In a program as seasoned and established as the Havre High boys basketball program, fans and followers are bound to come across some familiar names through the years.
And if a fan has been on the Hi-Line long enough, the names Kade and Nate Rismon, two names that currently take up starting slots on the HHS roster, may ring a familiar bell. That is because Shawn Rismon, a graduate from Havre High had a standout career as an HHS guard in the early 1990s. Kade will graduate from Havre High this year, while Nate is still a sophomore. But Shawn hasn’t suited up in his Blue Pony uniform since a standout senior season in 1991.
Shawn’s playing days were a little before Curt Leeds’ time, but the current head coach of the Ponies has heard the stories and has ties to the Rismon family as the current Rismon boys have started for Leeds the last two seasons.
“They have been starting together for two years now, and it has been fun coaching both of them,” Leeds said. “They are very, very polite kids; they listen, have a great work ethic and play very hard. It really has been a joy to coach both of them.
“And I think that their dad’s success has helped them a lot,” Leeds added. “Their dad obviously knows quite a bit about the game of basketball and played on what might be one of the greatest Havre High teams ever.”
It is safe to say that most parents would love to see their children have the same success and experiences, but beyond that, parents typically also want even more success for their children than they had. That will be tough to do for Kade and Nate because dad Shawn was part of season Blue Pony fans will never forget.
The 1991 season included the Blue Ponies reeling off 23 consecutive wins en route to a Central A championship, when the Central A was one of the premier leagues in all of Montana high school basketball. Unfortunately, the biggest win was the one that never came, a win in the state championship game. After a dominating 23-game stretch, the Ponies were heavily favored to win it all. But a loss in the state semifinals to Laurel followed by a loss in the state consolation game was not the sweet ending fans and players were hoping for. But Shawn was also a part of the last team that won the Ole Goat trophy from the longtime rivalry with HHS and Class AA Great Falls High. Not only did the Ponies sweep the Bison that year, the Ponies also swept the Class AA CMR Rustlers.
“It is pretty cool playing for the same program my dad played for,” Kade said. “I would have loved to experience the same success he did. They hit their stride and were tough to beat, but it is still pretty cool knowing he played here. And there are a lot of stories we have heard. We have heard the ones, a few times, about how they were able to score over 100 points in a couple of games.”
“He was a pretty good player,” Kade added. “But I think he is still pretty good, and it was a little bit of everything that he had that made him a good player, he hustled a lot, I know, and was just a good all-around player.”
And as a post player for the Ponies, Kade still takes note of what his dad, a standout guard, has to say. Kade said his dad still watches his game closely and points out areas of his game that can be worked on and improved throughout the season.
It is a little different for younger brother, Nate, as he really is following in his father’s footsteps as deep threat guard.
“There is a lot of pride following in his footsteps,” the younger Rismon said. “We play the same position, so he helps me with things like the position of my feet when I am shooting. He was always known for his hustle on defense, too, so that has made me always try to work my butt off on the defensive side, too.”
It is a unique situation to play for the same program as your dad once thrived in, but as brothers, the Rismons also know they are in a unique situation getting to play with each other on that same team their father once starred for.
Kade and Nate have grown up playing ball together, but the stage is different when it is at the varsity level and they know they are expected to help carry the load. Both have taken full advantage of the opportunity, and have really helped each other, and themselves steadily improve and play to the best of their abilities. Heading into the Central A divisional tournament Kade is averaging about 12 points per game and nearly six boards per game. Nate is averaging closer to eight points per game, but is also shooting 33 percent from behind the 3-point arc. Kade meanwhile, is a perfect 1-for-1 from three this season.
“It is exciting when they call both of our names during the starting lineups,” Nate said. “Not too many people get to play with their brother on varsity, and as a starter, so I think that is pretty cool. (Kade) always tells me to shoot it when I am wide open, but there are times when he is open in the post and he will let me know I can get him the ball, too.
“I always have a pretty good feeling to where he is going to be at on the court,” Kade added. “I know how he plays, and that helps because that is one less guy I have to worry about on the floor. But It has been fun, it is always fun to be able to play with a younger sibling and teach them some things. I try to help him as much as I can (even with playing different positions) just because I do have a little bit more experience than him. Sometimes he listens, but not always.”
Havre High senior Kade Rismon heads to his last Central A tournament this weekend in Belgrade. He's also winding down a great career which included being able to play with his younger brother Nate for the past two seasons.
The Rismons were all smiles when talking about each other, but there was some brotherly rousing and competitive edge to what they had to say. And as two competitive athletes, they know they may never reach the heights their father did with the 1991 Pony team, but that doesn’t mean they won’t push for a win each and every night they take the floor.
Dreams of a state title run are also still very much alive.
“We have a great chance to get to the state tournament this year,” Kade said. “We are sitting in third place (in the division), so I think we have as good a shot as anybody. We have the confidence that we can beat any team in the division.”
Nate is also on board for a title run, and even with a couple more years to achieve it, this year is one he would like to help Havre reach the state tournament, right next to his brother, and with their dad watching.
“It would be awesome if we could get to a state tournament this year,” Nate added. “Especially since it is Kade’s senior season. We just have to get there and go hard in every game.”