When it comes to the game of Basketball and discussing a particular athletes talent and ability one often hears the phrase, “High Basketball IQ” and with it, follows a host of stats to prove a point. Yet, watch a quarter or two of Canyon View’s Brantzen Blackner and trying to prove a point is unnecessary. The young man can flat out play!
Returning as a junior to play Point Guard for the Falcons, Brantzen has set his sights on the next goal, a State Championship. With chasing the ring comes work and the 6’4” shooter puts the time in. Even before the school year ended and summer arrived Brantzen made it a point to not skip out on any opportunity to improve. “After basketball season I made sure I would lift after school every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I would go to the gym and workout and do drills with my dad then later that night I would go back to the school for our team open gym practices.”
With a schedule chock full of drills, strength conditioning and fundamentals it’s no wonder when the game is on Brantzen goes lights out on the court. As a personal routine Brantzen makes sure he doesn’t leave the practice floor until he hits 50 foul shots, something that definitely comes in handy during game situation and he penetrates into the paint and draws the foul.
As in all sports, the physically demanding conditions that an athlete puts themselves through day in and day out tare all to be ready for those special moments. Those games that draw out of you every ounce of commitment and sacrifice that was put in. Against North Sanpete the moment came.
In a game that would continue to go back and forth for a quadruple overtime between the Falcons and Hawks both teams found themselves in foul trouble. “All of us just kept telling each other to finish it and stick together,” says Brantzen. “We knew we were all exhausted but we also knew we had to keep battling. We were determined to leave it all out on the floor.”
Winning in the final overtime by less than 6 pts. over the Hawks, Brantzen credits the mental toughness of his teammates and the advice of his coaches that kept each of the Falcons focused, despite losing teammates to foul trouble. ”Coaches kept telling us to believe in each other and to make sure we were playing fundamental basketball together as a team. It was really one of those games we wanted to win, especially after going for so long.”
Brantzen is no stranger to big moments and the work that has to be put in to find himself on the right side of those moments. One such moment for him was very early on in his high school playing career. With the goal to start every Varsity game as a freshman Brantzen knew it would be tough and something he would learn from. “Some games I started and some I came off the bench. It was hard for me to live with the fact that I didn’t reach the goal that I set for myself but I made sure to keep battling,” shares Blackner. “Going to practice every day knowing that I had to separate myself and work to impress the coaches, to be better than the guy in front of me, to work to be the best kid in the gym every day and prove I could play as a young player was a challenge.”
The exciting part of competition is that it drives each competitor beyond his or her own self-imposed limits. Those that are hungry for success drive one another to be even better. This dynamic though can present some challenges, however for Brantzen and his fellow teammates the bond they built while fighting for position on the court proved stranger than any kind of animosity. “The upperclassmen we great. They just kept encouraging me and telling me that I belonged on the court right alongside them,” he remembers. “They would tell me that I was on the team for a reason and not to shy away from scoring and to play my game.”
Like most athletes, there are those one or two standout professional players that seem to spark something in the hearts and minds of their fans. For Brantzen, Derrick Rose is that player. “This guy has always battled injuries. Even though he has not been healthy for a while he always seems to bounce back. He has a really good drive and one of the things he always says that I like is that he always believes in himself even when no one else does.”
“Brantzen has been able to be the beneficiary of an older brother and sister that played sports,” recalls Kim Blackner, Brantzen’s father. “He has had the opportunity to learn more about athletics and is probably one of his strong suits as a sophomore now, he is very mature.”
When it comes to wins and losses the maturity level of an athlete determines what carries on from practice to practice, game to game. Knowing how to play the game is one thing. Understanding how to learn from the game and develop an even stronger performance each time on the court is something entirely different. With that kind of maturity is knowing when and what decisions to make. “It was a blow to us when he made a decision not to play football,” shares Kim. “I feel he is a really gifted football player, but when he decided to drop baseball as well and just become a one sport athlete you have to respect the passion and maturity to make that kind of decision then as a father work to help them accomplish that.”
Must do’s before every game? “I am not a big rap music kind of guy but I do listen to mellow music to clear my head and take my mind off of things then I get into the locker room early. I have to read my scriptures before every game. I will read a few chapters in the locker room and have a personal prayer. I am usually alone because I get into the locker room early in the second half of the JV game.”
Brantzen finds himself motivated and striving to live by the quote from one considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan, “If nobody will help you, do it alone!”
With his height and ball handling ability you see something in Brantzen that very few get to witness at the high school level. Brantzen has the ability to play each position on the floor. This is a distinct advantage for any coach and coaching system and as Brantzen continues to mature so will his game. Yet even at this stage in his basketball career, things certainly do look bright for the young man. We hope to see many great things coming from Canyon View, the Falcons and Brantzen for years to come.
Already taking responsibility for the outcome of his own life Brantzen strives to be the best person he can be, on and off the court. “It’s important to me that I always be myself and do what I can to live my very best.” • HSSI