BREAKING: Panthers beat Bombers, advance to Region final
MINOT – Opposing coaches face the same dilemma when preparing to defend the Rugby High School boys basketball team: Which player do you key in on?
No. 10 Berthold tried to take away Brad Heidlebaugh and the Bombers did a decent job, but trying to focus on any one or two Panthers doesn’t work.
Four players in double figures led the Panthers (24-0) to a 64-50 win over Berthold in a Region 6 tournament semifinal on Tuesday at the Minot State University Dome.
The latest catalyst was senior guard Jaedon Haman, who scored 10 of his 14 points in the first quarter. Known more for his defense, Haman is typically the fifth starter of concern for opposing defenders.
“We knew if they were gonna leave anybody open, it was gonna be him,” RHS coach Mike Santjer said. “He kind of had to take it a little bit personal and make some shots, and he did. He came through great tonight.”
Said Haman: “I just came out and I was feeling it coming off the hand well in warmups and kept shooting.”
RHS will play Des Lacs-Burlington for the championship at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. RHS won the regular season meeting by 24 points. DL-B beat Our Redeemer’s Christian School 73-63 in the other semifinal.
Berthold (20-4) went on an 11-2 run to close the first half with a 32-32 tie. Haman’s huge first quarter gave RHS some cushion, but the Bombers pushed the pace when Heidlebaugh picked up his second foul with two minutes left in the first. Heidlebaugh only attempted four shots in the half and Berthold outrebounded RHS 20-13, with nine boards on offense.
“We gotta take a lot more pride in our defense than we did,” Santjer said. “We got up by 11 and almost settled and thought, ‘You know, we’re good. We’re gonna ride this out for the rest of the game.’ We knew they were gonna go on a run because they’re too good of a shooting team.”
The shots stopped falling in the second half as the Bombers hit just 22 percent from the field.
“We couldn’t find the bottom of the net,” Berthold coach Chris Brown said. “We couldn’t. Their size took a toll on us. They’re a great defensive team. Hats off to them. They played great defense tonight and that’s why we had a hard time finding the bottom of the net.”
Rugby outscored Berthold 17-4 in the third quarter. Heidlebaugh was ready to run in the second half and went the length of the court for two easy buckets early. RHS junior Tanner Bernhardt hit the second of his three 3-pointers and a pair of Heidlebaugh free throws followed to push the lead to 45-34 with 3:15 left in the third.
The lead stretched to 18 in the fourth quarter before junior forward Zach Miller fouled out. Miller and Haman led the Panthers with 14, Bernhardt had 13 and Heidlebaugh finished with 12. Senior guard Chris Hamilton led the team with nine rebounds. Junior Nolan Hovland scored seven off the bench.
“Usually third quarters are our best and we just come out and get after it,” Haman said.
The Panthers can expect a stiffer challenge in round two against the Lakers. DL-B senior forward Tanner Holte was limited offensively in the January game at RHS, but the Lakers also have capable scorers in senior guards Chris Duke and Cole Edwards.
“What worked out well that (first) game was we got it in our post and let them go at it,” Haman said. “And we hit shots when we needed to. We got good defense and held everybody down and just dug our heels in and played good as a team. That’s what we have to do Thursday.”
Holte scored 40 points against ORCS and had 29 in the second half. The inside-outside threat shot caught fire to break the momentum of the stingy Knights. DL-B coach Doug Wagner said his team will take a simple approach against Rugby.
“They’re a great basketball team,” Wagner said, “so we’ll have to play very well. We’re gonna play basketball. We’ll work to play at our strengths. That’s what we like to do. Does that mean we won’t make any adjustments? No.”
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