No. 1 Beulah hangs on to beat No. 3 Trinity, 54-49Casey Walcker isn’t going to take much credit for anything the Beulah boys basketball team does this season. But the freshman has at least one game to hang his hat on — and it was a big one.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Casey Walcker isn’t going to take much credit for anything the Beulah boys basketball team does this season. But the freshman has at least one game to hang his hat on — and it was a big one.
Walcker scored the first seven points of an 11-point Beulah run at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth that put the No. 1-ranked Miners in control of a tightly played District 14 game against No. 3-ranked Dickinson Trinity on Tuesday at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
Though he never scored again, Walcker’s momentum-changing outburst turned out to make a huge difference as Beulah held off the Titans 54-49 for their 28th consecutive win dating back to last season when they won the Class B state championship.
“You can just see him getting better and getting more confidence,” Beulah head coach Jeremy Brandt said of Walcker. “It was a game like you could expect.”
By that, the coach meant tight from start to finish, with minor mistakes on both sides making big differences.
Walcker’s seven unanswered points in a two-minute span included a 3-pointer that put Beulah ahead 44-40 with 39 seconds left in the third quarter. He made a jumper to open the fourth and senior Jesse Hettich followed that with a pair of driving layups to make it 50-40 with 5:49 remaining.
“You’ve just got to take it one game at a time and come in confident,” Walcker said. “My teammates are always encouraging me to do better and I feel like I’ve been improving throughout the year.”
Trinity, trailing 52-42 with less than 4 minutes remaining in the fourth, began to rally after Volk buried a 3-pointer from the left corner.
“We made some mental mistakes and turnovers at the end,” Brandt said. “We worked hard to get that 10-point lead and it was like we gave it right back to them.”
The Titans (12-1, 2-1 District 14) forced turnovers and trimmed the lead to 52-49 on Alex Binstock’s jumper from the left side that rattled in with 2:19 remaining.
But try as they might, the Titans couldn’t get any closer.
They missed open shots, threw the ball away on what could have been easy looks at the basket and were even gifted extra possessions when Zacher dribbled the ball off his leg and out of bounds with 41.6 seconds left and Walcker blocked Trinity 6-foot-7 senior center Jesse Kubik’s shot in the post out of bounds with 21.3 remaining.
“Simple mistakes,” Kubik said. “If we correct those, we’re confident we’re going to have the W. It’s just simple mistakes. … I’d say we’re pretty evenly matched.”
The last good look the Titans got was senior Ben Gordon’s open 3-pointer from the left corner, which clipped the rim but sailed long.
Beulah came away with the ball and senior Cody Nelson took in the layup to seal the victory and keep the Miners undefeated at 12-0 overall and 2-0 in District 14.
“I can’t fault the kids’ effort. I thought both teams played extremely hard. A great atmosphere for a game,” Trinity head coach Gregg Grinsteinner said. “What else can you expect when it comes down to something like that? We had opportunities. We just couldn’t finish at the end.”
Trinity led 17-15 after the first quarter and the game was tied at 28 at halftime.
The Titans went to their post players early, using Kubik and Isiah Binstock to counter Beulah senior Trevor Zacher, a 6-foot-4 guard who scored all of his game-high 17 points in the first half.
Binstock finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and four steals while Kubik added 11 points and six rebounds.
Trinity senior Jacob Volk, matched up against Zacher all night, scored a team-high 12 points to go along with four blocks and four steals.
Offensively, Volk and Zacher played almost to a stalemate in the second half. But, Zacher still did damage defensively, getting six steals.
“We tried to run a couple specials for him in the second half, where we didn’t get to a point where we could get him the ball,” Brandt said. “The nice thing is he didn’t let it affect the rest of his game. He still played hard on the defensive end and still did those things that he needed to do for us. He’ll be the first to tell you, he don’t care, as long as we win.”
Beulah had 28 turnovers and Trinity 25. The Titans outrebounded the Miners 33-26, giving themselves a 14-5 edge in second-chance points by grabbing 16 offensive rebounds.
The Miners, however, shot the ball better. They were 22 of 46 (48 percent) from the field while Trinity was 21 of 53 (40 percent) and just 5 of 10 from the free-throw line.
While it was a game between two of the state’s top three-ranked teams, to the two teams involved it was more importantly a district game.
Though they have won the last five postseason meetings, Beulah had not beaten Trinity in a regular-season game since it moved from Class A to B in the 2006-07 season. The Miners are now in the driver’s seat for seeding in the District 14 Tournament, which begins Feb. 15 in Beulah.
“Last year, we beat them right away in the regular season and they beat us in districts and regionals,” Kubik said. “We hope to switch that around.”
Beulah 15 28 44 54
Trinity 17 28 40 49
B: Trevor Zacher 17, Cody Nelson 10, Noah Iverson 10, Jesse Hettich 8, Casey Walcker 7, Randi Julson 2.
T: Jacob Volk 12, Jesse Kubik 11, Isiah Binstock 10, Alex Binstock 8, Austin Deichert 4, Ben Gordon 2, Jacob Good 2.
3-pointers: B 7 (Hettich 4, Iverson 2, Walcker 1), T 2 (Volk 2). Free throws: B 3-3, T 5-10. Total fouls: B 12, T 9. Rebounds: B 26 (Hettich 6), T 33 (Binstock 10). Assists: B 16 (Nelson 5, Hettich 5), T 13 (I. Binstock 3, Volk 3). Steals: B 15 (Zacher 6), T 15 (Volk 4, I. Binstock 4). Blocks: B 3 (Hettich, Walcker, Zacher), T 5 (Volk 4). Turnovers: B 28, T 25. Records: B 12-0, 2-0 District 14; T 12-1, 2-1 District 14.