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Cougars fight off Titans: Heart River hangs on, defeats Dickinson Trinity in a Region 7 game

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Heart River defenders Cole Olson, left, Dion Madler, middle front, and Blayne Smith, right, guard Dickinson Trinity freshman Shawn Stoltz, middle back, during a Region 7 game on Tuesday at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

Cade Shypkowski had the ball when it mattered most.

The junior guard pulled up for a jumper at the free-throw line with 13 seconds left and received a friendly roll to score the game-winning basket.

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Shypkowski scored 22 points — including going 4 of 7 from 3-point range — to lead Heart River over Dickinson Trinity 60-57 in a Region 7 game on Tuesday at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

“I always have confidence in my shot,” Shypkowski said with a smile. “Sometimes it doesn’t fall, but I just have to keep thinking it will and it usually does.

“My buddy was open under the hoop. I could have given it to him, but I took and got the lucky roll.”

During the final 8 minutes, Heart River freshman forward Zane Besler scored six of his 11 points including a sky hook, which gave the Cougars a 55-48 lead. Heart River’s 25 turnovers allowed Trinity to rally in the fourth quarter.

Trinity battled back to tie the game at 57 after senior guard Austin Deichert, who finished 12 points, eight steals and four assists, scored a three-point play. On Heart River’s next possession, Shypkowski launched a 3-pointer which hit off the front of the rim, but Heart River senior guard Tyson Kudrna ran down the offensive rebound.

The Cougars took a timeout and Shypkowski wanted the ball. He had a hot-hand all game, going 9 of 13. The junior guard didn’t disappoint as he knocked down the game-winning basket.

“The thing about Cade is that he has confidence in himself right now,” Heart River head coach Greg Pruitt said. “That’s what we talked about in the huddle. We wanted the last shot. We took a little early, but he had confidence.”

As a team, the Cougars didn’t have any trouble out of the gate. After the first 8 minutes, Heart River climbed to an 18-13 lead.

Throughout all 32 minutes, Heart River either held a lead or was tied with Trinity. The Titans couldn’t get over the hump to take one lead.

“Heart River had way more energy than we did and it was evident,” Trinity head coach Gregg Grinsteinner said. “We just seemed like at times we didn’t want to be here very much. I’ll take the blame on that one. We knew coming in what this game meant. It was a matter of us coming out and executing and they did a much better job.”

Heart River continued adding to its lead in the second quarter, but Trinity sophomore guard Willy Jahner came off the bench to provide an offensive spark. Jahner finished with 12 of his 14 points in the first half which included knocking in a jumper at the 4:12 mark of the second quarter to tie at the game 24-24.

The Cougars didn’t back off and went on a 6-0 run and held a 34-31 lead at halftime.

During halftime, the Cougars talked about playing a full 32 minutes. Throughout the season, Heart River has been saddled by two overtime losses and five games by 10 or less points.

“Every game we learn something whether it is on the court or in real life,” Shypkowski said. “We learn new things every day. We just learn those new things and get better.”

At the start of the second half, the Cougars went on 9-4 run to take their biggest lead of the game 43-35 after Shypkowski sank a 3-pointer.

However over the next 5 minutes, Heart River only scored two points. Trinity, on the other hand, scored eight points to end the third quarter 45-43 in favor of Heart River.

The Cougars outscored the Titans 15-14 in the fourth quarter. Heart River’s Cole Olson finished with eight points and eight rebounds, while Blayne Smith added seven points.

For the Titans, Joe Mayer posted 14 points, five rebounds and three steals. Shawn Stoltz chipped in eight rebounds and six points.

The Cougars and Titans continue their respected seasons traveling to Region 7 opponents at 7 p.m. Friday when Heart River plays at Bowman County and Trinity goes to Beach.

“You can’t take things for granted,” Grinsteinner said. “I’ve been around long enough to know that you can’t assume you are just going to walk on the floor and beat somebody. You have to go out and earn it.”

Heart River 18 34 45 60

Trinity 13 31 43 57

HR: Cade Shypkowski 22, Zane Besler 11, Cole Olson 8, Blayne Smith 7, Dion Madler 4, Tyson Kudrna 4, Paul Hutzenbiler 2, Seth Privratsky 2.

T: Joe Mayer 14, Willy Jahner 14, Austin Deichert 12, Brett Mortenson 6, Shawn Stoltz 5, Cole Wilhelmi 4, Brock Messer 2.

3-pointers: HR 4 (Shypkowski 4), T 1 (Jahner 1). Free throws: HR 4-10, T 10-18. Total fouls: HR 18, T 13. Rebounds: HR 37 (Olson 8), T 28 (Stoltz 8). Assists: HR 14 (Madler 5), T 13 (Wilhelmi 4, Jahner 4, Deichert 4). Steals: HR 13 (three tied with two), T 24 (Deichert 8). Blocks: HR 0, T 3 (three tied with one). Turnovers: HR 25, T 15. Records: HR 9-9 (4-6 Region 7), T 10-8 (7-2 Region 7).