By Al Zipsie

February 1st, 2011 was a dark day for the Benning family.

Brian Benning a teacher and coach at Dakota was headed to school with his son Brett, then an eighth-grader.

On a winter's day, a semi jackknifed and went into the Benning's lane and hit their van head-on. Brian's life was in danger, he was in a medically induced coma and severely injured.

Brett was also hurt with lesser injuries. Brett, went on to play for his dad at Dakota, scoring a school one-game high of 45 points. Brian does not remember the accident. From damage to the van looks like he may have turned the wheel to the driver's side. Maybe, a split second decision hoping to save his son.

Fast forward to early November 2018. Brian and Kathy Benning are getting ready to enjoy Brett's games as a senior at Augustana, a NCAA Division III basketball power in Rock Island, IL. Brian will always be affected by that day's injuries but has reached the point where he can enjoy life and retirement with Kathy and his family. They catch almost every game both home and road games.

Out of high school, Brett signed to play at Division ll, Southern Indiana. He was not happy and decided to sit out a year and transfer to Augustana. He joined them as a sophomore and now is getting ready for his encore senior season at Augustana, which is closer to his Davis home.

"The transfer has worked out very well, turned out to be a much better fit and I've gained a lot of close friends because of the decision'" said Brett Benning. "In terms of this season, we have multiple returning players and are very junior/senior dominated. So expectations are very high, but we are ready and prepared. The senior season is going to be fun, it's my last year so I plan on making the most of it."

Benning, 6 foot 6 forward led the team in rebounding his junior year. He averaged 10.7 points a game, 12.6 in postseason games. He also led the team in free throw shooting at a lofty .889 clip and in steals with 26. The southpaw is a big threat from three-point range and can score inside with his size and strength. A coach's son, he has always had the basketball IQ with a strong court sense.

"Brett has been at his best in our biggest games the last two season's, and we expect him to be a key to our team again this year," said Augustana coach Grey Giovanine, who was a standout at Highland College in Freeport. "He has developed into a versatile inside/out threat that can defend multiple positions. I expect Brett to be a big contributor once again for as we pursue our fifth consecutive CCIW title and look to make a deep run in the postseason."

"Kathy is a great sports mom, we have our other son Kyle and his family and are going to enjoy Brett's senior year traveling to road and home games," said Brian Benning. "The move to Augustana has been really good, he likes the guys on the team, the atmosphere at Augustana and really respects Coach G. You just want your kid happy. "It (the accident) took it's toll on energy level and being sore still. I miss coaching sometimes, but not coaching I wouldn't have time to go nearly every game."

Brian and Kathy were off to Michigan to watch the regular season openers in Michigan November 16-17. "They played well in an (82-74 exhibition) loss to Illinois State, a team who should contend for the Missouri Valley Conference title in Division 1," said Brian.

A chance for Stateline fans to watch Brett locally comes with a game at Rockford College on November 24.

Benning is joined by two all-league seniors in point guard Nolan Ebel and Chrishawn Orange. The other starters are 6'11 junior center Micah Martin and Pierson Wofford a junior who returns after missing most of last season with an injury.

The Vikings were 25-6 last year losing in the quarterfinals. The year before with Benning a sophomore Auggie lost a close game in the National Championship. They are looking for a fifth straight trip making it at least to the quarterfinals and favored to win another  CCIW title. Benning and Augustana are ranked third on the National preseason poll and the goal nothing short of winning the NCAA Division lll National Championship.