Titans top Crusaders
After Dickinson Trinity began stepping in front of passes on the defensive end, Williston Trinity Christian's early hopes of sticking with, and perhaps even defeating, the fifth-ranked team in Class B boys basketball quickly faded away.
The Titans used defensive pressure in the second half to build on a second-quarter turnaround and came away with a 54-36 nonconference victory on Saturday afternoon at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
"We just pretty much picked up the intensity," Trinity senior Jordan Selinger said. "We knew we had to get up and finish the game strong so we could get a win."
The Titans erased a 14-10 first-quarter deficit by going on a Robbie Morey-led 11-0 run early in the second quarter and built their lead by making good decisions on the defensive end in the second half.
Those smart plays -- not to mention 16 steals -- helped the Titans (12-1) build their lead, as well as chew up the clock against the dangerous Crusaders, who fell to 10-2 on the season.
"We weren't passing the ball well," Trinity Christian coach Scott Nasner. "They had a good press and we weren't passing the ball well. It's easy to steal the ball when you get it thrown right into your hands. We threw it right to them. It was just like they had a purple jersey on."
Selinger had 19 points and four steals while Morey had 12 points, seven steals and five rebounds for the Titans, who improved to 12-1 on the season.
"Robbie does a great job of playing pretty much a safety back there," Selinger said. "He does a great job and is in the right place at the right time."
Trinity's defense helped alleviate a shooting night coach Gregg Grinsteinner said had its struggles.
The Titans shot 36 percent from the field in the first half. But, their willingness to wait for open shots helped them shoot 52 percent in the second half.
"For some reason we didn't have a lot of confidence in our shots," Grinsteinner said. "We turned away a lot of open looks, but I thought our defensive energy was outstanding. We didn't let them get into a rhythm of anything.
"I thought, when we needed to get hoops, we had guys step up and make plays for us."
The Titans came out quickly in the third quarter and finished even stronger, turning a 23-18 halftime lead into a 45-30 advantage with 1:06 left to play in the third.
Neither team could find the hoop for the next 4:41, but it didn't seem to hurt the Titans.
As soon as Trinity Christian started getting to the hoop, Trinity also rediscovered its offense and then worked the ball for easy jumpers or inside looks.
"They're just real patient," Nasner said. "No matter what defense we threw at them, they were just real patient and found open people. We just weren't smart enough to stay focused and stay within what we were doing."
Matt Kvernum had a strong game for the Crusaders, scoring 19 points on 9 of 10 shooting from the field. He also had five rebounds.
The win was the 298th of Grinsteinner's career and puts him in position for win No. 300 next week. The Titans host Beulah on Tuesday and travel to Killdeer on Thursday.
The coach said he's currently more concerned with getting past Beulah and locking up the No. 1 seed in the District 14 Tournament.
"Our energy level, what we showed in the second half, has got to be there from the beginning of the game," Grinsteinner said.
WTC 14 18 30 36
Trinity 10 23 45 54
WTC: Matt Kvernum 19, Ian Black 8, Tyler Burnett 4, Jacob Braaten 3, Jacob Stockman 2.
DT: Jordan Selinger 19, Robbie Morey 12, Aaron Grinsteinner 8, Erik Arnold 6, Brooks Thorson 4, Tommy Peters 2, Team 2, Austin Fridrich 1.
3-pointers: Morey 2. Free throws: WTC 6-12, DT 8-11. Total fouls: WTC 11, DT 14. Rebounds: WTC 24 (Burnett 7), DT 25 (Grinsteinner 6). Assists: WTC 3 (Ryan Seil, Stockman, Kvernum), DT 10 (four with 2). Steals: WTC 7 (three with 2), DT 16 (Morey 7). Blocks: WTC 2 (Black, Kvernum), DT 2 (Morey, Arnold). Turnovers: WTC 22, DT 12. Records: Trinity 12-1, WTC 10-2.