Following riveting weeks of action and drama, the season of Region 7 basketball has come to an end.
The Killdeer girls basketball team capped off its most successful season in program history, completing the year with a runner-up finish at the Class B state tournament on Saturday, March 3.
Fresh off of emotional victory over Dickinson Trinity in the Region 7 Final on Saturday, March 10, the Beulah boys basketball team will be in Bismarck on Thursday to compete in the Class B state tournament for first time since 2014.
With the Cowboys coming home with some hardware and the Miners looking for the program's second state title (2012), both teams jostled and survived their respective regional gauntlet.
Out of the 16 games played in the two regional tournaments, only two were decided by 10 or more points.
"I think we bring it out of each other, we want to be the best and I think each school does that," Dickinson Trinity boys basketball head coach Gregg Grinsteiner said. "There are great rivalries that make each other better, I think Beulah and us made each other better and throughout the year, every team makes every other team better. That's how this region goes."
In the eight boys tournament games, the average margin of victory was 10.8 points per game, a tick under four points less than the 2017 average of 14.5 ppg.
Late last month, the girls put on the closest contested tournament in more than a decade. This year, the average margin of victory was 6.1 points per game. It is the first time since 2007 that the margin was below double figures.
"I've been coaching varsity basketball for a long time now, and I don't ever remember a regional tournament where it was this competitive," Hettinger-Scranton girls basketball head coach Kelly Pierce said. "There have not been any games that didn't come down to the fourth quarter.
One theory Pierce mentions is the amount of quality upperclassmen battling to keep high school playing careers alive.
Killdeer guard Sydney Anderson and Beulah guard Derek Ferebee were each selected as Senior Athletes of the Year. Both teams carried seven seniors on their rosters.
"I think it's a testament to this region with how many good seniors, there's a lot of really good seniors in the region," Pierce said. "When you get that, nobody wants to go home and you saw it in a lot of these teams."
Having coached in four different decades, Grinsteinner points to the people in charge as a strong influence on the basketball players on and off the floor.
"You have a lot of good coaches, a lot of schools that put a lot of energy into educating kids in the classroom and outside the classroom, whether athletics, fine arts, etc..." Grinsteiner said.
"I think in life today, having expectations is a good thing, not just letting people off the hook and I think that's what this region does. It has expectations out of its schools and its kids."
While the Miners have more goals to shoot for, the basketball in this area during the 2017-18 campaign has been more intense than it has been in recent years.
"It was a battle all season. All along there were games that came down to the end during the season, battling for seeding. That's why I like the regional tournament as a super regional," Pierce said. "All season long, you get to know one another and it's tough. Everybody knows everybody so you got to be able to execute to win games this time of year."