Former Plains Horsemen basketball players Andy Swanson and Royce Johnston are hoping to help aid in carrying on the basketball tradition that is well-established in Plains.
In 2015, the two revived a basketball camp of champions, a three-day camp that will happen June 27-29 at Plains High School.
The registration deadline will be the morning of camp at 8:30 a.m. at Plains High School.
The camp is with the aim of teaching prospective Horsemen players the basic fundamental elements of the game, according to Swanson.
“The main thing that we focus on is the basketball fundamentals and learning the basketball fundamentals, especially with the younger kids,” Swanson said. “With the younger kids, we work on proper defensive positioning and the older kids work more on learning the game of basketball as far as defense, offense and how to move the ball. At the end of the day, we do a lot of fun activities.”
Swanson, a 1994 graduate of Plains High School, has a number of credentials with him to teach prospective Horsemen.
Swanson was a three-time all stater, scored just under 2,000 points for his career, and played collegiate ball at Dickinson State and Montana Western. During his time at Western, Swanson said he got to experience playing several teams at the NCAA Division I level in exhibition games.
“We actually played Gonzaga, Idaho State, and Idaho,” Swanson said. “At North Dakota State, we played North Dakota, South Dakota State, and just went all over the place between the two places.”
Swanson acknowledged that teaching a three-day basketball camp won’t make you a better basketball player but they hope to give several prospective Horsemen the tools to do so.
“I think, as much as anything, it reinforces what the coaches do as far as the program,” Swanson said. “When they hear about the fundamentals and the same things over and over again from the same people, it helps to have a third party to validate their system and what they are trying to achieve. Winning is done through the fundamentals, and learning the game is done the right way and installing that for the future.”
Royce Johnston, who played on the state championship winning 1987 team as a freshman, set a record for scoring 149 points in a four-game span and a single-season scoring record of 857 points in 1989-1990 and is the Horsemen all-time leading scorer with 1891 points, is now a teacher and coach in Coeur D’alene, Idaho.
“Someone who puts in the time and hard work can accomplish something and see themselves improve,” Johnston said. “There is a lot of improvement from the less experienced players from the first day of camp to the last day of camp. It’s like day and night, and to see improvement in themselves builds their confidence. It’s fun to work with them to accomplish something great.”
Johnston said he felt his first two seasons at Montana Western were “eye opening.”
“At first, it was pretty humbling to see all of those great players,” Johnston said. “After all of that great success, they recruited a bunch of guards and I red-shirted my freshman year. I ended up starting my junior and senior year. I was all-conference and led the team in scoring my senior season. I learned that hard work gets you to the top. There are no short cuts to top and experience is experience, good or bad. You can always learn from it.”
According to Erika Lawyer-Swanson, the sister of Royce Swanson, camps like this are just a piece of a ‘bigger picture’ to maintain a basketball culture in Plains.
Swanson, who was a cheerleader on the 87 team, said this will help build the foundation of trying to focus on the fundamentals. This past season, the Horsemen were ranked as high as No. 1 in Class-C.