Midgets win Class A third place game over Fargo Davies
BISMARCK -- The story goes, according to Dickinson High head coach Dan Glasser, that after the Midgets' heartbreaking loss in the Class A state tournament semifinals on Friday evening, senior guard Cam Jorda walked to the team bus and asked about...
BISMARCK - The story goes, according to Dickinson High head coach Dan Glasser, that after the Midgets' heartbreaking loss in the Class A state tournament semifinals on Friday evening, senior guard Cam Jorda walked to the team bus and asked about his defensive assignment for what would be the final game of his career.
"We were walking out of here, and he said, 'Do I get to guard Veit?'" Glasser recalled. "He was thinking about that after a tough loss. He knows how good (Veit) is, and he knows how important he is to their team, and that's Cam, that's the challenge that he wanted."
After the Midgets were eliminated in the semifinals by Bismarck Century, they were matched up in Saturday's third place game with Fargo Davies, the team that handed Dickinson an overtime loss in the quarterfinals of last season's state tournament.
For Jorda, this meant another shot at the Eagles and another shot at Matt Veit, a guard who dropped 28 points on the Midgets last season.
"Last year we saw Davies in the first round of state, and that whole week prior to that tournament, I just watched him and I prepared for him. And we lost that game in overtime, and I never forgot that," Jorda said. "When I heard we were getting Fargo Davies again, I got pretty excited. I wanted a chance to guard him again."
Jorda got his redemption: Veit, a senior, was limited to 4 of 12 shooting for 11 points with four turnovers.
And so did the Midgets: Dickinson held off Davies long enough down the stretch to claim a 71-65 victory at the Bismarck Event Center to take third place in the Class A boys state basketball tournament.
"That was Cam's best game all year. He saved the best for last," Glasser said. "He did an excellent job for us, and I think that was the difference in the game."
Teammates were quick to agree.
"If there was an all-defense team for all-state, Cameron would be at the top of the list," fellow senior guard Aanen Moody said. "He's so vital for this team, and without him, we wouldn't be here. Without Eli, we wouldn't be here. With Eli, if he would have played today, we would have won by 20, but that shows how good of a group we are and how well we play together."
The Midgets (23-4), playing without senior forward Eli Jung after he sustained a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his knee in the loss to Century, fell into an early deficit. The East Region No. 1 seed Eagles, buoyed by early three-pointers from Jaden Klabo and Braeton Motschenbacher, built a 19-7 advantage just about six minutes into the game.
"We looked a little lost," Jung said, giving his best coach impersonation. "Guys just weren't playing the way they normally play. ... But we just flipped a switch and starting digging ourselves out of the hole."
A three-pointer from Tanner Ouellette and a dunk from Jordan Meidinger tied the game at 26 with several minutes still to play in the first half. From then until the intermission, the teams traded the lead until Moody hit a jumper and Chase Ballard scored five straight points for a little breathing room.
Dickinson, the No. 3 seed from the West Region, led 43-37 at the break.
The teams each scored 28 in the second half, and Davies never got closer than two points.
The win was a special one, allowing Dickinson's 10 seniors to end their career with a victory; all of them saw the floor, even if just for a moment. Even Jung was introduced with the starting lineups and was technically credited with three seconds of playing time before a ceremonial stoppage in play allowed Shawn Steffan to sub in for him.
"Shawn stepped up really good in his position, but for (Jung) to not be able to play that last game with us, it hurt a lot," Jorda said. "He was with us on the bench, and he was coaching the whole time. He was there, just not on the court."
Meidinger added: "It was a win that we really wanted, not only for Eli, but for our coaches and what they do for us all the time, always making us better. And for our families, always pushing us."
The decision to not play was a difficult one, but Jung did not want to run the risk of exacerbating the injury.
"To not play in my last game, and I've been with these guys forever, it was really tough to watch them go out there and battle," he said, fighting back emotions. "I wanted to be out there with them, even though I can't."
Meidinger shot just 2 of 8 from the field and finished with nine points, but he added 14 rebounds and six blocks, arguably besting Davies' senior center Jake Paper, who had 26 points and 12 rebounds a year ago but was limited to just 11 and seven, respectively, in the rematch.
"I think Jordan got the better of him today. Last year I definitely would have said Paper won that battle," Glasser said. "He got a couple on him, but overall I think Jordan did a good job on him. It's been a process for Jordan all year on the defensive end. He can be such a presence, but sometimes he can be flat-footed, but tonight he really did a good job of moving his feet and sticking with him."
Jorda, aside from his defensive efforts, scored four points and had nine rebounds with three blocks of his own. Ouellette hit a trio of threes for nine points, Steffan scored five, Ballard added seven and Kaiden Steckler scored one basket.
Along with Paper and Veit, two other Eagles (25-2) scored in double-figures: Mitch Larson scored 10 before fouling out, and Motschenbacher supplied 12.
The only Midget in double-figures was Moody, who scored 35 points on 13 of 21 shooting with four three-pointers. In the final game of his career, he seemed determined to not let Dickinson's lead slip away.
Davies' Andy Baer hit a layup with 12 minutes to go to make it 51-49, and Moody answered with a layup of his own. Veit hit a pair of free throws to make it 57-55 with 5:56 left, and Moody hit a jumper on the other end. And when Paper hit a three-pointer to make it a six-point game, at 69-63, with 36.9 seconds remaining, Moody sank two free throws to salt the game away.
"We decided to run a couple plays for him (down the stretch), and he made the shots," Glasser said. "It's going to be weird not having that next year. Every time you needed a big bucket, you call on number five and he comes through. There's a reason he's the all-time leading scorer in the state. He's a phenomenal, phenomenal basketball player. You knew it was his last game, so I kind of expected that from him."
Moody finishes his career with the unofficial Class A all-time scoring record of 2,192 points. He, along with Meidinger, was named to the all-tournament team, and Moody was named the Class A Senior Athlete of the Year.
Moody, like his teammates, was visibly emotional after emerging from the locker room after the game.
"On one hand, you're happy that you won the game, but then again I'm not going to be able to be with these guys or with Coach Glasser (going forward)," Moody said. "The relationship that we've built, it feels like it's coming to an end, but I know all of us are so tight-knit that I know we're going to have each other's backs after this. It's not just basketball season. I can tell these are going to be my best friends for life."
Dickinson High 71, Fargo Davies 65
DHS: Aanen Moody 35, Tanner Ouellette 9, Jordan Meidinger 9, Chase Ballard 7, Shawn Steffan 5, Cam Jorda 4, Kaiden Steckler 2.
FD: Braeton Motschenbacher 12, Jake Paper 11, Matt Veit 11, Mitch Larson 10, Andy Baer 7, Jaden Klabo 6, Parker Stenseth 4, Shane Anderson 2, Tyrell Setness 2.
Halftime: DHS 43-37. 3-pointers: DHS 8-23 (Moody 4-11, Ouellette 3-5, Steffan 1-4, Ballard 0-2, Jorda 0-1), FD 7-22 (Paper 1-3, Motschenbacher 2-6, Larson 2-4, Veit 0-2, Klabo 2-4, Anderson 0-1, Harrison Thorn 0-1). Free throws: DHS 17-24, FD 4-8. Total fouls: DHS 14, FD 23. Fouled out: FD, Larson. Rebounds: DHS 37 (Meidinger 14), FD 35 (Paper 7). Assists: DHS 6 (Meidinger 3), FD 16 (Veit 3). Steals: DHS 4 (Steffan 3), FD 4 (four players, 1). Blocks: DHS 11 (Meidinger 6), FD 4 (Paper 2). Turnovers: DHS 18, FD 18.