Titans steamroll on senior night: Trinity uses defense in energized effort over Killdeer, earn first round bye
Even with the game well in hand, the Dickinson Trinity boys basketball team hustled to the finish line. With the Titans up by more than 20 points in the fourth quarter, sophomore post Seth Herner drove on to the hardwood for a loose ball, drawing...
Even with the game well in hand, the Dickinson Trinity boys basketball team hustled to the finish line.
With the Titans up by more than 20 points in the fourth quarter, sophomore post Seth Herner drove on to the hardwood for a loose ball, drawing a foul in the process and receiving a standing ovation from the Titans bench.
Hard-nosed plays from the opening tap carried Dickinson Trinity to a 63-35 senior night victory against Killdeer on Friday, Feb. 23 from the Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
"I think the biggest thing that a play like that says is that our kids are going to be scrappy," Titans head coach Gregg Grinsteinner said. "We're going to play hard for 32 minutes and if we're going to play hard for 32 minutes, we are going to give ourselves a chance. When you play defense and teams under 40 points, even if you an off night offensively, you going to give yourself a chance."
From the outset, the Titans played with energy, forcing five Cowboys turnovers in the first five minutes. Offensively, they worked early into their sets instead of waiting toward the end of the shot clock.
When senior guard Alec Sickler dribbled the ball up the length of the court and drilled a 3-pointer at the first quarter buzzer, the Titans held a 15-9 advantage.
"I knew I had push it up the court," Sickler said. "I got down pass half-court and I didn't see [my defender] come up, so I just pulled up knowing that it'll be the best shot that we could get. It went in."
The Titans mounted their first double-digit lead midway through the second period when a Sickler outside jumper and a hook shot from junior post Isaac Fridrich made the score 24-12.
Killdeer guard Dawson Schmeling scored inside, cutting he deficit to six late in the period. The guard notched 10 of his team-high 12 points in the first half.
As the teams exited the locker room for the second half, Trinity quickly turned a close game into a blowout.
After the Titans forced a Cowboys miss, Aric Knopik received an outlet pass, leaked out alone and crushed a two-handed jam, bumping the Titans lead back to 12 in the third quarter.
Knopik was the key spark the entire night, driving in the lane for hoops at the rim and attacking the glass to the tune of 20 points and nine rebounds.
"The gym was loud and it just kept me going," Knopik said. "Coach had a great pregame speech and we just knew we had to come out strong. We needed this game. Shots started falling, I start grabbing rebounds and it just kept me energized. My teammates were cheering me and I was pumped."
The Titans trapped Killdeer sophomore guard Jamie Keller, allowing Herner to swoop in from behind, collect a steal and coast in for an easy layup.
The Cowboys committed 19 turnovers, but most telling, they were outrebounded by 12 and attempted only one free throw while Trinity attempted 20.
"They outworked us in every aspect of the game," Killdeer head coach Andy Murphy said. "They were diving on loose balls, playing phenomenal defense and we had no response to it. We looked like we hadn't played a game in three months. That was the big difference in the game. They came to play and we didn't, we had zero energy."
Dickinson Trinity clinched a first-round bye in the upcoming Region 7 Tournament with the victory.
"We had told the kids, this is a tournament game, it starts tonight," Grinsteinner said. "Can we go out and control our destiny and get a first round bye, that was important for these kids. I thought we really did it on the defensive end for four quarters tonight."
Senior post Jacob Kubas added 11 points and four rebounds for the Titans. Sickler finished the night with eight points, four rebounds, two steals and two assists.
"It was an emotional night," Sickler said of the senior night atmosphere. "Some of us have been playing together since the third grade. We knew we had to come out and pull this one out."
Dickinson Trinity 63, Killdeer 35
K 9 12 6 8
DT 15 14 14 20
K: Dawson Schmeling 12, Jamie Keller 6, Garrett LeMieux 6, Alex Sadowsky 6, Daylon Danks 3, Kadin Nodland 2.
DT: Aric Knopik 20, Jacob Kubas 11, Alec Sickler 8, Easton Walby 6, Colton Jones 5, Seth Herner 4, Isaac Fridrich 4, Ulises Franco 2, Cole Fitterer 2, Kaden Kuntz 1.
3-pointers: K 4 (Keller 2), DT 2 (Sickler 1, Jones 1). Free throws: K 1-1, DT 17-20. Total fouls: K 15, DT 5. Rebounds: K 17 (LeMieux 5), DT 29 (Knopik 9). Assists: K 6 (Danks 3), DT 7 (Sickler 2, Herner 2). Steals: K 5 (Schmeling 2, Danks 2), DT 13 (Herner 4). Blocks: K 1 (LeMieux 1), DT 1 (Kubas 1). Turnovers: K 19, DT 12. Records: K 12-9 (Region 7 6-5), DT 13-8 (Region 7 8-3).