Corey's Corner 2/11

Posted 2/11/16 (Thu)

                    There is a constant battle in sports that many of us don’t think about: the tension between excitement and time. People are often saying that a sport is taking too long (especially baseball). People love when the action is fast-paced and constant. But here’s the thing: good games take longer. In a blowout, the clock is running as both teams look to get it over with. Even in a one sided baseball game, there’s less mound visits and other time sinks. So sports are always trying to find the balance between a long game and a fun one.  Writing about sports suffers from the same tension. On the one hand, people like their information (like their games) quickly, but it’s also important to cover all the information. And this issue becomes even more pressing with all the games we’re doing here on the BEK Broadcasting Network.  So going forward, we’ll have to balance brevity with efficiency, and recap the boatload of games in a way that informs you without writing a new North Dakota sports novel.

                   So we’ll start at the college level with the Vikings of Valley City State taking on the Mayville State Comets. This game had all the makings of an absolute barn burner, with the Comets coming in as a top 5 offense in all of Division 2 in terms of 3-pointers made, and they were 7th in overall scoring. Meanwhile, the Vikings were right behind them in terms of scoring from deep, and were top 15 in overall offense from the field. And after a 19-19 first quarter, it certainly seemed like both teams were living up to the hype. But in the second, the offense continued for one team and came to almost a complete stop for the other.

                  Lexi Lennon was absolutely on fire from beyond the arc, and MacKenzie Huber was absolutely unstoppable down low. Sara Schwanke was hyper efficient as well, as all three put up a season-high points total for the Comets. The Vikings shot over 50% from beyond the arc, and nearly that much from the field overall. The low block combo of Alexia Olson & Andi Gayner couldn’t answer the barrage in the paint. The Comets also couldn’t answer the darts that VCSU was throwing from deep, as Jena Lundon had an off game. The senior leader for Mayville State averages about 18 points a game, and finished with 22 but went 6/16 from deep. The majority of those came late as well. The 17-2 run in the 2nd would go on to be the deciding factor in this one. Every Comets run was answered by a Vikings response, and it would be VCSU coming out on top 86-66. The men’s game followed this one on BEK, and for that recap and more you’ll have to check out the equally loaded Monday Morning Rewind.

                 Keeping it moving, next up is a trip to Strasburg, ND as the Lady Clippers welcomed in the Wolverines of Herreid-Selby Area. The Wolverines were without their leading scorer Charlie Tisdall, who was missing her 5th straight game with a concussion. In her absence, their head coach Steve Sawinsky described his team as the “smallest team in South Dakota.” But the Strasburg-Zeelan Lady Clippers might very well be the youngest team in North Dakota. The veterans Miranda Scherr and Taylor Krumm couldn’t get going for SZ, and Courtney Anderson and Kara Thorstenson simply didn’t miss in this one. Turnovers would sink the Clippers ship in this one, with 22 in the first half alone. A young team can be prone to sending the ball the other way, and the Wolverines took full advantage. Herreid-Selby looks to get Tisdal back and make some noise in the postseason, while the Clippers continue to try and get better each day.

                Staying with the high school girls, the South Border Mustangs were in Wishek playing host to the Loboes of Lamoure-Litchville-Marion. The Mustangs will be the host of the district tournament as well, as we bring you that one from Ashley High School. Every single match will be right here on BEK 24/7. You can also find every district and regional game for the Loboes on the BEK Broadcasting Network. Districts will be on BEK Prime, regionals on 24/7 for LLM. But back to Wishek and a possible regional preview.

                Two of the most talented teams in Region 3 took the floor, and as it should be this one went down to the wire. The Mustangs have a very good starting five, and they lean on them heavily, and that paid off to the tune of a 12-5 record. Meanwhile, the Loboes are comfortable with a number of different sets on the floor. But no matter which look they are giving, the unquestioned leader is Anna Holen. The sophomore is the biggest reason the State volleyball trophy sits in LaMoure, and her athleticism and skill translate to this hard wood sport as well. Early on in this one, she wasn’t as effective, and that’s a credit to the Mustangs. Their defense is led by Elizabeth Dalke, as well as the anchors in Morgan Schnabel and Amy Jacobson.

                 But it was the South Border offense down the stretch that became a problem. As the game went on, foul trouble limited Jacobson and Schnabel was having a tough time establishing a rhythm. Brooke Buchholz, Kayla Rohr, and Dalke managed to get near or above double digits, but late in the game, Wishek became the Loboe Lounge. It was just a two possession game headed to the 4th, then Anna Holen and company took off. Kindra Hamlin, Jackie Meiklejohn, and Ellie Holen all rounded out the scoring and provided the spacing for the older Holen to get to 15 with relative ease and the Loboe lead ballooned late. The double digit final margin left LaMoure happy after a big regional win, while the Mustangs left their home gym frustrated and excited for another chance to play the Loboes in a rematch later on in the season. Weather that matchup happens again is yet to be seen, but this rendition was a lot of fun. Of course, no matter what regional pairings we get, it will be a phenomenal tournament.

                  Finally, we’ll head back to the college level as we go to cover some Marauders basketball while UMary takes on Concordia University-St. Paul. UMary went up against MSU-Mankato the day before, but again that recap is over in the Monday Morning Rewind. As for this one, well we saw two different games in one. The first half between the Marauders and CSP was as close as can be. And if you enjoy the three point shot (who doesn’t) then this was the game for you. In the first half, the offense came from both teams. Brittney Dietz was phenomenal in the first two quarters, and would finish the day with over 20 points (a performance that would earn her conference player of the week.) Dietz came in as one of the top scorers in Marauders history, and she showed for a statewide audience exactly how she climbed the all-time UMary list. For the Golden Bears, Anna Schmitt led the way as she has all season long. Despite that, her team saw Mary get on a 16-0 run. At the half, the Marauders had built a solid lead as we went to the break at 44-36.

