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Titans cage Tigers: Dickinson Trinity holds off No. 9-ranked New England in Region 7

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson Trinity senior guard Austin Deichert, left, dribbles against New England junior guard John Urlacher during a Region 7 game on Friday in New England. The Titans defeated the No. 9-ranked Tigers 47-42.

NEW ENGLAND — Dickinson Trinity head coach Gregg Grinsteinner knew No. 9-ranked New England was going to get on a run.

Luckily for the Titans, they had built a 12-point lead heading into the final 8 minutes.

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Trinity weathered the Tigers comeback to take a 47-42 Region 7 win on Thursday.

“We knew that New England is a good team and they were going to make a run and they did late in the game,” Grinsteinner said. “When you play a good team, they are going to have runs in the game. I thought our kids kept their composure and did a nice job on both ends of the floor.”

The “Tiger Den” was packed wall-to-wall. New England had to get a pair of bleachers to compliment the excess fans. The tournament atmosphere was there.

“We knew coming down here playing a team like (New England) who has been on a roll they were going to be at their best,” Grinsteinner said.

Though the excitement was there, the Tigers (13-2, 4-2 Region 7) were a little too excited. New England only made one field goal in the first 8 minutes.

“Right away we were so pumped and we kind of didn’t even know what we were doing right away,” said New England sophomore guard Brady Bender, who finished with six points, three steals and two assists. “Our shots were falling in the first half, but in the second half they came around. If we would have had another 3 minutes in this game, we could have come away with a W.”

In the first half, the Tigers only made four field goals and three free throws, which resulted in 11 points. New England finished the game going 12 of 49 (26 percent) from the field.

New England head coach Luke Powers said Trinity defense forced his team to shoot jumpers. At halftime, the Titans lead 22-11.

“We couldn’t get shots to fall down and credit Trinity’s defense,” New England head coach Luke Powers said. “They sagged off a lot and played a ton of help-side. It was a situation early where we were settling for jump shots. We are capable of making jump shots from anywhere on the floor, but tonight they just didn’t fall. We settled for way too many jumpers early in the game.”

The Titans (8-6, 5-1 Region 7) made each possession count going down to the buzzer multiple times. Willy Jahner, who finished with a team-high 11 points, sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer and 8 seconds left in the first half.

In the third quarter, the Titans maintained its double-digit lead. Trinity’s biggest margin in the third quarter was 16 points, 27-11, when Cole Wilhelmi drained a 3-pointer.

The final 3 minutes the Tigers stepped on the pedal and made the Titans work. New England closed the double-digit gap to two, 43-41, after Daniel Prince hit a pair of free throws. Prince ended with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

With New England’s full-court press on, the Titans found a gap and feed the ball to Stoltz, who capped his double-double performance with an easy layup with 6 seconds remaining.

“We had to take the shot clock down to less than 10 seconds unless we had a wide open layup or something like that,” said Stoltz, who finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. “We just had to keep it out of their hands, because that’s the only way to not let them score is if they don’t have the ball.”

The Titans continue their season with a pair of Region 7 game beginning with hosting Richardton-Taylor at 7 p.m. Tuesday and traveling to Hettinger-Scranton at 7 p.m. Friday.

“We need to continue to improve,” Grinsteinner said. “We had two tough games this week, they were both on the road and they were both tournament atmosphere games. Our kids need to know that we need to take it one game at a time. I know that’s an old cliché but right now the way teams are playing in the region we can’t take anybody for granted.”

New England has a three-game road trip which starts with Beach at 7 p.m. Tuesday, followed by Beulah at 6 p.m. Friday and Trenton-Trinity Christian at 6 p.m. Saturday. Beach and Beulah represent Region 7 games.

“I told the kids in the locker room, ‘remember the way you feel after a loss,’” Powers said. “The kids have to hate to lose. We want them to turn around and work hard enough to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Trinity 7 22 34 47

New England 3 11 22 42

T: Willy Jahner 11, Cole Wilhelmi 10, Shawn Stoltz 10, Joe Mayer 7, Austin Deichert 7, Brett Mortenson 2.

NE: Daniel Prince 16, Mason Stang 9, John Urlacher 7, Brady Bender 6, Ty Nordby 4.

3-pointers: T 3 (Wilhelmi 1, Jahner 1, Deichert 1), NE 1 (Prince 1). Free throws: T 4-7, NE 17-25. Total fouls: T 19, NE 12. Rebounds: T 32 (Stoltz 11), NE 25 (Prince 11). Assists: T 11 (Wilhelmi 5), NE 9 (Urlacher 4). Steals: T 5 (Deichert 4), NE 11 (Stang 5). Blocks: T 3 (Deichert 1, Stoltz 1, Brock Messer 1), NE 2 (Prince 1, Bender 1). Turnovers: T 21, NE 7. Records: T 8-6 (5-1 Region 7), NE 13-2 (4-2 Region 7).