Tigers drop Wildfire
BOWMAN -- New England junior point guard Clarence Binstock has been playing for the Tigers' boys basketball team since his eighth-grade year On Saturday night, Binstock willed his team to their first District 13 championship game since he was in ...
BOWMAN -- New England junior point guard Clarence Binstock has been playing for the Tigers' boys basketball team since his eighth-grade year
On Saturday night, Binstock willed his team to their first District 13 championship game since he was in the fourth grade.
Binstock led the way with 26 points and 10 assists as the No. 5 seed Tigers knocked off top-seeded Mott-Regent 80-71 in the semifinals of the District 13 tournament on Saturday night at Solberg Gymnasium.
New England hasn't won a district title since 2004 and hadn't qualified for the region tournament since 2005.
"It feels good," Binstock said. "We haven't been there for a while. It feels good to break through."
Binstock erupted late in the third quarter and helped the Tigers (15-6) swing the momentum completely in their direction.
He made back-to-back 3-pointers from the opposite corners, had a nifty assist with a bounce pass to senior Mark Frank for a basket in transition, rattled in another 3 from the top of the key 30 seconds later and forced a trip to the free-throw line where he buried both shots to give the Tigers a 60-51 lead going into the fourth quarter.
"Clarence was absolutely, 100 percent a leader. That's what he did tonight, he led," New England head coach Luke Powers said. "When he wasn't knocking down shots, he was handing out 10 assists. It's what I expect him to do and it's what he did."
The Tigers now have a day to prepare for their fourth meeting of the season with Heart River, the No. 6 seed who blew past No. 2 seed Bowman County 49-27 in the other semifinal game. New England won two of the previous three games.
"It's going to be a dogfight," Binstock said.
Mott-Regent, meanwhile, fell victim to what has become somewhat of a cursed seed in District 13.
Three of the past four years, the No. 1 team coming into the tournament has lost in the semifinals. The Wildfire will face No. 3 seed Beach in a region-qualifier game at 6 p.m. Monday.
It's not like the Wildfire (16-3) didn't come ready to play Saturday either.
They led 19-17 after a hectic first quarter and pushed that to 27-17 only 1:12 into the second quarter after sophomore guard Taylor Zentner came off the bench and hit a 3-pointer and converted a three-point play.
New England began chipping away, however, and outscored Mott-Regent 9-3 in the final 2:15 of the second to cut the Wildfire's lead to 37-33 at halftime.
It was all New England after halftime.
The Tigers shot 13 of 20 from the field in the second half and 16 of 20 from the free-throw line. They were 9 of 13 from beyond the 3-point line in the game.
Binstock, who was 12 of 14 from the line and 4 of 5 from 3-point range, led the surge that turned a 49-47 Mott-Regent edge into a New England lead that got as big as 76-64 late in the fourth quarter.
Kaine Hanson had 19 points and five rebounds for the Tigers and Nick Wolf was big again, too, chipping in 13 points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals.
"That was a battle of two halves. They got the better half," Mott-Regent head coach Wayne Heckaman said. "They fired it up in the third quarter."
Junior center Nate Fries kept the Wildfire in it as New England began pulling away in the fourth quarter.
Fries finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds. He was the catalyst behind the Wildfire's 40-21 advantage on the boards. Chad Mosbrucker added 14 points, but scored just two in the second half.
"It's not going to be easy, but I told the guys we've got to move on and get ready for Monday," Heckaman said. "They've got to push pass the loss."
MR 19 37 51 71
NE 17 33 60 80
MR: Nate Fries 22, Chad Mosbrucker 14, Taylor Zentner 13, Jonah Honeyman 9, McCahen Schweitzer 9, Jon Carlson 4.
NE: Clarence Binstock 26, Kaine Hanson 19, Nick Wolf 13, Mark Frank 9, Devin Plaggemeyer 7, Avery Krebs 6.
3-pointers: MR 6 (Schweitzer 3, Zentner 2, Honeyman 1), NE 9 (Binstock 4, Hanson 3, Frank 1, Wolf 1). Free throws: MR 3-3, NE 21-28. Total fouls: MR 23, NE 6. Rebounds: MR 40 (Fries 13), NE 21 (Hanson 5). Assists: MR 20 (Carlson 5), NE 21 (Binstock 10). Steals: MR 5 (Honeyman 2), NE 6 (Wolf 4). Blocks: MR 2 (Carlson 1, Mosbrucker 1), NE 0. Turnovers: MR 12, NE 8.