Titans move past Night Hawks
The Dickinson Trinity boys basketball team has always had the burden of trying to defend its home court in the Region 7 tournament.
“We definitely came out with a lot of energy, especially on the defensive end,” Trinity junior guard Joe Mayer said. “We got in their face and forced them to take bad shots we took decent shots and were able to finish pretty well.”
Trinity (13-8) came out with intensity right away and went to work against the Night Hawks (11-12). Junior post Brett Mortenson scored six of the Titans’ opening eight points en route to a 14-2 lead with 2 minutes, 7 seconds to go in the first quarter.
Mortenson, Mayer and sophomore guard Willy Jahner combined for 35 points on the night. Freshman forward Shawn Stoltz added nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Hettinger-Scranton tried to make a push at the end of the first quarter as sophomore guard Hayden Sadowsky hit back to back shots with 1:03 left and eighth-grader Isiah Kludt drained a long 3-pointer with 14 seconds left to put the team within nine, 18-9. Sadowsky finished with game-high 17 points, went 3 for 7 from 3-point range and added two steals.
In the second quarter, the Night Hawks tried to move on with their newfound momentum and got within seven with 2:34 left in the half.
“They were a good team, they played good defense and they had some good scorers on that team,” sophomore guard Willy Jahner said, who finished with a team-high 13 points. “It was tough but we played pretty well tonight.”
Jahner hit two shots from 3-point range, one at the minute mark and a late shot with two seconds left, for a 31-18 lead at the half and the final nail in the coffin for Hettinger-Scranton.
“We had a couple mental mistakes. The two 3’s Jahner hit before halftime those were big and we weren’t wanting to leave him there and we did twice and he made us pay,” Hettinger-Scranton head coach Adam Hill said. “He’s a great player and that’s why he made us pay.”
The second half didn’t get any easier for the Night Hawks. Trinity forced Hettinger to turn over the ball on its first two possessions, eight times in the second half and 13 overall.
Hettinger-Scranton finished shooting 33 percent (15 for 46) from the floor, made five of its eight free throws and collected 26 rebounds.
For Trinity, head coach Gregg Grinsteinner was pleased with the balanced game from his team, as the shot 46 percent (22 for 48) and won the game on the glass with 12 offensive rebounds and 33 total.
“Offensively I liked our execution, whatever defense they threw at us it seemed like we adjusted and got some pretty good open looks,” Grinsteinner said. “It’s going to take a team victory and it was a team victory tonight and it’s going to have to be another team one tomorrow.”
It was unknown at the beginning of the season if the underclassmen-laden Titans would clinch a top seed. But Grinsteinner knew their potential and could reach it if they checked their egos at the door and each player knew what they needed to do come game time.
As the tournament moves on, Trinity needs to continue to hone in on its team chemistry to take on No. 3-seed Hazen at 7:30 p.m. today. The Titans beat the Bison 59-57 on Jan. 18, but Mayer said the regular season is out the window and the tournament is a whole new season of its own.
“It doesn’t matter what we’ve done so far this season we just got to play, put two games together and play our best basketball of the year right now,” he said.
Grinsteinner added: “We have to have that balanced offense we got to be really zoned in defense … They’re a good offensive team it’s going to be a high energy game and we need to make sure we bring our energy.”
HS 9 18 24 39
Trinity 18 31 43 56
HS: Hayden Sadowsky 17, Isiah Kludt 11, Nevan Weaver 4, Damon Mellmer 2, Kye Erickson 2, Brandon Pierce 2, Ben Pearson 1
T: Willy Jahner 13, Joe Mayer 12, Brett Mortenson 10, Shawn Stoltz 9, Austin Deichert 9, Sam Sherer 2, Zach Kubas 1
3-pointers: HS 4 (Sadowsky 3, Kludt 1), T 4 (Jahner 3, Deichert 1). Free throws: HS 5-8, T 8-11. Total fouls: HS 16, T 10. Rebounds: HS 26 (Pierce 8), T 33 (Stoltz 10). Assists: HS 4 (Kludt 2), T 16 (Mayer 5). Steals: HS 10 (Kludt, Sadowsky 2), T 12 (Deichert 4). Blocks: HS none, T 4 (Jahner, Deichert, Stoltz, Mortenson). Turnovers: HS 13, T 10.