Dynamite District

District 13 boys basketball coaches are saying throw out the seeds, because their upcoming tournament is poised to be one of the most hotly contested in recent memory.

Nate Fries
Nate Fries, 6-5, Jr., C, Mott-Regent

District 13 boys basketball coaches are saying throw out the seeds, because their upcoming tournament is poised to be one of the most hotly contested in recent memory.

"I don't think seeding really matters," said Troy Hoffer, head coach of No. 3 seed Beach. "Throw the seeding out. It's wide open."

The District 13 tournament begins today at Bowman County High School's Solberg Gymnasium, and according to coaches, not even No. 1 seed Mott-Regent, which appears to be a clear favorite, has a safe route to a district title.

The Wildfire are 16-2 overall, have an unbeaten district record, the No. 1 seed and a bye in the tournament's opening round -- and they are by no means a shoe-in to win the title.

"I tell our team we've got to continue what we've been doing all year," Mott-Regent head coach Wayne Heckaman said. "Our inside game has been our catalyst all year, so we've got to work it inside and rebound well."


Bowman County head coach Gary Ballard, whose team owns the No. 2 seed, remembers the 2008-09 season when the Bulldogs went to the Class B state tournament but didn't do so before losing their District 13 semifinal game after receiving the opening-round bye.

"I think it's going to be tough for them with the bye," Ballard said. "Sometimes I think the bye is hard."

Mott-Regent's road to the district tournament has been as interesting as anyone's, too.

Four of the Wildfire's six district games were decided by four points of less. Two of them went to overtime.

Still, those seem to be common results in District 13 this season.

Of the 21 district games played, 13 were decided by seven points or less. Nine of those were decided by four or less. Three of those went to overtime.

Five of the six district games for No. 5 seed New England and No. 6 seed Heart River were decided by seven or less points.

Tight finishes didn't just apply to district games either.


New England is 13-6 overall and Beach is 8-10. None of their losses were by more than eight points.

"We're in every game," Hoffer said.

The lone outcast among the bunch appears to be No. 7 seed Scranton, which has a 4-14 overall record, didn't win a district game and hasn't beaten a North Dakota team this season.

But don't rest easy on the Miners, one coach said.

"I'm really impressed with everybody we've seen," said Hettinger head coach Dusty Laufer, whose team will co-op with Scranton next season. "There isn't a team -- even Scranton to be honest with you -- that I would really overlook."

Laufer may be right.

Troubled by injuries through the season, Scranton head coach Erik Kelner finally has his full team healthy going into the district tournament.

"It's been kind of a disappointing year so far, but like I told this kids, we've got five seniors," Kelner said. "Why not go out and try and surprise somebody?"


Bowman County meets the Miners at 7:30 tonight in the final game of the opening round.

No. 4 seed Hettinger plays New England in the tournament opener at 4:30 p.m. The Black Devils won the regular-season game 70-64 at home.

Hettinger, 8-10 overall, is led by junior Ben Laufer's 22 points and eight rebounds per game and has two post players -- junior Justis Caldwell and sophomore Stephen Kristy -- who average double-doubles in points and rebounds.

"One thing Hettinger does -- I think better than anyone else in the district -- is they get after the offensive boards, they crash real hard and get garbage points," New England head coach Luke Powers said.

The Tigers are led by juniors Kaine Hanson (18 points, 10 rebounds per game), Nick Wolf (16 points, 3.5 steals) and Clarence Binstock (9 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds) but have had an up-and-down season.

They beat Heart River to win the Roughrider Tournament championship in December, but ended the regular season with a loss to Dickinson Trinity's junior varsity.

"They're like us. We've been up and down, up and down in steady waves," Dusty Laufer said. "They've had big waves. They had a tsunami to start."

Hettinger, New England and Beach all finished with 3-3 records in the district.


Beach plays Heart River at 6 p.m. today. The Buccaneers won their only regular-season game 66-62.

Heart River head coach Greg Pruitt, a Green Bay Packers fan, said he used his favorite football team's Super Bowl victory to keep the Cougars encouraged about going into the tournament as the No. 6 seed.

"I told the kids, what better seed to be than the six seed, because the six seed just won the Super Bowl," Pruitt said.

Though the Cougars (10-9 overall, 2-4 District 13) have a balanced attack led by senior Dalton O'Brien, who averages 13 points per game, they'll have to deal with the district's top big man in their opener.

Beach's 6-foot-7 junior center Landon Lechler averages district highs of 23 points, 14 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game.

Nevertheless, Pruitt feels his team's chances of advancing to the Region 7 tournament are good.

"I feel we're playing with some confidence," he said.

