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Four Winds ready to run with Rugby

By Staff | Jan 3, 2014

The last time Rugby High School and Four Winds-Minnewaukan met in Class B boys basketball, a trip to the state semifinals was on the line.

When the teams meet again on Monday at RHS, the No. 2-ranked Panthers (7-0) will seek a bit of payback against the 2013 runner-up. The No. 4 Indians beat Rugby, 53-49, in the opening round of state in March.

This year’s game will pit two teams who have played No. 6 Des Lacs-Burlington (5-1) for serious tests in the early portion of the season. Rugby played DL-B last night. The Lakers dealt the Indians (8-1) their only loss of the season in a 57-56 game on Dec. 21 in Minot.

“I thought we were just a little impatient offensively and (DL-B) brought a real good defensive team to us,” FW-M coach Rick Smith said. “They have some strong kids and felt a

little bit stronger than we were. We didn’t get up in the open floor like we wanted to, but you have to credit their defense to that.”?FW-M has the ability to score well beyond the 50s and has posted two wins in the 90s.

“If we keep it in the 50s and 60s I think we have a really good chance of winning,” RHS coach Mike Santjer said. “If we get into a shootout where they’re hitting a lot of long shots, we might be in trouble.”

The Indians prefer going deep in their bench, which will test a Rugby squad that relies heavily on its starting five. Smith raved about the abilities of all five RHS starters.

“We want to get up and down as much as possible and try to get into their bench,” Smith said. “We’ve seen them play and they play 6 to 7 kids and we play anywhere from 10 to 12 kids, so hopefully that’s a little strength for us- to put as much pressure on them as possible, both offensively and defensively, and try to get them up the floor.”

FW-M is led by rangy junior Trayvon McKay, who crushed the Panthers at the state tournament. McKay scored a game-high 22 points, drew a charge on RHS graduate Kyle Lovcik with 5.3 seconds left and then iced the win with a pair of free throws.

McKay is followed by senior Hadley Smith and junior Jonathan Yankton, who also average around double figures.

“We use our bench a lot and (senior) Jason LaRock is averaging double figures off our bench and could easily be a starter for anybody,” Smith said. “A lot of kids are averaging five or six points off our bench. We rely a lot on Trayvon and Hadley to do our scoring, but Johnny Yankton and Jason LaRock have picked up a lot of slack for us.”

Santjer said his team focused on conditioning during the holiday break in anticipation of a lot of running against DL-B on Friday and FW-M on Monday.

“We’ve got a couple kids who have played significant minutes,” he said. “We’ll get guys in for brief rests. As long as we don’t get into serious foul trouble, I think we’ll be OK.”

Smith expects his team’s shooting to improve and that starts with the sharpshooting McKay.

“We’d like to see Trayvon be a little more selective in his shot selection because you hate to tell him not to shoot because he’s such a good shooter,” Smith said, “but just to be a little more selective because he’s a very good passer, a very good offensive rebounder.”

Both coaches were excited to schedule each other knowing their teams are among the best in the state.

“This will be our fourth game against very, very stiff competition,” Smith said. “We played Beulah and Des-Lacs Burlington back-to-back, Class A Turtle Mountain and now back with Rugby. When you play these top teams in North Dakota, it really shows you what your weaknesses are and it really gives you a practice plan for the remainder of the year. Teams like Rugby and Des Lacs-Burlington really bring out your weaknesses.”

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