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Nick Blaskowski (left) is defended by Connor Entzi (right) during a District 5 tournament game. Medina-Pingree-Buchanan-Kensal and Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier and six other teams open the Region 3 tournament today at the Jamestown Civic Center. (John M. Steiner The Sun)

Tourney time: Eight Class B boys team seeking state berth

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Picking a favorite mascot or team color might be the best course of action this week, because the eventual winner of the Region 3 boys basketball tournament is anyone’s guess.

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The action kicks off this afternoon at 3 p.m. inside the Jamestown Civic Center with defending champion LaMoure-Litchville-Marion squaring off against South Border, and parity abounds throughout the quarterfinal’s eight-team field.

Just let a coach with over 650 career victories explain it.

“Usually when you go into these tournaments people will be talking about how balanced they are, when probably there are a couple of teams that are head and shoulders over the rest,” Linton-HMB veteran coach Dan Carr said. “This truly is a very balanced tournament … more so than I’ve ever seen. I don’t think anyone is a shoe-in to win that first day. Everybody is going to have their hands full.”

Even Carr’s District 6 champion Lions, who’ll face Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier in the third game of the day. Linton-HMB (17-4) was able to defeat the E-K-M Rebels 47-35 in Linton on Jan. 18, but the coach knows that halting the Rebels, and 6-foot-3 sophomore Connor Entzi, a second time certainly poses a challenge.

“Connor is definitely a nice player for them. He’s got the ability to go inside and out, and whenever you have a kid with that much versatility it can create problems for you,” Carr said. “And, they’ve got other players that are quick and they’ve got decent strength inside. They’re a nice team. They’re definitely a team to be worried about.”

The Lions will counter E-K-M today with all-district performers Jonathon Purintun, Ryan Schneider, Andrew Small and Brooks Flyberg. Linton-HMB has won eight of its last 10 games, and is looking to capture its third region title in four years.

The Lions were going for the three-peat last year before they were defeated 53-44 by LaMoure-L-M in the semifinals.

“At this time of year it always comes down to defense, rebounding and execution,” Carr said. “That’s what everybody is hoping to do, and everyone is going to have their teams ready to go out and do those things.”

All the teams in the tournament are familiar with one another, and it’s a struggle to find favorites by glancing at the head-to-head matchups played between the eight teams this season. Many have split games against each other, while others have been settled by a point or two.

“You have to put together three good games,” Carr said. “There are no slouches, and you’re going to have to play ball all three days.”

Region 3 Tournament Capsules Linton-HMB Lions

Record: 17-4

Coach: Dan Carr (660 career wins)

Key players: Brooks Flyberg (5-9, Sr., guard); Andrew Small (5-11, Sr., guard); Jonathon Purintun (6-0, Jr., guard); Ryan Schneider (6-3, Jr., guard).

Notes: The Lions are the District 6 champions and enter the tournament with the most wins of any team at 17-4, having won eight of their last 10. Linton-HMB also holds the best head-to-head record against teams playing in this week’s tournament at 10-2. They took third in last year’s tournament, defeating Strasburg-Zeeland 54-46 after being upended by LaMoure-L-M in the semifinals. They won back-to-back Region 3 titles in 2011 and 2012.

Record vs. teams in the tournament: 10-2.

Defeated LaMoure-L-M 61-58 in Linton Nov. 11

Lost to Strasburg-Zeeland 69-59 in Strasburg on Dec. 17

Lost to Ellendale 74-72 in Ellendale on Jan. 7

Defeated Kidder County 62-54 in Steele on Jan. 9

Defeated Medina-P-B 76-74 in Medina on Jan. 14

Defeated Strasburg-Zeeland 59-38 in Linton on Jan. 17

Defeated Edgeley-K-M 47-35 in Linton on Jan. 18

Defeated South Border 43-40 in Wishek on Jan. 25

Defeated South Border 51-49 in Linton on Jan. 28

Defeated Kidder County 63-53 in Hazelton on Jan. 31

Defeated Kidder County 57-54 on Feb. 17, District 6 tournament

Defeated Strasburg-Zeeland 64-51 on Feb. 18, District 6 championship game

LaMoure-L-M Loboes

Record: 15-6

Coach: Darren Thielges (185 career wins)

Key players: Brady Thielges (5-11, Sr., guard); Anthony Olson (6-1, Jr., forward); Drew Thielges (6-2, Soph., guard); Parker Stemen (5-11, Jr., guard).