With so many of the District 13 teams boasting strong underclassmen, it's given some coaches reason to believe the best is yet to come.


"The district next year is going to be just as wild as it is this year," Powers said. "To have to rank us is just a complete guess, because you never know what is going to happen."

No one is looking much further than the next four days though.

The district championship and region qualifier games are scheduled for Monday and only four of the seven teams will be moving on to the Region 7 tournament, which begins Feb. 21 at Knights of Columbus Activities Center in Dickinson.

"There's going to be some good teams that don't make it into the region, that's for sure," Heckaman said.

Ballard agreed, saying the teams who want that trip to the region tournament the most might just get it.

"I think it's going to be a real dogfight to get out of the district," he said. "I know the four teams that get out will be excited because they're going to really have to earn it."

District 13 Tournament

At Solberg Gymnasium, Bowman


Games Friday


1) No. 4 Hettinger vs. No. 5 New England, 4:30 p.m.

2) No. 3 Beach vs. No. 6 Heart River, 6 p.m.

3) No. 2 Bowman County vs. No. 7 Scranton, 7:30 p.m.

Games Saturday

Consolation semifinal

4) Game 2 loser vs. Game 3 loser, 4:30 p.m.

5) No. 1 Mott-Regent vs. Game 1 winner, 6 p.m.

6) Game 2 winner vs. Game 3 winner, 7:30 p.m.

Games Monday, Feb. 14

Region qualifier: Game 1 loser vs. Game 7 winner, 4:30 p.m.

Region qualifier: Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 loser, 6 p.m.

Championship: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 7:30 p.m.

District 13 -- How they fared

No. 1 Mott-Regent

(16-2, 6-0 District 13)

Dec. 21 - beat Beach 67-63

Jan. 4 - beat New England 60-56

Jan. 11 - beat Heart River 60-57 (OT)

Jan. 20 - beat Scranton 51-37

Jan. 25 - beat Hettinger 78-74 (OT)

Feb. 1 - beat Bowman County 62-45

No. 2 Bowman County

(13-6, 4-2 District 13)

Jan. 21 - lost to Heart River 57-51

Jan. 4 - beat Scranton 46-30

Jan. 11 - beat Beach 47-46

Jan. 20 - beat New England 49-42

Jan. 28 - beat Hettinger 72-71

Feb. 1 - lost to Mott-Regent 62-45

No. 3 Beach

(9-10, 3-3 District 13)

Dec. 21 - lost to Mott-Regent 67-63

Jan. 4 - beat Hettinger 74-61

Jan. 11 - lost to Bowman County 47-46

Jan. 25 - beat Scranton 62-34

Jan. 28 - lost to New England 58-52

Feb. 1 - beat Heart River 66-62

No. 4 Hettinger

(8-10, 3-3 District 13)

Dec. 21 - beat Scranton 47-32

Jan. 4 - lost to Beach 74-61

Jan. 11 - beat New England 70-64

Jan. 25 - lost to Mott-Regent 78-74 (OT)

Jan. 28 - lost to Bowman County 72-71

Jan. 29 - beat Heart River 69-67 (OT)

No. 5 New England

(13-6, 3-3 District 13)

Jan. 4 - lost to Mott-Regent 60-56

Jan. 11 - lost to Hettinger 70-64

Jan. 20 - lost to Bowman County 49-42

Jan. 25 - beat Heart River 53-51

Jan. 28 - beat Beach 58-52

Feb. 1 - beat Scranton 59-27

No. 6 Heart River

(10-9, 2-4 District 13)

Jan. 11 - lost to Mott-Regent 60-57 (OT)

Jan. 21 - beat Bowman County 57-51

Jan. 25 - lost to New England 53-51

Jan. 28 - beat Scranton 66-44

Jan. 29 - lost to Hettinger 69-67 (OT)

Feb. 1 - lost to Beach 66-62

No. 7 Scranton

(4-14, 0-6 District 13)

Dec. 21 - lost to Hettinger 47-32

Jan. 4 - lost to Bowman County 46-30

Jan. 20 - lost to Mott-Regent 51-37

Jan. 25 - lost to Beach 62-34

Jan. 28 - lost to Heart River 66-44

Feb. 1 - lost to New England 59-27

Average point differential of District 13 games

Mott-Regent +7.6 ppg

Bowman County +.2 ppg

Beach +4 ppg

Hettinger +.83 ppg

New England +3.83 ppg

Heart River +2.83 ppg

Scranton -21.2 ppg

District 13 games decided by 10 or less points

Mott-Regent - 4 of 6

Bowman County - 4 of 6

Beach - 4 of 6

Hettinger - 4 of 6

New England - 5 of 6

Heart River - 5 of 6

Scranton - 0 of 6

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