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Fischer: Bulldogs’ natural leader

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Bowman County senior Tanner Fischer, left, goes up for a shot against New England junior Gavin Fitterer, middle, and John Urlacher during the Roughrider Tournament on Dec. 10 at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

Entering the season, the Bowman County boys basketball team didn’t have much depth to lean on.

Its only returning player with a wealth of varsity experience was Tanner Fischer.

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In turn, the senior forward was thrust into an automatic leadership position and he said it just feels innate.

“Stepping into a leadership role feels pretty natural,” said Fischer, who is averaging 18.2 points per game. “There are days in practice where you can see there are people not focused and there has to be someone to step in there and say, ‘Focus on basketball right now, that’s what we are here for and we want to get better at it.’ Even in games, players might get frustrated and you just have to tell them to slow down or cool off. When you are playing frustrated, it’s a lot harder to play.”

Bowman County’s second-year head coach Steve Shahan said Fischer brings a hard work mentality to games, but mostly importantly to practice.

“When he came to play as a sophomore, he filled the position of the hard worker, do it all guy,” Shahan said. “As his role on the team has grown, he’s still kept that work ethic and that willingness to do all the dirty jobs.

“We knew we could count on Tanner to be our leader both mentally and physically. He sets the tone for the rest of the team. When you have a senior with experience like him that works so hard, none of the other kids can go out there and complain when the leading scorer is out there beating them in sprints and he’s working his butt off in every single drill.”

Fischer’s hard work doesn’t go unnoticed by his teammates either.

Senior guard Hunter Lanchbury said Fischer pushes everyone.

“Everyone wants to score and a lot teams focus on Tanner,” Lanchbury said. “We are able to play off of him. He’s really good at getting the ball down low and kicking out to the perimeter.”

In 13 games, Fischer has scored 20 points or more in six and has 12 double-digit performances. The only game where Fischer didn’t score 10 or more points was during a 75-25 Region 7 loss to Hazen on Dec. 21. In that loss, Fischer scored eight points.

Shahan said the ball isn’t being forced to Fischer. Instead, the senior forward allows the offense to flow naturally.

“We look to do that with everybody,” Shahan said about letting the offense flow. “That’s part of playing good basketball. We are a much better team when we let that happen instead of trying to force the situation.”

Fischer added: “At the beginning of the season, I was rushing some shots and it wasn’t worked out very well. I just flow with the offense.”

The Bulldogs have a 2-11 record and are 1-3 in Region 7. They opened the season with six straight losses. However, in the past seven games Bowman County is 2-5, including a 70-64 Region 7 overtime win against Killdeer on Tuesday.

After the win against Killdeer, the Bulldogs have a renewed excitement for the remainder of the season, which includes six Region 7 games. Bowman County hosts Region 7 opponent Richardton-Taylor at 7 p.m. Friday.

“It was great validation of what we’ve been doing,” Shahan said. “It let the boys know their hard work and determination was getting rewarded. It’s great to get a regional win and we’ll take one those any time we can. But bigger picture, it was great to get that confidence going and showing them that we are headed in the right direction.”

Lanchbury and Fischer said the team is capable of performing well this season, but they are satisfied with just one win. The team wants to continue building to be prepared for the start of the Region 7 Tournament on Feb. 24 at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

“I’d say the last three games we’ve continually played a lot better and it’s going to get better from here on out,” Fischer said.

Lanchbury added: “I thought we came out (on Tuesday) and played a lot better defense. Our help defense especially. I think we can play like that every night. I think it really upped the moral and it really showed us how well we can play.”