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Wildfire shake off sluggish start, top Raiders

Press Photo by Meaghan MacDonald Mott-Regent sophomore forward Brett Messmer, left, goes up for a shot against Richardton-Taylor during the Roughrider Tournament on Tuesday at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

The blizzard Monday may have cancelled Mott-Regent’s basketball practice, but it didn’t stop the team from opening the 43rd annual Roughrider Tournament with a win.

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The Wildfire beat Richardton-Taylor 58-42 on Tuesday at Knights of Columbus Activities Center but the lack of practice definitely showed.

“Today we played a little flatter than I wanted to with the weather and stuff,” Mott-Regent first-year head coach Nate Zachmann said. “… But one thing I tell the guys is you can always control your attitude and effort, and I think the effort was there. We had a positive attitude too, but I think we have to clean up of efficiency a little bit.

“The first game of the Roughriders is important to get into the winner’s bracket but overall I’m satisfied with their effort.”

Scoring was sluggish at times, especially in the first half. The Raiders (0-4) went up to an early 4-0 lead but the Wildfire (2-0) warmed up and went on a 15-4 run to close out the first quarter.

The scoring struggle was no better in the second quarter. The ball bounced off the rim on every other shot and both teams couldn’t hang on to the ball when they had possession.

“We didn’t exactly play our best tonight,” Mott-Regent senior forward Tyler Zentner said. “We have a few things we need to clean up.

At halftime, Zentner had a game-high 12 points and went 5 of 14 from the field, while Raiders senior guard Lane Voltz, who’s averaging 20 points per game, was held to only four points on the night.

Zentner finished with a double-double, 21 points and 14 rebounds, followed by sophomore forward Brett Messmer with 20 points and seven rebounds.

Both teams struggled shooting throughout the game. Richardton-Taylor went 18 of 54 (33.3 percent) from the floor and only made 3 of 14 free throws. Mott-Regent finished going 27 of 48 (56.3 percent) but also was inefficient at the free throw line, making just one of eight.

In the end, Richardton-Taylor head coach Rob Bartz said the combination of losing several players to injury or illness and missing too many easy shots are what hurt the team in the end. Voltz is the only returning player for the Raiders with varsity experience.

“My young guys stepped up and played pretty hard we just had too any missed layups, too many missed free throws and too many just unforced turnovers,” Bartz said. “I figured in the first half between missed free throws and missed layups we let 15 points on the court and that’s the first difference in going down eight or up 10.”

Voltz added: “We’re definitely young and inexperienced but we’re just trying to get things figured out right now. It’s early in the season so hopefully by tournament time we can get back on track.”

The tournament resumes Thursday as the Wildfire play Dickinson Trinity in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Richardton-Taylor plays Glen Ullin-Hebron at 3 p.m. Trinity is a well-coached team and a fierce competitor on its own court and Zachmann said his team will need to shake off the remaining rust from Tuesday and not be intimidated by the home team in order to compete.

“Coach Grinsteinner has those guys coached up every year,” Zachmann said. “He’s an excellent coach and his team will do … (we’ll be) ready for some pressure and we’ll just handle their pressure and just not get intimidated by Trinity playing on their home court because they are an excellent club but like I said, anybody can be beaten on any given night.”

RT 10 18 30 42

MR 6 25 40 58

RT: Spencer Floberg 15, Lane Aune 13, Hunter Kuntz 5, Lane Voltz 4, Jacob Kuntz 3, Coal Kuntz 2.

MR: Tyler Zentner 21, Brett Messmer 20, Brady Wegh 6, Chance Roth 6, Austin Kautzman 3, Carter Honeyman 2.

3-pointers: RT 1 (Aune 1), MR 3 (Zentner, Kautzman, Roth). Free throws: RT 3-14, MR 1-8. Total fouls: RT 10, MR 13. Rebounds: RT 34 (Floberg 9), MR 33 (Zentner 14). Steals: RT 9 (three with 2), MR 5 (Zentner 2). Turnovers: RT 5, MR 9.

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.