                  Then our “game 2” started. As accurate as Mary was to build their halftime lead, the Golden Bears were even more deadly.  Lauren Shifflet, Mishayla Jones, and the continued performance of Schmitt simply could not miss. They went nearly 75% from deep, and that’s tough to beat no matter what. The Marauders strung together a few runs, but the Golden Bears were always there to answer with a deep ball. There isn’t a team in NSIC that was going to beat Concordia-University St. Paul on this Saturday afternoon. They were simply too good, and the Marauders fell 96-75.

                So the Golden Bears went into game 2 of our doubleheader looking for to bring out the brooms here in Bismarck, while an incredibly talented Marauders Men’s team was looking to put a stop to that real quick. UMary came in at 14-9, while the Golden Bears were just 8-15 under their 2nd year head coach Joey James. But hey, as they say you can throw out the records when two conference foes meet up. And that proved true in this one.

                Concordia-University St. Paul men’s team clearly took some cues from the women’s team, as they continued letting it fly from outside. And more importantly, they were hitting them like crazy too. Dialo Powell, Matt Ambriz, the foul-plagued Cole Olstad, and Bryndan Matthews all did a tremendous job from outside. Their devastation from outside opened up the key for the big guys Shea Mandli and Mike Yahnkey. Still, it was the backcourt battle between Powell and Mary’s Brandon Tyler that determined who held the lead. It was really a back-and-froth affair and, Tyler’s career day had UMary in the driver’s seat for parts of the game.

                The crazy nature of this one would continue in the 2nd half. The Marauders dominance in the paint would be announced in the loudest way possible. To open up the second half, the first possession down the floor Marquealis Edwards ran by two Golden Bears and threw down a Space Jam. The Marauders would continue to do most of their damage from inside, especially on second, third, and even fourth chance points. The rebound domination drove UMary into the final few minutes of this one and kept the Golden Bears attack at bay. But at the end of the day, CSP took advantage of a simple fact: three is more than two. Rickey Suggs and Bryan Jefferson gave it their best effort to try and close things out, but just like in the prior game the outside shooting of the Golden Bears would simply prove to be too much. Concordia-St.Paul would hit their free throws at the end and come away with the narrow two possession win.

                Alright, it’s time for the college finale on the BEK Broadcasting Network (that’s why this column was pushed back a day.) It’s been a crazy set of games, and we have seen all types of contests. From three point bombardments to games that got stuck in the mud, it truly has been an experience. We got another new set of games as the Valley City State Vikings welcomed in North Star rival Dickinson State. The women’s game was up first. And hopefully you’ve picked up on the trend by now : that recap is in the Monday Morning Rewind. So off we go the men’s game with the Vikings trying to ride the momentum of the women’s game at the W.E. Osmon Fieldhouse (spoiler alert). VCSU was coming off a tough loss on BEK against one of the league’s best defenses in the Comets of Mayville State. The Vikes had a season low offensive output in that game of 50 points. Now they went up against a team they beat by one point 11 days ago with both teams fate in the North Star up in the air. (Both teams controlled their own destiny, win out and you get the NSAA crown.)

                Both teams have a great balance of front and backcourt players. Initially, we keyed in on the guard battle between Julian Vasquez and Justyn Galloway. Both guys are averaging double digit scoring, with Vasquez just shy of 20 per. On the front end, Ellwood Elllenson has been great in our BEK games as well as the rest of the season, while the junior from Miami Gilberto Shojgreen Jr. has taken flight for the Blue Hawks. With all that talent on the floor we thought we were in for a great game.    

                For the first 10 minutes, we couldn’t have been more wrong. This game started out as an absolute slopfest. Both teams were averaging about a turnover per minute, and I mean that quite literally. The game opened with both teams turning it over, and that would actually set the tempo for the first half of the first half. There’s really nothing I can say. It was ugly. So let’s fast forward to the second part of the half, which was actually back to what this game should be. Nate Vieira paced the Vikings from outside, while Galloway, Jayden Ferguson, and Nygel Drury all pitched in with big-time contributions. The Vikings did have to go even deeper on their bench because both teams racked up fouls and were in the double bonus faster than you can blink as part of the funk fest opening to the game. For DSU, it was Curtis Redd from the free through line an Julian Vasquez. Everything was status quo till a few minutes left in the half. Then Nygel Drury got on a personal run, the defense locked down, and all of a sudden the Blue Hawks had lost what was nearly a double digit lead (they started out up 7-0) and the Vikings went to the locker room up 42-31. A 15-2 run to close out the 1st put the Vikings in the driver’s seat the rest of the game.

                The biggest reason for that run was the rebounds, and those rebounds leading to turnovers. With both teams in the bonus so early, the charity stripe was where the game would be won. And VCSU knocked down their freebees, and when they didn’t got second chance opportunities as well as getting even more free throws off of their rebounds. They were +10 in rebounds at the break. That stat evened out a little bit because of strong showings for Shojgreen Jr and Brandon Jamar (who had the two sickest blocks we’ve seen all year) in half #2, but the lead was simply too much for the Blue Hawks to overcome. Ellenson closed out the game with some excellent defense and well-timed shooting. Then a Ferguson dunk late put an exclamation point on the 83-69 win that keeps the Vikings at the helm of their North Star Athletic Association destiny. 

                 And that will wrap up the longest edition ever of Corey’s Corner. Hopefully, we managed to find that balance between fun and time. But this column will be even longer as we start postseason play. Enjoy the basketball, I know we will :)