Bowman County gets by Hettinger for district title

BOWMAN -- Alex Wolf played sick for the entire District 13 boys basketball tournament. However, Bowman County's 6-foot-4 junior center didn't look ill during Tuesday night's District 13 championship game against Hettinger at Solberg Gymnasium. Wo...

BOWMAN -- Alex Wolf played sick for the entire District 13 boys basketball tournament.

However, Bowman County's 6-foot-4 junior center didn't look ill during Tuesday night's District 13 championship game against Hettinger at Solberg Gymnasium.

Wolf scored 17 points, had 10 rebounds and threw down a two-handed dunk late in the fourth-quarter that took the life out of the Black Devils and helped the Bulldogs earn a 57-48 victory and their second district championship in three years.

"Alex wanted it really, really bad," said Bulldogs' first-year coach Gary Ballard. "... We pushed him to the limit tonight."

Wolf played 25 minutes - the most in any of the three games Bowman County played in the tournament - and appeared exhausted after the game.


"I'm getting better," Wolf said. "Keep on getting better, that's all I need to do."

He'll need to be healthy if the Bulldogs (13-9) hope to stave off Hazen, District 14's fourth seed, in the Region 7 tournament quarterfinals at 4:30 p.m. next Monday.

"I just feel our kids will work really hard and we'll be prepared as best we can," said Ballard, whose Bulldogs lost to Hazen 71-53 in the regular season. "The big thing is, whoever you play in the region this year, you've got to play well or you're not going to win."

Bowman County would have had a chance to beat anyone in the state the way it shot in the second half.

The Bulldogs were 14 of 20 from the field and missed only three shots inside the 3-point line.

"I don't know what team would have finished them off in the second half," Hettinger coach Adam Hill said.

Bulldogs junior forward Tyson Harding was unconscious with his mid-range jumper and Wolf worked for easy baskets and put-backs in the post.

Harding helped break open a 25-25 halftime tie by scoring eight of his 14 points in the second half. Three of his shots came from almost the exact same spot inside the free-throw semi-circle.


"Tyler (Fischer) got me the shots. It was mostly him. He was the one that drew the defenders off," said Harding, who added eight rebounds. "I've been waiting for that kind of stuff to happen."

Wolf and Harding's work on the inside freed up sophomore guard Brock Boos to drive from the perimeter. Boos finished with 13 points and five assists.

Harding's performance in the third quarter gave the Bulldogs a 41-37 lead going into the fourth, which was when they really turned on the pressure.

Bowman County doubled its lead early in the quarter but Hettinger closed the gap back to 49-45.

However, not long after the Black Devils got close, Wolf took the game into his hands. He capped seven straight points with a three-point play after he was fouled on a dunk with 1:42 remaining.

Boos found an open Wolf on the right side of the basket and the junior hammered home the slam. The ensuing free throw made it 56-46. Hettinger didn't score again until there was 33 seconds left in the game.

"Our effort as a team was pretty good," Harding said.

Hettinger (14-8) made things difficult on the Bulldogs in the first half, jumping out to a 9-4 lead before Bowman County took a one-point lead and eventually forced a 14-14 tie to end the first quarter.


The teams went back and forth through the second quarter. Wolf tied things up at 25 with a nifty turnaround jumper in the left post with less than two seconds remaining.

Hettinger sophomore forward Lance Johnson had his best performance of the tournament, shooting 8 of 9 from the free-throw line and scoring 15 points.

Black Devils senior Alex Willoughby helped keep things close early. He scored 15 points and had five rebounds. Junior center Drew Nash added 12 points but was held to just two rebounds.

"Johnson really showed up for us and played his tail off," said Hill, whose team will face District 14 third-seed Richardton-Taylor at 7:30 p.m. next Monday in the region quarterfinals.

Only a handful of the Bulldogs were members of the 2006 district championship team that was highly ranked in the state polls all year long.

Unlike their past counterparts, this season's team is young - Bowman County's only senior is guard Logan Cox - and had little varsity experience coming into the season. However, it didn't stop the Bulldogs from playing with a purpose on Tuesday.

"Everyone did a good job of not folding under the pressure," Wolf said.

Bowman County 57, Hettinger 48


H 14 25 37 48

BC 14 25 41 57

H: Alex Willoughby 15, Lance Johnson 15, Drew Nash 12, Ryan Fulker 4, Jerad Jacobson 2.

BC: Alex Wolf 17, Tyson Harding 14, Brock Boos 13, Kenzie Robertson 6, Logan Cox 5, Tyler Fischer 2.

3-pointers: Willoughby, Johnson, Cox. Free throws: H 16-21, BC 8-16. Total fouls: H 16, BC 17. Fouled out: Jacobson, Nash. Rebounds: H 26 (Willoughby 5), BC 35 (Wolf 10). Assists: H 14 (Jacobson 6), BC 21 (Robertson 7). Steals: H 8 (Willoughby, Nathan Weaver, Nash), BC 4 (Boos 2). Turnovers: H 9, BC 13.

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