Region 7 Basketball Notebook: Night Hawks’ senior Kristy relishing leadership roleStephen Kristy is in an unenviable role.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Stephen Kristy is in an unenviable role.
Sure, he’s the Hettinger-Scranton boys basketball team’s first option to score and grab rebounds. The Night Hawks’ defense revolves around him too. But Kristy is also charged with shepherding a talented, yet very young team on which he is one of two seniors.
And it doesn’t bother him in the slightest.
“I kind of like the role of leadership,” he said.
The Night Hawks (6-8, 2-0 District 13) appreciate having him around too, head coach Adam Hill said.
Kristy, a 6-foot-4 center, averages 18.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Of the top scorers in Region 7, he’s the only one to also be averaging double figures in rebounds.
“He allows us, on both ends of the floor, to compete,” Hill said. “Not only does he anchor our defense, he opens up a lot of open opportunities on offense.”
Kristy entered the season having sat out much of the final half of his junior season with an injury. He tore the vastus medialis, a muscle in his right quadriceps, when the team’s bus went off the road and flipped onto its side en route to a game against Dickinson Trinity on Jan. 13, 2012.
Kristy tried coming back shortly after the accident but wasn’t himself. In a loss to Bowman County, he had a career-high 16 rebounds but scored just one point.
“It was where he actually came back and played one game and it was on one leg. It looked terrible,” said Hill, who added Kristy didn’t know he had a muscle tear until after that game.
Kristy missed the next six games and ended the season averaging 13.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. Nonetheless, he was a unanimous all-district selection.
“There was a lot of physical therapy this summer and getting stronger for track mostly, but it carried over,” said Kristy, whose spring rehab went well enough that he won the Class B high jump state championship in May.
After a being named an all-region tight end on the football field, Kristy has had an impactful basketball season. He leads a steadily improving young team that has shown flashes of brilliance at times while putting itself in the thick of what is shaping up to be a tight race for the District 13 regular-season title.
They’ve won three of their last four, losing to No. 3-ranked Dickinson Trinity 51-37 at home on Jan. 18 but gaining District 13 wins over Beach (46-41) and New England (72-59).
Today, Hettinger-Scranton visits Heart River (7-4, 1-1 District 13) in a game that could prove crucial to its seed in the district tournament.
“He’s done a nice job of being patient,” Hill said. “He’s gotten frustrated, as have I at times. But for the most part he’s dealt with that well and he’s been encouraging to the other kids.”
District 14 upper hand at stake when Cowboys and Raiders meet Thursday
Region 7 girls basketball has been a jumble of teams that got off to slow starts but are slowly beginning to find their footing.
When Richardton-Taylor visits Killdeer at 7 p.m. Thursday, the potential of a high seed — possible even the inside track on a first-round bye — in the District 14 Tournament is at stake.
Killdeer (3-5, 1-0 District 14) won its first two games before losing five straight. The Cowboys are coming off a 41-31 district win over Beulah last Thursday.
Head coach Sara Doe said she wants her team to continue on the winning track.
“We had our losses, but our losses were to good teams,” Doe said. “We just used them as learning opportunities. The girls have had an impressive desire to fix things that could be better executed in games.”
Richardton-Taylor (4-4, 1-0 District 14) hasn’t won back-to-back games this season. They’re coming off a 58-54 loss to Bowman County in which they were outscored 25-14 in the fourth quarter.
“They put together a heck of a game that Saturday, but we let some things get to us in that fourth quarter so we have to refocus ourselves,” Raiders head coach April Berger said. “We’ll have to come prepared and mentally ready. We’ve got some girls who are physically feeling the signs.”
The Raiders have just 10 players on their varsity roster this season and only 14 in the program and this week is no picnic.
Their game against Killdeer is sandwiched between today’s home game against Grant County (8-4) — ranked as high as No. 4 in the Class B poll before losing three of its last four following an injury to all-state senior Ashley Bentz — and Ray, which is undefeated at 9-0 but unranked.
Richardton-Taylor doesn’t have a player scoring in double figures this season — senior Halle Olson leads the team with 9.7 points and 10 rebounds a game — while junior Morgan LeMieux leads Killdeer with 12.4 points per game.
Doe said the game is a strong indication of what the rest of District 14 appears to be this season.
“It could be anybody’s game any given night,” she said.
New England on roll despite freshman PG’s injury
What appeared to be a devastating injury to freshman point guard Jenna Ehlis set the New England girls basketball team back for a bit.
But not for long.
The Tigers (5-3, 0-1 District 13) have won three of their last four games as they head into a crucial league matchup against Bowman County (5-4, 0-2 District 13) at 7 p.m. Thursday at the New England High School gymnasium.
“Other than the regional-qualifying game last year, there hasn’t been a big game for New England girls basketball for the last couple years,” head coach Jason Jung said. “I think the kids feel like this is a big game, a huge district game for us. For both teams actually.”
It has been an up-and-down road for the Tigers, however. Especially after losing Ehlis, who broke the tibia and fibula in her right leg after in the first quarter in a game against Mott-Regent at the Mott National Guard Armory.
Ehlis, a 5-foot-7 first-year starter, had begun to be a sparkplug for Tigers. She was beginning to initiate much of the team’s offense, Jung’s said, while averaging 7.5 points, 3 assists and 3 steals a game. Ehlis has since had surgery and is likely out for the season.
“I didn’t know how big of a role she was going to play, but as it was developing, I didn’t realize we were going to miss a freshman as much as we do,” Jung said.
Nonetheless, he said the Tigers have bounced back.
Upperclassmen, like senior guard Erin Volk, have stepped up to handle bigger roles. Junior forward Hannah Nordby is averaging 11.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game and junior forward Gabbi Hanson leads the team with 12.4 points a night while adding 4 steals and 3.9 rebounds.
New England beat Hebron-Glen Ullin 43-25 on Monday night.
Though their schedule hasn’t been the most difficult, New England leads Region 7 in points allowed, giving up just 38.5 points per game. In their three losses, they’ve given up more than 50 points.
“It has taken a few games, but we’ve found a couple different lineups and changes to our rotations that is gaining the confidence of the kids back,” Jung said. “They’re starting to believe now that we have some other kids that we’re putting in in different roles and they’re stepping up and things are headed in the right direction, for sure.”