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State Class B Boys Basketball, Day 1

By Staff | Mar 20, 2015

Rugby's Nolan Hovland is airborne during first round state tournament play.

Rugby crushes Braves in opening round, 80-39

by Thor Skjelver, Tribune Reporter

BISMARCK – No team looked forward to the opening tipoff of the State Class B Boys’ Basketball Tournament more than the Rugby Panthers. After last year’s championship loss, there was a hunger in their eyes. The first team on the list to cross off: the Parshall Braves from Region 8.

“Our team still holds a grudge from last year,” Rugby head Coach Mike Santjer said. “They are still hungry to finish things from last year.”

Last year, Rugby opened against the Region 8 champions, New Town, and went to overtime. This year, there would be no overtime. The Panthers, namely senior Tanner Bernhardt who scored the first 10 points for Rugby, jumped on Parshall from the opening tip and opened up with a 29-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. Even more remarkable is that the Panthers’ star forward Brad Heidelbaugh didn’t score in the quarter. After a Braves’ timeout, Hovland put up his first two baskets of the afternoon after forcing a pair of turnovers. While Monte GoodBird ended the 5-minute scoring drought with a short jumper, to which Zach Miller answered with a put-back from Bernhardt. After a trip to the line for Miller, the Panthers were up 20-4. In the final minute, Ryan Michels scored twice with a dunk and a jumper. The Panthers’ defense was tougher than it had been previously, holding Parshall to six points, forcing five turnovers, and getting four steals and nine defensive rebounds in an ugly first quarter.

The second quarter was almost as lopsided, as the Panthers’ swarming defense and overwhelming offense led to a 49-12 lead. The Panthers attacked the glass as they ouRugby crushes Braves in opening round 80-39

No team looked forward to the opening tipoff of the State Class B Boys’ Basketball Tournament more than the Rugby Panthers. After last year’s championship loss, there was a hunger in their eyes. The first team on the list to cross off: the Parshall Braves from Region 8.

“Our team still holds a grudge from last year,” Rugby head Coach Mike Santjer said. “They are still hungry to finish things from last year.”

Last year, Rugby opened against the Region 8 champions, New Town, and went to overtime. This year, there would be no overtime. The Panthers, namely Senior Tanner Bernhardt who scored the first 10 points for Rugby, jumped on Parshall from the opening tip and opened up with a 29-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. Even more remarkable is that the Panther’s star forward Brad Heidelbaugh didn’t score in the quarter. After a Braves’ timeout, Hovland put up his first two baskets of the afternoon after forcing a pair of turnovers. While Monte GoodBird ended the 5 minute scoring drought with a short jumper, Zach Miller answered with a put-back from Bernhardt. After a trip to the line for Miller, the Panthers were up 20-4. In the final minute, Ryan Michels scored twice with a dunk and a jumper. The Panthers’ defense was tougher than ever holding Parshall to six points, forced five turnovers, had four steals, and nine defensive rebounds – all in an ugly first quarter.

The second quarter was almost as lopsided as the Panthers’ swarming defense and overwhelming offense led to a 49-12 point lead. The Panthers attacked the glass as they out-rebounded the Braves 30-13 in the first half.

“We did what we’ve been doing all year,” Santjer added. It’s true. On average, the Panthers hold teams to a mere 38 points a game, which is far and away above the next best team in the state tournament, the New England Tigers from Region 7 with 42.9 a game.

Bernhardt led Rugby on offense with 22 points, and shooting 3-5 from behind the arc. On the inside, Heidlebaugh brought down 15 rebounds and put up 18 points. Zach Miller had 16 points in the total and Nolan Hovland, known mostly for being a defensive force, had eleven points.

Simply put, a statement was made, 80-39.

For the Braves, Deyondre Simpson led the team with 19 points, with 9 points from the perimeter and 8 from the line. No other Parshall player had over 10 points. Justin Roberts had six points while three of his teammates had 4 each.

The second half was no different from the first. Heidlebaugh put up the first points of the half and continued the momentum on defense. The Braves slowed down the pace of the game and looked a little sluggish on the floor. Late in the third, Roberts collided with Heidlebaugh in the air and had a nasty fall. The sting was worse after he was called for a charge. While the Braves’ offense appeared to struggle in the third, they played back and forth with them, scoring 19 points over Rugby’s 18. But the momentum was always with the Panthers after Bernhardt slammed one down. With 4 and a half minutes to go in the bloodbath, the Panthers hit 75 points before the Braves even got to 40. The Braves breathed a little life in them after a shot clock violation by Rugby, but there wasn’t much that could be changed. Freshman Landen Foster hit a three in the closing seconds of the game to put them at 80-39.

While the Panthers made it clear they were there to win, Michels, a valuable asset to the Panthers and the latest in a series of bad falls, landed wrong on his ankle halfway through the fourth quarter and might be questionable for the next game. According to Santjer, he will be day-to-day. He could be seen on crutches entering the locker rooms after the game.

The Panthers climbed the first step of the tournament ladder with relative ease. The next step features a rematch from the 2014 state championship between the Oak Grove Grovers and the Rugby Panthers during the first semifinal game of the night. Oak Grove won the game in overtime, and Rugby has been waiting for the chance to get even since the final buzzer of 2014 sounded.

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