Corey's Corner 1/11

Posted 1/11/17 (Wed)

               One of the questions I get all the time after a broadcast is “how do you memorize all the names.” The short answer is: I don’t. But the real challenge of what we do here is getting to know so many teams and be able to properly convey their strengths and their story. But luckily we’ve had a run of teams coming up multiple times on BEK, and it makes my job way easier to already have seen them in person.

               And we start out with two teams that make multiple appearances here in Corey’s Corner: the Saints of St. Mary’s and the Mandan Braves. The Saints were on BEK earlier this year, and Cole Gendreau put on a show. He scored nearly 30 points and was pretty close to unstoppable. As it turns out, his sequel performance was even better. This game was a constant highlight, and it was a whole lot of fun.

               Mandan started out strong on a 9-0 run. The play of Trae Steckler on the inside was something St. Mary’s couldn’t answer all game. Mandan had a height advantage in this game, and they knew it. However, that height worked against them in a way early on. After that 9-0 run, Steckeler went for a dunk and missed it. That fired up the Saints, and they come right back. That would be the theme of the 1st half, Mandan gets up and Saint Mary’s responds. 19-8 Mandan, then it was notched up at 21-20. And so on. The big spark in the later stages of the first half was the play of Gendreau. He had a simply unbelievable 360 move to the basket that lead to a 13 point rally by the Saints and it was just a two point game at halftime. Luke Kambeitz and Matthew Gunther were good in the 1st half as well for Saint Mary’s. Meanwhile for Mandan Trey Weist had three treys in the opening stanza, Janden Andresen got up to double digits. Cam Steckler was held to just 4 points. Not so in the second half.  

                 After the break, Mandan was committed to using their height advantage to its fullest. With an increased commitment to the key, they started scoring at will. Camren Steckler put together a dozen points in the second alone, while his brother had an unstoppable down low jumper. He had 17 in the second verse. Andresen put up another 10 points, and Mandan ran away with it. Cole Gendreau continued his fantastic play, finishing with just shy of 40 points. But Mandan won it 86-73.

                 Continuing the trend of multiple teams on BEK, the Williston Coyotes returned to statewide television, this time on a trip to Bismarck. The Century Patriots are tops in North Dakota in both boys and girls basketball. But the girls team is number one in the state, so they got the premier second game of the day. To recap the boys game, head on over to Brian’s Monday Morning Rewind. Then the “best for last” took the floor as the top team in the state came out and played the part. Lauren Ware has made quite the impression as a freshman, and she came out on fire. She would finish the game with 16 points. Hannah Schwartz spaced the offense with her three point shot, and Lilly Keplin scored from just about everywhere on the floor. Regan Dennis added 8 in the second half to put the exclamation point on the W for Centruy. A young Williston team lead by Jocci Lysne is getting better each game, but Century defended their home floor well.

                 Now we bump it up a level and take a look at the college game, this time between Valley City State and Jamestown. The Paint Bucket Rivalry in full swing as there was a great crowd on hand for the final matchup between the two at the Jamestown Civic Center. But it was the VCSU Vikings who looked right at home. They shot nearly 60 percent in half number one, and a game that was close for a while got blown open. A wicked one-handed slam from Ellwood Ellenson capped off a 14-2 run that would signal the start of some lights out shooting from the Vikings. Jayden Ferguson was once again the go-to weapon for Valley City State, knocking down 18 points in the first half alone. Jacob Havron and the Jimmies got going late, but the VCSU offense was simply too much to overcome. They finished right at 50% from the field, and 60% from deep. You won’t lose too many games when you’re that efficient.

                 While we’re talking college hoops, let’s check out the NJCAA for the first time this year as the Bismarck State Mystics made their BEK debut against the Lake Region State Royals. The women’s recap is over in Brian’s Monday Morning Rewind, so now we’ll glimpse the men’s game. And that one was a North Dakota reunion tour as some of the best high school players last year took the floor. Brody Nieuwsma, Drew Thielges, Jeremy Friesz, and Jared Walter all saw quality minutes in this one. The game started out in favor of Lake Region in a big way with a 10-1 start, but BSC answered back getting their first lead of the game at 36-34. From that point on, it was a grind it out battle. The biggest reason for the early comeback was the play of sophomore Mystics center Usman Haruna, who fully utilized his seven foot frame underneath the hoop. A dunk, and ten first half points powered the Mystics early on. Melvin Collins and Kaelen Johnson were great as well, each finishing right around 20 points. A one possession halftime lead for LRS would grow though, as Ben Rennie (20 pts) and Cedric Boone (32 pts, 6 3’s) really found their rhythm.

                  Just when it looked like the Royals would get the win easily, enter Brody Nieuwsma. Throughout his high school career, he was known for the NBA range three. I started calling it the Nieuwsma special last year. And he let em fly here, hitting a trio of threes in a row that lead to a huge comeback for the Mystics. He single-handedly pulled them back. Haruna had a perfect trip from the line to make it a two possession game very late in the proceedings. But a baseline turnover gave the Royals the change they needed, and Nic Fassos did what he needed to from beyond the arc.  He made it a 1 point game with 40 seconds left, and Lake Region got back on top. 92-90 read the scoreboard following a 1-2 trip to the line for Jordan Bolton, who also had a good game from outside. That meant with just a few seconds left, the BSC crew could put a 3 for the win. They did from Grant Kohlus, but it just missed. So Lake Region State held on for a thrilling finish.

                  Now we head back to Class A, this time for battle between Bismarck and Mandan. The BisMan rivalry was flowing at the Karlgaard Gym, and it made for a great atmosphere and a pair of fun games. Brian had the call of the girls game, so we fast forward to the boys matchup. A pair of incredibly athletic teams went at it in a game that saw the Demons get out in front 26-16 in the early stages. The reason for that lead? Tanner Davis, who simply couldn’t miss early on. He had 12 points very quickly, being almost the only scorer for BHS. Well, him and Solomon Garter who was unstoppable down low. In a game that we figured would be decided in the key, Garter won the battle. Joe Jahner got hot from outside as well, and the Demons built a lead to right around 20. Mandan did find themselves late as Camren Steckler & Trae Steckler did their thing, but Isaac Watson and Elijah Klein really lit the spark for the Braves to make it single digits. However, the Demons held on and took it 78-70.