the trio will get to watch their sons do the same when the Central Cass Squirrels take the court at the Bismarck Event Center on Thursday for this year's State B.
Sam Kobbervig, Colton Cruchet and Mason Bosse all play for the Squirrels, who enter the tournament as the top seed at 23-0 and the No. 1-ranked team in the state.
"It makes you really proud to have them be a part of the same tournament and have some of the same experiences we had growing up," Ryan Bosse said.
Central Cass its making its first tournament appearance since 2011 after steamrolling through Region 1 competition this season.
"It's just been an amazing ride," Mike Kobbervig said. "You look at Casselton, and there's been quite a drought since the last Class B championship in 1968. So if they could potentially win this, it just adds that cherry on top of a pretty magical season for Central Cass."
Sam Kobbervig is a senior, just like his father was 30 years ago for the Hi-Liners. The 6-foot-2 guard is one of the Squirrels' top offensive threats at an average of 12.8 points per game.
Mason Bosse, also a senior, leads the team in field goal percentage at 63.4 percent.
Colton Cruchet is only a freshman while his brother Tyler serves as a student coach.
"Colton being a freshman, it's a great opportunity for him to learn from guys like Mason, Sam and some of these other guys and get excited about the next three years of his basketball career here at Casselton," Corey Cruchet said.
Parallel to Sam and Mike Kobbervig, Tyler Cruchet is a junior this season as Corey was three decades ago. He was supposed to join brother Colton as a player on this year's squad before a devastating injury sidelined him during Central Cass' state football run.
"My junior got hurt in the state football title game," Corey Cruchet said. "But I'm glad he can be a part of it as a student coach. So that will be fun too. "
Although the dads didn't win state titles in '93, they still made many great memories along the way.
"The atmosphere in Bismarck is always great," Ryan Bosse said. "Coming from a small town, we were used to playing in packed gyms, but not a gym of that size. So all of the people there and getting the chance to play on TV was a big deal for us. "
“Unfortunately or fortunately for me, it was probably less about the basketball and more about the relationships and times spent together that weekend,” Mike Kobbervig said. “We ended up having one of our star guys shave his head, which was kind of unheard of at that time. We all collected money and watched it. It was kind of a collaboration with West Fargo who was our big rival, so it was kind of a neat experience.”
Kobbervig also recalls living the high life, parading around Minot in a limousine with his senior teammates.
“One of the parents of our star center paid for us to take a limo ride together,” he said. “The seniors — we started five seniors and drove around Minot. Just kind of spending that time reminiscing, which was pretty cool.”
Corey Cruchet’s favorite state tournament moment? Making a bucket from point-blank range.
“I wasn’t really known for my rebounding or two-point shooting,” Cruchet said. “For me in the opening round, I actually got an offensive rebound and scored a two-point basket which was pretty rare for me. That sounds like it shouldn’t be a memory, but for me, I think I hit seventy-something 3s that year so I can remember more of the twos than I can the 3s.”
Not only does Corey get to watch Colton play and Tyler coach in Bismarck this weekend, but his father Al Cruchet was also the head coach of the Hi-Liners during their State A appearance in ‘93 and was voted North Dakota High School Coaches Association Class A Coach of the Year that same season.
“It was probably like any other father-son coaching combo,” Corey Cruchet said. “Good and bad, more good than bad. I had a lot of fun doing it with my dad. He was a pretty good player at Carrington and he’s been taking me to practices since I was little. It was rewarding more than anything I’d say.”
The fathers said none of their three kids have asked for any advice just yet about playing on the big stage. The advice they would offer, however?
“My son isn’t that big on talk,” Ryan Bosse said. “I usually just stay away unless he asks me for some advice or has a question on something. I don’t give him a lot of feedback. But if I had any advice at all, it would be to just lay it out all on the line these next three games. Because this is it. Just go out, play loose and and just really have a ton of fun. And whatever happens, happens.”
“If I were to give (Colton) advice, it’d be to learn from these guys and then take that forward with your teams the next three years,” Corey Cruchet added. “He’s got a great opportunity to see the excitement and see these guys close out their careers the way they want. Just enjoy the ride and learn.”
Mike Kobbervig has already been through this phase once this season with his daughter Abby on the Central Cass girls basketball team that won its first Class B title in Minot two weeks ago.
“I just kind of let (Sam) be,” Mike Kobbervig said. “I will have some conversations before he takes off. My daughter was lucky enough to be on the team for the girls. I tried to stress to her to just be present and be in the moment. Don’t project things and just soak it all in. Take some pictures, take video and just be in the moment and experience as much of it as you can.”
Much like the girls tournament in Minot, the last person to leave Casselton for Bismarck this weekend better remember to shut the lights off as surely the entire town will be there.
“I’ll be there for sure,” Ryan Bosse said. “Wouldn’t miss it.”
“If they play like I think they can, I think we can have a successful tournament,” Corey Cruchet said. “If they play like they can and like they’ve proven, I think it’ll be a fun weekend for the boys.”
“The team that plays the best in those three games is going to win it,” Mike Kobbervig said. “If we can play our best basketball, we can definitely be very successful.”