Tigers feel they’re steadily improvingThe New England boys basketball team has had some good wins and some close losses. The Tigers aren’t looking too closely at their record though. They’re trying to become a strong team by the end of the season.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
The New England boys basketball team has had some good wins and some close losses.
The Tigers aren’t looking too closely at their record though. They’re trying to become a strong team by the end of the season.
“We are steadily improving,” New England head coach Luke Powers said. “We are working hard every day to get better and realizing as a team that our goal is to play great at the end of the year.”
The Tigers’ (8-3, 1-1 District 13) defense has been lights out for the last couple games. The Tigers have the second-best scoring defense in Region 7, allowing just 46.9 points per game.
“Our defenses are just starting to click,” New England senior forward Kaine Hanson said. “Everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing now and we’re throwing a lot of different things at teams.”
Two of the Tigers’ three losses this season have came against teams that are ranked in the top 10 in the state. No. 4-ranked Dickinson Trinity beat them 46-44 in the Roughrider Tournament championship game and No. 9-ranked Beulah took a 62-51 win in the title game of the McLean County Invitational in early December. New England’s other loss of the season came against District 13 opponent Mott-Regent, a 68-66 defeat that came down to the final seconds.
“Those were good games and we learned from those,” Hanson said. “The losses might have helped us a little to know what to do against them the next time.”
New England’s big three seniors —Hanson, point guard Clarence Binstock and shooting guard Nick Wolf — are looked upon to be leaders on the floor.
“We are getting a lot out each of them and it’s not just scoring,” Powers said.
Hanson averages 16.9 points and 12 rebounds per game, Binstock adds 12.8 points and about 8 assists and Wolf averages 12.2 points and 5.9 steals.
A couple players almost lost in the shuffle are the Tigers’ supporting cast of senior center Devin Plaggemeyer, junior guards Levi Hollinger and Austin Fitterer and senior forward Austin Maershbecker.
“Not everyone is going to have a great night every night,” Hanson said. “When you come out and you’re struggling a little, there are four or five other guys that can come out and score.”
The state tournament is still a goal New England is working toward, and they’ll see a similar atmosphere Saturday at the Bismarck Civic Center Jamboree, where they face Shiloh Christian at 5:30 p.m. MST.
“It’s nice to play in those bigger gyms,” Powers said. “If we are able to get to a state tournament, you’d play in a gym similar to the Bismarck Civic Center.”
Powers said the Tigers wanted to play a good team at the Jamboree and their wish was granted Shiloh Christian, which also has an 8-3 record and was the preseason favorite to win Region 5.
“We like going out there in that atmosphere,” Hanson said. “Then we get to see teams that we don’t normally see throughout the year. We get to play a pretty good team in Shiloh. It’s good to see how we match up to some of the other teams like that.”
Trinity hosts final home of the regular season
The No. 4-ranked Trinity boys basketball team doesn’t have much to hang their heads about this season.
The unbeaten Titans play their final home this season and celebrate their senior night against Hettinger-Scranton on Friday.
“It’s going to be emotional,” Trinity senior Christian Stockert said. “We’re going to be our best to hopefully end it on a good note.”
Trinity’s (12-0, 3-0 District 14) undefeated season almost ended Tuesday night when it narrowly escaped Beulah, 58-54. The Titans led 33-16 at halftime.
“I thought we played one of our most complete halves of basketball in the first half,” Trinity head coach Gregg Grinsteinner said. “In the second half, we almost played not to lose. We’ve got to learn from situations like that. You aren’t going to get any better unless you have some type of adversity.”
The Titans’ first close call this season was an overtime 67-64 win Mott-Regent in the quarterfinal of the Roughrider tournament. They’re beating teams by nearly 33 points a game, however.
Grinsteinner said difficult situations early in the season are already paying dividends.
“You can’t simulate that stuff during practice,” he said. “You can work on situations like that, but when you start putting in (1,200) to 1,500 people in the stands, kids react differently.”
Senior guard Brady Fettig said the team doesn’t let its high ranking in the state media poll get into their minds.
“It’s nothing that you want to get your mind focused on too much,” he said. “It since to see, but there’s definitely improvement.”
The quest to stay unbeaten on the upcoming six-game road stretch got a little easier with the return of 6-foot-7 junior post Jesse Kubik. He sat out for a little over a month with a concussion.
“He’s a big piece of the puzzle, anytime you have a 6-7, physical kid like that,” Grinsteinner said. “He really got some nice things going in the paint against Beulah.”
Though the starters play a key role on every team, Trinity’s bench has been a cornerstone of its success this season. The Titans rank third in Region 7 in scoring, averaging 67.6 points per contest and only junior Jacob Volk averages double figures at 18.5 points per game.
Trinity has six players averaging between five and nine points per game.
“We’ve been talking all year long, it’s been a different kid stepping up every night,” Grinsteinner said. “… We keep talking about. You are one injury away from somebody else stepping into another spot.”
The Titans’ road trip begins at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Bismarck Civic Center Jamboree against Linton-HMB.
“We’ve got a big rivalry game against Linton, so it doesn’t get an easier,” Grinsteinner said. “But I think our kids are up to the challenge. This is going to make us, I think, tournament-ready.”
Hettinger-Scranton wrestling continues to built for final month of the season
The Christmas break didn’t only bring presents, it added a sense of aggressiveness to the Hettinger-Scranton wrestling team.
After winning the Night Hawk Classic, Hettinger-Scranton head coach Randy Burwick said his team has been wrestling more aggressively.
“That’s one of the things that I think we were a lot better at in our tournament,” he said. “I just don’t think that we were being aggressive enough before the Christmas break.”
On the other hand, Burwick said his wrestlers have been improving throughout the early and middle parts of the season.
“I think we are improving every week,” he said. “That’s a plus for us. I think our young kids are starting to show a lot of promise.”
Despite the improvements from match to match, the Night Hawks still have a tough road until the regional and state tournaments.
“We are doing a lot better job of controlling of what we want to do in the match,” Burwick said. “We still have a long ways to go, there’s no doubt about it.”
With only about a month left before the state tournament, Burwick said he hopes the team is wrestling at the fullest potential when it matters most.
“We’re definitely keeping an eye on our strengths,” Burwick said. “There are things that we definitely need to improve on.”
One area to improve on is mental toughness.
“We’ve got to make sure our mental toughness is where it needs to be,” Burwick said. “It’s a grinding last month and half of the year. We just have to go out and make sure each guy is focusing on improving after every match.”
The Night Hawks now travel to Baker, Mont., today for a dual and to the Cowboy Classic tournament in Miles City, Mont., on Friday and Saturday. Next week, they go on a road trip to Moorcroft, Wyo.
“It’s not that situation that, if you don’t have a good match, it might hurt you in seeding,” Burwick said.