By Dan Ninham
Sean Morrison will be graduating this year at North Woods HS. He is a member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe. Morrison was a member of the successful North Woods HS Grizzlies basketball team this season. As a 6’2” post player he made 71% of his field goals mainly near the basket, including scoring 328 points this season and averaging 6.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.
The North Woods HS Grizzlies ended the season 24-5 losing in the Section 7A semifinal 66-62 to Deer River.
Morrison developed into one of the top basketball big men in the North Country. He is also one of the top students in his senior class.
“One of my best native core values is my work ethic,” Sean said. “I have been very resilient.”
“I have been the end of the bench player before but have worked and practiced to become a leader and captain on my team,” added Sean.
Brandon Benner led the Nett Lake Eagles, a youth basketball travel program, at the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe reservation in northeastern Minnesota. It started at the elementary school level and the team traveled the state and the Midwest. Sean said: “Brandon first introduced me to this game that I fell in love with. Without him I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today.”
“Sean has always been a team player,” said Coach Brandon Benner. “He has always done what was asked of him. He never cared about stats or points and just living in the moment and enjoying the game.”
Benner and Sean’s dad Travis Morrison spent countless hours and days traveling the Midwest bringing the team to tournaments anywhere from Wisconsin Dells to International Falls beginning in the third grade.
“The Eagles organization always taught school over everything first,” said Sean. “They helped me set an example for many others by teaching discipline and respect on and off the court.”
The Nett Lake Eagles helped contribute to the North Woods HS success. The program produced some of the best players that ever came out of the North Woods HS Grizzlies.
North Woods HS boys’ basketball Head Coach Will KIeppe and his coaching staff have built the Grizzlies into one of the top programs in the state.
“I wasn’t sure he was going to emerge as a major varsity contributor until late in his high school career,” said Coach Will Kleppe. “In fact, it wasn’t until a Breakdown Series Tournament in Cloquet in late July when North Woods went against Duluth East did I become convinced that he was going to be the player we needed to replace graduated senior Darius Goggleye.”
“In that one game I saw he could do battle with the best posts and wasn’t going to give any ground to anybody.”
Coach Kleppe continued, “He was always content to fill his role. Early in his career that meant very limited minutes. What stood out about Sean was that he made no excuses, he didn’t expect more than he had worked for. Sean always had a keen understanding of the bigger picture and he prepared himself well for when the opportunity emerged to break into the starting lineup.”
“Sean is also an academic leader in our school. He was instrumental in his team being chosen Section 7A academic team champions. His teammates respect that he is a good student and is responsible and self-disciplined when it comes to academics. He doesn’t drop the ball in the classroom and then expect his fellow students to follow him on the court.”
“Sean has always played basketball to have fun,” said Travis Morrison. “From elementary school all the way through high school, if the game was not fun he was willing to put the ball down. Because he plays for the fun of the game, he didn’t put pressure on himself.”
“His patience as an off the bench player shows that he is not going to force things to happen, but his work ethic shows that hard work will pay off and when it does he will be ready. That resiliency will take him a long way in college and in life,” said Travis Morrison.