Who's the best?: No. 5 Trinity takes on No. 8 Beulah for Region 7 championship
They wanted each other. They got each other.
From day one this season, Beulah and Dickinson Trinity have been the favorites to meet in the Region 7 championship game.
"We kind of had a feeling that if we got this far, they'd be there," Beulah senior Casey Duppong said.
Tonight, the last two teams to win Region 7 titles meet with another trip to the Class B state tournament on the line. Tipoff is scheduled for approximately 7:30 p.m. at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
Not only is it a meeting between the top two teams in the region, it also pits an offensive juggernaut against a team driven by defense.
No. 8-ranked Beulah averages 73 points per game while No. 5-ranked Trinity allows 46.2 points per game.
Trinity head coach Gregg Grinsteinner knows defense alone isn't going to win his team a second straight championship though.
"We have to take care of the ball and give ourselves shot opportunities," Grinsteinner said. "We can't turn it over and allow (Beulah) to shoot easy shots. Once they get into a flow, the basket starts getting bigger."
The teams know each other well.
The Miners (21-3) beat the Titans (20-2) 68-57 in the District 14 championship on Feb. 13.
But that was without Trinity junior standout Jacob Volk on the floor.
The 6-foot-3 guard sat out district tournament with an ankle injury but seems to be back to his normal self after Trinity's first two games of the region tournament.
Volk averages 18.3 points per game and leads a Trinity team that has six other players averaging between 5.5 and 7.8 points per game.
"It's kind of nice to be able to come back and play them at full strength," Duppong said. "We know that last time they weren't at full strength, so that one just wasn't as fulfilling."
Beulah upset Trinity in the 2010 championship game on Duppong's last second shot.
He was a just sophomore then.
Last season, a broken wrist kept Duppong out for much of the season and they had to sit on the sidelines as the Miners were upset by Heart River in the region semifinals.
"Last year we would have liked to have had that opportunity to play them last year," Beulah head coach Casey Duppong said. "We obviously didn't get that and this year we do."
The Titans, who returned several key players from last season's team that made a somewhat unlikely run to the state tournament, aren't about to let another opportunity slip away.
Trinity is trying to win its 10th region title since 1999. It's the Titans' 12th region title game appearance in 14 years. In that span, the program has compiled a 310-51 record.
Grinsteinner has been in this position enough times that his players know to listen to his advice leading up to region title games.
"Coach said we've got to give ourselves a chance," Trinity senior Dylan Fridrich said. "We've got a chance to go where we want. We've got to get ready come Thursday."