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Braves rally late to defeat Midgets

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson High senior Tyrell Parker, right, puts up a shot over Mandan seniors Devin Coyle, left, and Seth Westby on Tuesday night during a West Region boys basketball game.

The first 18 minutes couldn't have gone smoother for the Dickinson High boys basketball team.

The second 18 minutes was a different story.

The No. 3-ranked Mandan climbed out of a nine-point deficit in the second half en route to an 81-68 win over Dickinson in West Region game Tuesday at DHS gymnasium.

"If we look at our season stats, we are outscoring our opponents in the first half," Dickinson head coach John Wilson said. "We were up nine and they ended on a 31-9 run. The same teams are out there. The difference was we tighten up."

The Midgets (7-12, 4-12 West) held a 46-43 lead at halftime and wanted to increase the lead in the first six minutes. They did that, but then they ran into scoring trouble.

"We just wanted to keep that consistency," said Jesse Kessel, who had a game-high 22 points. "I don't know what got us into a funk. I think we just broke down defensively most of all."

The Braves (14-5, 12-4) didn't draw up any new plans. Head coach Jason Horner said he went back to basic fundamentals.

"I have may or may not have freaked out at halftime, I cannot confirm or deny it," Mandan head coach Jason Horner said with a laugh. "We talked about the basics. I didn't draw anything on the board."

Dickinson had a 59-50 lead, then the motor started clicking for the Braves and went on a 19-1 run. Seth Westby put his team ahead for good on a layup with 9 minutes, 54 seconds left. Westby supplied 14 points.

"We contained the dribble pretty well," Horner said. "We limited them to one shot for the most part. Then we came down and ran good offense and got open looks."

The Midgets continued to fight back, but the Braves kept heading to the free-throw line.

There wasn't much Dickinson could do there as the Braves went 21 of 23 (91 percent) from the line.

Once it was up by double digits, Mandan didn't falter.

The Braves shot 25 of 61 (41 percent) for the game, while Dickinson was 24 of 61 (39 percent).

The Braves had four players in double figures. Devin Coyle led the pack with 21 points, followed by Jacob Watson with 17. Aaron Janz chipped in 14.

"We need that," Horner said. "In the past, we just looked at Devin to be our savior. At last year in state, he just couldn't do it all. We've preached that we need to be a balanced team."

Dickinson's biggest sparks in the first half were seniors Kessel and Tyrell Parker.

Kessel had 14 points in the first half, while Parker added 15. Junior Jordan Krieg came on strong in the second half to end with 14 points.

"People are going to start chasing him (Kessel)," Wilson said. "People are going to say, 'How do you beat Dickinson? You have to stop Kessel.' We've got five guys on the floor for a reason. All five have to ready to score.

"Ty's starting to shoot with confidence. He makes us so much better and when he can score, it's gravy on top."

The Midgets now host Williston in the West Region Tournament play-in game at 5 p.m. Thursday. Dickinson defeated Williston twice this season but Kessel said they can't take any team lightly.

"We're not taking Williston for granted," he said. "They played good ball. Everyone plays good ball at the end of the year."

M: Devin Coyle 21, Jacob Watson 17, Aaron Janz 14, Seth Westby 14, Erron Collins 9, Treyton Fitzsimmons 4, Phaden Marcellais 2.

D: Jesse Kessel 22, Tyrell Parker 15, Jordan Krieg 14, Austin Fournier 6, Tanner Halter 5, Jon Wanner 5, Luke Hanel 1.

Halftime: DHS 46-43. 3-pointers: M 10 (Coyle 5, Janz 4, Fitzsimmons 1), D 10 (Kessel 5, Fournier 2, Halter 1, Parker 1, Wanner 1). Free throws: M 21-23, D 10-12. Total fouls: M 14, D 18. Fouled out: D, Parker. Technical fouls: D, Parker. Rebounds: M 39 (Janz 8, Westby 8), D 30 (Parker 8). Assists: M 6 (Coyle 2), D 11 (Wanner 6). Steals: M 4 (Janz 2), D 4 (Parker 2, Wanner 2). Blocks: M 0, D 2 (Krieg 2). Turnovers: M 8, D 8. Records: M 14-5, 12-4 West, D 7-12, 4-12.