New England Tigers keep Region 7 title defense alive with upset win over Hettinger-Scranton

A shootout sounded better than a blowout, so Brady Bender kept shooting. The New England senior guard poured in 37 points to lift the No. 6-seeded Tigers to a thrilling come-from-behind 74-70 victory over Hettinger-Scranton Monday evening in the ...

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New England senior guard Brady Bender, right, soars past Hettinger-Scranton senior forward Sam Kludt on his way to a layup in their Region 7 Tournament quarterfinal game Monday at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Press Photo by Parker Cotton)

A shootout sounded better than a blowout, so Brady Bender kept shooting.

The New England senior guard poured in 37 points to lift the No. 6-seeded Tigers to a thrilling come-from-behind 74-70 victory over Hettinger-Scranton Monday evening in the quarterfinals of the Region 7 boys basketball tournament at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

“The game was really up and down, really physical. We were really going after each other,” Bender said. “I was lucky enough to see my shots falling and got to the free-throw line. We all stepped up there. It was one fun game, that’s for sure.”

On the other side, Hettinger-Scranton senior guard Hayden Sadowsky scored 32 points, trying desperately to help the third-seeded Night Hawks (14-7) cling to the lead they had built early.

Bender finished 10 of 20 from the field with two 3-pointers and a 15 for 20 performance from the foul line. Sadowsky shot 8 of 17 from the floor with five 3-pointers and an 11 for 15 showing at the line.


“It’s incredible. I’ve been playing with (Sadowsky) since I was in third grade,” Bender said, “and it’s been like that a lot. You see he’s going to make a play, and you just want to make a bigger play.”

The win advances New England (13-8) to the semifinals, where it will face No. 2-seeded Dickinson Trinity at 6:30 p.m. today.

The Tigers trailed by five entering the fourth quarter, but a 32-point final period secured the victory.

“You have to give New England all the credit in the world,” Hettinger-Scranton head coach Jeremy Dietchman said. “They battled. They really battled, man.”

After New England junior Cody Holt tied the game at 57 with a shot inside, senior guard Hunter Wolf scored his only points of the game - a 3-pointer to give the Tigers the lead for good with 3 minutes, 12 seconds to play. Holt added two more buckets - sandwiched around technical free throws from Bender after Dietchman argued an over-the-back no-call - to give New England a 66-57 lead.

“Sadowsky would respond, Brady would respond. I think both teams played their hearts out,” said New England head coach Shawn Flaherty, who was whistled for a technical of his own in the first quarter. “We were fortunate enough to make some plays in a stretch in the fourth quarter there to pull ahead. That’s what it really came down to. Our kids did a great job of battling back. I’m really, really proud of our kids.”

The Tigers trailed 20-4 in the first quarter before they had time to blink because the Night Hawks came out firing. The Night Hawks’ Sam Kludt hit a short sideline jumper and a 3-pointer, and Sadowsky followed with a pair of 3-pointers of his own in the first 2 minutes.

After Flaherty earned his technical, Sadowsky hit a pair of free throws and Hettinger-Scranton got back-to-back buckets from Brandon Pierce and Isaiah Kludt along with three more Sadowsky free throws.


Bender scored all 10 of New England’s first quarter points. The Tigers would whittle the Night Hawks’ lead down to 24-22 in the second quarter, but Hettinger-Scranton closed the half on a 10-1 run.
“It was 17-2 3 minutes into the game, coach got a technical, I look at the clock,” Bender said, “and I say to the boys, ‘We never give up. We still have three and a half quarters left.’ That’s what we’ve been really good at doing, overcoming adversity, and that’s what we did right there.”
New England took a brief 40-38 lead in the third quarter on a layup from Denit Sorenson, but Hettinger-Scranton’s Thomas Maychrzak hit a 3-pointer to take it right back, and the Night Hawks built their lead back up to five by the end of the period.
Holt did most of his damage in the second half, finishing with 22 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 19.5 seconds left.
“When that guy gets down low and fights for position, you can’t guard him,” Bender said. “That’s 6-foot-8 in Class B North Dakota. That’s a tough player.”
For a time, the Night Hawks had Holt neutralized, but foul trouble prevented them from keeping him completely in check.
“The boys in the first half did exactly what we wanted to do to defend him,” Dietchman said. “We had a guy fronting him and a guy behind him the whole time, and it just broke down in the second half with us getting tired, getting in foul trouble and him gaining strength.”
Isaiah and Sam added 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the Night Hawks. Sorenson added nine for the Tigers.
New England now has a third shot at Dickinson Trinity after suffering a 59-39 loss to the Titans in the Roughrider Tournament and a 57-33 loss in Region 7 regular season play.
“That rivalry is always pretty big,” Bender said. “We’re going to come out swinging.”

NE 10 23 42 74
HS 22 34 47 70
NE: Brady Bender 37, Cody Holt 22, Denit Sorenson 9, Carter Stang 3, Hunter Wolf 3.
HS: Hayden Sadowsky 32, Isaiah Kludt 12, Sam Kludt 11, Brandon Pierce 6, Thomas Maychrzak 6, Tanner Sanford 2, Paxton Pierce 1.
3-pointers: NE 4 (Bender 2, Stang 1, Wolf 1), HS 9 (Sadowsky 5, Maychrzak 2, I. Kludt 1, S. Kludt 1). Free throws: NE 20-27, HS 17-23. Total fouls: NE 24, HS 22. Fouled out: NE, Wolf, Holt; HS, B. Pierce, Sanford. Technical fouls: NE, coach; HS, coach. Rebounds: NE 31 (Holt 11), HS 30 (Sadowsky 6). Assists: NE 7 (Bender 3), HS 5 (I. Kludt 3). Steals: NE 14 (2 tied, 1), HS 20 (I. Kludt 5). Blocks: NE 1 (Holt 1), HS 2 (S. Kludt 2). Turnovers: NE 22, HS 16.

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