Bulldogs face daunting defensive taskBowman County has a tough task ahead of it. But it’s not like that’s stopped the Bulldogs before.
By: Chris Aarhus, The Dickinson Press
Bowman County has a tough task ahead of it.
But it’s not like that’s stopped the Bulldogs before.
Defense will be the key for Bowman County against Turtle Lake-Mercer in the quarterfinal round of the Class B state boys basketball tournament at 5:30 p.m. today at the Minot State University Dome. The two teams play the third game of the day.
“We’re going to have to use our size on offense,” Bowman County coach Gary Ballard said. “On the defensive end, we’ve got to control the boards. They’re a good offensive rebounding team. We’re going to want to tempo the game to our liking.”
The fourth-ranked Trojans (22-2) have one of the state’s most dangerous players in senior Cameron Malzer. The 6-foot shooting guard needs just 49 points to reach 2,000 for his career.
“I don’t know if you can stop him,” Ballard said. “You hope you can keep him in his scoring range around 20 to 25 and not go crazy.”
Malzer was a first-team all-state selection as a junior and was instrumental in his team’s run to the state championship last season, eventually falling to Grafton.
“It doesn’t matter who he plays with or plays for, he would make any team better,” Turtle Lake-Mercer coach Joi Anderson said. “He really doesn’t get shook up. He has a good attitude for basketball.”
If that isn’t enough, the Bulldogs have to contend with 6-foot-1 junior post Grant Singer, who was named second-team all-state last season. He averaged 24 points and 13 rebounds a game in the Region 5 tournament.
“He’s pretty much unbelievable at what he can do and his desire to do it,” Anderson said. “He gets a lot of rebounds and second shots.”
Singer scored his 1,000th point in the region tournament, giving the Trojans three starters who have scored at least 1,000. Senior guard Joe Everett, a transfer from Garrison, hit the mark earlier this season.
“We’ve got guys who can score points,” Anderson said. “That’s why we win a lot of ball games.”
Turtle Lake-Mercer’s up-tempo game is quite the opposite of Bowman County, which likes to wear teams down with its patience and big guys. Anderson said holding Bowman County to one shot is crucial.
“If you give a big team more than one shot, you’re going to pick up a foul,” Anderson said. “I don’t have enough kids for that. I only play six kids, which isn’t enough.”
Bowman County was able to spread out its offense and utilize 1-on-1 matchups in the fourth quarter of the team’s Region 7 title win over Dickinson Trinity. The Bulldogs took advantage of their height as seniors Alex Wolf (6-4) and Tyler Fischer (6-5) combined for 38 points and 16 rebounds.
“We used our strength inside,” Ballard said. “We felt we had to play really well and we shot 60 percent.”
Anderson said he’s also concerned about Bowman County’s guard play, specifically junior Brock Boos. A 6-1 guard averaging 14 points a game, Boos exploded for 25 points including the game-winning 3-pointer in his team’s first-round win over Hazen.
“He’s a pretty good ball player,” Anderson said. “He can make 3-pointers and he can pull up and shoot the jump shot.”
Turtle Lake-Mercer has just two losses this season — a 66-62 setback to top-ranked and unbeaten Linton to kick off the season and a 65-63 loss to Hazen on a buzzer-beater at home on Jan. 27.
Bowman County’s five losses are to Hazen, second-ranked Watford City, Beach and twice to Dickinson Trinity.
All losses except for Watford City were avenged in the region tournament. The Bulldogs could accomplish that feat by meeting the Region 8 champion Wolves in the state championship.
However, first thing is first and Ballard said playing in a difficult region has prepared the team for its first state tournament in 13 years. Rhame made the trip in 1995 while Bowman’s last trip was 28 years ago.
“We had good teams throughout (our region),” Ballard said. “We had three tough opponents in the regional.”
Class B state tournament
At Minot State Dome (all times MDT)
1) North Sargent (R1) vs. North Star (R4), noon
2) Linton (R3) vs. Watford City (R8), 20 minutes after Game 1
3) Turtle Lake-Mercer (R5) vs. Bowman County (R7), 5:30 p.m.
4) Dakota Prairie (R2) vs. Berthold (R6), 20 minutes after Game 3