Beulah cruises by Mott-Regent
The opening game of the Region 7 boys basketball tournament between top seed Beulah and No. 8 Mott-Regent was over with the first shot of the ball.
Beulah ran away with the game, beating Mott-Regent 69-40 Monday at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
“There’s no real cut-clear favorite in the tournament, whoever can put together or play the best at the tournament is going to come out of this thing,” Beulah head coach Jeremy Brandt said. “Our kids, we didn’t change a whole lot and wanted to continue to do the things we’ve done all year.”
The Miners got out to an early 9-0 lead from the efforts of sophomore guard Casey Walcker and junior forward Luke Blood, combining for six points. Beulah’s defensive pressure was too strong for Mott-Regent, as the Wilfire were shut down and scored four points in the first period.
Beulah was relentless and took advantage of every mistake and turnover its opponent committed. At the end of the half, the Miners had built up a hefty 24-point lead, 36-12 and showed no signs of slowing down for the second half. Senior guard Cole Messerschmidt, Blood and Walcker all finished in double digits with 12, 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Beulah completed the game with strong performaces on both sides of the ball. The Miners finished 27 for 52 (52 percent) from the floor and collected 12 offensive rebounds and 27 total.
“That press we run, it’s our main defensive setting and defense wins us games,” Walcker said regarding the team’s game plan coming into the tournament. “Basically keep the other guys from tearing us up. We had a strategy on Zentner going in and it worked well for us. Coach Brandt usually has a pretty good hold on what we’re supposed to do.”
In the first half total, Mott-Regent’s leading scorer senior Tyler Zentner went 1 for 3 for two points. Zentner picked it up in the second half and finished 6 for 12 with a game-high 18 points, four rebounds and three assists.
The Wildfire shot 26 percent (5 for 19) in the first half and 33 percent (14 for 42) overall, went 2 for 12 beyond the arc and committed 21 turnovers.
“These kids have to realize this game was a privilege to play and it’s not a give in to get out there,” Mott-Regent head coach Nate Zachmann said. “Take pride in representing you’re school, you’re family and most of all yourself. You can have all the X’s and O’s there is, but you have to have some pride out there, have some heart and that’s what it comes down to.”
Since the beginning of the season, Beulah had come a long way to earning its right to be the top seed. Walcker said after a successful last season, the Miners felt privileged, as if each win would be handed to them.
But after a shocking start and a 76-56 blowout loss at Hazen, the team turned its attitude around and stormed its way through the region with a 13 game win streak in the regular season.
“The first five games were a real wake up call to us and I think right after we got throttled by Hazen at Hazen that really was the turnaround for our season,” Walcker said. “We headed to Hettinger and started playing together as a team and it picked up from there.”
The Miners continue tournament play and face No. 4-seed New England at 6 p.m. today. Beulah beat the Tigers 70-36 on Feb. 7 and know exactly what they’ll be facing. The key to defeating them again is keeping its defensive pressure going all game and never let up.
“New England, they’re long, athletic and play a tough zone and it’s going to be a tough game either way,” Walcker said.
Mott-Regent 4 12 21 40
Beulah 18 36 50 69
MR: Tyler Zentner 18, Brett Messmer 8, Austin Kautzman 7, Brady Wegh 5, Carter Honeyman 2
B: Luke Blood 14, Casey Walcker 13, Cole Messerschmidt 12, Landon Battest 6, Randi Julson 6, Mason Brouwer 5, Jett Hettich 4Ty Schaper 3, Calvin Aichele 2, Joshua Remmick 2
3-pointers: MR 2 (Zentner, Kautzman), B 8 (Messerschmidt 4, Walcker 2, Schaper 1, Hettich 1). Free throws: MR 10-15, B 7-13. Total fouls: MR 15, B 19. Rebounds: MR 29 (Messmer 7), B 27 (Battest 6). Assists: MR 8 (Zentner 3), B 14 (Battest 4). Steals: MR 18 (Kautzman 4), B 20 (Blood, Battest 4). Blocks: MR 1 (Ben Friedt), B none. Turnovers: MR 21, B 19.