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Henning boys basketball playing in memory of teammate who died in car accident

Henning, Minn. - A jersey for Jacob Quam hangs in the classroom of Henning assistant boys basketball coach Mark Oscarson. Quam always thought it'd be cool if Henning had orange home jerseys to go along with their normal black, so his mother had o...

HenningQuamJersey.jpg
The Henning boys basketball team celebrates a Minnesota Class 1A, Section 6 title, holding the jersey of teammate Jacob Quam, who died in a car accident in 2017. Eric Morken / Forum News ServiceEric Morken / Forum News Service

Henning, Minn. - A jersey for Jacob Quam hangs in the classroom of Henning assistant boys basketball coach Mark Oscarson. Quam always thought it'd be cool if Henning had orange home jerseys to go along with their normal black, so his mother had orange jerseys made for the team with Quam's initials on every one.

Senior guard Dylan Trana is responsible for Quam's jersey. He brings it to every captain's meeting before each game.

On Wednesday, before Henning heads to its first Minnesota state boys basketball tournament since 1966, Trana will carry the jersey to Quam's grave.

"I'm glad I get to carry his jersey everywhere," Trana said of the orange jersey made in memory of Quam.

Quam was driving to work out on April 13, 2017, at around 6 a.m. His name was all over the sign-in sheet at the Henning High School weight room. He had his seat belt on and his cell phone in his pocket. He had his lights on to fight the fog.

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A semi heading west on Highway 210 near Vining crossed the center line and hit Quam head-on. The driver of the semi was found guilty of criminal vehicular homicide and misdemeanor careless driving. Although he had a valid commercial driving license at the time of the crash, the semi driver's driving privileges had been suspended or revoked seven times over the 18 years prior to the crash.

Trana's uncle was on the ambulance squad that pulled Quam's body from the car. Trana's dad told him before school Quam, his best friend, was dead.

"I think that's was the worst feeling I've ever felt," Trana said. "No, I know for a fact that's the worst thing that's ever happened to me."

No one on the basketball team knew what to do, so they ended up just playing basketball all day.

Adam Lange is a fellow senior captain on the basketball team with Trana. He was at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport when Trana called him the day Quam died. He was on his way to Florida for a family vacation. With his phone in his hand, he fell to his knees in the airport and cried. The family flew back to Brainerd and drove back to Henning.

"He was the same on the court and off the court," Lange said. "He was a super hard worker and always did things right."

Before this season's section tournament, the Henning basketball team shoveled a path to Quam's grave. A basketball going into a basket is on Quam's headstone.

"It's a good reminder that we are lucky to be here to play the game we love to play," Henning head coach Randy Misegades said. "It was a time to reflect and we left a conference championship T-shirt for him.

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"I don't know how to put it into words. You don't stop thinking about it. As time goes on, the kids get on with their lives, but at the same time, he's still a big part of it. We're trying to do everything we can to honor him."

Quam's nickname was "City Boy" because he came from Delano, Minn., in seventh grade. The team says city when they break huddles. Trana has "33" and "City Boy" written on his shoes.

The Hornets have said all season they are playing 6-on-5 because Quam is still with them. The phone number for the hotel Lange's mother booked for the state tournament ended in 3333. As Henning was driving to play in the section semifinal against Mahnomen-Waubun, they noticed a sign had the temperature at 33 degrees.

"We know that he's with us every game and all the time," Trana said.

Without Quam, Lange became the biggest player on the team. He had to take over the post at just 6-feet tall and the Hornets had to focus on speed rather than size in their game plan.

"It's definitely been a struggle, but I'll never give up," Lange said of taking over the big-man duties. "I'll never give up because of him."

Quam's mom and uncle were in the crowd when Trana carried Quam's jersey on a hanger to get a section championship medal put around it. He lifted the jersey to the crowd in celebration. It was a section championship game that saw Henning down eight with 4 minutes, 30 seconds remaining against the only team to beat the Hornets this season in Parkers Prairie.

"It was probably one of the best days of my life, and I'm sure a lot of people would say that on the basketball team," Trana said.

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The Hornets closed the game with a 16-6 run to win 60-58.

"The kids have taken us on a ride," Misegades said. "They don't want this to be done. It's just a group of kids who won't quit."

With an enrollment of 123, the boys basketball team is the only boys team at Henning that is not a co-op.

"Who knows how long we'll be able to hang on to that, but it's a little bit unique," Misegades said. "Henning has always been, for whatever reason, a basketball community. When our team is good, people show up. It's neat."

The Hornets will leave a section championship T-shirt at Quam's grave on Wednesday with the hopes of returning with a state championship T-shirt. They will head to the Class 1A state tournament as the No. 4 seed, taking on No. 5 seed Christ's Household of Faith at 1 p.m. Thursday at Williams Arena. They will wear the orange jerseys Quam's mother had made after he died and Quam always wanted, but never got to wear.

Quam was 6-3 as a sophomore. He would've been a starter and a captain as a senior on this Henning team that is 28-1 without him. Misegades one time asked his wife if she could imagine how good this team would be if they had Quam.

"He wasn't meant to be replaced," she said.

Related Topics: HENNINGBASKETBALL
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