Notes: The Loboes are the District 5 champions, having won their fourth consecutive district title in Leal last week, and they’re the defending Region 3 champions. They defeated South Border 63-47 in last year’s championship game. LaMoure went on to finish fourth at state and ended with an overall record of 22-4. The Loboes are red-hot at the moment, winning 11 of their last 12 games. They posted a 65-49 victory over South Border in Wishek on Feb. 8.

Record vs. teams in the tournament: 5-2.

Lost to Linton-HMB 61-58 in Linton on Nov. 30

Lost to Ellendale 65-61 OT in Ellendale on Dec. 17

Defeated Edgeley-K-M 66-54 in LaMoure on Jan. 30

Defeated Medina-P-B 82-66 in LaMoure on Feb. 4

Defeated South Border 65-49 in Wishek on Feb. 8

Defeated Medina-P-B 69-62 on Feb. 14, District 5 tournament

Defeated Ellendale 62-51 on Feb. 17, District 5 championship game

Strasburg-Zeeland Clippers

Record: 13-8

Coach: Brent Kleinsasser

Key players: Nic Kramer (6-0, Sr., forward); Scotti Scherr (5-9, Sr., guard); Brody Nieuwsma (6-1, Soph., guard); Seth ABerle (5-10, Sr., guard); Jacob Eberle, 5-10, Soph., forward).

Notes: The Clippers are the District 6 runner-ups, falling to Linton-HMB 64-51 in last week’s championship game in Linton. They’re a team that cannot be taken lightly. They received state-wide recognition early in the season, cracking the Class B’s top 10 in the rankings after getting off to an 8-1 start. They finished fourth in last year’s Region 3 tournament.

Record vs. teams in the tournament: 6-5.

Defeated Linton-HMB 69-59 in Strasburg on Dec. 17

Defeated South Border 67-51 in Ashley on Dec. 20

Defeated Ellendale 62-59 OT in Strasburg on Jan. 4

Lost to Linton-HMB 59-38 in Linton on Jan. 17

Lost to Medina-P-B 61-52 in Jamestown on Jan. 21

Lost to South Border 55-46 in Strasburg on Jan. 23

Defeated Kidder County 58-52 in Steele on Jan. 28

Lost to Kidder County 56-55 in Strasburg on Feb. 5

Defeated Edgeley-K-M 55-33 in Zeeland on Feb. 10.

Defeated South Border 48-43 on Feb. 15, District 6 tournament

Lost to Linton-HMB 64-51 on Feb. 18, District 6 championship game

Ellendale Cardinals

Record: 13-8

Coach: Brian Vance (227 career wins)

Key players: Adam White (6-5, Jr., center); Zach Dathe (6-6, Sr., forward); Brennen Vance (6-2, Fresh., guard); Logan Wang (5-11, Sr., forward); Chase Durheim (5-11, Sr., guard).

Notes: The Cardinals are the District 5 runner-ups, and they cause a lot of headaches with their size and length, especially when operating their 1-3-1 zone defensively. Nobody will be looking past the Cardinals, as they’ve posted solid regular-season victories against LaMoure-L-M, Linton-HMB, South Border, Medina-P-B and Kidder County. The Cards lost out in last year’s Region 3 opening round against South Border, 63-48.

Record vs. teams in the tournament: 7-4.

