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History maker: Grant is Meskwaki’s second All-Area Player of the Year

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - Meskwaki Settlement School senior guard Taurice Grant is the second Warrior honored as All-Area Player of the Year in the last three seasons, joining Tátè Bear with the distinction.

Taurice Grant is quiet but confident.

The Meskwaki senior isn’t one to brag about his accomplishments, not even in an interview focused on them. But he’s also acutely aware of the impact his play during his high school basketball career has had on the Meskwaki basketball team and the Meskwaki community.

This impact — in a season filled with heartache, new history being forged and saying goodbye to a game he loves — is why Grant is the second-ever Warrior to be named the Times-Republican’s Boys Basketball Co-Player of the Year, and the second in three seasons after Tátè Bear.

Grant’s season started slowly, in part because of a nagging hamstring injury from football season. Grant played through and was ready to play. But it wasn’t the only time during the season he was less than 100 percent healthy, Grant said. His season was filled with nagging injuries.

“It was really tough,” Grant said. “I had high goals for myself coming into this season, and just how it started, having ankle and knee problems, I just knew I wasn’t gonna quit either way so I was just fighting through it. Coming towards the stretch, towards the end, I was really getting mad because my body was really shutting down on me. I feel like I could have done a lot more if I was healthy.”

Despite playing at less than full-strength for much of his senior year, Grant averaged similar numbers to his junior season — scoring 17 points per game, grabbing 6.6 rebounds, dishing out 4.5 assists and getting 3.2 steals per contest. His numbers helped earn him Iowa Star Conference South Division Player of the Year honors and second-team All-State honors from the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

This comes after he was named third-team All-State as a junior, which marked the first time in school history a Meskwaki player made an All-State team.

Despite the accolades, the Warriors were still searching for more heading into the 2020-21 season. Before COVID-19 hit, the team ended its 2019-20 season with a frustrating loss in the district finals to West Fork — the second time in three years Meskwaki had fallen at the same hurdle.

The Warriors began the season slowly, losing three of their first eight games, albeit against ranked teams in Grand View Christian, Springville and Janesville. But after the loss to Janesville, Meskwaki went on a tear — winning the final 12 regular season contests and going undefeated in the Iowa Star South, taking the conference title by five games. He did so with a group of seniors that included transfers Bishop Chavez and Kallen White Eyes as well as regular starters Evan Nelson and Tiernan Wanatee.

During this stretch Grant was hampered further by a knee injury suffered against North Tama in January. But he fought through it, and the Warriors won their first two playoff games convincingly over Colo-NESCO and North Tama. Against Colo-NESCO, Grant became the school’s fifth 1,000-point scorer.

In the district final game against Grundy Center, Grant didn’t have his best game but still led the Warriors to a victory. It was history — Meskwaki’s first ever trip to substate finals.

Grant said the Meskwaki community needed a deep run like this after a difficult year.

“We’ve taken a lot of losses in the last year,” Grant said. “I feel like that’s what the community needs, we need to start winning.”

The eventual loss to No. 1 North Linn ended the season and Grant’s career as a basketball player, but he said he was proud of his team’s accomplishments.

His whole high school career, he had one head coach: Garrett “Joe” Bear, who was a coach of Grant as far back as third grade. Grant said it was hard to describe how much he learned from Bear because he was such a constant presence, not just for him but for so many other players on the team, saying he’s been like a second dad. This year, Grant’s older brother Tyus was an assistant coach, something that meant a lot to Taurice.

Grant’s next chapter is in football, as he’s committed to play wide receiver for Iowa Western CC next season. He is in track and field right now, hoping to keep with a weight program and keep his body in shape for the summer and fall ahead.

But Grant’s impact will be felt on Warrior basketball even after his graduation.

“That’s what programs are built off of,” Bear said of Grant and the rest of the Meskwaki seniors after the loss to North Linn. “We hope know we see kids in the stands who say, ‘I want to be like that 2021 group,’ and put that time and commitment in.”

2020-2021 Times-Republican All-Area Boys Basketball Teams

Co-Players of the Year — Taurice Grant, sr., Meskwaki, and William Kiburis, so., Gladbrook-Reinbeck

Co-Coaches of the Year — Garrett Bear, Meskwaki, and Scott Kiburis, Gladbrook-Reinbeck

FIRST TEAM

Logan Bowie, sr., East Marshall; Avery Bryant, sr., GMG; Prince Jallah, so.,

Marshalltown; Drew Runner, sr., East Marshall; Armonniey Thomas, jr., Marshalltown; Osceola Tyon, jr., Meskwaki

SECOND TEAM

Isaiah Borgos, sr., Marshalltown; Ethan Espenscheid, sr., East Marshall; Drake Kapayou, so., Marshalltown; Jesse Moore, sr., BCLUW; Evan Nelson, sr., Meskwaki; Tristen Sanford-Anders, jr., Gladbrook-Reinbeck

THIRD TEAM

Bishop Chavez, sr., Meskwaki; Noah Gallentine, sr., BCLUW; Grant Greazel, jr., Marshalltown; Gabe Kopriva, jr., North Tama; Dylan Riffey, sr., Gladbrook-Reinbeck; Joey Tollefson, jr., West Marshall; Tiernan Wanatee, sr., Meskwaki; Jabari Woodbury, fr., GMG.

Former All-Area Players of the Year

2019-20 — Armonniey Thomas, so., Marshalltown

2018-19 — Tátè Bear, sr., Meskwaki Settlement

2017-18 — Luke Appel, sr., Marshalltown

2016-17 — Joe Smoldt, sr., Gladbrook-Reinbeck

2015-16 — Joe Smoldt, jr., Gladbrook-Reinbeck

2014-15 — Camden Kickbush, sr., Gladbrook-Reinbeck

2013-14 — Zach Pierce, jr., Gladbrook-Reinbeck

2012-13 — Mitchell Boerm, sr., North Tama

2011-12 — Michael Newton, sr., West Marshall

2010-11 — Trent Trowbridge, sr., Marshalltown

2009-10 — Chanse Creekmur, sr., Marshalltown

2008-09 — Chanse Creekmur, jr., Marshalltown

2007-08 — Walker Seim, sr., East Marshall

2006-07 — Tyson Dirks, sr., Gladbrook-Reinbeck

2005-06 — Justin Green, sr., Eldora-New Providence

2004-05 — David Walters, sr., BCLUW

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