The Henning High School boys basketball team earned their first trip to the state tournament in more than 50 years.

And that milestone has even more meaning, with the school’s team honoring one of their teammates who continues to be their “sixth player.”

“We just never stop believing that he’s there. And we think he’s looking down on us and giving us a little extra nudge when we need it,” said Coach Randy Misegades about Jacob Quam.

On April 13, 2017, the 16-year-old sophomore was driving to school when a semi crossed the center line and hit him head-on, killing him. Quam was a beloved student athlete who would have led his team throughout his high school career.

That’s why his team brought Quam with them on every step of the journey. The players all have his number – 33 – on their practice shirts. The team breaks their huddle with his nickname, “City Boy.” And they bring his jersey to every game.

The reason for that, his friends and fellow players say, is clear.

“Just to remind us what we’re doing this for. We’re doing this for him,” said Sam Fisher, a senior.

On Thursday, Henning won their first game to advance to the Class A Semifinals. They’ll play Friday at noon against Spring Grove. And to this team, there’s no question: their “sixth player” will be there, too.

“He’s always with us. City Boy is always with us no matter what. And he’s always there to help us in tough times. When we’re down on ourselves, we think about him, and it makes it a lot better for us,” said Parker Fraki, a junior.

“He’s one of the reasons we’re here,” said Misegades.