Before Guiding Montana State To FCS Title Game, Brent Vigen Was A Basketball Star In Small Town North Dakota | Bobcats MSU


GRAND FORKS, ND – Twenty-eight years ago Doug Borowicz was a 32-year-old boys’ head basketball coach at Central Valley High School – a small Class B co-op in northeastern North Dakota on along rural route 81 between Buxton and Reynolds.

Now, every week, Borowicz sits at his computer at his Roseau, Minnesota home watching the Montana state football press conferences from Bobcats head coach Brent Vigen.

At such times, Borowicz can still see the high school student who helped Central Valley win their first and only State Men’s Basketball Championship in 1993.

“He’s very calm and cool,” Borowicz said. “You could tell his father was a football coach. Randy did a great job in Central Valley, and Brent really followed suit. Brent was made to be a coach. He was a gym rat. His attention to detail was extraordinary.

Vigen, in his first season as head football coach at Montana State, led the Bobcats to the FCS National Championship game, where they will face his alma mater North Dakota State on Jan. 8 in Frisco, TX.

“You can tell he always wanted to be a coach,” said Central Valley teammate Ryan Wigestrand. “He loved football at a young age. He was always with his father in the field. Brent was one of the smartest. You knew he would be good at anything.

Brent’s father, Randy, was a long-time head football coach and athletic director at Central Valley.

“He was recording a game when the rest of us barely knew how to hold a soccer ball,” said Central Valley teammate Jason Brend. “I remember after the games I went to eat pizza. He would come home after pizza and watch a movie. He learned how to break down a movie before most of us knew what a movie was.

After a career as a college footballer with NDSU, Vigen rose through the ranks from NDSU graduate assistant to coach, offensive coordinator, Wyoming offensive coordinator to Bozeman. But before Vigen was an accomplished college football coach, he was a promising young basketball player from Buxton.

“Brent was our leader on this team,” said Brend. “We had very good players, but he was the leader. One of the things they always say about him (in coaching) is that he has this calming confidence in himself. He showed it at the time. It never seemed too high or too low. He has maintained that poise you need to compete at this high level.

Central Valley basketball players Kris Visness (holding trophy) and Brent Vigen (black shirt) celebrate the 1993 North Dakota Class B State Championship.

The senior core of the 1993 Central Valley team – Vigen, Wigestrand, Chris Hong, and Kris Visness – started for the university as freshmen.

Borowicz remembers a loss record that season and a school board wondering how a coach could possibly decide to have four freshmen play.

After a rough start as a freshman, the Valiants would go 66-12 for the next three years.

Vigen was a Mr. Basketball finalist in 1993, a two-time all-state selection, a three-time all-conference pick, a Lions All-Star, and a member of the all-round team in the State of 1993.

The Valiants were 26-2 in 1993, where Vigen finished with 1,498 career points.

The Central Valley seniors of 1993 estimate their class to be between 20 and 25 students.

“We all had the same wants and wants,” said Central Valley teammate Chris Hong, also an All-State Laureate in 1993. “State B was the mecca of North Dakota in the ’90s. what we wanted and neither of us were selfish about it.We won at all costs.

Central Valley’s small squad hasn’t deterred the team’s aspirations, the players said.

“With Class B I think you still think you are lucky if you have a good group,” Wigestrand said. “It’s the funny thing, especially back in the day, if you had a good group of dedicated guys with the same goal, you felt like you had a chance.”

At the start of the 1992-93 season, Central Valley showed its promise by defeating Hillsboro (a program he now joins in a co-op) for the first time in 24 years.

The Valiants came through the regional tournament, defeating Cavalier 75-41, Grafton 55-32 and Fordville-Lankin 77-67. Vigen scored 29 in the regional title match.

After that, Central Valley used Vigen’s 29 points in the State quarterfinal to beat Gackle-Streeter 54-38 to set up a showdown with tournament favorite Bottineau.

Bottineau paid special attention to Vigen, who finished with 10 points. That opened the door for a career performance from role player Ross Nygaard, who scored 14 points to seal the 67-60 victory.

Central Valley met Des Lacs-Burlington in the title game and was led by seven points at halftime thanks to 25 points from DLB’s Steve Holen on 80 percent of shots.

At halftime, Central Valley went from the zone to man-to-man defense and put Wigestrand on Holen.

The move triggered a 24-8 advantage in the third quarter en route to a 71-62 victory.

“We’re sitting halfway through against Des Lacs and we feel like we haven’t played as well as we could have,” Borowicz said. “I told the kids that I won’t ignore how hard they worked to get here and how much they respected their parents and teachers. But do you finish what you started? You will never have this opportunity again. No one will remember if Central Valley finished second. You earn that and you live in the traditions of history.

Hong finished the title game with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Vigen added 26 points. Wigestrand had 16 points.

The 1993 Valiants, a group that have remained close over the years, will now have their eyes on the FCS national title game.

“I can only be happy for him and his family,” Hong said. “I was delighted when they won (in the FCS semi-final). I only wish him the best.

Borowicz agreed.

“I am extremely proud of the man he has become with a large family,” he said.

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