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Julson, Messerschmidt lead Beulah’s experience

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Beulah senior guard Cole Messerschmidt, left, looks to pass against Hazen during the Region 7 championship game on Feb. 27 at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.1 / 2
Press Photo by Royal McGregor Beulah senior forward Randi Julson, right, goes for a shot against New England junior Ty Nordby in a Region 7 semifinal game on Feb. 25 at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.2 / 2

When Beulah’s Cole Messerschmidt and Randi Julson were sophomores, they celebrated as the 2011 North Dakota Class B state boys basketball champions.

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However, the two spent most of their time on the bench that season.

Now as seniors, Messerschmidt and Julson return to the state tournament with the same end goal, but with bigger responsibilities.

“We didn’t have much of a role to play on the team, especially in the state tournament,” Julson said about winning a state championship in his sophomore year. “Throughout the state tournament, we kind of stuck to a tighter lineup. Our roles during the state tournament was to go there and have fun.”

The Miners open the state tournament against North Star at 7:15 p.m. Thursday. The last time Beulah met North Star at the state tournament was during the 2011 title game. The Miners are 19-5 after winning the Region 7 championship.

“We’re excited to go and whenever you can make it to the state tournament, it’s exciting for your kids, school and community,” Beulah head coach Jeremy Brandt said. “Ironically, we play North Star in the first game, which is a team that we’ve had a lot of battles with in the last two or three years.”

In their sophomore season, Messerschmidt and Julson averaged around 4 minutes per game during the season, but their playing time was limited during the state tournament. The Miners handed three teams its first loss of the season en route to the title.

Despite not playing in the state tournament, Messerschmidt said he and Julson grasped the magnitude of playing with the best teams in the state.

“It helps with nerves,” Messerschmidt said. “It will definitely help for when we are going to play more at state this year.”

During the two-year span — which accounted for Messerschmidt’s and Julson’s sophomore and junior years — the Miners were 48-4. Yet, neither player saw significant playing time.

After the graduation of the entire starting lineup, Julson and Messerschmidt received their full-time chance. They didn’t disappoint and neither did the rest of the Beulah players.

The Miners don’t have one player expected to lead the team night-in and night-out. Beulah has five players who have scored 200 or more points. Sophomore forward Casey Walcker leads the team with 14.1 points per game, while junior forward Luke Blood chips in 10.5 points and junior guard Jett Hettich rounds the scorers with 9.3 a night.

Julson, a 6-foot-3 forward, is averaging 11.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He leads in the team with 70 steals and 28 blocks. He has the ability to defend guards or forwards. Julson and Brandt agreed that the senior can guard up to three or four players throughout the game.

“We have five, six, seven guys who can easily get into double digits in any game,” Julson said. “If one of us is having trouble adjusting to the game, we can just go to another guy and he can get us points too. We don’t have to be so reliant on one guy every night.”

Messerschmidt is the team’s shooting guard. He is 41 of 111 (36 percent) from 3-point range. The senior guard is averaging 8.8 points per game.

“It helps a lot to not have just that one scorer that other teams are going to key on,” Messerschmidt said. “When we have a bunch of players that can score, it becomes a lot harder to defend and it opens up shots everyone else when we play good, team basketball.”

Though finishing their high school careers is at the forefront of Julson’s and Messerschmidt’s mind, they want to have fun and embrace the process at the same time.

“The main goal is to win a state championship,” Julson said. “We just want to go out there and have a good time and hopefully get three wins. We just need to play three of the best games of our lives. If we play hard, we won’t have an regrets.”