Unbeatens collide as No. 3 Titans host No. 1 MinersDon’t put a lot of stock into tonight’s boys basketball game between No. 1-ranked Beulah and No. 3 Dickinson Trinity. Neither head coach is.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Don’t put a lot of stock into tonight’s boys basketball game between No. 1-ranked Beulah and No. 3 Dickinson Trinity.
Neither head coach is.
Trinity’s Gregg Grinsteinner and Beulah’s Jeremy Brandt know even though their teams are undefeated, a victory tonight does nothing more than put the winner in the driver’s seat in the District 14 tournament seeding.
“It’s an opportunity. Let’s just leave it at that,” Grinsteinner said. “It’s an opportunity for both teams. Nobody is going to the state tournament on this game, nobody is going to the regional tournament on this game. It’s just a matter of district seeding right now. That’s how we’re approaching it.”
Nonetheless, the matchup between the defending state champion Miners (11-0, 1-0 District 14) and the Titans (12-0, 2-0 District 14) is about as good as it gets in regular-season Class B basketball. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
Both coaches are doing their best to temper expectations and keep nerves calm.
“At least on our part, we’re not trying to put too much stock into the game and making our kids so hyped up,” Brandt said. “Make them understand it’s just a regular-season game.”
If recent history is any indication, the Titans have the edge because it is a regular-season game.
In the past three seasons, Trinity has defeated Beulah in each regular-season meeting while Beulah has won all five postseason matchups — three consecutive District 14 championships and the 2010 and 2012 Region 7 title games.
“At the end of the day, it’s where you’re going to be in the district,” Grinsteinner said. “Somebody is going to be undefeated in the district, somebody is going to have one loss. That’s where we’re at.”
If Beulah holds on, they’ll stay atop the Class B media poll for a fourth consecutive week. If Trinity wins, they have a shot at their first No. 1 ranking since the final week of the 2001-02 season.
But the Miners and Titans aren’t just undefeated. They’ve been dominating just about everyone in their path with uncanny margin-of-victory similarities.
Both teams are winning games by an average of 30 points. Beulah leads Region 7, scoring 75.2 points per game while allowing 45.3. Trinity averages 68.6 points and gives up a region-best 38.5.
Jacob Volk leads the Titans with 19.9 points per game. Trinity’s big boys in the paint, 6-foot-7 senior Jesse Kubik and 6-3 senior Isiah Binstock, add 11.8 and 11.1 points per game, respectively.
“Our formula all year can’t change. We have to get the ball inside,” Grinsteinner said. “They might have an advantage on the perimeter, pressuring us. But I think we have the advantage in the post. It’s going to be who is going to be able to put their will on the other team, really simply.”
Beulah is led by the senior trio of Trevor Zacher, Jesse Hettich and Cody Nelson, who combine to average more than 45 points per game. Zacher, a 6-5 guard who has committed to play for South Dakota Mines next season, averages a team-best 17.9 points.
“Not many teams can match our size. Shoot, they’re bigger than we are,” Brandt said. “So their size, not only are they big, they’re strong, they’re physical too. The physical side of things, they probably have the advantage at a couple spots just because their overall size. They’re some big, physical kids.”
Whether it boils down to Beulah’s 3-point shooting, Trinity’s inside presence or something entirely off the wall, the coaches have little doubt that the game has the potential to be great.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Brandt said. “I’m sure they are too. It’s going to be a really good regular-season game for our fans and people to get out and watch.
“I think there’s something wrong with a kid if they’re not looking forward to or getting excited about it. Because these are the games, I think as an athlete, you look forward to.”
Cougars shorthanded for key District 13 matchup at Mott-Regent
The Heart River boys basketball team will be shorthanded tonight when it travels to play Mott-Regent at 7 p.m. at the Mott National Guard Armory.
A win tonight would make the Cougars the team to beat in District 13. But they’ll have to do that without senior guards Seth Ewoniuk and Cole Hecker, and possibly other players because of injuries and the flu bug.
“It’s an opportunity for somebody to step up when your leaders are down,” Heart River head coach Greg Pruitt said.
Ewoniuk is sidelined indefinitely after severely spraining his left ankle during the halftime shootaround of Saturday’s game against Flasher played at Bismarck Century. Without its two starting guards and with other players playing through illnesses, the Cougars suffered an unexpected 54-38 loss.
It doesn’t get much better for the Cougars (6-3, 1-0 District 13) either as senior center Isaiah Marschner and senior backup guard Kyle Schoch will try and play tomorrow night despite getting over the flu.
Making matters even more interesting for the Cougars is that senior backup forward Brady Olson will likely sit out with a toe injury.
Pruitt said the Cougars’ only two regular starters who will be at 100 percent tonight are senior forward Riley Obrigewitch and junior guard Tyson Kudrna, who combine to average 21 points per game.
“We’ll be counting on the rest of our seniors to step in tomorrow,” Pruitt said. “We’ll have to make adjustments and see what we can do. It takes away from our style of game and get down the floor.”
Tigers PG Fitterer hobbled by injury
New England could be without senior point guard Austin Fitterer tonight when it visits Hettinger-Scranton in a game between two teams looking to make a move in District 13.
Fitterer, hobbled by a lingering hamstring injury that flared up in the first quarter against Shiloh Christian on Saturday at Bismarck Century, averages 7.4 points and 5.5 assists per game, numbers that have taken a hit recently because of his inability to play full games.
Still, he is the team’s primary ball-handler and one of few New England players with a wealth of varsity experience prior to this season.
Fitterer will be a game-time decision when the Tigers visit the Night Hawks at 7 p.m. today at the Scranton High School gymnasium.
“I’m trying to help benefit the team, but I want to be around starting districts and when it really matters at the end,” Fitterer said. “I know if I keep getting hurt, it’s going to be a serious one at the end.”
Both teams are trying to improve to 2-0 in what already shaping up to be a tightly contest District 13. New England is 5-5 overall while Hettinger-Scranton is 5-6.
Senior guard Levi Hollinger leads the Tigers, averaging 18.5 points per game. Senior center Stephen Kristy averages 17.8 points and 12.5 rebounds to lead a young Hettinger-Scranton team.