Corey's Corner 2/15

Posted 2/15/17 (Wed)

               As the postseason begins to heat up, the games come fast and furious. There aren’t many single games left on the schedule, they all come in bunches now. And they all mean a great deal, whether it’s determining the standings for the postseason or a postseason game itself, everything this time of year has some added significance. So let’s jump right in. 

               We start things out at Century high school for some WDA hoops between the Century Patriots and the Dickinson Midgets. The girls were up first, and the Patriots put on a show for the hometown crowd as they have done every time they’ve taken the floor in North Dakota.  Century’s only loss on the year came in Wyoming, so the fans have never left CHS upset. They wouldn’t in this one either, though off the bat the outcome was very much in doubt. Each team played some exceptional defense and offense was tough to come by. Both squads have a good deal of height, and they used it. Dickinson altered shots, Century outright blocked them courtesy of their very talented freshman Lauren Ware. Each time we’ve seen Century this year, they’ve gotten off to a difficult start vs. a scrappy team. This time though, that didn’t last long.

               Lauren Ware got the offense to match here defense as she started to take over the painted area, and that set up things for Regan Dennis. The all-state player reached double digits in the first alf and set the tenor for the rest of the game. A 9-0 run forced a Dickinson timeout, and Century used that as a catapult. A 20-4 run ensued lead on the inside by Dennis and Ware, while Maddie Klein peppered the DHS D with jumpers. Lilly Keplin, Bailey Wilhelm, and Katelyn Selensky all got going from outside as well and Century would remain undefeated at home. They got the W 60-30 with just a few games before their postseason run begins in the WDA tournament. We had an incredible boys game as well, but for that look back at two top five teams you have to check out the great work of my broadcast partner Brian over on the Monday Morning Rewind.

               Then we kept it in Bismarck as the Marauders of UMary played host to a huge four games in the MAC. Both Mary squads were in a pivotal spot in there season, searching out the fourth and final home playoff berth in the NSIC North. So we’ll start it out with a doubleheader featuring the Marauders and the Huskies of St. Cloud State. UMary and SCSU were tied for the 4th spot in the NSIC North, so the math on this one was easy. The winner of the game gets sole possession of the final playoff berth with just a few games left in the season. In the early stages, it was the Marauders who looked like they were gonna get that spot. They came out firing on all cylinders, led by the redshirt freshman Gabbie Bohl. She would have her best free-throw-shooting day of the year going 8-8. She also was outstanding from the floor with a crazy efficient 10-of-16. Hannah Larson was outstanding as well, notching over 20 points of her own.

               The Marauders utilized those efforts to the tune of a 40-29 halftime lead, really slowing down the efforts of some of the Huskies top scorers. But in the second half that changed. Bestsy MacDonald is the leading scorer for SCSU, and she showed that in the second half with a 16 point barrage following a five spot in the opening stanza. But the real reason for the turnaround was Amanda Christianson, who put up 14 points in the second half on 6-of-10 shooting. In the first half, she had zero. Overall, the Huskies went 5-of-9 from beyond the arc and that allowed them to not only equalize the game, but come all the way back for the win. It would mark a tough loss for the Marauders, and make the remaining stretch of games that much more important. They still had another shot at the W on the weekend however.

               But first, the men of UMary took the floor vs. SCSU. In this case, St. Cloud State was actually ahead of the Marauders in the standings, having all but clinched the 3rd seed in the North. But that didn’t much matter in this one. And much like with the women’s team, the offensive spotlight really fell on two players. But these two were up to the challenge in a big way. Rickey Suggs put up a career high 25 points, going 11-of-12 from the field. That unbelievable efficiency would be the hallmark for the Marauders in this game, as they simply shot the lights out of the MAC. Damonta Henry was the other big offensive contributor with a 22 point outburst. (Bryan Jefferson was good as always with 14.) But everyone pitched in while nobody could miss. Isaac Lindquist, Pat Thomas, and Trevor Zacher all reached double digits.

