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Dickinson falls to Mandan in closely contested WDA game

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Dickinson's season comes to an end in the WDA tournament after falling to Mandan on Saturday, March 5.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

BISMARCK — On the cusp of achieving their season’s goal of qualifying for state, Dickinson fell to Mandan on the final day of the Western Dakota Association tournament on Saturday evening — sealing the their fate and closing the book on their season.

The bitterly fought game witnessed five lead changes before ending with the high scoring and narrow margin of 75-71 in favor of the Braves.

Despite the season ending loss, the Midgets and junior guard Alex Dvorak made it clear that the experience will only strengthen them for next season.

“We gotta get back here,” Dvorak said. ”It just really hurts going out like that when that was our goal this season. We were capable of it, but it just didn't happen. We didn't do what we needed to do, but we’ll be back.”

Dickinson entered the game with senior Grant Bittner, a starter, out with injury occurring during the Midget’s game against Jamestown the day prior. Misfortunes continued on court as sophomore guard Damon Glasser would limp his way to the bench early in the second half. Senior guard Elijah Pavlicek nearly missed the game struggling with an unsettled stomach that began the morning of the game.

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Elijah Pavlicek two points from the foul-line put Dickinson at a one-point deficit going into the second half.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“It just stinks going into your last game and all of them were unavailable,” Dickinson’s head coach Dan Glasser said. “I feel so bad for Grant Bittner. There's a kid who has played and loved basketball his whole life and he is just not able to compete in his very last high school game. That is what hurts the most. Losses are easy to get over, but it's tough when you are going to lose four great kids(seniors).”

Dickinson’s tenacity started early, after losing the tipoff to Mandan Dvorak would quickly capture his first steal and convert on the opposite end to give Dickinson the lead out the gate.

The largest lead of the first half would be 8 points, at 30-22, but Dickinson would remain close throughout with their opponents courtesy of threes and timely trips to the foul-line.

Dvorak’s 3-for-4 from beyond the arc coupled with senior Elijah Pavlicek’s clutch performance from the charity stripe would make it a one-point game at half.

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Alex Dvorak(1) made three 3-pointers in the first half against Mandan on Saturday, March 5.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

The teams would return to court to start the second half at 36-35 in favor of the Braves, but Dickinson would take the lead in the first three minutes courtesy of a pair of 3-pointers by Glasser and senior guard Britton Cranston to bring the score to 40-38.

Dickinson found themself in foul trouble early in the second, as senior forward Isaac Daley would pick up back-to-back personal fouls before taking the bench.

“It's tough,” Glasser said. “Obviously you have to deal with Mandan’s Grubb down low and we match up well with him when Isaac is in the game.”

The waning minutes of the third would see the largest lead of the game after the Midgets went on a 10-2 run with 12 minutes left.

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Mandan wouldn’t go silently into the night and responded with a 13-2 run of their own with under three minutes remaining in the period, a run that would see Glasser come out due to his injury.

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Senior Isaac Daley comes back in the game in the second half to provide much needed support at the post against Mandan on Saturday, March 5.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

With Glasser out, Dickinson would bring Daley back on the court in a move that would make an immediate impact as he would help lead the team to another lead change to re-establish a Midget lead at 57-53 at the end of the third.

Junior guard Drew Biel would put up two threes, each of which tied the game, before Mandan’s back-to-back steals and long range shots would take the final lead of the game.

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Drew Biel was 3-for-4 at three-point range against Mandan on Saturday, March 5.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

With the Braves in double bonus they would hold their lead for the remainder courtesy of accurate shots from the charity stripe to close the game at 75-71.

“I just think it is tough for the kids to adjust in a postseason tournament when it is ref differently than it has been refed the whole season," Glasser said. “We were really successful when we worked the ball around. We were able to get some good penetration and get some guys open, but I think overall we didn't match their physicality.”

Dvorak and Cranston’s strong performances earned All-WDA team spots, with Dvorak finishing the game with 22 points and five boards. Cranston led the team in rebounds with 8 and put up a solid 14 points on the night.

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Senior guard Britton Cranston earned a spot on the All-WDA team.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“I tried setting myself as a role model for all these guys,” Cranston said. “I think they will get back here next year. They are all already offensively talented. If they just get down and play some good defense they will be good.”

It was a hard way to end the season but coach Glasser made sure that each of his players knew how thankful he was for their commitment to Dickinson’s program and to each other.

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“That is all I can say. One of the most enjoyable seasons I have had as a coach,” Glasser said. “I just wanted one more week, but they are a special group and hopefully the younger guys can take what those four great leaders have taught them this year and carry on that tradition that we started here.”

Boxscores:

First HalfSecond HalfFinal
Mandan363975
Dickinson353671

Mandan: Aaron Grubb 23, Tahrye Frank 16, Luke Darras 12, Karsyn Jablonski 8, Lucas Burgum 5, Nathan Gerding 11; Dickinson: Alex Dvorak 22, Isaac Daley 12, Britton Cranston 14, Drew Biel, Damon Glasser 9, Tyrese Annace 3, Elijah Pavlicek 2

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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