Fourth generation of Dilly family takes the court for Henning Hornets

Photo by Chad Koenen
Carter and Lane Dilly are the fourth generation of Dilly’s to play basketball for Henning School. Carter’s older brother Patrick played for the Hornets during his time in high school as well.

By Chad Koenen


In Henning, basketball isn’t just a sport, it is a way of life. Almost as soon as some children are born, they are presented with a soft basketball to cuddle with at night and throw against the wall as they get older. After all, the color of a basketball shares many of the same traits as Henning’s school colors of orange and black.

That tradition of basketball in the community includes two state championships, one in 1927 and another in 2019, while families come together to hit the hard court as children. Many times that means siblings and cousins play on the same basketball court as their parents, and even grandparents, did back in high school. 

For a set of current Hornets, cousins Lane and Carter Dilly, their family has been a part of the Henning community for nearly a century. The Dilly’s are the fourth generation of their family to play for the Henning Hornets, after their parents, grandparents and great grandparents played for the Henning basketball team. 

“To have Lane and Carter playing together as first cousins after they had grandpa, parents, and aunts/uncles who played is very special.”

Randy Misegades, head coach of boys basketball at Henning School

Having siblings and relatives playing on the varsity basketball team at the same time has become something of a norm of late. During Henning’s state tournament teams from 2019-20, brothers Issac and Sam Fisher were also related to brothers Jack, Luke and Lee Bjorklund. The Bjorklunds were also related to brothers Blake and Blaine Wallevand. The team also had another pair of brothers in Dylan and Brandon Trana. 

Currently, the team also has Carter and Lane Dilly who are cousins, as well as brothers Kale and Tyson Misegades who are brothers. The Misegades’ cousins, Dawson Misegades and Beck Thorson, are also in the same gym as one another each day as well. 

Several years ago Jim Dilly’s  sons Clay and Derek Dilly played together and Misegades played with his older brother for one year as well. The Peterson twins in the 1960s may be some of the most famous family members sharing the court for Henning High School at the same time. 

Having such a close group of family relations on the court at the same time has been fruitful for the Hornets over the years. Some of Henning’s best seasons have come with deep family connections on the court. 

“Having kids who are siblings and cousins allows for easy communication, ride sharing and often similar values and thought processes between families.  It is great for family members to be able to watch so many relatives in the same gym,” said Misegades. “It can strain some family relationships at times in my opinion. It can be challenging to leave basketball at the gym and not bring it home. But, it also can create a unique bond.” 

The Dilly family’s tradition of basketball dates back to over 100 years ago. Jim Dilly’s grandmother Nettie played basketball in Worthington, Minn. as a child. She would later move to Henning with her husband Henry Dilly to a farm in Inman Township in 1912. Each of their sons, including Dilly’s dad Walter, played basketball for the Hornets during their time in Henning. That makes five generations of Dilly family members who have played basketball through the years, with the last four generations wearing the orange and black for the Hornets.

Walt, as well as his brothers Vernon and Lester Dilly, were members of the Hornet squad in the 1920s and 1930s.

“He didn’t really talk about it, but you read it in the book and they were pretty good scorers and they were also good baseball player.”

Jim Dilly of his dad Walt in Cliff Buchan’s book Henning’s Orange and Black

One thing he always found as unique was that some of the same teachers his dad had in school were also his teachers. One that really sticks out was Mrs. Bill Halvorson who was a history teacher.

Back in his time, Dilly said the basketball players never really had organized basketball at the elementary level. Even when they reached seventh grade they still just had scrimmages amongst themselves in their activity period. 

“I remember coming up through the b-squad with Mr. Seaver being our coach. He was the most rewarding could we could have. He never raised his voice, but he was stern with things,” said Dilly. “I can remember him calling time out a few times when we weren’t doing very well, he didn’t say a thing, he just stared at us and said are you ready to play ball now.”

During his time playing for Henning, Dilly said the b-squad was commonly referred to as the B-squad Bombers. With the likes of the Peterson twins, Dilly was a member of the 1965 state tournament basketball team. While some of the reserves didn’t play as much during his time in high school, Dilly said the team always worked hard in case they would get called upon during a game.

“We were mostly the reserves, but we worked our butts off, because we thought maybe we would get to play sometime,” he said. 

The family tradition continues today as the fourth generation of Dilly’s to wear the orange and black. Dilly’s grandson, Patrick, was an all-conference player during his time at Henning School and now serves as the team trainer. Dilly has two other grandchildren who play for the Hornets, including Lane Dilly and Patrick’s younger brother Carter. Though he still gets into the game, Dilly said he is a bit more reserved when watching his grandchildren take the court. 

“I don’t yell as much as I used to. I eat my popcorn now, but I still get into the game.”

Jim Dilly

Even though he may not have gotten all-conference honors like some of his children and grandchildren, Dilly has one thing on his resume the others have yet to touch—a state tournament berth.

“I said you guys all made all-conference, but I went to state. I got to play on the University of Minnesota floor,” he said.

As he watched his children come up through the ranks, Dilly said he was proud of the contributions of his children Clay, Luke, Derek and his daughter Jessica. He said they were all good on the defensive end of the court and were good shooters from the outside as well.

During his time as a basketball player at Henning, Misegades said is was able to watch and play with Luke Dilly, who is the father of sophomore Lane. He also watched Clay Dilly play basketball as he was the same age as his brother Steve Misegades, who is the father of current freshman post player Dawson Misegades.

“All the Dilly’s could always shoot the ball.  That is what they were most known for when I played. They put a lot of time into the game,” said Misegades.

That shooting tradition continues today with the next generation of Dilly’s taking the court. Misegades said Carter’s mom Jessica was also known to be a sharp shooter on the court during her time in Henning. 

“Patrick Dilly (Jessica’s son) was the same way.  He was a great shooter for us on some really good teams. And his brother Carter is a similar player, a gym rat who loves to shoot,” said Misegades. “Lane is a different type of player. We had to convince him to shoot the ball when he came over from Perham and he’s become a very capable scorer.  He is a bulldog.  Even though he is undersized, he loves the challenge of defending and is a tough hard-nosed player and good rebounder.”

The Hornets are currently 23-5 on the season and took second place in the Park Region Conference this year. Henning will take on New York Mills on Tuesday night in Perham in the sub section championship game.