               The game was shaped by some long runs for UMary. This team is one of the best in the NSIC at taking the ball away, and they did that with regularity. They gave it up more than they would like as well, but they minimized the impact of the turnovers. The Huskies were unable to do the same. An 18-2 run in the first half set up a big 12 point margin for the Marauders at the halftime break. They lead by 17 at the height of that run, and the Huskies continued that upward trend. SCSU has some of the most dynamic scorers in the conference, and that shone through in the 2nd half. Gage Davis would do score the bulk of his 36 points in the 2nd half, and he finished with a double-double. Jon Averkamp started the scoring for SCSU, and never stopped putting away shots finishing with 28. The big absence was Scottie Stone, the 5th leading scorer in the NSIC, who the Marauders shut out all game long in one of their biggest defensive achievements of the season. That defense turned into offense throughout the second half and even as SCSU continued to battle back from huge deficits to make it single digits, it was the Marauders who finished on the big run to set up a 99-79 victory. UMary would finish over 60% from the field in their season-high scoring effort and pull off the upset win at the MAC. That put the Marauders in a two way tie with their fellow North Dakota team: Minot St. The Huskies were making the trip North to take on the Beavers and so now the Marauders would be pulling for the team they just beat. More on that later.

               First, the teams that played Minot State Friday would make the trip to the capital city, as the Bulldogs of Minnesota-Duluth came to town. With the loss the night before, the Marauders need to essentially win out to keep hope of a home playoff game alive. And it was Senior Night at the MAC, so emotions were everywhere. Hannah Larson put on a show as one of the two seniors on the Marauders Women’s team, while Rachel Weir continued to play her scrappy brand of basketball. Weir was one of the leaders of a Marauders defense that would go on to have one of its best games of the year. A back-and-forth 1st quarter gave way to a dominant UMary effort in the 2nd, as they outscored the Bulldogs 12-3 before the halftime break. Gabbie Bohl would reach the double digit plateau before the break, largely as the spark for this UMary run.

               But in the 3rd, the Bulldogs came storming back. They, like the Men’s team for SCSU, came into the MAC as the higher team in the standings sitting at 3rd in the North. And they showed it early on in the 3rd as Sammy Kozlowski powered them back from downtown. But one of the great parts about college basketball is that the rankings coming in have a tendency to not matter. That was shown this weekend. The UMARY men got the upset of SCSU, and Cassie Askvig was going to make sure that the women upset these bulldogs. She knocked down a three, and that started up and finished a fast break lay in. on the day in which the Marauders honored their seniors, the two first year players out of the Magic City were outstanding. Not to be outdone, Hannah Larson took over the rest of the way. One of the great Marauders in UMary history drove their attack throughout the 4th and final and sealed the victory. UMary bounced back from a tough loss for a big win, keeping their hopes alive of one last game at the MAC come NSIC tourney time.

               Meanwhile, the men were in the drivers’ seat for that same opportunity. And amidst all this talk of seeding, they face a schedule that sees them as the higher ranked team in the North for all three of their remaining matchups. That includes this one, taking on a very young Bulldogs team. It was senior night for the guys too, and they absolutely shone. Damonta Henry was automatic from the outside. By the end of the game, I think I was calling his makes before the basketball even went through the hoop. He put up a career high in overall scoring as well as his marks from downtown. Bryan Jefferson added another 20, Pat Thomas was involved in every stat on the sheet, and Erron Collins sparked the offense from downtown early setting the tenor for the rest of the game. Rickey Suggs and Isaac Lindquist were good as well, particularly from the defensive perspective. The Bulldogs were held to 39% shooting, and the Marauders got the wire-to-wire victory. The freshman Luke Harris led the way for the Bulldogs, showcasing the future of what is going to be a very good team for UMD. But in this one it was the Marauders day to celebrate as they earned the doubleheader sweep. Oh, and about that tie with Minot State. The Huskies would play a thriller in the Magic City, so when we went off the air the game was going to OT. But SCSU would eventually pull it out, meaning the Marauders are now in sole possession of the final home playoff berth with two to go.

