Dairy kids part of winning team

Lake City boys basketball team places second at state tournament

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LAKE CITY, Minn. — The Lake City boys basketball team found success on the court, taking second place in the Minnesota Class AA state tournament.

Centers Rylee Fick and Connor Burgeson are both active on dairy farms. Fick is the son of Troy and Tara Fick, and Connor is the son of Heidi Burgeson.

Last year, the Lake City boys basketball team narrowly missed the state tournament, losing in sections to local rival Plainview-Elgin-Millville Community Schools by a 3-point shot.

“Losing last year hurt, especially by one 3-pointer with two seconds on the clock left,” Connor said. “So all season, all of us on the team had a mindset that we needed to win.”

The last time the team was in the state tournament was 2019.

Connor said the highlight of his season was going to state. The 6-foot-8 senior’s season statistics included 23 offensive rebounds and 22 defensive rebounds.

“Not everyone gets to experience (state) and play basketball and do what they love,” Connor said.

It is a different environment playing in Williams Arena or the Target Center than your home gym, Connor said.

Rylee said a highlight for him this season was playing well in the postseason.

“I was very surprised,” Rylee said. “I thought I’d be more nervous.”

Rylee, a starting senior for Lake City, was chosen for the Class AA all-tournament team. He made his first double-double with 10 points and 18 rebounds in the first game of the regular state tournament.

After missing state so narrowly last season, the team was looking toward the state tournament all year, Connor said.

“We hoped we’d make state,” Connor said. “You’re not 100% sure, but (you have a good feeling).”

Connor’s and Rylee’s mothers said that the community has had high expectations for this team’s success for a long time.

“They’ve been called our dream team,” Heidi said.

Tara agreed.

“Everybody had the mindset … that these boys were going to go somewhere when they’re seniors,” Tara said. “They’ve said it for years.”

Rylee and Connor, who are friends, have been playing together since they were on a basketball team in third grade.

Both athletes are active on the farm, especially with fieldwork.

Rylee’s family milks 250 cows and farms 800 owned and rented acres near Lake City. Rylee helps with many aspects of fieldwork such as driving the silage truck, helping chop corn and hay, and hauling manure from the slurry in the spring and fall. He also helps bed calves and administer vaccinations.

Connor’s family has 185 head of beef cattle and farms about 1,300 owned and rented acres in addition to custom work. Connor helps with plowing and digging, driving grain carts, making corn stalk bales and custom farming. He also helps with bedding, feeding and hauling manure.

Connor also milks three days a week for Jake Wiebusch on the farm his parents, Jeff and Ruby, own near Lake City. The Wiebusches milk 125 cows in a double-12 parallel parlor and farm 350 acres.

The two athletes said only two other members of their team have rural backgrounds.

Rylee said coming from a farm feels different.

“You don’t have all that time to put into basketball like some of the town kids do,” he said.

Both athletes said they have learned communication on the farm and have taken it to their sport.

“Basketball is a team sport,” Rylee said. “You need to communicate to know what’s going on, on the court.”

Rylee also mentioned work ethic.

“Put in your time, and you’ll get results,” he said.

Connor also said farming makes him more aggressive on the court.

“You play stronger; you have a better mindset,” Connor said. “Farming isn’t always easy, and neither is basketball. You know you’re going to go through ups and downs, and that’s a lot to do with farming too.”

Both boys have early work release from school. In the spring and fall, they use the release to work on the farm. Over winter, they use their release to work together at Millville Valley Meats.

In the future, Rylee hopes to work full time for Ag Partners. He already has been working for the company during the summer.

Connor hopes to apprentice at Knobelsdorff, building solar panels. Connor said his dream is to have a beef and crop farm as well.

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