Beecher, Tanking in sync on the basketball court
Batman had Robin. Johnny Carson had Ed McMahon. Paul McCartney had John Lennon. Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen. The list goes on and on.
In the annals of history, there is no shortage of notable pairs who achieved great things together. As far as Holton High School’s history is concerned, current seniors Garett Beecher and Trey Tanking stand out in a similar vein for what they have done on the basketball court.
The dynamic duo is more tightly linked than seemingly any other pair to come through the program during its recent renaissance period. With three state tournament appearances in the last five seasons, there have been other tandems (Taylor Smith/Forrestal Hickman, Trent Tanking/Ty Burdiek) to lift the Wildcats up to new heights, but none have carried the load like the younger Tanking and Beecher.
Prior to the start of the Tonganoxie Invitational tournament, the pair had accounted for 60 percent of Holton’s total scoring this season with Beecher tallying 19.3 points per contest (and closing in on 1,000 career points) and Tanking chipping in 14.2 on average.
Numbers don’t lie and they certainly help paint a picture of the pair’s body of work, but those numbers are also just broad stokes that don’t show off the finesse and detail that goes into the final result.
Part of the reason Beecher and Tanking stand out is how well their skills fit together, like yin and yang, and complement each other on the court.
Beecher is the sharp-shooter who is hitting more than half (53%) of his long-range attempts, while Tanking acts as the facilitator and creates off the dribble, opening up a lot of offensive looks for Beecher.
“It’s really hard when they’re both on the floor together to scheme for both of them because they have very different skills, yet they understand the other one’s strengths and weaknesses,” HHS coach Ryan Noel said.
Understanding like that comes from time spent together, and Beecher and Tanking have put in a lot of time together on the basketball court during the high school season as well as the summer months.
“Good friends on and off the court, you always know their tendencies, what they’re going to want to do and where they’re going to be at,” Beecher said.
Beecher and Tanking’s bond, both said, was fostered almost immediately once they came together for their first day of practice on the same team. Beecher came into the Holton school district from Onaga in his sixth-grade year and the two quickly became like peas in a pod and their chemistry carried over into summer competition.
“We just kind of clicked even if we didn’t really kind of recognize it. We just did and it’s been that way ever since,” Tanking said.
Neither has ever backed away from the work that has gotten them to this level, as the gym rats often put in extra time honing their craft. Both routinely stay after practice to put in extra work on their game, while Beecher noted he will come in an hour early when he has late start at school to work on his shot.
Both elevate each other when on the court and could hardly fathom playing without each other. The two looked away almost in denial of that possibility when even broaching the topic, though the closest they came was in the game against Riverside last year when Beecher sat out the second half, an experience Tanking noted was not the most pleasant.
“Whenever one or the other’s not on the court, you can tell because you’re not going to get the same open looks. If he’s not on the court, then a lot more attention is going to be on just me, but when he’s there they have to split the attention,” Beecher noted.
It’s not just a two-man game, though, and Beecher and Tanking noted they try to lift up their teammates as well whether that’s setting an example of how to work in practice like they learned from the upperclassmen who came before them or using their summer experience to help the team get through tough situations on the court.
“The thing that’s really nice about them is they’re unselfish individuals,” Noel said. “What they do for our team is really probably hard to put into words. They create opportunities not only for each other, but due to the pressure and all that they have to get, and they probably deserve when we’re playing other teams, it also creates a lot of opportunities for their teammates.”
As much as they seem linked, Noel was quick to point to individual motivation bringing both players to this high level of competition as well.
For Beecher, a love of the game has pushed him to strive towards the next level of competition, while competition itself has fueled Tanking in his endeavors. Having a brother who has gone on to play Division I college football fueled some of that fire, but Tanking noted he has always wanted to be better than the guy that lines up across from him and his teammate’s head start in preparing for the basketball season has also pushed him in some ways.
“Garett’s had more time to work on his game, obviously, without the football season, so that means I have to be that much better and work that much harder during the season,” Tanking said.
Beecher and Tanking both have goals of competing at the next level and while they wouldn’t be opposed to playing together again, they said differing views on where they want to play makes that unlikely. Having that bond with a teammate, though, is something both feel will push them to succeed at the collegiate level as well.
Right now, they are focused on closing out their high school careers on a positive note and having a little more success at the state basketball tournament.
As for how the two will be linked through history? Well, Noel said he believes that is reflected in how they are already viewed in the Holton community as well as the Big Seven League community.
“We have a lot of young kids in our program right now all the way down to third and fourth-grade who look at those two and think, ‘I want to be them,’” Noel said. “If you look at the big picture of their years playing basketball at Holton High School, I think especially right now when you talk about great players in the league, both of those names get mentioned and that’s a complement to their hard work.”
Beecher, Tanking and the rest of the Wildcats will get back to work in Big Seven competition as Holton will now travel to Sabetha for a showdown with the league-leading Blue Jays. Games will start at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.