Tigers avoid upset by Killdeer
At the start of the final 7 minutes, the New England boys basketball team held a 18-point lead over Killdeer.
“It was about pride,” Killdeer head coach Andy Murphy said. “We were on the verge of being blown out and we didn’t want to get blown out. I made the challenge for the boys, they stepped up and they brought us back. I’m proud of the way our boys played tonight.”
The No. 4-seed Tigers survived a fourth-quarter rally from the No. 5-seed Cowboys en route to a 50-44 win during the quarterfinals of the Region 7 Tournament on Monday at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
“(Killdeer) wasn’t going to give up,” New England head coach Luke Powers said. “They were going to do whatever they needed to do to get the ball. They gambled and won sometimes. They gambled and lost sometimes.
“When you get to this point in the season, you take wins whenever you can get them.”
After scoring the opening three points of the fourth quarter, the Tigers (19-3) could only muster six points in the final 7 minutes.
Killdeer (13-9), on the other hand, didn’t have any trouble finding the bottom of the basket. The Cowboys went on a 9-0 run over the next 3 minutes.
The Cowboys made up ground at the free-throw line. Killdeer was 10 of 13 (77 percent) from the charity stripe. Lewis Dobitz made 10 trips to the charity stripe and connected with eight. Dobitz finished with a team-high 12 points and 13 rebounds.
“We haven’t been making our free throws throughout the year, so I’m glad we decided we were going to shoot free throws in the regional quarterfinals,” Killdeer head coach Andy Murphy said with a smile. “It was good to see us shoot some good, pressure free throws.”
New England had the same opportunity from the free-throw line, but the team was 11 of 24 (46 percent). The Tigers also had to play the final 2:22 without their leading scorer Daniel Prince.
Prince finished the game with 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. The 6-foot-3 forward sprained his ankle.
“We’re a small school without a lot of depth and we’re either going to have to have a next man up or we’re going to see how tough Daniel is,” Powers said. “If he’s capable of playing, he’s the type of kids that’s going to want to play. At the same, if he’s not capable of playing, somebody is going to have to step up and we’re going to try to have to get the job done.”
The closest the Cowboys came in the final 2:22 was four — 46-42 — after Calum Blankenship, who finished with eight points and 10 rebounds, knocked down a layup.
New England sophomore point guard Brady Bender supplied three of the team’s final four points. Bender ended with a game-high 21 points, four steals and two blocks.
“When you are feeling it, you are feeling it,” Bender said about going scoring 14 first-half points. “It was nice to see them go in.”
In the first quarter, the Tigers ran out to a 14-9 lead. New England maintained its lead to 27-20 at halftime.
The Tigers ended 18 of 49 (38 percent) from the field, while Cowboys were 16 of 64 (25 percent).
New England junior guard John Urlacher finished with nine points and four rebounds. Junior forward Ty Nordby posted eight rebounds, four points and three blocks.
Killdeer’s Trenton Rohr had 11 points, five assists and three steals. Hayes LeMieux had eight points, four rebounds and two blocks.
The Tigers continue to the Region 7 Tournament semifinals against top-seed Beulah at 6 p.m. today. The only time the two teams met was on Feb. 7 when the Miners handled New England 70-36.
“Beulah kicked our butts earlier in the year and we’re excited to have another opportunity to play them,” Powers said. “We have to make some adjustments and try to get the job done.”
Killdeer 9 20 26 44
New England 14 27 41 50
K: Lewis Dobitz 12, Trenton Rohr 11, Calum Blankenship 8, Hayes LeMieux 8, Tuff Kling 5.
NE: Brady Bender 21, Daniel Prince 13, John Urlacher 9, Ty Nordby 4, Mason Stang 3.
3-pointers: K 2 (Rohr 1, Kling 1), NE 3 (Bender 2, Urlacher 1). Free throws: K 10-13, NE 11-24. Total fouls: K 18, NE 16. Fouled out: K, Rohr. Rebounds: K 50 (Dobitz 13), NE 36 (Prince 10). Assists: K 11 (Rohr 5,), NE 8 (Stang 3). Steals: K 17 (three tied with three), NE 15 (Bender 4). Blocks: K 2 (Blankenship 2), NE 8 (Nordby 3, Prince 3). Turnovers: K 16, NE 17. Records: K 13-9, NE 19-3.