               Speaking of the postseason, it was about time to get that going here on the BEK Broadcasting Network with the District 6 Tournament. For a recap of the action from Jamestown for D5, check out Brian’s Monday Morning Rewind. We pick up the games from Napoleon in the semifinal round, and first up was the South Border Mustangs and the top seeded Kidder County Pirates. The Mustangs have a tendency to play in some defensive battles in the District tourney, and one of the top team in the Region defensively was happy to oblige. It was a back-and-forth first half that saw the Pirates up 19-15 at the break. Grace Benz & Brittany Rath lead the way for them with 7.For the Mustangs, it was Katie Schmidt and Faith Dockter carrying the load offensively.

               Then in the third quarter, we were watching a different basketball game. The Pirates three-point-shot started to go with regularity. Brittany Rath, Jaslyn Magstadt, and Madelyn Schmidt all found their offensive rhythym. Kayla Rohr would knock down back-to-back threes to answer, and Elisabeth Dalke would also get her jumper going. But KC was not to be stopped in Q3. They scored about as much as they did all of the first half, getting out a 40-29 lead. But the Mustangs weren’t done yet. Faith Dockter would show the future of South Border as the freshman scored left and right, finishing with 14 points (most of which came late.) Katie Schmidt knocked down the deep shot and made it a one possession game with :30 to go. But the Pirates defense would out, and bookend this game with some outstanding work on that end of the floor. They held strong, and Kidder County would go to the championship with a 47-44 win.

               The second semifinal of the day was a good one too. The #2 team in District 6 the Thunder of Medina-Pingree-Buchanan took on the Imperials of Napoelon-Gackle-Streeter. And MPB had no interest in a defensive battle for a first half. They came out and scored the first eight points of the game, and got out to a double-digit margin with an 18-7 lead. Megan Moser and Taylor Sabinash were the driving force for the Thunder in the big run. But Callie Thompson brought NGS back, and it was a 24-19 game at the half. The every other quarter trend continued, and the Thunder picked up in the 3rd exactly where they left off in the 1st. Sabinash was good again, and the freshman Gracie Bohl put up six in the 2nd half. Megan Moser doubled her seven, and that would be the run to put it away. MPB got the win 52-37.

               And so we head to the Championship night. Our first two games had everything on the line as we start out with the Lions of Linton-HMB taking on the Imperials of NGS. This was a regional qualifying game, meaning the winner goes to Jamestown and the loser’s season is over. And unlike the first game from the day before, this one was an offensive showcase. Mackenzie Heflin set up the Imperial offense with eight first half points. But the Lions were there step-for-step in the 1st half. A three-point-game in the 1st quarter turned into a six point lead for NGS by halftime. But Napoleon-GS came out strong after the halftime break. Megan Regner and Kaylin Weigel were outstaning in the second half, finishing with 13 and 9 respectively. Heflin continued her good day wrapped up with 13. The run in the 3rd would be enough to spark NGS to the win, keeping their season alive. The seniors Jenna Bernhardt and Heidi Jacob wrapped up great careers for the Lions and were good in this game as well. But the NGS Imperials would be the #3 seed out of District 6.

               Our second game featured an incredibly young Strasburg-Zeeland Clippers going against the South Border Mustangs. South Border also came out of the gate strong, and that would be enough to power them throughout the game. Faith Dockter was outstanding again, wrapping up with 20. Kayla Rohr shaped the game in transition, setting up a number of opportunities running down the floor. She had nine points, and Dalke had eight. Hannah Scherr and Taylor Krumm wrapped up their strong Clipper careers, and the Mustangs would go on to get the win. So now we knew our four teams out of District 6, but the top two teams were still to be determined.

               So it was Championship time from Napoleon. And again, the Pirates would put forth an outstanding defensive effort. The first half would come to an end with an 18-15 lead for MPB. Grace Benz shouldered the load for Kidder County, getting it done from the field. For MPB, it was a balanced effort in the 1st half. In the 2nd half, Amanda Allen was good from outside. Halle Uehran was sensational from the inside, taking over the game. She got into double digits, but foul trouble limited her opportunities late.  And the Kidder County defense kept them in the game for the entirety of the ballgame. But the Thunder did enough to contain the Pirates, and even as it came down to the final minutes the Thunder held onto the lead and got the District 6 Championship. And so all the matchups are set for Jamestown, and we’ll bring it back to you live here on BEK.