T-G-U wins elusive district title
The District 11 boys basketball tournament featured plenty of upsets, but top-seeded Towner-Granville-Upham avoided being bitten by the underdog.
The Titans defeated No. 6 Westhope-Newburg 68-49 in the championship game on March 1 in Rugby. It was the program’s first district championship since 1991.
T-G-U had reached the past two district title games, but in both ocsasions, they were not the favorite. This time, they were and made sure the Sioux wouldn’t knock off their third high seed of the tournament.
“This is the first time our basketball program has won anything significant,’ Titan coach Shane Walker said. “They were pretty excited about this accomplishment.”
T-G-U led by three points after one quarter and stretched its lead to 11 by halftime. In the fourth quarter, the Titans pulled away and shot 52 percent from the field.
Brad Bethke led the way with 22 points. Tyler Thorson finished with 12.
Thorson along with Matthew Drader were named to the all-district team.
T-G-U cruised to an opening round win over No 8 Sawyer 87-56. T-G-U led 25-6 after one quarter. Eight different Titans scored in that first eight minutes and 12 registered at least one point in the victory. Stetson Brandt had a team-high 18 points.
In the semifinals, T-G-U led by just two points entering the fourth quarter against No. 5 Bottineau, but the Titans gutted out a 61-55 win.
Brad Bethke and Tyler Thorson each scored 12 for T-G-U.
However, Walker noted it was the Titans’ bench play that was the difference. “Daniel Syvertson drained two big three pointers and freshman Anthony Zimbleman came on and scored nine points.”
T-G-U will play in its second straight Region 6 Tournament, and first as a No. 1 seed.
Westhope-Newburg will also compete at regionals as a No. 2 seed. The Sioux knocked off No. 3 Dunseith in the opening round of the tournament 74-65 and followed that up with a 59-50 semifinal win over No. 2 Velva.
Rugby, Dunseith qualify for regionals
No. 4 Rugby needed to win one quarter to return to the Region 6 Tournament. The Panthers found a way to do that, defeating No. 2 Velva 45-42 in a reqion-qualifying game in Rugby on March 1.
The final quarter wasn’t pretty as both teams committed turnovers. However, Rugby never trailed after David McAtee opened the quarter with a three-pointer.
Jayden Welk sank two free throws in the final 17 seconds to stretch Rugby’s led to three. He finished with 10. The Aggies had one final possession, but couldn’t hit a tying three-point field goal.
“There was certainly stretches of play where we didn’t make the right decisions, but the kids stayed after it,’ Rugby coach Mike Santjer said.
Velva enjoyed an early first half lead, but the Panthers went on an 11-0 run late in the second quarter to take a four-point lead into halftime. The Aggies rallied to tie the score at 35 entering the final eight minutes.
Senior Michael Houim had a big game for Rugby, finishing with 15 points in the paint, and scoring at critical times. Houim was named to the all-district team along with teammate Jason Goetz.
“Velva started with a 1-2-2 and then later switched to man defense,’ Santjer said. “We spread the floor and allowed Mike to roam in the middle and he was able to hit some big shots.”
Rugby opened the tournament with a tough 60-58 loss to No. 5 Bottineau in the quarterfinals. The score was tied at 58 with under 10 second to play when Rugby turned the ball over on an inbound play, and an alert Mark Lacroix of Bottineau ran down court and banked in a jump shot near the free throw line. The Panthers had a final opportunity to tie, but couldn’t get a shot attempt off. Eric Kuntz had a team-high 12 points. Jayden Welk finished with 11.
The loss snapped Rugby’s string of six straight first round wins at the tournament.
The Panthers rebounded in to down No. 8 Sawyer 71-38 in loser-out play. David McAtee scored 14 points. Jacob Nelson added 12.
Santjer noted a number of Panthers were able to get into the three games which was good. “I think that really helped us, especially in that last game,’ he said. “We had fresher legs.”
No. 3 Dunseith is also heading back to regionals. The Dragons defeated No. 5 Bottineau 55-52 in a region-qualifying game on March 1. A 13-7 third quarter gave Dunseith a six-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
The Dragons fell to No. 3 Westhope-Newburg in the first round before defeating No. 7 Drake-Anamoose in loser-out play.
Bottineau knocked off Rugby in the first round round before losing to T-G-U in the semifinals.