Helena's Kanthack Playing Senior Season for His Late Father - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Helena's Kanthack Playing Senior Season for His Late Father

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Helena High's AJ Kanthack's senior year isn't quite as he imagined. As he steps on the court this year for the Bengals, he does so for the first time without his lifelong coach and father, Chris Kanthack, by his side.

"He was a great coach," said AJ. "He coached me all the time, all the way through middle school and everything. He stressed a lot of things, like being a good leader. My eight grade year we didn't lose a game, and it was fun."

It was a bond that was broken the day before the Bengals play-in game last season when Chris suddenly passed away. AJ played in the game, which Helena High lost, meaning they lost their chance at state.

"It was tough losing that game," said AJ. "It was just a tough situation, but this year we wanted to come out hot. I'm trying to play this year for my dad."

Prior to that play in game the Bengals wore shirts that said C-K-4-U in honor of Chris. And it was that support that made it possible for AJ to take the court.

"That meant a lot," said AJ. "I wasn't doing good, but that brought my spirits up."

"It was just a simple way to give a little something back to what Chris has given the kids, and our basketball program as a whole," said Helena Bengals head coach John Hollow. "It was neat to see the kids in support of one another, and in support of Chris and the Kanthack family."

For most of the Bengals, they too felt the pain that AJ was going through of losing a father figure. Chris was a youth coach for many players on the team, leaving a lasting impression on today's Bengals.

"He was always positive," said Bengals senior guard Derek Jenneskens. "I remember one of his famous quotes to me was 'Bend but don't break.' That's what he'd always say to me, and I've lived by that a long time."

AJ hopes he can honor his father past high school as well. When I asked him if he'd consider a college basketball career, all he had to say was:

"Yeah, it'll be for him."

AJ isn't sure where this season, or his future after that will take him. But he sure knows one thing he'll always have with him: the life lessons and memories that his father always provided.

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