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New England Tigers boys basketball beats Heart River Cougars in overtime thriller

Four quarters wasn't enough time to settle the shootout. New England needed an extra four minutes to complete a 69-67 comeback against Heart River in the semifinals of the Roughrider Tournament at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center.After j...

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New England sophomore Denit Sorenson, left, dribbles the basketball against Heart River sophomore Trace Jacobson Thursday at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Press Photo by Parker Cotton)

Four quarters wasn’t enough time to settle the shootout.
New England needed an extra four minutes to complete a 69-67 comeback against Heart River in the semifinals of the Roughrider Tournament at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
After jockeying for the lead throughout the fourth quarter, New England junior Cody Holt hit a pair of free throws to give his team a 55-53 advantage. Heart River’s Jayden Krivoruchka hit a jumper with a minute left to tie it at 55, and after the Tigers went scoreless on their end, Cougars junior Zane Besler’s shot at the rim at the buzzer went begging, sending the game to overtime.
True to form, the teams battled in the extra period as well, but the Tigers outscored Heart River 14-12 in the final four minutes.
“My gosh, good game to watch. Good game to be a part of,” New England head coach Shawn Flaherty said. “Both teams played extremely hard. We were just fortunate to make a few more plays.”
New England moves on to the Roughrider championship game against Dickinson Trinity at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
The notion that the game would even need overtime, or that the Tigers would need to mount a second-half comeback, would have been rejected in the opening minutes, however.
New England jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter but saw the Cougars roar back to take a seven-point halftime lead. Heart River would hold the advantage for much of the second half as well, but the Tigers slowly chipped away. 

“I thought the kids stayed tough,” Flaherty said. “They worked hard defensively.”
To their credit, the Tigers worked just as hard on offense.
Senior Brady Bender scored 26 points on 10 of 18 shooting, and he was backed up by Holt’s double-double of 17 points and 19 rebounds. Sophomore Denit Sorenson poured in 26 points as well.
“I was really pleased with Denit Sorenson’s performance,” Flaherty said. “He played a really good second half. Being just a sophomore, he’s starting to gain some confidence right now, and it’s good that he can gain some confidence in a game like this.”
Bender said the well-rounded effort on offense was nice to see.
“Defensively, this season, we’ve been playing well,” Bender said, “but it’s the offense where we haven’t been executing as much. When we have three players with almost 20 points, that’s excellent to see. We were sharing the ball a lot.”
Heart River junior Dion Madler kept the Cougars in it, matching Bender almost shot-for-shot through the final quarter and overtime. Madler finished with a game-high 28 points and paired them with nine rebounds.
“Madler hit some big shots,” Bender said. “That’s a great team that we just beat. I’m really happy with the outcome.”
No other Heart River player scored in double figures. Besler was the closest with seven.
The Cougars will battle Killdeer for third place at 4 p.m. Saturday.

NE 10 14 14 17 14
HR 10 21 12 12 12
NE: Wolf 2, Stang 1, Bender 26, Sorenson 23, Holt 17.
HR: Dion Madler 28, Colton Boltz 1, Seath Keator 6, Trace Jacobson 5, Tristen Schuhrke 5, Zane Besler 7, Jayden Krivoruchka 4, Tayden Jacobson 5, Eldon Privratsky 6.
3-pointers: NE 3 (Bender 3), HR 5 (Madler 3, Jacobson 1, Jacobson 1). Free throws: NE 14-29, HR 22-31. Total fouls: NE 25, HR 22. Fouled out: NE Stang 5, HR Schuhrke, Besler, Privratsky. Rebounds: NE 41 (Holt 19), HR 36 (Madler 9). Assists: NE 9 (Stang 3), HR 6 (Two tied for 2). Steals: NE 18 (Bender 6), HR 16 (Schuhrke 3). Blocks: NE 1 (Holt 1), HR 1 (Jessie Canode 1). Turnovers: NE 19, HR 18.

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