Basketball has been like clockwork for Dalton Franken.
Atlantic fans know exactly what they're getting with their 6-foot-6 senior standout, who has helped the team win 13 straight games after Tuesday's 55-52 victory over Harlan.
Franken has led the Trojans in scoring and rebounding since his sophomore year, and the annual statistics are very consistent. Currently, he leads the Class 3-A No. 4 Trojans (16-1) with averages of 16.4 points per game and 8.7 rebounds. As a junior, he tallied 18.6 and 7.9, and as a sophomore 16.5 and 8.3.
While those numbers are impressive, they don't tell the whole story of Franken's value to Atlantic. He's played all five positions on the floor. He defends well. He distributes. And if he wanted to, he could score even more.
“He's a kid that could average 25 a game, but we wouldn't be nearly as good a basketball team if he did that,” Atlantic coach Steve Blazek said. “He's a team player. He's very coachable, he does what we ask him to do, and he's a leader in practice. You couldn't ask for too much more, and we probably don't give him as much credit as he deserves because we kind of expect for him to do that night in and night out.
“Most defenses are geared to slow him down a bit, and he's a very willing passer. He's just a complete basketball player.”
Franken said he's been lucky enough to thrive over four years in Blazek's system.
“With the offenses that we run, coming off of screens, you get a lot of open looks,” he said. “When you get easy shots and don't have hands in your face, it's pretty easy to score the points. If you can get a couple quick baskets in the game and go to the glass and get yourself to the free throw line, scoring points is a lot easier.”
Franken's personal basketball success has received plenty of attention from college recruiters. He garnered interest from Toledo, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, St. Louis, Northwest Missouri State, Briar Cliff and Northwestern College before committing last week to Dordt College in Sioux Center.
As sparkling as his prep basketball résumé looks now, there's one glaring absence: a state tournament berth. The Trojans haven't made it to Des Moines since 2002, and for Franken, a spot in Des Moines would be the perfect cap to his high school career.
“It'd be a cherry on top of a four-year career here at Atlantic,” Franken said. “We feel that we owe it to ourselves and Coach Blazek with all the hard work we've put in the last four years. The community has supported us as well, and they know we've got a tough team this year. Hopefully we can carry it all the way to Des Moines.”