MADELIA, MINN. – This was the second meeting with Mankato Loyola in Jeff Van Hee’s ninth season as the Madelia Blackhawks boys’ basketball coach.
“We never beat them,” Van Hee said. “And I think it’s been four straight years since Loyola knocked us out in the subsection.”
Paul Carpenter, Madelia’s athletic director and Van Hee’s predecessor as a basketball coach, said, “When did we beat Loyola? I don’t remember that happening.”
So it was explainable last Saturday night in Madelia’s gymnasium (circa 1958), when Ja’Sean Glover blocked a three-point attempt, recovered the ball before midfield, broke free and dived at the last buzzer , as the Blackhawks bench erupted in jubilation.
It made the final 69-59, so it wasn’t a game-winner, but when you haven’t beaten a conference rival in ages… a closing dunk and exuberant celebration is allowed.
Losses have again been as common as wins this season for the Blackhawks, and they are expected to land at No. 6 or 7 when the standings are announced later this week for the robust 11-team Class 1A North Subdivision. section 2. .
Still, this winter has been wonderful for gathering the family and heading to Madelia Gymnasium to enjoy the final evenings of hoop entertainment provided by Glover.
Ja’Sean came to town with his mother, Jacquisha, and sister, Ollieah, in the summer of 2014. He was entering fifth grade, and by the middle of his seventh grade in the winter of 2016-17, he was a starter university.
“Seventh grader and about 5-foot-8, but there was no one on the court with a higher basketball IQ than Ja’Sean,” Van Hee said. “His family moved in across from the outdoor basketball court and, if you were looking for him, that’s where he was.”
Glover is now listed at 6-5, maybe a generous inch, but he has a great basketball frame, solid but not too thick, and these exceptional talents:
Speed with the ball, in defense and during the rise to the peak rebounds. Tremendous body control that allows him to split defenders and avoid charges on readers. Play fast while seeing your teammates.
“Some people say that’s my Kryptonite — being too selfless,” Glover said, with a slight laugh. “I love drawing in defenders, opening up my teammates and finding them with a pass.”
The real question Glover has heard from Division I scouts, both directly and indirectly, is about his jump shot.
“It’s not that I can’t shoot from the outside,” Glover said. “It’s that they haven’t seen me do much. We try to win games, and if I can, my first move is to miss [my] defender.”
As a witness last Saturday, allow me to offer this: Ja’Sean “may”.
He collected 45 points, including some three, against Loyola. He also had 18 rebounds, eight assists (seemed more), four blocks and three steals.
No team has been Ja’Sean’ed to a greater degree than the Cleveland High Clippers this winter. On December 20, in a 78-45 road win, he had a quadruple-double with 20 points, 11 rebounds, 11 steals and 10 assists. On January 31, he scored 60 points at home in an 88–50 win over the Clippers to break his school record.
Glover’s career point total is 2,929. There are two games left – one at home, one on the road – in the regular season and, at a minimum, one likely home game in the subsection.
This means that barring a stroke of luck, Glover will become Minnesota’s 13.and male basketball player to reach 3,000 points.
What would be another payoff for mom’s decision in 2014, when she lived in a Minneapolis shelter with her two children — Ja’Sean in fourth grade and Ollieah in third grade — and considered subsidized housing options, if inquired about a listing in Madelia, a small town (pop. 2,600) a few hours south.
“I had never heard of Madelia, and I knew it would be a drastic change, but I wanted my kids to be somewhere quiet,” said Jacquisha, who works in the city. “I went over there, took a look and said, ‘This is for us. “”
So calm that all Ja’Sean had to do when he arrived was step onto the outside court.
“I heard there was this new kid in town,” Van Hee said. “I didn’t really know him until Ja’Sean started hanging out with us, the people who run the youth program, between his fifth and sixth year.
“We had an early tournament – in Fulda, with [coach] Colby Pack – for those ages. I asked Ja’Sean if he wanted to play, giving us seven kids, and his eyes lit up.
“We went to pick him up and he had no basketball shoes…just his street sneakers that he wore every day.
“There were a bunch of teams at the tournament this weekend and no one had seen Ja’Sean before. Colby called me on Monday and said, ‘No one who was here forgot to say that Ja’Sean was the best player on the pitch.’ “
Winning or losing didn’t change much when Glover was on court for Madelia.
“It’s a great community,” Ja’Sean said. “For example, we had the big fire in 2016 that destroyed a block of Main Street, and the next day all you heard was, ‘Madelia Strong, we’re going to rebuild.’ And downtown is better than ever.
“You know we have La Plaza [Fiesta], law? The best Mexican restaurant you will find.”
Van Hee added several more items to Glover’s basketball resume, then said:
“Wait. I forgot to tell you that he could be as good an actor as he is a basketball player. He debuted this year as Jack of All Trades from ‘[The] Canterbury Tales’ in the school’s one-act play, and he was terrific.”