Opening statement: Titans race out to a big tournament victory over Killdeer
Late in the first quarter against Killdeer, the Dickinson Trinity boys basketball team exemplified in one offensive possession why they'll be a tough out for anyone in the 2018 Roughrider Tournament.
After a Killdeer missed shot, the Titans pushed the ball up the floor, but instead of rushing a shot in transition, sophomore guard Cole Fitterer pulled it back and reset the offense from the top of the key.
The players swung the ball around the perimeter, often passing up a good shot in search of a better one. Senior post Alija Karsky was off target with a driving attempt, but senior forward Aric Knopik scrambled in, gobbled up the offensive rebound and kicked back out after tip-toeing the sideline.
After more quality ball movement, Fitterer drove into an open lane and laid it in off the backboard as the coaches and players stood and applauded from the bench.
Outside of a couple of lapses, the Titans used patience and effort to cruise to a 75-38 victory over the Cowboys in the tournament opener on Tuesday, Dec. 11, from the Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
After a performance in which they had more than twice as many assists (19) than turnovers (eight), the four-time defending tournament champs will face Mott-Regent in the semifinals on Thursday.
"I don't think we settled," Dickinson Trinity head coach Gregg Grinsteinner said. "Early on in the game, we had one pass and a shot and our kids know that there's going to be times down the road where you're going to have to pass up a good shot for a great shot, and that's what we did."
Before ball movement was on display, Dickinson Trinity allowed its defense to generate some of its offense. Junior post Seth Herner and junior guard Matthew Stafford each collected steals and lay-ups for the first two baskets of the game. From there, Dickinson Trinity applied full-court pressure, hounding the Cowboys into many of their 14 first-half turnovers.
The Titans connected on 18 of 32 shots in the opening 16 minutes. Much of their efficiency was due to work done on the offensive glass. The home team on the scoreboard produced 15 second-chance points off of 11 offensive rebounds.
"It's just if you want it bad enough," Knopik said. "It's a game of physicality. If you want it, you go get it, and that's basically what rebounding is."
After falling victim to a 19-0 run, Killdeer got into a rhythm from beyond the arc, draining five of its six 3-pointers during the second quarter. A trey from junior guard Jamie Keller closed the gap to 33-16 and resulted in a Titans timeout. However, the Cowboys would not get closer.
"I told them you can control two things: it's attitude and effort. When you guys decided you wanted to play in the second quarter, you guys made a comeback," Killdeer head coach Andy Murphy said was his message in the locker room. "But they can't choose the second quarter to do that. They need to start the came off with an attitude that we're going to take your best shot and we're going to give our back shot."
Despite the marksmanship, Trinity outscored the Cowboys by two in the second frame and opened the third on an 8-0 run.
Knopik finished with a game-high 23 points while Stafford and Fitterer added 15 and 10 points, respectively. Junior forward Kadin Nodland paced Killdeer with 12 points. Keller and junior guard Daylon Danks each had three 3-pointers.
"The first three and half minutes of the second half, I thought just our execution was just outstanding," Grinsteinner said. "We slowed ourselves down, we did a good job of setting screens and got the ball to the guys that were open in spots so that they could score. We only took four three-point shots for the whole game, so when you are scoring in the mid-70s, that tells you that you are pretty much in a flow. ... As long as we keep accepting our role, good things are going to happen."
Dickinson Trinity 75, Killdeer 38
K 2 21 12 3 — 38
DT 23 23 15 14 — 75
K: Kadin Nodland 12, Daylon Danks 11, Jamie Keller 9, Kacen Gartner 4, Tyler Hansen 2.
DT: Aric Knopik 23, Matthew Stafford 15, Cole Fitterer 10, Cheydan Hauf 6, Seth Herner 6, Alija Karsky 6, Jake Daniel 4, Jaxon Erie 2, Bryant Merry 2, Isaac Fridrich 1.
3-pointers: K 6 (Danks 3, Keller 3), DT 1 (Knopik 1). Free throws: K 0-0, DT 12-19. Total fouls: K 15, DT 4. Fouled out: 1 (K, Danks). Rebounds: K 17 (Gartner 4, Danks 4), DT 33 (Fitterer 5). Assists: K 8 (Danks 4), DT 19 (Fridrich 4, Herner 4). Steals: K 6 (Nodland 3), DT 14 (Knopik 4, Herner 4). Blocks: K 4 (Nodland 3), DT 2 (Fitterer 1. Herner 1). Turnovers: K 19, DT 8. Records: K 0-2, DT 2-0.