Defeated South Border 55-50 in Ellendale on Dec. 6

Defeated Medina-P-B 59-57 in Jamestown on Dec. 12

Lost to Kidder County 48-46 in Jamestown on Dec. 14

Defeated LaMoure-L-M 65-61 OT in Ellendale on Dec. 17

Lost to Strasburg-Zeeland 62-59 OT in Strasburg on Jan. 4

Defeated Linton-HMB 74-72 in Ellendale on Jan. 7

Lost to Medina-P-B 66-65 in Pingree on Jan. 17

Defeated Kidder County 68-59 in Ellendale on Jan. 18

Defeated Edgeley-K-M 63-30 in Kulm on Feb. 4

Defeated Edgeley-K-M 55-34 on Feb. 15, District 5 tournament

Lost to LaMoure-L-M 62-51 on Feb. 17, District 5 championship game

Kidder County Pirates

Record: 13-9

Coach: Paul Olson (162 career wins)

Key players: Ben Steinolfson (6-0, Sr., guard); Cole Scherbenske (6-1, Sr., center); Ryan Sand (6-1, Jr., forward); Jayden Miller (5-8, Jr., guard)

Notes: The Pirates took third in the District 6 tournament, and other than their 57-54 loss to Linton-HMB in the tournament, the Pirates have been a tough team to beat as of late. Their regular season wound down with a one-point victory over Strasburg-Zeeland and a two-point victory over Medina-P-B before they went on to handle South Border 61-39 in the District 6 third-place game. The Pirates are a sneaky good team, who fell in the opening round of last year’s Region 3 tournament to the eventual champion Loboes, 55-35. The Pirates split a pair of contests this season against Ellendale.

Record vs. teams in the tournament: 5-8.

Lost to Edgeley-K-M 48-46 in Jamestown on Dec. 13

Defeated Ellendale 48-46 in Jamestown on Dec. 14

Defeated South Border 50-48 in Steele on Jan. 4

Lost to Edgeley-K-M 60-56 in Edgeley on Jan. 7

Lost to Linton-HMB 62-54 in Steele on Jan. 9

Lost to South Border 58-52 in Wishek on Jan. 14

Lost to Ellendale 68-59 in Ellendale on Jan. 18

Lost to Strasburg-Zeeland 58-52 in Steele on Jan. 28

Lost to Linton-HMB 63-53 in Hazelton on Jan. 31

Defeated Strasburg-Zeeland 56-55 in Strasburg on Feb. 5

Defeated Medina-P-B 69-67 in Steele on Feb. 10

Lost to Linton-HMB 57-54 on Feb. 17, District 6 tournament

Defeated South Border 61-39 on Feb. 18, District 6 tournament

Medina-P-B Thunder

Record: 12-10

Coach: Jared Hoff

Key players: Nick Blaskowski (6-2, Sr., guard); Cole Diede (5-10, Jr., guard); Alex Eissinger (6-1, Sr., guard); Wyatt Staloch (6-6, Sr., forward); Cody Horn (6-2, Sr., forward).

Notes: The Thunder finished third in the District 5 tournament during their inaugural season as Medina-Pingree-Buchanan, and they might just be the scariest team for any other to face this week. Nick Blaskowski converted 16 3-pointers and scored 71 points during last week’s District 5 tournament, and they have nice balance in point guard Cole Diede and 6-6 forward Wyatt Staloch. Alex Eissinger and Cody Horn are also no strangers to leading this team in scoring, as the Thunder can put points on the board. They’ve posted wins over Ellendale and Strasburg-Zeeland, and also have two-point losses to Linton-HMB and Kidder County.

Record vs. teams in the tournament: 4-7.

