Bearcats claw Titans
MINOT -- North Star wasn't about to let tradition get in its way.
Just one more to go.
The Bearcats punched their ticket to the championship game of the Class B state boys basketball tournament by downing perennial power Dickinson Trinity 67-43 in semifinal action Friday at the Minot State University Dome.
"People always say we're on a mission," said North Star sophomore point guard Jacob Hagler, who finished with 18 points. "It's like playground ball when we're out there running and gunning."
North Star (26-0), ranked No. 1 in the final Class B state poll, meets Grafton for the state championship 20 minutes after the conclusion of the third-place game between Trinity (18-7) and New Town, which starts at 5 p.m.
"I'm glad we could show what we're capable of," North Star coach Jeff Hagler said. "We were doing it on both ends of the floor."
Trinity coach Gregg Grinsteinner had to deal with the other side of that coin.
"That was my biggest nightmare," Grinsteinner said. "They're a good team. They take advantage of mistakes."
One more win gives North Star the goal it had hoped to achieve last year when it was undefeated and was ranked No. 1 going into the Region 4 championship game -- only to lose to eventual state champion Carrington in overtime.
"I always have that in the back of my mind," Jacob Hagler said. "I'm trying not to let that happen this year."
The Bearcats are well past that point and on their way to the title tilt. If the offense flows today like it did in the second half against Trinity, North Star could be in good shape.
Trinity didn't get much of a chance to cut into North Star's 34-26 halftime advantage as the Bearcats started the second half on a 7-0 run, capped by a Grant Lindahl 3-pointer. He finished with a game-high 25 points and added eight rebounds.
"Their point guard runs the show and he makes everything for them go," Grinsteinner said. "Then when you add a scorer like Lindahl, you have to play mistake-free basketball."
Trinity was led in scoring by Alex Klug, who helped the Titans keep pace with North Star by scoring 11 of his team-high 16 points in the first half. The Titans lost the rebounding edge 33-23.
Trinity put one last run together, scoring seven straight points that went into the fourth quarter to get within 11 at 50-39 after a steal and layup from Dylan Fridrich.
But the Bearcats set up a play during the ensuing timeout that found Lindahl alone on the right wing where he drained his third and final trey. It jumpstarted an 11-0 run that put the game away in the fourth quarter.
As good as the offense was, the defense proved to be even steadier late in the game, holding Trinity to one field goal in the final 6:58 of the game.
"We always say defense leads to offense," Jacob Hagler said. "Causing turnovers, that's when we're at our best."
T 10 26 35 43
NS 15 34 50 67
T: Alex Klug 16, Isiah Binstock 8, Jacob Volk 6, Jesse Kubik 4, Christian Olson 3, Mason Schiff 2, Dylan Fridrich 2, Austyn Gawryluk 2.
NS: Grant Lindahl 25, Jacob Hagler 18, Daniel Grande 10, Matt Swanson 7, Josh Haugen 4, Adam Held 3.
3-pointers: T 5 (Klug 4, Olson 1), NS 6 (Lindahl 3, Grande 2, Held 1). Free throws: T 6-9, NS 3-4. Total fouls: T 4, NS 12. Rebounds: T 21 (Binstock 4), NS 33 (Lindahl 8). Assists: T 12 (Fridrich 3, Olson 3), NS 14 (Grande 4). Turnovers: T 15, NS 7.
Aarhus is a sports reporter for the Minot Daily News.