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Fans rally Blue Hawks in instant classic

Sam Milanovich Classic end with heartbreak for Dickinson State.

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Sophomore Trey Hladky was 2-for-2 at the free-throw line after drawing a personal foul. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)
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As tournaments progress, crowd size matters. In a matchup against Rocky Mountain College in the Scott Gymnasium Saturday night, Dickinson State University fans made a difference as chants of “D.S.U.” rattled the rafters in an attempt to motivate their team who had fallen way behind. Trailing by double digits at 41-27, the spark would ignite a response that would rally the Blue Hawks to reduce the deficit to a mere two points in the waning seconds of the game.

A tie attempting shot at the buzzer would leave fans with heads hung low, before giving a standing ovation to their beloved Blue Hawks — a superior effort clearly recognized.

Dickinson State hosted the pre-season Sam Milanovich Classic over the weekend, ending with a matchup against Rocky Mountain College in the Scott Gymnasium Saturday night. Though they were bested by the Bears, the Blue Hawks were on the verge of their first win in their 72-70 loss.

“There are a lot of things you can look at,” Derek Selvig, DSU head coach, said. “We shot 50 percent from the free throw line, we gave up 12 offensive rebounds and we still had a chance to win the game. It's pretty wild.”

The first half was a struggle for Dickinson State, missing 30 field goal shots, 10 coming from the three-point range. By the 10 minute mark DSU had fallen behind 20-12, but would then tie it at 21 via a three-pointer courtesy of senior Bryce Knox with 6:25 remaining.

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The deadlock would not last long as Rocky Mountain College would again go on a sprint, this time a massive and near insurmountable 20-6 run to end the first half.

“We are searching for an identity a little bit … We are still trying to gel with all the new guys we have and the transfers we have,” Selvig said. “It is taking time and that is what the pre-season is for, so tonight was a good step in the right direction and we are hoping to keep taking steps forward.”

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Senior guard Bryce Knox ties for Dickinson State's lead scorer, going 3-for-11 from the three-point range. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

The second half showed a more determined Dickinson State, throwing up 60 shots — including charity shots from the line. The Bears would gain their largest lead by more than 20 points with 12:47 left in the period via a three-pointer courtesy of Kael Robinson to bring the game to embarrassing margins at 57-37.

From this point on, however, it clicked. The fans, coaches and players would combine to spark a moment seldom seen in such deficits. The Blue Hawks would begin slowly chipping away at a 20 point deficit. Four steals would come in the second half during a rally for the record books, followed by four successful shots beyond the arc. A few points low in the paint would see freshman John Evans bring the deficit to a mere two points with 1:12 left in the game.

Dickinson State would call a timeout with nine second left in the game and a final opportunity to either try and tie the game or go for a three-pointer and achieve the first win of the season. Selvig, eager for a team victory, strategized a three-point play that would ultimately fall short, despite a last second rebound tip for two.

“I am proud of our guys' fight. Down two, I just thought we haven't had a win all year, let's go for three. Let's go for the win,” Selvig said. “It was my fault, I had our guys a little screwed up. They weren't sure where they were supposed to be and that was on me.”

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Despite almost having twice as many turnovers at 21-13, DSU had their closest opportunity to come away with a win this season and much of the praise falls to the coaches and fans, who rallied a collective of players into a well gelled team in the second half.

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Trey Hladky avoids the screen as he continues to track the Rocky Mountain College player. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

With the victory going to Rocky Mountain College, the Blue Hawks campaign for a win in their season continues and with fan turnout at near record highs, the question isn’t a matter of if — but when.

Next Saturday the Blue Hawks open their conference play at home against Valley City State University (7-4 overall) and have not had any success on the road.

Related Topics: BASKETBALLDICKINSON
Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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