Velva tops T-G-U for District 11 title
It was no surprise to see No. 1 Velva reach the District 11 boys basketball tournament title game.
Its opponent, however, was a different story.
No. 6 Towner-Granville-Upham made its way to the title game following wins over No. 3 Bottineau and No. 7 Westhope-Newburg.
The bottom half of the bracket featured two tournament upsets in the opening round – the Titans over Bottineau; and W-N over No. 2 Drake-Anamoose.
In the championship, the Aggies, however, proved too much for T-G-U, building an early lead on their way to a 64-50 win.
Both teams will move on to the Region 6 Tournament, which begins this Monday, March 9, in Minot.
Despite the loss in the championship game for a second straight season, coach Shane Walker was pleased with how his team played in the tournament.
“We were able to compete for 32 minutes and that was the biggest difference,” Walker said. “When a team would make run, we had an answer. And we shot the ball well, especially in the first two games.”
Dunseith, Drake-A qualify; Rugby’s season ends
Drake-Anamoose and Dunseith lost opening round games, but the two teams kept their seasons alive, winning back-to-back tournament games, including a region qualifier on March 2.
No. 2 D-A defeated No. 4 Rugby 55-47. The loss snapped the Panthers’ streak of five straight years of advancing to regionals. D-A, meanwhile, earned its second straight trip.
Rugby started well, jumping out to a 14-6 first quarter lead. The Raiders went on an 8-0 run to begin the second quarter and crept to within a basket of the Panthers at halftime. “We started well, but we just couldn’t extend the lead when we had opportunities to do so,” Rugby coach Mike Heidlebaugh said.
The game turned in the third quarter when D-A’s big guns – Tyler Mack and Trenton Bruner attacked the basket, drawing fouls.
Another telltale stat was the Panthers made just one free throw in two attempts while D-A was 24 of 36. Many of those free throws came, however, in the final minutes when Rugby was forced to foul.
The Raiders were stunned by No. 7 Westhope-Newburg in the opening round but defeated No. 3 Bottineau in loser-out play to reach the qualifier.
Rugby arguably had the most challenging opening round game, facing tournament host Dunseith. However, the Panthers started strong and advanced to the semifinals for the sixth consecutive season. “We got off to a quick start and our offense was clicking,” Heidlebaugh said. “They made a run, and we struggled a bit with their pressure, but we survived.”
However, it would be the final victory of the season for the orange and black. Rugby would fall to No. 1 Velva in the semifinals and then lose to the Raiders. In the Velva game, the Panthers never could get on a roll, and put pressure on the Aggies.
Rugby ended its season with an 11-11 record. “Yes, we were disappointed we didn’t move on to regionals, but our kids played hard throughout the season,” Heidlebaugh said. “The effort was there.”
No. 5 Dunseith advanced to regionals with a 65-39 victory over No. 7 Westhope-Newburg.
The Dragons dropped their tournament opener to No. 4 Rugby but defeated No. 8 Sawyer in loser-out play to advance to the qualifier. W-N knocked off D-A in the opening round but lost to T-G-U in the semifinals.
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