Miners firing from all angles: Beulah uses dominating first half to run by Heart River
BELFIELD — The Beulah boys basketball team lost nearly its entire core from a roster that won the Region 7 championship last season.
Back with a new cast of characters, the Miners dropped two of the first three games of the 2018-19 season. However, on the road against Heart River on Thursday, Dec. 20, Beulah showed signs of a squad capable of potentially defending its region crowd.
Limiting the Cougars on one end, while playing crisp offense on the other, the Miners eased to a 68-35 victory from Belfield High School.
Beulah scored 22 points in each of the first two quarters and entered halftime with a 44-15 advantage.
“We had a good first half,” Beulah head coach Jeremy Brandt said. “I thought some kids came in and knocked some shots down. (Heart River) threw a little bit of a different defense at us and took some chances, but I think some of our kids did a nice job of coming in and knocking down some shots.”
Miners junior forward Jonah Larson opened the game’s scoring with a three-point play after converting a reverse lay-up while being hit on the arm.
After a pair of offensive fouls were called while the Cougars tried to set screens, Beulah extended to a 7-0 advantage following a turnaround hook from senior guard Shaye Yeager and a steal on the ensuing inbounds that resulted in a lay-up from freshman guard Trey Brandt. The sequence led to a timeout from Heart River head coach Erik Klein 98 seconds into the contest.
The three-point shot became a fixture for the road team. Senior forward Chad Morsette Jr. drilled an attempt from behind the arc near the top of the key, giving Beulah its first double-figure cushion at 15-3. Then, in the following possession off of an out-of-bounds play, Yeager curled off a ball screen at the mid-post, drawing in the defense only to kick it out to senior forward Kaleb McGraw, who nailed the jumper from downtown.
“My teammates got me open. We played our offense really well tonight, we got open looks for everyone around the team.” Morsette Jr. said.
While Beulah was in a flow, Heart River struggled to counter outside of a couple of makes from forward Cauy Shypkoski. He got his team on the board with a 3-pointer after the Miners surge to open the game. Later in the first period, the senior swished a long-distance shot while being fouled. It was the home team’s best highlight of the evening, but he was unable to complete the four-point play.
Shypkoski scored all seven of the Cougars’ first-quarter points, but the rest of the offense was slow to join. With 6:28 remaining in the second quarter, sophomore guard Preston Walter made a pair of free-throws, becoming the second Heart River player to enter the scoring column. When the team wasn’t getting to the foul line, Heart River often found itself bottled up in the middle of Beulah’s zone, resulting in turnovers and contested shots.
“Just their athleticism and physicality got us rattled,” Klein said. “We weren’t executing on the offensive side. It’s not that we don’t have the capabilities to, we just simply didn’t execute the little things — setting the screen, rolling after a screen. When we did those little things, we would see glimpses of some success. So, we just have to be able to put together four quarters of doing that all game long.”
After a basket inside by Heart River senior forward Trystan Gregory, the Cougars trailed 30-14, before Beulah closed the half on a 14-1 run, with Larson doing most of the damage. With the Miners’ shooting success from the outside, that opened up things for the 6-foot-5 junior inside. His teammates kept feeding him the ball in the paint, leading to trips to free-throw lane.
Morsette Jr. capped the stretch with a three-point play on a lay-up in transition, which was started by a Larson block.
Larson finished with a game-high 16 points, including six in the second frame. Morsette Jr. chipped in 13 points.
“I thought our kids did a nice job adjusting and getting it into the post to Jonah,” Jeremy Brandt said. “He played pretty well in the first half too. Our guards did a really nice job of finding him in really good spots where he could score.”
Shypkoski was the only Cougar in double-figures with 12 points, but fouled out with 1:30 left in the third. Heart River played better in the second half, outscored by four in the last 16 minutes, but with the defeat, its record drops to 1-4 overall.
“I said to ‘just go out there, stay positive and keep working hard,’” Klein remarked was the message in the locker room after the game. “We’re not going to roll over and just quit just because they jumped on us. We got to figure out a way to start the games off a little bit better. … Once we figure that out, we are going to be a better basketball team.”Beulah 68. Heart River 35B 22 22 13 11HR 7 8 9 11B: Jonah Larson 16, Chad Morsette Jr. 13, Kaleb McGraw 7, Shaye Yeager 7, Sean Gierke 6, Joe Hager 6, Korey Rueb 5, Trey Brandt 4, Carson Weigum 2, Isak Olson 2.HR: Cauy Skypkoski 12, Preston Walter 6, Ian Silbernagel 6, Logan Quimby 3, Braden Obrigewitch 3, Tyler Kastrow 2, Trystan Gregory 2, Caden McCormick 1.3-pointers: B 4 (McGraw 2), HR 5 (Shypkoski 2). Free throws: B 12-25, HR 7-12. Total fouls: B 15, HR 22. Fouled out: 1 (HR, Shypkoski). Records: B 2-2 (Region 7 1-0), HR 1-4 (Region 7 0-1).