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Midgets boys basketball looks to outperform No. 4 seed at state tournament

The Dickinson High boys basketball team is headed to the state tournament as the West Region's No. 4 seed, but a seed is just a number.The Midgets (16-8) are adamant they won't let that number dictate their performance in the program's first Clas...

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Dickinson High senior forward Wyatt Kainz, left, attempts a jump shot over a Jamestown defender Jan. 15 at DHS gymnasium. (Press Photo by Parker Cotton)

The Dickinson High boys basketball team is headed to the state tournament as the West Region’s No. 4 seed, but a seed is just a number.
The Midgets (16-8) are adamant they won’t let that number dictate their performance in the program’s first Class A basketball state tournament since 2008.
“I know our kids are ready,” head coach Dan Glasser said. “They don’t look at us as a four seed at all. We could easily be the three seed with a tiebreaker, but it is what it is. These kids are just going to go there and play their butts off.”
Dickinson will face the East Region No. 1 seed, Fargo Davies, in the quarterfinals at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Bismarck Event Center.
Glasser stayed up late Sunday to begin scouting the Eagles (19-5), and the first thing he came to notice was their pace of play. Davies averages just under 81 points a game while allowing 66.
“They’re No. 1 in their conference in scoring and No. 9 in defensive scoring,” Glasser said, “so they like to push the ball. They don’t use too much of the shot clock.”
Glasser said Davies is not without a weakness, though.
“It seems like the teams that have patience on offense against them, (the Eagles) will break down defensively,” he said. “They’re No. 1 in their league in steals also, so they’re taking away the ball when (opponents) shouldn’t be giving it up. That has a lot to do with their scoring. They get those 15 steals, and they end up with those two points on the other end pretty quick. We’re going to have to take care of the ball and use the shot clock.”

Dickinson guard Aanen Moody, who enters the state tournament as Class A’s leading scorer at 31.5 points per game, said he thinks the Midgets’ style of play will benefit them on Thursday.
“It doesn’t seem like they have the defensive intensity like the Minots, the Centurys, even the Mandans and Bismarck Highs do, and I think that’ll play a major role,” Moody said.
Moody said the Midgets - and the West Region as a whole - play in a manner that might be difficult for the Eagles to contend with.
“I think the West is a little more gritty and grimey than the East,” he said. “The East likes to play run-and-gun basketball. Even the stats show that most of the games are in the 90s in the East, and in the West, scoring 65 points is enough to win. There’s two really different basketball teams coming together, and I think how we play goes to our advantage.”
Wyatt Kainz, who hit the go-ahead free throws in Dickinson’s final West Region game against Mandan on Saturday, said Dickinson is set to play beyond what its seed suggests because of how dangerous the Midgets can be if everybody executes.
“Considering we have a 7-footer (Jordan Meidinger) in the middle and the leading scorer in the state on the arc, they can’t double both of them,” Kainz said. “They’re going to have to choose which one they focus on and just go from there. If they’re going to double Aanen, we’ll have to slip the screens, and if they double Jordan, we’re going to have to relocate and find the open areas of the court so he can dish it out to us.”
The pace of play figures to be the wild card against Davies, so Glasser said the team will have to remain level-headed and under control.
“Discipline is the word of the week,” he said. “Are we going to be able to pass up a shot we would usually take to use some more clock and try to get a better shot? That’s going to be the test for us.”
Moody said the team has remained mindful that a few rough stretches in a row could mean the end of its season, and the Midgets aren’t ready to stop playing yet.
“Big-time players make big-time plays, and we have some big-time players. Hopefully we can make those big-time plays that allow you to win a championship,” he said. “We’re confident that we can do some damage on our side of the bracket.”
All in the family
Moody’s older brother Nate was a sophomore on Dickinson’s 2008 team that placed third at the state tournament, and he was there in person last week in Bismarck to see the Midgets earn their first trip since.
“It was special,” Nate said. “I know how much hard work (Aanen) puts in, and the team too, with a new coach. I know it’s Dan’s first year, and I hear from Aanen about how much work they put in on and off the court. It seems like they really deserve it.”
Nate graduated from Dickinson High in 2011 and went on to play on North Dakota State’s five FCS national championship teams.
Aanen said his brother has helped him a lot in his athletic career, and preparing for the state tournament has been no different.
“He just said, ‘Don’t be nervous. It’s just another basketball game,’ so that’s how I’m going to look at it,” Aanen said. “I’ve learned a lot from him about how to be poised, especially in late-game situations, not letting things get to me, just playing my game.”
Aanen was grateful Nate was able to make it to Bismarck for the West Region tournament.
“It was really special to him, I could tell,” Aanen said. “He was really fired up, and he’s not really a person to do that. It meant a lot to me that he was excited for my success.”
Prior to the West Region Tournament, Nate had seen the Midgets play three times this season, a win over Bismarck Legacy at home Feb. 5 and road losses to Jamestown (97-85, Feb. 20) and Bismarck Century (73-25, Feb. 11).
“Two of those three games weren’t great, but it seemed like they picked up their defensive intensity and hustle in those tournament games,” Nate said. “It seemed like they had a lot of resolve. It was cool to see them get to state.”

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