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Third quarter tear: Titans score 12 straight in win over Cougars

Dickinson Trinity junior Seth Herner and Heart River senior Trystan Gregory battle for a rebound on Thursday, Jan. 10 at South Heart High School. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)1 / 3
Heart River junior forward Lane Chruszch scored 23 points in his home debut against Dickinson Trinity on Thursday, Jan. 10, at South Heart High School. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)2 / 3
Dickinson Trinity sophomore Cole Fitterer backpedals while guarding Heart River junior Lane Chruszch on Thursday, Jan. 10, at South Heart High School. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)3 / 3

SOUTH HEART — With 3:44 left in the third quarter, Dickinson Trinity head coach Gregg Grinsteinner called a timeout.

Until that point, his team and Heart River were neck and neck, exchanging steals and layups to the tune of 28-27 in the Titans favor. After breaking huddle, the boys in red broke out on a 12-point run to lead 40-27 with 35 seconds left in the frame. The Titans went on to win 59-42, pushing their Region 7 record to 3-0 on Thursday, Jan. 10 at South Heart High School.

Junior guard / forward Matt Stafford scored the first points after the timeout, getting fouled as he scored underneath. After he sunk the foul shot, he halted the ensuing Cougars possession with a steal, turned around and scored again.

Stafford finished the game with 18 points, while sophomore guard Cole Fitterer followed with 12.

"Number one, we slowed down," Grinsteinner said of his team after the timeout. "On the offensive end, we got quality possessions and we started attacking the rim. I thought, the way Cole Fitterer played the second half, he really, really played well for us. He started attacking the rim."

Fitterer was phenomenal in the second half, rarely missing as he leapt around defenders for layup opportunities and never missed from the free throw line as he went 6-for-6. A pair of shots from the charity stripe gave the Titans their first 10-point lead, and just seconds later, he sunk another pair to put the team up 39-27. His six makes helped the Titans lead 42-29 at the half.

His other six points all came in the second half by way of athletic maneuvers to get to the net.

"They brought intensity," Fitterer said of the home team. "We played defense really hard, caused them to turn it over which led to our offense."

After senior Isaac Fridrich went down early with an apparent ankle injury in the third quarter, Dickinson Trinity had to adjust their defensive scheme, but still executed well.

Both teams shot 47 percent from the field in the first half, but the Titans defense cracked down and limited the Cougars to 35 percent in the second half. Heart River was out-rebounded 33-24 and the visitors earned 12 steals to the Cougars' six, led by Stafford who earned five snags.

The Dickinson Trinity defense keyed-in on the typically-potent 3-point shooter, senior Cauy Shypkoski. In fact, the Titans didn't allow a single 3-pointer as the home team missed all 10 attempts.

Another Cougar, could not be stopped, though.

In his home debut after recovering from a knee injury, junior forward Lane Chruszch scored the first five points for Heart River to put his team up 5-1 in the early going against the Titans.

The Cougars led the Titans for the whole first quarter until a last-minute jumper from Cheydan Hauf put Dickinson Trinity up 12-11 with about two minutes left in the frame. Despite the loss, Klein was enthusiastic about how his team started the contest.

"What we've been talking about is we need to win the first two minutes of the basketball game to get ourselves going," Heart River head coach Erik Klein said. "We won the first two minutes of the basketball game tonight. It just shows what it can do to set the tone for the rest of the game."

Even after they took the lead, the Titans still couldn't stop Chruszch as he put away a game-high 23 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the field and hitting all three attempts from the foul line.

"Lane had a hot hand tonight so we kept going that direction.," Klein said. "I thought we played good team basketball tonight. I know Lane took a good chunk of the shot count for us, but we did. We moved the ball well, we reversed the ball fairly well, which we were able to isolate Lane on some of the stuff we were trying to do. I'm pretty darn happy with how we played tonight. Even though it's a loss, we're real happy."

Dickinson Trinity 59, Heart River 42

THS 14 10 18 17

HR 11 10 8 13

THS: Matt Stafford 18, Cole Fitterer 12, Aric Knopik 10, Jake Daniel 5, Seth Herner 5, Cheydan Hauf 4, Isaac Fridrich 3, Alija Karsky 2.

HR: Lane Chruszch 23, Jett Mattson 6, Cauy shypkoski 4, Tyler Kastrow 4, Tryston Gregory 2, Logan Quimby 2, Tanner Obrigewitch 1.

3-pointers: THS 2-4 (Stafford 1-1, Daniel 1-2), HR 0-10. Free throws: THS 11-17 (Fitterer 6-6, HR 10-13. Total fouls: THS 19, HR 18. Rebounds: THS 33 (Knopik 8), HR 24 (Chruszch 7). Assists: THS 7 (Herner 2), HR 2 (Kastrow, Shypkoski). Steals: THS 12 (Stafford 5), HR 6 (Shypkoski 2). Blocks: THS 3 (Herner 2), HR 1 (Chruszch). Turnovers: THS 10, HR 12. Records: THS 8-3 (Region 7 3-0), HR 2-7 (Region 7 1-4).