No. 5 Titans beat Cougars, return to Region 7 title gameHeart River just can’t get past the Big Red wall standing in its way.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Heart River just can’t get past the Big Red wall standing in its way.
Ball movement, balance and a whole lot of defense staked the No. 5-ranked Dickinson Trinity boys basketball team to a 64-48 victory over the Cougars semifinals of the Region 7 tournament Tuesday at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
The defending region champion Titans make their 12th region title game appearance in the last 14 years and fourth straight, when they meet No. 8-ranked Beulah at approximately 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
“I thought, tonight, the guys stepped up a lot,” Trinity senior Dylan Fridrich said. “It wasn’t one guy tonight. It was a team defensive effort too. That’s what sparked it. I thought we held their guards in check.”
Defense for the Titans didn’t mean forcing turnovers either.
It was crashing the boards — Trinity held a 38-25 rebounding advantage — or simply not allowing the Cougars good looks at the basket.
Aside from Jordan Strecker and some outside shooting by Dylan Northrop, the District 13 champion Cougars (18-6) struggled finding the basket.
They shot 20 of 55 (36 percent) and relied entirely on their starters as they got no points out of their bench.
Strecker had a game-high 19 points and six rebounds while Northrop added 13 points.
“You’ve got to give them credit,” Heart River head coach Greg Pruitt said. “They played some really good defense, kind of threw us out of our offensive rhythm. I thought we had opportunities, early in the game, to stay in it. But we missed some close shots there, they took advantage of that and that’s just Trinity basketball.”
Trinity took a 14-9 first-quarter lead after a jumper and a 3-pointer from junior Jacob Volk, who scored a team-high 16 points and added five rebounds.
But the Titans (20-2) really tore away when senior Austin Gawryluk came off the bench and scored seven of his 10 points during a 10-0 Titans run to end the second quarter.
That put Trinity ahead 30-13 at halftime and it never let the Cougars get closer than 12 points in the second half.
“Our kids know that we feed off our defensive intensity,” Trinity head coach Gregg Grinsteinner said. “When Brandon (Sickler) and Dylan get our guys going on the defensive end, we really go. We set the tone that way. I thought our kids really set the tone that way. When you don’t allow teams a lot of opportunities — and we did a good job on the glass — you’re going to give yourselves a lot of opportunities.”
Fridrich, who didn’t play when the Titans edged the Cougars 49-48 on Jan. 20, scored just five points but had 10 rebounds and eight assists. Christian Olson added nine points.
It was a rematch of last year’s region title game which Trinity won 58-34.
Now the Titans will try and win their second straight region title and 10th since 1999 against rival Beulah, which it lost to without Volk on Feb. 13 in the District 14 championship game.
Heart River, meanwhile, takes on Hazen at 6 p.m. Thursday in the third-place game.
“Hopefully the kids come out on Thursday night and play with some pride,” Pruitt said.
Trinity 14 30 45 64
HR 9 13 29 48
T: Jacob Volk 16, Austin Gawryluk 10, Christian Olson 9, Isiah Binstock 6, Dylan Fridrich 5, Alex Binstock 4, Brandon Sickler 4, Mason Schiff 4, Jesse Kubik 2, Lance Pender 2, Brady Fettig 2.
HR: Jordan Strecker 19, Dylan Northrop 13, Jarek Haverluk 6, Seth Ewoniuk 6, Isaiah Marschner 4.
3-pointers: T 2 (Volk, Olson). HR 2 (Northrop 2). Free throws: T 14-18, H 6-9. Total fouls: T 14, HR 17. Fouled out: HR, Marschner. Rebounds: T 38 (Fridrich 10), HR 25 (Strecker 6). Assists: T 19 (Fridrich 8), HR 10 (Ewoniuk 3). Steals: T 2 (Sickler, Volk), HR 8 (Strecker 3). Blocks: T 2 (Kubik 2), HR 2 (Northrop, Marschner). Turnovers: T 14, HR 8. Records: T 20-2, HR 18-6.