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Killdeer catches fire to down Heart River

Press Photo by Meaghan MacDonald Killdeer junior guard Trenton Rohr, left, pulls up for a jumper against Heart River during the first round of the Roughrider Tournament on Tuesday at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

After losing its first game of the season, the Killdeer boys basketball team wanted nothing more than to make the winner’s bracket of the 43rd annual Roughrider Tournament.

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The Cowboys are on their way after beating Heart River 55-36 Tuesday at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

First-year Killdeer head coach Andrew Murphy said the key to topping the Cougars would be their defensive performance which came out and shut them down.

“We played very well on defense tonight that’s what we came in worrying about, some of their quick guys and just defend them, full court press,” Murphy said.

In the first quarter, both Heart River and Killdeer were evenly matched in scoring and kept it very close until the buzzer.

Heart River (0-3) junior guard Cade Shypkoski hit a 3-pointer 30 seconds into the game and Killdeer’s Trenton Rohr, who finished with 10 points and four rebounds, quickly responded with a jump shot.

Although the Cowboys (1-1) outscored the Cougars 16-8 in the second quarter and took a double-digit lead into the half, Heart River didn’t make it easy. The Cougars’ defense forced Killdeer to turn the ball over 13 times in the first half and didn’t score for a solid three minutes.

In the second half, Killdeer ran away with the game.

”We told everybody to calm down, fast breaks aren’t the answer every time and just throw the ball around and not throw it away,” said Killdeer senior forward Calum Blankenship, who ended with a game-high 24 points.

With just under five minutes left in the game, Heart River junior guard Ryley Nygaard hit a jump shot to make it 47-30 and would be the last points his team could score for nearly four minutes. The Cowboys scored seven unanswered points and were up as much as 24 points (54-30).

“At first, it was honestly really shaky. We had 13 turnovers in the first half but then we cut that in half in the second half so that’s really good,” Rohr said. “Especially since our coach really emphasized at halftime we really need to cut it down and take care of the ball a lot more. Overall it’s getting a lot better especially since our first game.”

The Cowboys used their first game against New Town as an example of what not to do against Heart River. Killdeer was up on the Eagles and collapsed at the end of the game, losing 73-64. Murphy emphasized to his team the need to work on boxing out their opponents as well as finishing everything from shots to the overall game.

“Our first game we got out-rebounded by 11 and we really emphasized that tonight because when we played New Town, we didn’t box out really well and tried to emphasize that in the preseason … and emphasized that all day today,” Murphy said.

Rohr added: “Finishing shots, games, anything. That’s another we really emphasized … That was definitely the one that was in capital letters on the board during halftime. We struggled finishing our first game but this game we emphasized in the huddle, in the locker room to finish shots because there were a few times we had wide open shots and we missed them.”

The Cowboys come back to the tournament to play New England in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Murphy said his team needs to continue improving on turnovers and controlling the ball if they want to move forward in the tournament.

“We are going to work on taking care of the ball because we know if we don’t against New England it’s going to be tough for us to even compete with them,” Murphy said. “They’re a very sound defensive team and offensive team so we need to play smart and take care of the ball.”

Killdeer 15 31 44 55

HR 14 22 28 36

K: Calum Blankenship 24, Trenton Rohr 10, Hayes LeMieux 7, Cody Johnson 5, Lewis Dobitz 4, Bryton Roshau 2, Tuff Kling 2, Hunter Lincoln 1.

HR: Cade Shypkowski 8, Dion Madler 6, Cole Olson 4, Seth Privratsky 4, Tyson Kudrna 4, Zane Besler 4, Eldon Privratsky 4, Riley Nygaard 2.

3-pointers: K 1 (Johnson), HR 1 (Shypkowski). Free throws: K 14-20, HR 1-6. Total fouls: K 10, HR 21. Rebounds: K 41 (Dobitz 10), HR 28 (Privratsky 7). Steals: K 14 (Blankenship 4), HR 15 (Shypkowski 3). Blocks: K 2 (Sean Tuhy 1, Zeb Doe 1). Turnovers: K 16, HR 13.

Meaghan MacDonald

Meaghan is the sports page designer and copy editor for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.  After graduating from James Madison University (Va.) in May 2013, she moved from New Jersey to North Dakota to start pursuing her career in sports journalism and was a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press and covered Dickinson State athletics. Meaghan has been working for the Forum since June 2015.