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Midgets wary of Sheyenne's shooters to open state tournament

Dan Glasser looked back at the history, and he did not like what he saw. In Dickinson High's last two opening-round tournament games -- last year at state against Fargo Davies and last week at the West Region Tournament against Bismarck St. Mary'...

Dickinson High senior guard Tanner Ouellette defends against Minot's KyJuan Johnson on Jan. 27 at DHS gymnasium. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson High senior guard Tanner Ouellette defends against Minot's KyJuan Johnson on Jan. 27 at DHS gymnasium. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)

Dan Glasser looked back at the history, and he did not like what he saw.

In Dickinson High's last two opening-round tournament games - last year at state against Fargo Davies and last week at the West Region Tournament against Bismarck St. Mary's - the team's defense was not performing well enough despite so much being on the line.

"As a coach I think I need to do something different. The last two opening-round games we've played, we gave up 91 points and 99 points," Glasser said. "So I need to, and the coaching staff need to, go back to the basics of the old saying that 'defense wins championships,' and not worry so much about scoring points, because I think we have the personnel that can do that. Last year we scored 86 in the first round of state, and we lost. It's not a formula for championship basketball, so we've been doing a lot of defensive stuff."

The No. 3-seeded Midgets (21-3) open the Class A Boys Basketball State Tournament today with an 8 p.m. (CT) matchup with West Fargo Sheyenne, the No. 2 seed from the East Region, at the Bismarck Event Center.

Excellence on the defensive end will be necessary as the Mustangs (16-8) average 73.86 points per game and shoot nearly 35 percent on three-pointers, third- and first-best in the East Region, respectively.

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"They have incredible shooters. That's the thing I notice right away," Glasser said. "They remind me a little bit of Minot - just numerous kids that can shoot the three-pointer."

Among Sheyenne's greatest threats are sophomore Christian Kuntz and seniors Chase Erickson and Josh Thiele.

"Erickson is an unbelieveable shooter. We cannot leave him open at all," Glasser said. "All three of their guards that start for them all have the ability to knock it down, and they all have the ability to get to the rim, so they're multidimensional."

Defense on the perimeter, then, will be key for the Midgets.

"We'll have to beat our man and play as a team," Dickinson senior guard Tanner Ouellette said. "If the ball moves, we all have to move at the same time. All five players have to be on the same page."

Glasser also noted that Sheyenne's primary post players, seniors Carter Bonnema and Collin Trottier, can hit outside shots as well, so that will task Dickinson senior center Jordan Meidinger with being more mobile.

"Offensively, Jordan's been unbelievable. The St. Mary's game he was 11 for 11, doesn't miss a shot. But what St. Mary's did to us on the defensive end was bring Jordan out, which made it very hard for us to defend," Glasser said. "And looking at (Sheyenne's) personnel, they have the ability to do that too. We're asking a lot from Jordan, but he can do it. ... He just has to have the aggression and confidence to be able to do it. I think he can sometimes feel uncomfortable out there because of his size, but he has so much mobility and his footwork is so good, he just needs the confidence to realize that he can go out there and guard people."

Meidinger bounced back against Mandan and Bismarck Legacy in the final two games of the West Region Tournament to post more stable defensive efforts.

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"WDA really helped introduce me to perimeter shooters, so we're trying to get me out there and closing out better, and that's what we've been working on," he said.

As Glasser said, Meidinger's offensive showing against the Saints can serve as a worthy benchmark for how aggressive he needs to be.

"I need to demand the ball more. I'm trying to get to the hoop and get some free throws," Meidinger said. "At WDA, I didn't really have that many, so I need to be more aggressive at getting the ball and going to the hoop and getting those fouls on the other team. ... It's a confidence booster when I know I can make an impact on both sides."

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