Miners tunnel way to State tourney with resounding performance
Bowman County falls to Beulah in Region 7, Class B tournament, finals showcased solid defense and second-chance opportunities.
HAZEN – The age-old question of “whether a good offense is the best defense” gets answered all the time. One of those times came on Thursday evening in the Region 7 Class B Boys Basketball Tournament, as the Beulah Miners tunneled their way to a spot in the state tournament with a resounding win over Bowman County, 65-55.
In the game, Buelah was able to stifle the fast-break Bulldogs attack, but Bowman County also was limited by cold shooting from both the field and the free-throw line. The team was never able to get on track to scoring in its typical buckets, and meanwhile the Miners took advantage of second-chance opportunities and solid interior-post-play to stutter BCHS’s high-flying offense.
Bowman County scored 88 points in the thrilling opening win over Killdeer, and 75 more in the semifinal win over Hazen. In both those games, offensive stars Bohden and Bishop Duffield averaged 24.5 and 32.5 points, respectively. But in Tuesday’s loss, the two combined for 36 points, respectable numbers but well off the mark of what was needed in the finals for the Bulldogs.
But more telling were the shooting numbers for the entire team in the final, with BCHS notching only 38.2-percent in overall shooting, on 21-of-55 from the field, and an abysmal 50-percent from the line, at 5-of-10. Oddly enough, the Miners weren’t lighting it up from the field, shooting only 36-percent, but the team drained 71.9-percent of its abundant shots from the charity stripe, at 23-of-32 on the night.
“It’s kind of hard to be really motivated trying to get in there and nothing seems to be falling; that might have been the worst-shooting night we’ve had all year,” Bowman County head coach Ronnie Stewart said. “I think Beulah shot really well down low, they got the ball down there and we got in foul trouble.
"So, they jumped out to an early lead and we got a lot of calls against us and they took advantage, but we didn’t make many shots.”
There almost was trouble from the outset for the Bulldogs (20-3), who were outscored by 9-2 in the opening minutes of the contest, as they closed the first period with a slight 13-9 deficit. But the mountain of points Beulah scored in the second quarter ran the danger of the Miners taking home the trophy in the first half. BHS outscored Bowman County 20-6n in the second period, on 39.3-percent shooting from the field in the first half, but also controlled the boards with a 26-to-14 advantage – 10 of them offensive.
In the first half, Bishop Duffield scored 9 for BCHS, but only three other Bulldogs were able to register but a single field-goal apiece. Beulah closed out the first half on a 19-4 run that nearly broke the spirit of the Bulldogs, with senior power forward Tarren Lawson scoring 10 of his 11 total points in the opening 16 minutes of play.
The third quarter was significantly better for Bowman County, as the two teams battled it out during the period. Bohden Duffield finally got in the scorebook with 6 points and Roman Fossum drained a pair of 3-pointers to help close the gap. The hot outside shooting continued for the Miners, however, as Beulah notched a pair of 3-pointers themselves, courtesy of Trace Beauchamp – who ended up with a team-high 18 points.
The fourth quarter saw the Bulldogs clawing their way back into the contest, with tremendous output coming from Bishop Duffield, who took the team onto his shoulders and scored 13 of his game-high 23 points in the final eight minutes. Bohden Duffield drained a pair of tres in the fourth quarter to keep things close, and it turned out to be the only quarter the Bulldogs outscored the Miners in, at a 23-18 advantage.
It was too-little, too-late, though, because BCHS was in the double-bonus for the final quarter and Beulah took advantage of the circumstances. The Miners scored their final 9 points from the line, and the conversion of those points not only slowed down the game, but helped keep Bowman County’s attack down to a minimum.
“For us to even get it back to a 6- or 7-point deficit at one point was a great effort by our boys,” Stewart said. “They had 34 free-throw attempts and we had 10, so that right there was the difference in the game.
“I just want to make sure we get a shout-out to our two seniors (Samuel Andrews and Grant Kees) because those two guys have just been great role models to our younger classmen and our whole school; they represent Bowman County and they make us all proud,” Stewart added.
With the win, Beulah (20-4) was able to avenge a 70-55 loss to Bowman County on Feb. 11 and unseat the number-one-ranked team heading into the tournament, and places the Miners in the State Tournament, which will be at Bismarck Event Center from March 16 to 18. The team goes into that tournament ranked #3, and its first opponent will be Medina-Pingree/Buchanan.
“I also want to give a shout-out to (Beulah head coach) Jeremy Brandt, he is a great coach and he got his 500th win this year,” Stewart said. “He does deserve that coach-of-the-year award and I hope they do well and I wish them nothing but the best at the State Tournament.”