"Don't be content with just getting there": Beulah rolls into Bismarck as Class B tournament starts Thursday
Moments after receiving the Region 7 trophy on Saturday, March 10 following an emotionally draining 74-71 over Dickinson Trinity, the Beulah boys basketball team were swarmed on the court by fellow students, fans and family.
The hardwood at Bison Arena was a sea of blue and gold as the euphoria of finally getting over the Dickinson Trinity hump was written all over the players' faces.
"It feels amazing, hard work does pay off," Miners senior guard Logan Miller said after the Region 7 Tournament Final. "Last year, we lost to them as we did two years ago. It motivated us, we worked hard this off-season. It paid off and we got them, finally."
There is still more basketball to be played and shortly after the celebration, the Miners understood that.
The next morning, players began exchanging text messages with the coaching staff and set up a meeting Sunday evening to watch film and scout their competition.
"That kind of told me that they were ready to move on and start preparing for the tournament coming up," Beulah head coach Jeremy Brandt said. "I think their minds are in the right place just based on that."
Entering with a record of 20-4, the Miners will begin their quest against the defending Class B state champions and top-seeded Hillsboro-Central Valley on Thursday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m. (CT).
Reigning from Region 2, the Burros may present a slew of problems.
Hillsboro-Central Valley will showcase a number of returners from their title run last year. Meanwhile, senior guard Derek Ferebee is the only Miner who has been on this stage before, sort of. He was an eighth-grader on the Miners roster the last time Beulah made a state tournament appearance.
Also, Beulah has had rebounding issues all season and despite featuring a number of rangy guards and forwards on the roster, the Miners will not have the size advantage.
"I've gotten a chance to watch a fair amount of video. They're big," Brandt said. "Sometimes they'll play three 6-foot-5 kids at the same time so they're size especially in the post is going to present some difficulties for us....They're flashy, but they're really solid. They play to their strengths, which is their post players and their point guard, and that's my first impression from what I see."
Beulah, along with Region 8 champion Stanley, will walk into the Bismarck Civic Center on limited rest as the start of their respective regional tournaments were delayed. Weather postponements resulted in the teams playing games on three consecutive days while losing two days of rest and planning ahead of the state tournament.
"It's not what I'm used to. We've been there for our fourth time now and you kind of get use to that Thursday night end," Brandt said. "Friday, you're taking care of the media stuff and usually by Saturday or Sunday, we're back to practicing. So it's been a lot quicker of a turnaround. I know Monday was a super busy day for me....I definitely can tell I've had less time to set aside and watch tape than I would like because of trying to get other things taken care of. After Saturday, I know our kids were gassed, they were tired playing three games in a row and that emotional game on Saturday."
The Miners traveled south on Wednesday night. Although the drive isn't too long, the team intends on staying in Bismarck until Saturday evening.
"We want our kids to take in everything about the state tournament," Brandt said. "That's part of it, staying down there as a group and the kids get to socialize and be together. That's all part of that state tournament experience when you do qualify, you earn the right to be able to do some of those things."
In their time down there, Brandt wants his players to embrace the scene, pageantry and bright lights, but never lose sight of the task at hand.
"I've just try to tell the guys don't be content with just getting there. We've got a lot of seniors and I want them to have the attitude that we want to go down there and we want to compete," Brandt said. "We have a chance to play for a state championship so that's what we're trying to convey to them. We don't want to just be happy and content with where we are at. Obviously, it was big, emotional on Saturday, but again, we've just been trying to get across to the guys that we still got three more game to play and they have an opportunity to win a state championship. Ultimately, that has to be our goal."