Corey's Corner 7/19

Posted 7/19/17 (Wed)

               I love All-Star games. Even at the professional levels when they sometimes get bashed, there’s something cool about seeing the best of the best all on the field at the same time. This is doubly true here in North Dakota, where there’s so much talent spread across different levels and towns all over North Dakota. And so bringing it all together results in some awesome games.

               So we start out on the hardwood with the Lions All-Star basketball games. Brian did the play-by-play for the Girls games, so for a recap of those head on over to the Monday Morning Rewind. Here, we’ll take a look at the Boys’ games. In last year’s Lions game, the Class B squad was as athletic as it has ever been in the 41 year history of this great tradition. The Class A guys seemingly responded, sporting a squad this year with some crazy length and skill. Dean Winczewski has been at the helm of the Class A Boys team for nearly half a decade by virtue of the Magi run, and he knew this group was special. On the first day of the Lions games, they showed it in the Bismarck Event Center.

               The game started out fast. Each team wanted to get out there and run, playing that high tempo of basketball that is more popular than ever. The game reached a fever pitch, as turnovers came as frequently as made baskets. Both teams were seemingly going too fast. But that’s exactly what the Class B guys wanted. They knew that to overcome the height advantage of Class A, they’d have to play a game like this. And for the first half it worked. It was a 47-43 game at the break. Tronis McKay and Logan Nelson paced the Class B madness, each with 10 points.  

               In the second half though, Class A gained their form. And it sprung from a calming presence at point guard to get them into what they want to do. That guard was future Fighting Hawk Aanen Moody. He upped his aggressiveness, and it opened up opportunities for his teammates. The 3 ball started falling for Class A as well, and they opened up a big lead without ever looking back. Moody would finish with 23 points. Matt Veit was outstanding as well, finishing with 10. And if the 3s are falling, it’s a safe bet in this game that one of the former Firebirds was involved. Sure enough, Zach Dahlen wrapped up with 12 points as the second leading scorer for Class A in the 99-82 win. For Class B, Jake Hanson was outstanding en route to 16. McKay flashed the scoring ability as well with 14.

               So we head to Fargo with Class A looking for a sweep. And early on, it seemed like they would get it easy. Moody stayed aggressive and set the scoring pace early.  He had 17 first half points, guiding Class A to a big first half lead. Siman Sem, as a starter on Day 2, got into his groove as well. He had six in the first half, but did a lot of the dirty work that went a long way to building the margin in favor of Class A. For Class B, the offense came almost exclusively from Steve Redfox and Tronis McKay. Redfox had 11, Mckay had 8. Logan Nelson got in on the action as well, but his first half would pale in comparison to his second. In fact, he would be a huge part of a rally by Class B.

               At the break, it seemed like we were headed for another A dominated game. That would not be the case. Nelson seemingly couldn’t miss (he didn’t in second half warm up’s) and powered the B Boys right back in. Wyatt Carr got the range working, and we had a ballgame. But the Class A guys would not be slowed for long. Carter Bonnema, who didn’t even think he’d be here, went off. He had a good first, but an even better second half. He opened it up with a 3, and wrapped up the day with about 20. The other driving force of the offense was Lucas Mayer. He really worked the mid-range and close-up game, and didn’t let the B Boys hand around. 109-100 was our final score, as Class A got away late. Nevertheless, a pair of very fun games on the hardwood.

               Our All-Star series wasn’t done yet. We next head to Grand Forks for the Shrine Bowl as the best of the best hit the gridiron in 11-man and 9-man contests. For a recap of the 9-man, check out Brian’s Monday Morning Rewind. First up was the 11-man contest, with two very balanced teams. Both squads had the ability to be multiple on offense, and shut it down on defense. We saw all three in this one. The first drive for each team showcased the offense. The East got the ball first and took it all the way down the field, although it didn’t seem like they would at first glance. After a minimal gain on the first two plays, it was third-and-long. Quarterback Ethan Lingen heaved one up to E-E-K big man Luke Wertz. And even though Wertz was covered well, he went up and made the catch. The huge play set up the East touchdown a few plays later on the short scamper by fullback Matt Burd. The West would respond in kind, with their own long 3rd down conversion, this time to Luke Little. The West would finish off the drive with a 20 yard strike from former Breckenridge QB Carson Yaggie to Rylan Bachmeier.

               Then we saw the defenses take over. The field position battle ensured, and even with some turnovers the scoreboard remained largely the same. The West would tack on one more TD before the break, using their focal point Lucas Butts. With Mark Gibson of Bismarck orchestrating the offense for the West, he went with what he knew. And the former Demon delivered again-and-again, including on the TD to make it 14-7.

                It would take a very fortunate bounce for the East to break the stalemate. Following an INT by Tate Camus and a very short field, the East was unable to cross the goal-line on the first three plays. So its 4th & Goal from the 1. The East went QB sneak.  The West, as it had done all drive, stood strong and was moments away from denying Lingen the endzone. However, Lingen fumbled. Ordinarily, a good thing for the defense. But this time it wound up right in the hands of Zach Gutterud who then crossed the goal line and scored. The West had earned the stop, but didn’t get it and so we were tied. The defensive impasse continued until late in the 4th quarter, when again it came down to the West defense with in the shadow of their own goalposts. They got put there by another insane catch from Luke Wertz, this time on 4th and 14. It was a good ol’ fashioned tip drill, and the former Thunder TE came away with it.

               The first couple plays were unsuccessful for the East, but Jackson Hankey would eventually cash in from six yards out to put the East back on top with about 5 minutes left. (It was only in the 4th quarter that we knew how much time was left at all. The first 3 were played with no clock) The West couldn’t mount a drive, and the East would hold on for the comeback victory 20-14. The West got some bad breaks throughout the game, but the message to the East at half from head coach Scott Grochow was take advantage of the opportunities when they come your way. The East did, and they got the W as a result.