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New England climbs back to top Killdeer

Press Photo by Royal McGregor New England junior forward Daniel Prince, right, goes up for a shot against Killdeer’s Cody Johnson during a semifinal game of the Roughrider Tournament on Thursday at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

At one point, the New England boys basketball team found itself in an 11-point hole.

The Tigers spent the next four minutes chipping away at Killdeer’s lead.

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New England eventually tied up the game 28-28 after a Daniel Prince 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the first half.

With the first half comeback, the Tigers held the momentum throughout the second half en route to a 52-40 win over Killdeer in the semifinals of the 43rd annual Roughrider Tournament on Thursday at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

“I keep talking about gaining experience and tonight we fought through a little adversity with some starters getting into foul trouble,” said New England head coach Luke Powers, who had an emphatic fist pump after Prince knocked down the 3-pointer. “We were taking some shots that we feel like we can make and we just weren’t finishing them. We were down 11 and we could have started jacking bad shots, but instead we ran our offense and stayed composed.”

New England’s goal in the second half was to play tough defense.

Killdeer (1-2) had 13 second-half turnovers and didn’t reach the free-throw line at all. New England (3-0) also didn’t allow the Cowboys to take too many easy shots.

“You aren’t going to win too many games when you have that many turnovers in the second half,” Killdeer head coach Andrew Murphy said. “You’ve got give credit to New England’s defense though. They came out and played well in the second half. They made us shoot the ball and we couldn’t get it in.”

Killdeer was 6 of 24 (25 percent) from the field in the second half. New England was 8 of 21 (38 percent) from the field, but reached the charity stripe going 8 of 18 (44 percent). New England outscored Killdeer 28-12 in the second half.

New England junior guard John Urlacher, who finished with a game-high 16 points, four rebounds and three steals, said Prince’s 3-pointer at the half game the team new life.

“We were working really hard and our main goal in the second half was to step up the defense quite a bit,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we were rebounding and not letting them get to the basket.”

The Tigers’ biggest lift in the second half came from the defensive efforts from the big men in the middle. Prince — a 6-foot-3 forward — ended the game with 15 points, nine rebounds, seven steals and three blocks.

However Prince’s biggest effort came from guarding Killdeer’s Calum Blankenship and Hayes LeMieux, who are 6-3 and 6-4, respectively. LeMieux finished with a team-high 10 points and six rebounds. Lewis Dobitz posted nine points and eight rebounds.

In fact, it was a collective effort down low with the addition of New England’s Ty Nordby, Mason Stang and Gavin Fitterer.

“We just kind rotated, because we know they do a nice job of pounding the ball inside,” Powers said. “We didn’t want to get into foul trouble there. It was overall a team effort on all those guys inside.”

In the first half, Killdeer held a 14-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. New England responded with a 42-36 lead at the end of three quarters.

Brady Bender supplied eight points, five rebounds and five assists for New England. Nordby and Stang each chipped in five.

“The best part about this team is that everyone can score,” Urlacher said. “On the perimeter in the post, everyone can score. That’s why this is by far my favorite team I’ve ever played on.”

The Tigers continue to the Roughrider Tournament championship game against Dickinson Trinity at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Titans won the past two tournaments, while New England won the title in 2010 and finished runner-up in 2011.

“Dickinson Trinity is a great program and (Gregg) Grinsteinner is a great coach,” Power said. “They are a team that everyone wants to beat and we’re no different anyone else. We want to come out and give them a game, play with them in the fourth quarter and have a chance to win the game.”

Killdeer 14 28 36 40

New England 9 28 42 52

K: Hayes LeMieux 10, Lewis Dobitz 9, Bryton Roshau 8, Trenton Alley 5, Calum Blankenship 4, Cody Johnson 4.

NE: John Urlacher-Greff 16, Daniel Prince 15, Brady Bender 8, Mason Stang 5, Ty Nordby 5, Jordan Maershbecker 2, Hunter Wolf 1.

3-pointers: NE 1 (Prince). Free throws: K 4-8, NE 15-28. Total fouls: K 15, NE 15. Rebounds: K 34 (Dobitz 8), NE 33 (Prince 9). Assists: K 14 (Alley 7), NE 13 (Bender 5). Steals: K 12 (four with 1), NE 20 (Prince 7). Blocks: NE 4 (Prince 3). Turnovers: K 20, NE 12.