Kidder Co. boys 1 win awayThe Kidder County Pirates are one game away from the state Class B basketball tournament. No. Not those Kidder County Pirates. It’s finally the Paul Olson-coached boys’ team’s turn in the spotlight. A 9-0 run by Kidder County to end the third period was too much for the Napoleon Imperials to overcome during Tuesday’s Region 3 semifinal match-up at the Jamestown Civic Center. The Pirates’ Norm Nicholson, Wes Nicholson and Mike Kalianoff all hit double digits in scoring, led by Norm Nicholson’s 13, and the Pirates advanced to the state’s Sweet 16 with a 53-39 victory over the Imperials.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
The Kidder County Pirates are one game away from the state Class B basketball tournament.
No. Not those Kidder County Pirates.
It’s finally the Paul Olson-coached boys’ team’s turn in the spotlight.
A 9-0 run by Kidder County to end the third period was too much for the Napoleon Imperials to overcome during Tuesday’s Region 3 semifinal match-up at the Jamestown Civic Center. The Pirates’ Norm Nicholson, Wes Nicholson and Mike Kalianoff all hit double digits in scoring, led by Norm Nicholson’s 13, and the Pirates advanced to the state’s Sweet 16 with a 53-39 victory over the Imperials.
“The kids are excited and they’ve worked really hard to get here,” Olson said. “This is the game they wanted to get to.”
The Pirates came close to the Region 3 final one year ago, but a 52-44 loss to Central Prairie in the semifinals ended the team’s state tourney hopes. Kidder County ended up finishing fourth.
Ironically, Kidder County’s two-time all-state guard Adam Randall posted 23 points in last year’s loss to Central Prairie, but only scored 9 in Tuesday’s victory.
Napoleon made sure Randall had plenty of company by his side all evening, as the 6-foot-4 senior went 0 of 6 from the floor in the first half and scored just 2 points on a pair of free throws. Kidder County led by just 2 points (22-20) at the half.
But what Randall lacked in the scoring column, he made up for in the assist’s department. Randall ended the night with 8 assists and 6 rebounds.
“Even when (Randall) wasn’t knocking down shots, he was getting other guys some good looks and I thought he passed the ball really well for us down the stretch. It was really a physical game,” Olson said. “Napoleon is a good team right now and they put up a heck of a fight.”
“I was getting a lot of attention, but I was able to get the ball to my teammates and they made some shots,” Randall said. “This is the highest we’ve been this year, from an emotional standpoint. It’s crazy.”
The Pirates hung around in the second period by sinking bonus shots, as Napoleon was racking up the fouls. The Imperials’ Philip Reuer, Jonah Schwartzenberger and Spencer Wirt all had 2 fouls at the break, while Wade Rath-Wald had 3, which resulted in Kidder County sinking 5 of 6 freebies down the stretch. Norm Nicholson went 4 of 4 at the line in the period.
After coming off Monday’s shocking overtime win over Valley City, Napoleon struggled to shoot the ball against Kidder County, converting just 14 of 40 shots in the ball game.
“We looked a little flat. When emotions run high like that it’s tough to recover, especially when we’re young and don’t have a lot of experience here,” Napoleon’s second-year head coach Caleb Ketterling said. “Shots weren’t falling tonight.
“We game-planned (Randall) really well. Their role players beat us and that’s what we wanted to have happen.”
Randall hit his first field goal of the game with 3:32 left in the third to put Kidder County out front 27-22. The all-stater later drilled a three-pointer to kick-off what turned out to be the game-changing run to end the period.
The Pirates led 36-28 heading into the fourth.
“That run was really big for us. It was the only run either team had in the whole game,” Olson said. “Adam hit a three and Cody Wahl came off the bench when Mike (Kalianoff) was out with four fouls and hit a big shot for us.
“We needed a little breathing room, because Napoleon can score in a hurry.”
Randall made a couple of nifty assists to Norm Nicholson and Kalianoff in the final period of play, as Kidder County built its largest lead of the game at 48-33 with 1:57 left.
“Just play your game and let (Randall) play his, and he’ll get you the ball if he can’t get to the hoop,” Norman Nicholson said. “We’re excited to take the next step to state. That’s our goal.”
Napoleon couldn’t buy a free throw in the second half, converting just 2 of 8 after the break and ended shooting 5 of 13 from the stripe.
The Pirates shot over 50 percent from the floor (17 of 32), and coach Olson explained he was much happier with his team’s defensive play on semifinal night. The Pirates played a little flat themselves during Monday’s 63-57 quarterfinal win over Ellendale.
“I was happy with our defensive intensity. It was night and day compared to last night,” Olson said. “We thought coming in if we played defense well enough, and rebounded well enough, our offensive would take care of itself.”
But the Pirates have one last hurdle to clear before any real celebrating can take place. Standing in the way of Kidder County’s dream is the LaMoure Loboes.
The Loboes are in the middle of a Cinderella run through the regional tournament, having knocked off defending state champion Linton (59-45) in the opening round and Strasburg-Zeeland (50-49) in Tuesday’s second semifinal.
All the chips will be on the table Thursday night.
“We’ll come out firing and ready to play,” Norman Nicholson said. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”
Region 3 Tournament At Jamestown Civic Center
Kidder Count y 53, Napoleon 39
Kidder County 10 22 36 53
Napoleon 11 20 28 39
Kidder County — Norm Nicholson 13, Wes Nicholson 11, Mike Kalianoff 10, Adam Randall 9, Jake Miller 8, Cody Wahl 2. Totals: 17-32 FG, 16-21 FT, 12 turnovers, 15 fouls (Kalianoff), 28 rebounds (W. Nicholson 7), 11 assists (Randall 8), 3 steals (N. Nicholson 2). Three-pointers (3-5): Nicholson 2, Randall 1.
Napoleon — Jonah Schwartzenberger 15, Cory Knutson 8, Donovan Gross 7, Wade Rath-Wald 6, Spencer Wirt 3. Totals: 14-40 FG, 5-13 FT, 20 rebounds (Knutson 9), 6 assists (Schwartzenberger 2, Gross 2), 1 block (Knutson 1), 3 steals (Knutson 2). Three-pointers (6-16): Schwartzenberger 4, Gross 1, Wirt 1.
Records: Kidder County 18-5; Napoleon 12-12.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org