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Titans edge Wildfire: Dickinson Trinity outlasts Mott-Regent in semis of Roughrider Tournament

Press Photo by Meaghan MacDonald Dickinson Trinity junior guard Cole Wilhelmi, left, dribbles past Mott-Regent’s Austin Kautzman during a semifinal game of the Roughrider Tournament on Thursday at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

Basketball is a game of mistakes and Thursday’s game between Dickinson Trinity and Mott-Regent was full of them.

However, Trinity made fewer mistakes than its opposition.

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The Titans pulled away and beat the Wildfire 44-40 in the 43rd Roughrider Tournament at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

“It was frustrating. We came out and reverted back to bad habits and part of that I think I got a little too worked up and I got the kids worked up,” Trinity head coach Gregg Grinsteinner said. “Part of it is we have to be mentally stronger. Everybody, coaching staff included. We have to be mentally strong and I think we need to understand situations and we didn’t do a very good job of it the whole game, maybe the last minute we did.”

With Trinity up 39-33 late in the fourth quarter, Mott-Regent resurged and went up by one after senior guard Tyler Zentner hit a 3-pointer, sophomore guard Chance Roth had a jump shot and Zentner punctuated the run with a layup with less than two minutes to go.

Trinity refocused and came back with an intensity it lacked all game. Freshman forward Shawn Stoltz put the Titans up by one and junior guard Cole Wilhelmi and sophomore guard Willy Jahner gave the team a four-point cushion to seal the win. Wilhelmi led Trinity with 14 points and five assists, while Jahner added five points and went 2 for 2 at the free throw line for the crucial final points of the game.

Although Mott-Regent put pressure on Trinity, the Titans’ biggest enemy was their own mental game.

“When we’re doing good, we’re really excited but when we go down we kind of get into a mental lapse and we lose effort and composure sometimes,” Wilhelmi said. “We have to learn how to be mentally strong the whole game.”

Jahner added: “We just had a lot of turnovers and travels and that’s stuff we have to clean up. I think if we clean that up, we’ll be OK.”

In the first quarter, fouls and missed shots dominated play and both teams struggled to find its rhythm. Just three minutes into the game, Zentner was already in foul trouble with two and a technical and was forced to the bench. With the Wildfire’s best player sitting out, the rest of the team stepped up and outscored Trinity 13-12 in the second quarter and went on a nine-point run at the end of the half.

Sophomore forward Brett Messmer led the team with eight points at the half and finished with a double-double, 14 points and 15 rebounds. When Zentner was able to come back in the second half, he went 3 for 8 with 12 points and four rebounds.

“We need five, six, seven guys, we can’t be one dimensional,” Mott-Regent first-year head coach Nate Zachmann said. “You got to go deep into the bench and it’s not just one guy and everybody’s got to step up and everyone stepped up. Once Ty went down, everybody kind of came and raised their level of play and that’s something we need to have every game.”

Trinity (17 for 51) and Mott-Regent (15 for 45) couldn’t find the net the entire game, both teams just making one-third of their shots. The Titans went 3 for 11 in 3-pointers, while the Wildfire was only able to make one. Despite its 2-1 record, it has been a shaky start for Trinity. Grinsteinner said his team can physically compete with any team in the region, but their lack of energy in the beginning of games has killed their performances and need to start setting the tone early.

“That’s three games in a row we came out in the first four minutes of the game flat and I think that carries over to the rest of the game,” Grinsteinner said. “We need to have a good start and we need to maintain and we need to get more energy coming off our bench. We need to get more energy out of our starters and we need more energy all the way around.”

Trinity will go for the 3-peat in the championship bracket against New England at 7:30 p.m. The Titans will have a short practice today and watch film to actually see what they’re doing and learn to adjust by game time.

“We are just going to try and get our defensive rotations down pretty good. We gave up a lot of easy points,” Wilhelmi said. “We have to work on our turnovers and shot selections, we need to slow down and run our offense a lot better.”

Grinsteinner added: “It comes into believing and once you start believing and doing and having success, that builds up success. And I think if you’re not accustomed to it, you got to trust and I think that’s part of our team right now.”

MR 9 22 29 40

DT 12 24 34 44

MR: Brett Messmer 14, Tyler Zentner 12, Brady Wegh 7, Chance Roth 4, Carter Honeyman 3.

DT: Cole Wilhelmi 14, Austin Deichert 6, Brett Mortenson 6, Brock Messer 5, Willy Jahner 5, Brock Messer 5, Shawn Stoltz 4, Nick Klug 2, Jon Volk 2.

3-pointers: MR 1 (Zentner), DT 3 (Wilhelmi 2, Jahner 1). Free throws: MR 9-15, DT 7-11. Total fouls: MR 18, DT 19. Fouled out: MR, Kautzman, Kautzman. Technical fouls: MR, Zentner, Kautzman. DT, Mayer. Rebounds: MR 35 (Messmer 15), DT 28 (Stoltz 10). Assists: MR 8 (Kautzman 3), DT 13 (Wilhelmi 5, Jahner 5). Steals: MR 17 (Zentner 2, Kautzman 2), DT 13 (Mayer 3, Mortenson 3). Blocks: DT 1 (Stoltz). Turnovers: MR 14, DT 17.

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.