Lost to Ellendale 59-57 in Jamestown on Dec. 12

Lost to South Border 51-37 in Jamestown on Dec. 14

Lost to Linton-HMB 76-74 in Medina on Jan. 14

Defeated Ellendale 66-65 in Pingree on Jan. 17

Lost to South Border 69-59 in Medina on Jan. 18

Defeated Strasburg-Zeeland 61-52 in Jamestown on Jan. 21

Defeated Edgeley-K-M 52-42 in Edgeley on Jan. 28

Lost to LaMoure-L-M 82-66 in LaMoure on Feb. 4

Lost to Kidder County 69-67 in Steele on Feb. 10

Lost to LaMoure-L-M 69-62 on Dec. 14, District 5 tournament

Defeated Edgeley-K-M 78-48 on Feb. 17, District 5 tournament

South Border Mustangs

Record: 13-9

Coach: Robbie Lukens

Key players: Hunter Pinke (6-5, Soph.); Adam Jacobson (6-3, Sr.); Matt Kretschmar (5-6, Sr.); Zach Fischer (5-10, Jr.); Ross Knoll (5-10, Sr.).

Notes: The Mustangs finished fourth in the District 6 tournament, and they’ll more than likely be playing with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder. The team’s season wound down with two losses to Linton-HMB and another to LaMoure-L-M. The Mustangs also stumbled in a pair of District 6 tournament games to Strasburg-Zeeland and Kidder County, but with 6-5 sophomore Hunter Pinke roaming the court, along with a nice supporting cast, the Mustangs could be right in the thick of it. They’re also coming off a deep playoff run one year ago, which saw them finish second in this tournament to the Loboes.

Record vs. teams in the tournament: 5-9.

Lost to Ellendale 55-50 in Ellendale on Dec. 6

Lost to Edgeley-K-M 57-52 in Jamestown on Dec. 12

Defeated Medina-P-B 51-37 in Jamestown on Dec. 14

Defeated Edgeley-K-M 58-47 in Kulm on Dec. 19

Lost to Strasburg-Zeeland 67-51 in Ashley on Dec. 20

Lost to Kidder County 50-48 in Steele on Jan. 4

Defeated Kidder County 58-52 in Wishek on Jan. 14

Defeated Medina-P-B 69-59 in Medina on Jan. 18

Defeated Strasburg-Zeeland 55-46 in Strasburg on Jan. 23

Lost to Linton-HMB 43-40 in Wishek on Jan. 25

Lost to Linton-HMB 51-49 in Linton on Jan. 28

Lost to LaMoure-L-M 65-49 in Wishek on Feb. 8

Lost to Strasburg-Zeeland 48-43 on Feb. 15, District 6 tournament

Lost to Kidder County 61-39 on Feb. 18, District 6 tournament

Edgeley-K-M Rebels

Record: 8-14

Coach: Kevin Strobel

Key players: Connor Entzi (6-3, Soph., forward); Noah Greer (5-9, Sr., guard); Christian Miller (6-2, Jr., forward); Trystan Harr (5-10, Jr., guard).

Notes: The Rebels finished fourth in the District 5 tournament, after starting the season 3-1 with victories over Kidder County and South Border en route to a second-place finish in the Stutsman County Tournament. But since that time the Rebels have posted just one victory, a 60-56 win over Kidder County, against the Region 3 tournament field. Sophomore Connor Entzi is the team’s sparkplug, and he’ll need to play a big role today against District 6 champion Linton-HMB in order to pull off the upset. The Rebels fell to Linton-HMB 47-35 on Jan. 18. The Lions also ended the Rebels’ season 55-41 in the Region 3 opening round last year.

Record vs. teams in the tournament: 3-8.

Region 3 Boys Basketball Tournament

Feb. 24, 25 & 27

At Jamestown Civic Center

Game 1: LaMoure-Litchville-Marion (15-6) vs. South Border (13-9)

Game 2: Strasburg-Zeeland (13-8) vs. Medina-Pingree-Buchanan (12-10)

Game 3: Linton-Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock (17-4) vs. Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier (8-14)

Game 4: Ellendale (13-8) vs. Kidder County (13-9).

State Class B Boys Basketball Tournament

March 6, 7 & 8

At Grand Forks

Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at 701-952-8461 or by email at msavaloja@jamestownsun.com

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