Huron senior Tye Evers puts up a left-handed shot in a game earlier this season at Huron Arena. Evers and the rest of the Tigers open play at the Class “AA” tournament tonight in Rapid City. He will be utilizing some of the fundamentals first learned from his mom, Kari Hinker, who also played for Tiger coach Tim Buddenhagen when she was at HHS, and reinforced in later years when Tye began playing for the longtime coach. PLAINSMAN FILE PHOTO BY MIKE CARROLL
HURON — Most athletes will pay homage to their parents as being their first coaches, to have helped teach them the game and, if everything lines up just right, to grow to love it.
For Huron senior Tye Evers, he has likely heard the same message repeated to him since he first began bouncing a basketball through when he practices today.
Play defense. Take care of the ball. Box out.
Evers has been a contributor to coach Tim Buddenhagen’s varsity program since his sophomore season, when he came off the bench, and helped Huron to a seventh-place finish at the Class “AA” State Tournament.
But his lessons, as are fitting to this story, began many years ago.
“I was a senior in the 1991-92 school year,” says Kari Hinker, who is mom to 18-year-old Tye, 16-year-old Tanner and 14-year-old Teegan Evers. “I played for coach Buddenhagen when I was in school here in Huron,” she added.
“Kari was a gritty, hard-working ballplayer,” Buddenhagen said, noting similarities in the generations. “She got hurt at the start of her senior season, but she gutted it out and helped us get to the state tournament that fall.”
The girls still played in the fall at that time, so as not to conflict with the boys’ basketball season, a practice that changed in 2002.
“We got into the tournament as a No. 8 seed that year,” Kari recalls. “Rapid City Stevens was the No. 1 seed, and we beat them in the opening round. I remember that I passed the ball to my teammate Steph Zell for the winning basket.”
That Stevens team featured a guard named Becky Hammon, who would go on to accomplish great things on and off the court in the world of basketball.
When Kari graduated from college, her first job was back in Huron as a teacher and basketball coach. “In those days, you could bring your kids with you to the gym,” she said, “so Tye and then Tanner were at practice whenever I was.”
The boys’ father, Cully Evers, had some influence as well, although Kari said that step-father Dave Hinker also helped and that her own father, Jim Hein, really worked with the boys when they were learning the game.
“My dad has always been a good shooter, and he worked with the boys on the shooting part of the game.”
For Kari, her coaching baseline was what she had learned while playing. “I did drills and things the same way that coach Buddenhagen had always done them. He stressed fundamentals and so did I. That’s the basis for the game, really.”
Fast forward to 2017 and while Kari no longer wears a whistle and holds practice, she still sees things in her boys’ game that harkens back to those early days.
“They obviously play a much more physical game,” she noted. “I never liked to be underneath the basket on offense, but I loved to play defense.”
To that end, when they were small, Kari said she worked more extensively on offense with the boys. Her dad helped.
“I wasn’t aggressive on offense when I played,” she said. “I was primarily a passer and defender, and I really wanted them to have a more well-rounded game.”
Mission accomplished, coach-mom. Tye has matured into a 6-foot, 5-inch player with the chops to post up on the box, pop to the high post and feed a cutting teammate, or step outside the arc and drill a three-pointer.
“I’ll always regret that I didn’t get everything out of my time playing in high school,” Kari said.
“I still coach the boys a little bit, more encouragement than anything, remind them to make sure that they are putting forth 110 percent effort to get as much out of the game as they can.”
Buddenhagen sees some similarities in the generations, but sees the boys as different in many ways.
“Both Tye and Tanner like to play in the paint and Kari was more an inside-out player,” he said. “I guess her game is more like Teegan’s. But what the boys did get from her is a solid work ethic. Kari was willing to put in the work and sweat to make herself better, and I see that in all three boys. They work hard at perfecting their skills and have the same kind of work characteristics.”
Kari has been fortunate to have been able to see all the games as her boys grow into contributing ball players. But it hasn’t been without a bit of competition at home.
“Oh my, they are very competitive,” she said. “They spend hours and hours playing, and there isn’t any lovey-dovey brotherly stuff when they do. They kind of go at it.”
Even now, with Tye starting on the varsity, Kari notes that if Tanner has a better night scoring and rebounding on the sophomore or JV team, he takes that as a win over big brother.
This weekend will be Kari’s second state tournament as a mom and fan, but undoubtedly not her last.
“I expect I will be pretty nervous. Tye played in 2015, coming off the bench in all three games, but this year he’s starting and he’s a senior.”
Further down the bench, in uniform, will be Tanner, a 6-2 forward, who saw some mop-up duty with the varsity this year, but had an outstanding season on the Sophomore and JV teams, and at the end of the bench will be 5-11 freshman Teegan, who played on both the Freshman and JV teams, and had a great season himself.
“Teegan gets to travel and sit with the team,” Kari said. “He won’t dress, but all three boys will be on the bench for this state tournament, and that won’t happen again.”
Kari said that she is mom first now and is happy to know that her boys are tough, in part from early life lessons on the court, and can handle whatever gets thrown at them.For the complete article see the 03-16-2017 issue.
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