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Titans escape Bismarck Shiloh Christian for third place at Class B state boys basketball tournament

MINOT -- Dickinson Trinity bookended its season with games against Bismarck Shiloh Christian, but the second meeting read a lot better than the first.

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Dickinson Trinity senior guard Willy Jahner, right, dribbles on the sideline against Bismarck Shiloh Christian senior forward Chad Coulter in the Class B state boys basketball tournament third-place game Saturday at the Minot State Dome. (Press Photo by Parker Cotton)

MINOT - Dickinson Trinity bookended its season with games against Bismarck Shiloh Christian, but the second meeting read a lot better than the first.

With under 7 seconds remaining in Saturday’s third-place game of the Class B state boys basketball tournament, and the Titans clinging to a one-point advantage, Skyhawks senior guard Zac Martin raced up the floor and pulled up from well behind the 3-point line - and time seemed to stop.

“I was standing right at the basket, and it looked money,” Trinity’s Shawn Stoltz said. “It looked right on line.”

The shot clanked off the front of the rim as time expired, sealing the No. 4-seeded Titans’ 56-55 victory over the second-seeded Skyhawks at the Minot State Dome. The win avenges a 61-54 loss to Shiloh Christian in Trinity’s first game of the season.

Martin finished Saturday with a game-high 24 points. If not for a defensive adjustment in the second half, Martin came within that one long shot of sending the Skyhawks home victorious.

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“It looked good, but I was looking from the side,” Skyhawks head coach Mike Dwyer said. “When you coach, sometimes you’re just grateful to have a Zac Martin on your team. He was lights-out.”

Seventeen of Martin’s points came in the first half, helping Shiloh Christian (23-4) to a 34-25 lead at the break.

“He’s such a good player, he got himself into a rhythm,” Titans head coach Gregg Grinsteinner said. “We needed to get the ball out of his hands.”

Trinity (22-5) succeeded in doing so while slowly chipping away at the lead.

Lucas Jones scored eight straight points at one point in the third quarter, and after a floater from Willy Jahner and a three-point play from Noah Sickler, Trinity earned its first lead since late in the first quarter at 40-39.

After a frustrating first two games of the tournament, Jones opened the game with a 3-pointer and carried that momentum throughout the game, scoring a team-high 18 with four 3-pointers.

“I was struggling in the tournament, and I was making shots all year - that’s what my team needed me to do,” Jones said. “It felt good that I was able to do that today.”

Jahner backed him up with 13 points of his own.

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The teams went into the fourth quarter tied at 44 and traded the lead in the opening minutes. Trinity took the lead for good on a bucket from Brock Messer midway through the quarter.

Messer and Sickler each scored nine points with six rebounds in the game. Stoltz, who was named to the all-tournament team, had his third consecutive game with double-digit rebounds with 13, but he fell four points short of a third straight double-double, as he notched six points. Sickler and Zach Kubas provided valuable defensive minutes off the bench as well.

In all, it appeared to be a full team effort to mount the comeback, Grinsteinner said.

“It’s gratifying to end the season on a win like that,” he said. “Shawn had another monster game on the glass. He made the difference on the defensive end. What Lucas and Willy did on the offensive end, Shawn and our post guys did on the defensive end.”

After Jones’ last 3-pointer and a jumper from Jahner, Trinity had its biggest lead, 56-51, with just a minute and a half remaining.

“We knew we couldn’t get too high, though,” Stoltz said. “Shiloh’s a good team, and they could come back at any time. We just had to stay level, not get too high or too low, and I think we did  that.”

Chad Coulter, who was Shiloh’s second leading-scorer with 10, hit a shot for the Skyhawks, and a five-second inbounds violation from Trinity with 46.9 seconds left gave the ball back. Martin added a layup with 11 seconds left, and the Skyhawks fouled on the ensuing inbounds. Trinity’s free throw rimmed off, setting up Martin’s last attempt.

“I had a pretty good angle on it,” Grinsteinner said, “and it was dead-on. With the way he was shooting the ball, I thought it was down.”

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Stoltz added: “I just thank God that it didn’t go in.”

The win gives the seniors - Jahner, Messer, Kubas, Benson Kramer, Joey Fridrich and Brady Grinsteinner - a win in their final game, and it improves on Trinity’s fifth-place finish at the state tournament in 2013.

“It was awesome to get here,” Jahner said, “and to be able to take third at the state tournament is a great accomplishment. We’re really happy, and it’s a great way to end our season.”

Trinity also gives its juniors and underclassmen a one-game winning streak going into next season. Maybe more satisfying, though, is defeating the team that gave the Titans their first loss of the year.

“Going in, we knew we had lost to them,” Jones said, “so we tried to get them back, I guess. We played really hard. It’s always going to be a battle with them. We were just able to come out on top today.”

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DT: Lucas Jones 18, Willy Jahner 13, Brock Messer 9, Noah Sickler 9, Shawn Stoltz 6, Easton Walby 1.

SC: Zac Martin 24, Chad Coulter 10, Bartholomew Ogbu 8, Jaden Johnson 6, Jared Walter 4, Nick Pfaff 3.

3-pointers: DT 5 (Jones 4, Jahner 1), SC 5 (Martin 4, Pfaff 1). Free throws: DT 3-6, SC 4-7. Total fouls: DT 11, SC 10. Rebounds: DT 34 (Stoltz 13), SC 25 (Ogbu 5, Coulter 5). Assists: DT 4 (Stoltz 2), SC 5 (Ogbu 3). Blocks: DT 2 (Stoltz 1, Zach Kubas 1), SC 2 (Ogbu 2). Turnovers: DT 5, SC 6.

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