End of an era for the Lancers

Originally published: March 4, 2015

CANBY – For years, Canby has been known for its successful wrestling program.

However, thanks to a guy called “Farmer,” the school’s basketball program has forced people to take notice.

Canby coach Jon Hanson has been ingrained in the Canby basketball culture for decades as a coach since the 1970s.

Over the years, he made his mark on the junior high, C- squad and B-squad levels in both boys and girls basketball before becoming boys coach at the varsity level.

At Canby’s final home game of the season on Feb. 13 against Wheaton, Coach Hanson announced that this would be his final season as head coach.

What’s in a name?
Many people outside of Canby are unaware of how Coach Hanson got his nickname “Farmer.”

In Canby, there are two Jon Hansons. Even though both first and last names have identical spellings, they are not related.

To avoid confusion, one was called “Banker Jon” and the other “Farmer Jon.” The nicknames stuck.

Taking over a program
He got his first crack as varsity coach in 2007-08, when previous coach Mike Munson stepped down to take a job as principal in the George-Little Rock school district in Iowa.

In his first season, Hanson improved the Lancers’ win/loss record from 13-12 to 19-8, but Canby was eliminated in the Section 3A North quarterfinals.

After advancing to the 3A North semifinals in 2008-09, the Lancers had back-to-back losing seasons – Hanson’s only losing seasons in his tenure.

STATEment made
The highlight season for the Canby program under Hanson came in 2013-14.

It didn’t come easy, however.

In the Section 3A North Championship, the No. 2-seed Lancers trailed arch rival and No. 1-seed Dawson-Boyd 58-51 before a 11-0 run gave them a 62-58 win.

Then in the section championship, Canby overcame losing one of its top players to appendicitis to upset the defending section and state champs Southwest Minnesota Christian.

It was the Lancers’ first state tournament since 1951, and only the third trip to state in program history.

Canby came home from state without a win, but the team’s three-overtime loss forced people to take notice.

This team will be etched in Canby’s history forever.

Memories made
Advancing to the state tournament is just one of many memories that players have of Hanson.

“During a game, Farmer yelled my name onto the court because he was angry with me,” Canby senior forward Zach Nuy said. “I was sitting on the bench right next to him. This has happened to a few other players also.”

One game sticks out for senior forward Kristian Leppke.

Canby was on the road at rival Dawson-Boyd, who was ranked sixth in the state.

With the game tied, senior guard Nate Stafki drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Canby a 62-59 win.

“Coach jumped out of his chair and was yelling and dancing more than most of us players,” Leppke said.

Legacy left
While Coach Hanson will no longer be coaching on the sideline for Canby, his legacy will live on in the program for years to come.

His career ended with a 141-72 (.662) record, finishing with the third-most wins and fifth-best winning percentage in program history.

Hanson’s eight-year tenure ranks as the third-longest in Canby basketball, and he is only the second boys basketball coach to lead the Lancers to the state tournament.

If you look at the Canby career record book, Hanson has coached some of the best players in program history, including three of the top 10 in career points, seven of the top 10 in career rebounds and eight of the top 10 in career assists.

The final chapter
Canby went 23-4 this season, including a 12-0 start to the season.

It’s first loss came on Jan. 6 in a 55-52 overtime loss to Central Minnesota Christian.

The Lancers followed the loss with another six-game winning streak to open the season 18-1.

Back-to-back losses dropped Canby to 18-3 before the team got three wins to close the regular season.

The Lancers won their first two games in Section 3A Tournament play before losing 60-48 to CMCS on Friday.

It was the second time CMCS defeated Canby this season. The Bluejays are responsible for three of Canby’s last six losses, dating back to Jan. 25, 2014.

Despite the loss, Hanson looks back fondly at the season. He recognizes only one team in the state finishes the season with a win.

“It was a good run,” Hanson said.

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