There are plenty of fathers coaching their sons on high school teams throughout the country, but not as many older brothers coaching younger brothers.
Apple Valley’s boys basketball team has had that situation for a few years with Jadee Jones on the staff as an assistant coach. His younger brother Tyus is the Eagles’ star point guard.
“He’s my best friend. He’s been there since Day 1,” Tyus Jones said. “When I was little, I was in the gym mainly because I was watching him play. He’s been pushing me to be the player I am today, so I thank him.”
Jadee Jones played high school basketball at De La Salle and Hopkins and in college at Furman and Minnesota State, Mankato. He earned a degree in exercise science at Minnesota State and trains youth players for Top Flight Basketball Academy. One of his duties at Apple Valley is overseeing the basketball team’s strength and conditioning program.
“There’s a lot of extra stuff – workouts, extra weight room sessions,” Jadee Jones said. “To be able to do this (win the state championship) for the first time, it feels like it makes all the work worth it.”
Apple Valley lost in the Section 3-4A championship game in 2011 and 2012. The Eagles came into this season with an experienced group of players determined to get past the section final hurdle.
“We have a lot of guys who naturally can get after it,” Jadee Jones said. “A lot of veterans, guys who have been playing together and working together for a long time. We prepared them with the weight room and a lot of extra sessions and it showed through.
“There’s definitely a difference in coaching a veteran team. We don’t have to spend a lot of time on motivation. We just have to figure out ways to challenge them. They’re kids, so have to stay on them and provide boundaries so they don’t stray.”
When asked what made the difference this season, Tyus Jones said “I think it was just work. We fell short the last few years, so we worked on the little things to get over the hump.”
And he had someone close by to make sure he knew the meaning of hard work.
Tyus Jones, Dustin Fronk and Dennis Austin represented Apple Valley on the Class 4A all-tournament team.
Jones had 70 points, 17 assists and 11 rebounds in three state tournament games. Austin had 49 points and 29 rebounds. Fronk had 40 points and 13 rebounds.
Last week Jones also earned his second consecutive Gatorade Minnesota Player of the Year award after averaging 21 points, eight assists and four rebounds a game in 2012-13. He was the St. Paul Pioneer Press Player of the Year, the Associated Press Minnesota Player of the Year and was named to the Star Tribune All-Metro team. De La Salle junior Reid Travis was the Star Tribune’s Metro Player of the Year.
Zach Goring is the fourth head coach to take an Apple Valley boys team to the state basketball tournament, but he’s the only one to get there as an Eagles coach and player.
In 1994, Goring’s junior season, the Eagles reached state but lost to Hopkins in the quarterfinals. That was the final year of the two-class state tournament. The one-class “Sweet 16” experiment lasted two years, then was replaced in 1997 by the current four-class format.
Goring, who went on to play at St. Cloud State, holds Apple Valley single-game and single-season records for assists. Goring’s school record for career assists was broken by his current point guard, Tyus Jones, during the 2012-13 season.
He was an assistant coach for Apple Valley teams that reached state in 2007 and 2009 before taking over as head coach in the 2009-10 season.
“I love Apple Valley High School,” Goring said. “I had a good experience there, and I didn’t go very far.”
The other coaches to lead Apple Valley boys basketball teams to state are Paul Trewick (1988), Steve Elness (1994, 2000) and Mike Fritze (2007, 2009). Fritze remained on staff as an assistant coach until this year when he became an assistant football coach at the University of Minnesota, Crookston.
Recent Apple Valley teams lacked size, but that changed this year with the addition of 6-foot-10 freshman Brock Bertram. The Eagles didn’t necessarily need him to score, although he averaged 11 points a game, but his contributions on the boards and the defensive end were significant.
In the Class 4A championship game against Park Center, the Pirates found it difficult to get shots from the lane as long as Bertram was on the floor. In its previous game in the state semifinals, Park Center succeeded in getting 6-9 Edina center Reggie Lynch in foul trouble, then had its way when Edina was forced to go to a smaller lineup.
The Pirates tried going at Bertram, but the Eagles typically filled the lane with at least one other player, usually junior forward Dennis Austin. Bertram took just one foul in the first half and was not in danger of fouling out before the Eagles were out of danger in the second half. Apple Valley went on to win 74-57.
Bertram had eight points, nine rebounds and five blocks in the championship game. He pulled down 13 rebounds in Apple Valley’s state semifinal victory over Eden Prairie.
“We tell him, ‘Just keep your hands back and be 6-10. Make them take tough shots over you,’” Goring said. “He had a great tournament.”
“We know we can score,” Bertram said Saturday night as the Eagles were cutting down the net. “We just need to play defense. When we do that, we’re pretty tough to beat.
“This was a good night for one of the best games I’ve ever had.”