Over the last two-and-half weeks, the young and inexperienced Dickinson High boys basketball team has played its best stretch of basketball through two-thirds of the 2018-19 season.
However, at home against Bismarck High and its stingy defense, the Midgets had a minor setback.
Held to only five field goals in the first half, the Midgets were outscored 20-5 heading into the halftime break before falling to the Demons 81-32 on Friday, Jan. 25, from the Dickinson High Gym.
The 49-point loss is the Midgets' largest margin of defeat this season, while the 32 points scored is a new season-low.
"I just think on the offensive end, we didn't move the ball as well as we should, as well as we needed to," Dickinson head coach Dan Glasser said. "Just too much dribbling and not enough passing."
Dickinson shot a meager 8-for-45 from the field overall, including 0 of 15 from three-point territory.
While the offense looked sluggish and out of sorts, the Midgets did a nice job early on drawing fouls and heading to the free-throw line. Junior guard Jaiden Wright was particularly effective attacking the basket and earning a trip to the charity stripe, going 7 of 8 from the line in the first half.
Serving as one of the home team's highlight, Midgets freshman Luke Mavity stripped a Bismarck ball-handler in the backcourt. Diving on the floor for the loose ball, Mavity tossed it to junior Tallon Klatt streaking into the lane, where he was fouled. The 6-foot-6 center connected on a pair of freebies, closing Dickinson's deficit to 19-15 midway through the frame.
Bismarck answered with a 10-0 burst, beginning with a 3-pointer from senior guard Joe Jahner. Sophomore forward Gunner Swanson scored inside before Jahner capped the run with two free throws and a walk-up 3-pointer from the left wing, prompting Glasser to call timeout.
In the first 18 minutes, the Demons shot 13-for-30 from the floor, but many of the makes were second-chance points or came off the offensive glass. Bismarck snatched seven offensive rebounds and forced the Midgets into 13 turnovers.
"It's just about making good passes, making the right reads. You can't dribble through a double team, so we need to just work on our passing," Glasser remarked.
In the start of the second half, Bismarck mixed in a number of defensive looks, going from man-to-man, to 1-3-1 zone before bringing trapping pressure at the half court. Earning 31 takeaways on the evening, the Demons lowered their points-allowed average to 55.1 points per game, good for the best defense in Class A.
"We've been working on a number of different defenses, we just haven't used them much in a game because our man-to-man defense has been so strong," Bismarck head coach Jordan Wilhelm said. "The last couple of nights that we've played, our defense hasn't been good. So we decided to start employing some of the stuff we've been working on in practice and tonight, our kids really bought into it. To be honest, I don't think it matters what kind of defense we'd run. If our kids play with that kind of energy and that kind of effort, we're going to be ok."
Draining three shots from long distance, Jahner finished with a game-high 19 points while fellow senior guards Matt Trolliey and Dyllon Sicble chipped in with 13 and 11 points respectively.
The Midgets were paced by junior forward Isaac Gjerde with nine points. Klatt and Wright each added seven points.
"We just need to move on," Glasser said. "We need to put it in the back of our mind, learn from our mistakes, come back and get better for the next game."
Bismarck 81, Dickinson 32
B: Joe Jahner 19, Matt Trolliey 13, Dyllon Scible 11.
D: Isaac Gjerde 9, Tallon Klatt 7, Jaiden Wright 7, Cody Maier 4, Kobe Krenz 2, Jayden Wright 2, Alex Praus 1.
Halftime: B 39, D 20. 3-pointers: B 6-23 (Jahner 3-9), D 0-15. Free throws: B 23-30, D 16-22. Total fouls: B 19, D 22. Fouled out: D, Klatt. Rebounds: B 47 (Canyen Stonecipher 5), D 34 (Luke Mavity 7). Assists: B 8 (Jahner 3), D 5 (Wright 2). Steals: B 23 (Jahner 4), D 2 (Mavity, Krenz). Blocks: D 2 (Mavity, Gjerde). Turnovers: B 16, D 31. Records: B 10-4 (9-4 WDA), D 4-10 (4-9 WDA).