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Seniors showcased in Night Hawks 3rd place victory

HAZEN -- Nine seniors were on the floor to start the Region 7 tournament third place game between the Hettinger-Scranton and Heart River boys basketball teams. With both teams knowing a first place finish was no longer an option, the squads let t...

Hettinger-Scranton junior Jaxon Mellmer takes a shot away from Heart River senior Jayden Krivoruchka on Saturday, March 10 at Bison Arena. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Hettinger-Scranton junior Jaxon Mellmer takes a shot away from Heart River senior Jayden Krivoruchka on Saturday, March 10 at Bison Arena. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

HAZEN - Nine seniors were on the floor to start the Region 7 tournament third place game between the Hettinger-Scranton and Heart River boys basketball teams. With both teams knowing a first place finish was no longer an option, the squads let the graduating class run the show in the final game of the season.

The Night Hawks dominated the Cougars on every inch of the court, capping their season with a 74-46 win earning third place in the tournament on Saturday, March 10 at Bison Arena.

"We talked about it in the locker room, it was about those seniors and what they wanted to do," Hettinger-Scranton head coach Jeremy Dietchman said. "We wanted to get up and down, show off their athleticism and show what we've worked on for four years. I'm just really proud."

For Heart River, senior Logan McMahen got a starting spot, something not so typical for the 6-foot-2 forward. He ended the night with four points and four defensive rebounds.

"I thought Logan did a great job," Heart River head coach Greg Pruitt said. "The part about basketball is you can only put five people on the court at once and there's always underclassmen that deserve to be on, but we wanted to give Logan the start to give him our appreciation and he did a great job doing it."

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Down 16 points with five minutes to go in the opening half, the Cougars closed the gap to 30-22 with a pair of free throws from Jett Mattson and back-to-back scores from junior Cauy Shypkoski.

Hettinger-Scranton pulled away again though, ending the half on a 7-2 run for a 37-24 advantage at the break.

"Games like that are all about the seniors," Pruitt said. "We weren't so much focused on a win. Not saying we didn't try because we definitely tried, but it was really about getting the seniors on the court and letting them have their one last moment down the court. We really didn't do a lot of scheme that we normally do to prep for a game like that. The biggest part was, I'm proud of the seniors and the way they played."

Senior Jesse Canode led Heart River with 14 points, followed by seniors Jayden Krivoruchka and Caleb Chruszch who netted eight and six, respectively.

Senior Andrew Hodell finished with three points and Trace Jacobson earned two.

The Cougars shot 25 percent from the field on the day and weren't doing themselves any favors by missing second chance opportunities, despite earning 13 offensive boards. Meanwhile, the Night Hawks collected 26 rebounds under the Heart River net.

The Hettinger-Scranton defense was a force on the floor, forcing 16 turnovers, earning 10 steals and five blocks, led by the long arms of senior Carson Schalesky who had a team-high four blocks and junior Tate Resner who swiped the ball three times.

"I'm just proud of the ball pressure we put on," Dietchman said. "We did a few different things and we were able to pressure the basketball and turn them over and that's what we've been doing for four years.

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Senior Jarad Mattis led the Night Hawks on the other side of the floor, going 3-of-4 from behind the three point arc to lead all scorers with 19 points. Junior Jaxon Mellmer, freshman Jeran Anderson and Schalesky followed with 10 points. Senior Isaiah Kludt ended the night with nine points while junior Tate Resner contributed eight.

"We just executed really well," Kludt said. "We knew it was our last time to be on the court. All the seniors, we just did it for each other. We kept that in the back of our minds and we just played our best."

Mellmer got hot in the third, stealing the ball from Heart River in two consecutive possessions and scoring five straight points with a 3-pointer followed by a jumper near the midpoint of the quarter. He aided the Night Hawks in shooting 43.9 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from downtown.

"I think our guys were relaxed. There was a lot of emotion in last nights game and we wanted to focus on just coming out loose," Dietchman said. "That's where we had the edge, we just played loose."

As the minutes ticked down to the final buzzer and the Night Hawks maintained a lead as large as 30, both coaches began to pull the seniors and put in younger faces, as a changing of the guard.

"It was sad," Kludt said of stepping off the floor for the final time. "But looking back I had a lot of fun. We all had great careers, so there's nothing to be ashamed of."

Results Saturday

Hettinger-Scranton 74, Heart River 46

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HS 15 22 17 20

HR 8 16 11 11

HS: Jarad Mattis 19, Jaxon Mellmer 10, Jeran Anderson 10, Carson Schalesky 10, Isaiah Kludt 9, Tate Resner 8, Brett Christopherson 5, Gabriel Eaton 1.

HR: Jesse Canode 14, Jayden Krivoruchka 8, Caleb Chruszch 6, Logan McMahen 4, Cauy Shypkoski 4, Andrew Hodell 3, Jett Mattson 3, Trace Jacobson 2, Preston Walter 2.

3-pointers: HS 8-17 (Mattis 3-4), HR 2-10 (Canode 1-1). Free throws: HS 16-21, HR 20-27. Total fouls: HS 21 HR 19. Fouled out: HS Resner. Rebounds: HS 34 (Schalesky 8), HR 39 (Canode 8). Assists: HS 13 (Mattis 4), HR 4 (Jacobson 1). Steals: HS 10 (Resner 3), HR 1 (McMahen). Blocks: HS 5 (Schalesky 4), HR 1 (Chruszch). Turnovers: HS 4, HR 16. Records: HS 19-5, HR 12-13.

Hettinger-Scranton senior Isaiah Kludt takes a shot from behind the arc against Heart River in the Region 7 third place game on Saturday, March 10 at Bison Arena. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Hettinger-Scranton senior Isaiah Kludt takes a shot from behind the arc against Heart River in the Region 7 third place game on Saturday, March 10 at Bison Arena. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

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