It’s ‘Family Day’ for Warriors in 5A tourney

OGDEN — It turned out to be “Family Day” for Weber High’s boys basketball team in Monday’s opening round of the 5A state tournament.
The Warriors’ star guard, Hayden Schenck, finally got his chance to play on the Dee Events Center floor in front of his grandfather, longtime DEC usher Dee Schenck, who started bringing little Hayden to watch college and high school games at Weber State’s arena since Hayden was a little boy.
Also among the large throng of Weber High fans was Hali Larsen, the wife of Warriors head coach Mark Larsen. Normally, that wouldn’t be overly noteworthy, except that Hali was holding a little bundle of joy named Chaselyn — the couple’s baby girl who was born just five days earlier.
“I’ve been coming to games here with my Dad (Todd) and my Grandpa Dee for my whole life, so it’s really special and cool to come here and play while he’s ushering here,” said Hayden, the leading 5A scorer in the state with an average of 26.3 points per game coming into Monday’s tourney opener, when he scored 17 in the Warriors’ 68-39 win over West High. “So it’s a cool moment for me.
“He’s been ready for this ever since I was little and I was coming to tournaments with my Dad and him and he was excited,” Hayden said of his 74-year-old grandfather, who has worked as an usher at the Dee Center ever since the arena opened back in 1978. “It was fun to play when he was here (watching the game courtside) and my parents were here, too.”
Dee Schenck worked at Weber State’s bookstore for 35 years before retiring a dozen years ago. But he has continued his role as an usher at Weber State’s “Purple Palace.”
On Monday, Grandpa Dee watched intently from a ringside seat — actually, he stood up pretty much the whole game — and there was nobody more proud in the Dee Center than him after the Warriors’ successful 5A tourney debut.
“Can you believe that?” Dee said with a big smile on his face. “Ever since this facility was built, I’ve been here and this is the first time I’ve had a grandson or anybody that was close to me that I’ve been able to watch play. So this is great.”
Actually, Dee’s son Todd, who is Hayden’s dad, played on the Wildcats’ freshman team — they called ‘em the “Wildkittens” back in those days, a program that no longer exists — for then-Weber State assistant coach Dick Hunsaker.
Monday’s game was especially sweet for the Schenck clan because a year ago, Hayden tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in Weber’s state tournament opener. But he was determined to rehabilitate the injury in order to salvage his senior season.
Well, after leading the Warriors to this year’s Region 1 title and leading the state’s 5A ranks in scoring, you could certainly say “mission accomplished.”
“It can’t get any better than this, right?” Dee said, “even from a grandpa point of view. I’ve watched a lot of basketball, and he’s a good basketball player. He worked hard during the summer; he worked hard on his leg rehabbing it and on his shooting.
“And he watched a lot of good players here at Weber State when he was growing up.”
Meanwhile, Coach Larsen’s infant daughter got a chance to watch some pretty good players, too, in Monday’s first-round action at the DEC — although she slept through most of it.
“A week ago at this time, we were wondering about if the baby was gonna be here,” Larsen said. “We were a day away from our last game, trying to clinch the region title. They induced my wife last Wednesday, the day after we won the region championship, and the baby made it here perfectly and is home and things are great and I was able to coach in that last (region) game.
“Actually, my wife is here with the baby today. She told me she wasn’t gonna miss the game; I told her fine, you’ve got to sit in the rafters, but she was only about 12 rows up. She doesn’t listen very well, but she’s doing a good job of keeping (the baby) covered up.
“I guess she’s the region title baby, or whatever you wanna call it,” Larsen said. “It’s great, it’s an awesome thing.”
email: rhollis@deseretnews.com

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