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Dickinson Trinity holds off upset-minded New England to secure Region 7 championship berth

The New England boys basketball team dug itself into a deep hole for the second time in as many nights on Tuesday. Against Dickinson Trinity, though, there would be no comeback. The No. 2-seeded Titans were in control from the beginning, using a ...

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Dickinson Trinity junior forward Shawn Stoltz, right, attempts a short jump shot in the lane over New England sophomore forward Denit Sorenson in their Region 7 Tournament semifinal game Tuesday at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Press Photo by Parker Cotton)

The New England boys basketball team dug itself into a deep hole for the second time in as many nights on Tuesday.

Against Dickinson Trinity, though, there would be no comeback.

The No. 2-seeded Titans were in control from the beginning, using a dominating first half to set the table for a 69-52 victory over the sixth-seeded Tigers in the semifinals of the Region 7 Tournament at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

“Trinity did a tremendous job of executing,” New England head coach Shawn Flaherty said. “We got out of it. They never get out of it, no matter what you throw at them. They never get rattled. They have unshakable confidence in their abilities and in their coach. You have to give them credit.”

The win advances the Titans (19-4) to the Region 7 championship at 6:30 p.m. Thursday against top-seeded Beulah at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

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The Tigers (13-9) had been the defending region champions, and after a thrilling comeback against No. 3-seeded Hettinger-Scranton on Monday, they had extended their reign for at least another day. New England was cold from the start again, though, trailing 14-6 after the first quarter and by as many as 19 in the second quarter.

“We thought coming in (New England) would be a little tired. They worked their tails off (Monday) night,” Trinity junior forward Shawn Stoltz said. “That fast start, that just gets us going, gets our confidence up. When shots start falling, everybody wants to get in on it. Everybody is aggressive, and that makes us hard to guard.”

Stoltz led Trinity with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and eight other Titans found the scoring column.

Lucas Jones notched 10 points and four steals while Brock Messer scored nine points and paired them with nine rebounds. Willy Jahner scored eight points with five assists and four steals, and Kendall Jones hit two 3-pointers off the bench and finished with eight points.

“We were trying to make them put the ball in other kids’ hands, other than Jahner and Lucas Jones,” Flaherty said. “We just didn’t do a good job of closing out. It’s not just their ability to knock down shots, but they have the ability to make good decisions with the basketball.”

It was a well-rounded effort on both ends of the floor, Trinity head coach Gregg Grinsteinner said.

“When we reversed the ball and got everybody touches,” he said, “we executed very well on the offensive side.”

Trinity led 35-17 at halftime due in large part to shutting down New England’s role players. Brady Bender scored 13 of those points and Cody Holt had the other four.

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New England would find more scoring balance in the second half, eventually cutting its deficit to 45-35 in the third quarter, but Trinity closed on a 6-0 run to end the third and would eventually take a 21-point advantage in the fourth.

The Tigers narrowed the lead in the third and at the end of the fourth by going 7 of 10 on 3-pointers in the second half. New England’s Hunter Wolf hit three of them and finished with 14 points, and Denit Sorenson hit another pair for his six points.

Bender and Holt were comparatively limited in the second half, as they finished with 20 and nine points, respectively. Holt also had a team-high 10 rebounds.

“Their guys hit some shots and started getting in a rhythm,” Grinsteinner said. “I thought our post guys, Brock and Zach (Kubas), did a really nice job neutralizing Cody. He didn’t get a lot of offensive put-backs, and that’s a big part of their game. It was a team effort. Our bench guys came in and gave us great minutes.”

The Tigers will face Mott-Regent in the third-place game at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Knights of Columbus Center. Following that, the Titans will hope for a repeat of 2013 when they beat Beulah in the Region 7 championship to make it to their last state tournament.

Trinity’s last loss was a 67-60 defeat on Feb. 1 in Beulah.

“They’re No. 1 for a reason. We have to come out and play our game, and we didn’t do that the first time,” Stoltz said. “We just have to defend. We didn’t play great defense the last time, and they’re a good offensive team. We just have to have the confidence coming in right away.”

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NE    6   17   35   52

DT   14  35   51   69

NE: Brady Bender 20, Hunter Wolf 14, Cody Holt 9, Denit Sorenson 6, Carter Stang 3.

DT: Shawn Stoltz 16, Lucas Jones 10, Brock Messer 9, Kendall Jones 8, Willy Jahner 8, Benson Kramer 7, Zach Kubas 6, Easton Walby 3, Noah Sickler 2.

3-pointers: NE 8 (Wolf 3, Bender 2, Sorenson 2, Stang 1), DT 6 (K. Jones 2, Jahner 2, Kramer 1, Walby 1). Free throws: NE 8-12, DT 5-5. Total fouls: NE 12, DT 14. Rebounds: NE 19 (Holt 10), DT 33 (Stoltz 10). Assists: NE 5 (Holt 2, Bender 2), DT 19 (Jahner 5). Steals: NE 5 (Bender 2), DT 15 (Jahner 4, L. Jones 4). Blocks: NE 1 (Holt 1), DT 0. Turnovers: NE 15, DT 5.

Related Topics: NEW ENGLAND TIGERS
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