Columbia Heights senior guard Quentin Hardrict experienced the highs and lows of the Hylanders’ run to the Class 3A boys’ basketball championship game.
Fans roared as Columbia Heights dethroned six-time state champion DeLaSalle in the semifinals. And some voiced their displeasure with Hardrict’s actions after the title game loss to Delano.
Hardrict spoke with Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque about all aspects of a memorable Mach.
Q When did you make the jump to varsity?
A I suited up my freshman year and played, like, four games. Sophomore year I started. We had three sophomores starting, actually. Me, Deundra Roberson and Wendell Matthews.
Q When head coach Willie Braziel came in for your junior year, what impression did he make on you?
A How confident he was in us. I think there were times where he believed in us more than we believed in ourselves. He and [assistant coach Dedrick Jenkins] did everything in their power to make sure we reached our goals.
Q Braziel said earlier in your career you were too reactionary when things went bad in a game. He said he challenged you in that area, to be a better leader for the team. What was that process like?
A He always tells me that the team feeds off my energy. So going into every game, I try my best to keep my energy positive. My parents are telling me the same things he’s telling me and I just try to follow their advice.
Q DeLaSalle knocked you out of the winner’s bracket last season. Is that where motivation started for this season?
A Losing that game hit us hard because we played the third-place game at Concordia and we knew that we didn’t want to go back there. We were in the same situation against the same team this year so we came out with the mind-set of not going back.
Q You made the steal at the end of the game and then just sat on the floor. Is that coached or is that instinct?
A It was instinct. The ball was right there, I dived on it and I watched the clock. It was the longest five seconds of my life.
Q What kind of response did you receive?
A My phone was blowing up after that game. A lot of people I didn’t even know were texting me.
Q Was it tough to come back after such an emotional victory?
A Beating DeLaSalle almost felt like we won the championship, honestly. So, I don’t think we took Delano as serious as we should have.
Q Is there anything you look back and wish you’d done differently?
A The problem in that game was we took it too lightly in the first half. We had guys with fouls and I think if the three seniors were in the game, we would have put the pressure on Delano even more.
Q What happened with the medal ceremony? There were some sportsmanship concerns voiced by the public.
A I would like to apologize for my actions. They put the medal around my neck and as I was walking back to where my teammates were standing, I took it off. Then the Delano crowd started to boo. I just want people to know that my emotions were high and I didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal.
Q You fell short in the championship game but two state tournaments in two years and one second-place trophy is a pretty good legacy.
A Yeah, I feel like we brought the school some hardware, some banners. We could’ve done more but we did the best we could.