Tigers, Titans ready for Region 7 battle
The No. 9-ranked New England boys basketball team already ended the 16-year streak of losing to Dickinson Trinity during the championship game of the Roughrider Tournament on Dec. 14.
Coincidentally, around the 1997 season was also the last time a regular-season game between the Tigers and Titans had playoff implications.
New England hosts Trinity in a Region 7 game at 7 p.m. Friday.
“There hasn’t been a game between Trinity and New England that has been this big since I’ve been there,” said Luke Powers, in his fourth year New England’s head coach and sixth with the team. “That’s exciting and it is always exciting to play Trinity because they are constantly at the top of the region. They are one of those teams that you want to try to knock off.”
New England, Trinity, Beulah and Hazen all have one loss in Region 7. The Tigers and Titans are each 4-1 against region opponents. The top four teams in the region receive a first-round bye in the Region 7 Tournament that begins Feb. 8.
“There’s a four-way tie up at the top and there are a couple teams after that with two losses,” said Dickinson Trinity head coach Gregg Grinsteinner, who has been at the helm of the Titans for 20 years and is five wins away from No. 400 in his career. “It becomes an important game, as far as standings go. Everybody’s goal is trying to get that first-round bye.”
Though New England and Trinity have the same region record, the Tigers are 13-1 on the season, while the Titans are 7-6.
Powers said every Region 7 regular-season game is important, but the Tigers still have five more remaining after Friday.
“All the regional games left for us are going to be huge,” he said. “We have six left and our goal is to go out and compete in every one of them, and hopefully give ourselves a chance for a high seed going into the tournament.”
The lone time the Tigers and Titans meet this season was during the Roughrider championship. New England took a 63-51 win over Trinity.
Each team is led by group of underclassmen. Combined, there are 16 Tigers and Titans who see substantial varsity minutes. Only three seniors.
New England junior forward Daniel Prince leads his team with 16.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. Junior guard John Urlacher is averaging 13.8 points per game, while sophomore point guard Brady Bender chips in 11.5. Tigers junior forward Ty Nordby is supplying 9.4, but has exploded in back-to-back performances. He scored 18 points against New Town on Saturday to help propel New England into the Class B state rankings and had 24 against Bowman County on Tuesday.
“We’ve spent a lot of time learning from our mistakes,” Powers said. “We have one loss, but there have been a lot of games where we haven’t been perfect and the kids continue to get better.”
Junior guard Joe Mayer leads the Titans with 10.6 points per game, while sophomore guard Willy Jahner averages 9.2 and junior post Brett Mortenson chips in 8.7. Mortenson put up a season-high 16 points against the Tigers during the Roughrider championship game. He knocked down a majority of his shots on a mid-range jumper from the elbow.
Whoever wins, Grinsteinner said this game is only going to make each team better.
“I expect the game against New England to have that tournament-type atmosphere,” he said. “I expect the gym to be very loud.”
Midgets travel for final West Region duals
The Dickinson High wrestling team isn’t looking too far into the future.
The Midgets have to focus on the task at hand when they travel to Bismarck High at 5 p.m. today and Turtle Mountain at 3 p.m. Friday for their final West Region duals of the season.
“We’ve had a great dual season so far and we want to finish it out right,” Dickinson co-head coach Adam Orton said. “Bismarck is obviously a really tough opponent and so is Turtle Mountain.”
Though the West Region dual against Turtle Mountain on Friday is the one most of the Dickinson wrestlers are watching, Orton said the team has to be ready for Bismarck and the Braves.
“I always tell the kids the most important match is the one right in front of you,” he said. “In a tournament, you never want to slack off in the first round because you want to face the tough kid in the finals. You have to wrestle as hard as you can every match.”
The Midgets have already claimed a spot in the state dual tournament as their lone loss this season is to Bismarck Century, which will likely be the No. 2 seed from the West. Dickinson is guaranteed at least the No. 4 spot, but can go higher with a win against the Demons or Turtle Mountain.
After the two duals, the Midgets host the West Region Tournament on Feb. 8 at the DHS gymnasium.
“We want to let them know that every match is important and the biggest ones are coming,” Orton said. “State and WDA are the ones we’ve been getting them ready for all season.”
Dickinson returns home to host invitational
The Dickinson High gymnastics team had a chance to see some different faces at the Gym-O-Rama on Saturday in Rapid City, S.D.
Though the Midgets competed in a different state, the score didn’t change much. Dickinson won the meet a 146.400, which is its third-highest score this season.
“We have a tendency to see the same teams week in and week out, no matter where we go,” Dickinson head coach Kent Van Ells said. “To me, that’s my favorite meet. That’s not a championship meet.
“It’s good to go somewhere completely different with completely different judges and get a similar score.”
Dickinson might have had fun on the road, but there’s no place like home. The Midgets host an invitational at 1 p.m. Saturday at DHS gymnasium. The last time the Midgets competed at home was on Dec. 13.
“It will be kind of refreshing for them just to be on their own equipment,” Van Ells said. “They are also starting to settle in on certain skills.”