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New England, Trinity meet in Roughrider title game

The last time the Dickinson Trinity and New England boys basketball teams met in the Roughrider championship was 2011.

At the time, the two teams had lineups packed full of leadership and experience.

The Titans and Tigers meet at 7:30 p.m. today at Knights of Columbus Activities Center, and each has a very different makeup.

“These are definitely different teams and these are teams that are up and coming,” New England head coach Luke Powers said. “I’d say it about coach (Gregg) Grinsteinner’s Dickinson Trinity team and the same about my team, both are filled with potential. We just have to work hard and fill that potential.”

New England is learning from its miscues.

“We make a lot of mistakes, but it is early in the season,” Powers said. “It’s kind of what I expected. We are looking to improve and become a better basketball team. We want to win, but we really want to win in late February.”

Trinity is just learning, too.

“We’ve got kids that are getting experience and I think it’s going to be a good challenge for them in an atmosphere you can’t practice,” Trinity head coach Gregg Grinsteinner said.

In the five three games, New England has a 3-0 record with wins over Center-Stanton, Bowman County and Killdeer.

Trinity, on the other hand, is 2-1 with a commanding win over Glen Ullin-Hebron and a narrow victory over Mott-Regent. The team’s only loss came against Shiloh Christian to open the season.

“We want to get back on the floor,” Grinsteinner said about his team’s 44-40 performance against Mott-Regent during the Roughrider Tournament semifinal game on Thursday. “We didn’t think we played exceptionally well. We didn’t think we executed very well.”

During the first two games of the Roughrider Tournament, junior guard Cole Wilhelmi led the team with a combined 24 points, while sophomore post Brock Messer posted 19. Brett Mortenson, a junior post, had 16 and sophomore guard Willy Jahner supplied 17.

While the Titans’ roster is filled with inexperienced players, Grinsteinner knows the game against New England is going to be good test.

“It’s going to be a challenge for us and that’s we are looking forward to,” he said. “The only way you are going to get better is to play a good team and New England is a very quality opponent.”

New England has a handful of scoring threats, notably juniors John Urlacher and Daniel Prince, who combined to score 68 points in the first two games of the Roughrider Tournament. The Tigers also have sophomore guard Brady Bender, who supplied 28 combined points in the tournament. Yet, New England has multiple post players chipping in points per game.

“There are minutes where we are really doing a nice job of scoring and our offense is moving,” Powers said. “Then there are other times, where we are dribbling 100 miles per hour and everyone else is just standing there watching and we don’t look that good. It is minute by minute. Sometimes I think things are really coming together and the next time I think, ‘Boy, I can’t wait to get back in the gym and practice.’”

Win or lose, each is relishing the fact of playing in a championship game early in the season.

“Win, lose or draw, this is going to be a great experience for both teams,” Grinsteinner said.

Powers added: “We have a good chance to play a good program like Dickinson Trinity. When it’s a tournament — even if it’s a preseason tournament — and you put the word championship in front of the word game, that makes it special for the kids. It’s fun for the coaches too and fun for the fans to watch. We are excited to be there and excited for the opportunity.”