Argh you ready?: Kidder Co. Pirates prepare for state Class BIt’s a feeling long past due for Kidder County boys’ basketball coach Paul Olson, but the wait is finally over. The Pirates, for the first time since 1991, have extended their season to the state’s big dance in Minot. Olson was part of the 1991 fourth-place finishing Kidder County team — then referred to as Steele-Dawson — as an assistant, but this marks the first time the Pirates advanced to the state tournament under Olson as a head coach.
It’s a feeling long past due for Kidder County boys’ basketball coach Paul Olson, but the wait is finally over.
The Pirates, for the first time since 1991, have extended their season to the state’s big dance in Minot. Olson was part of the 1991 fourth-place finishing Kidder County team — then referred to as Steele-Dawson — as an assistant, but this marks the first time the Pirates advanced to the state tournament under Olson as a head coach.
“Talking about the state tournament wasn’t something they did at all,” said Olson. “I’m sure it was in the back of their minds, of course, but it wasn’t something they talked about.”
There may not have been any talk of state throughout the season, but since defeating LaMoure 56-51 in overtime of the Region 3 championship game, it has been the No. 1 topic in the locker room.
“The kids are very excited,” Olson said. “For this particular group, this hasn’t happened for them, so they’re enjoying the whole week, no doubt about it.”
Kidder County will open the tournament against Region 5 champion Shiloh Christian, following the Skyhawks’ improbable come-from-behind victory in the title game.
Shiloh Christian trailed 27-17 to Turtle Lake-Mercer-McClusky heading into the final frame, but the Skyhawks held the Trojans to just four points in the final eight minutes to win 32-31.
“They move the ball really well,” said Olson of the Pirates’ upcoming opponent. “They’re considerably bigger than we are so I expect a good match-up.”
Shiloh Christian has been led by senior Austin Friesen, who was named to the Region 5 All-Tournament team, but the Pirates have a few weapons of their own.
Adam Randall has been one of the most dynamic players in the state over the last four years as a starter.
In that span he has scored over 2,100 points and has helped lead the Pirates to 72 victories, not to mention also earning All-State honors twice.
“Everybody should get the chance to have a player that can take over,” Olson said, “but on the other hand he makes everybody good around him.”
Randall has been lights out the entire season, averaging 26.1 points per game, while also grabbing 9.8 rebounds and dishing out 4.7 assists per clip.
The 6-foot-4 senior, who was recently named the Region 3 Boys’ Basketball Senior Player of the Year, scored 22 points in the region title game, but his supporting cast has more than played its part to help Kidder County (19-5) into the state tournament.
“He’s definitely the feature scorer of our offense,” said Olson of Randall. “But the beauty is that we can have three and sometimes even four guys in double figures.”
In the Region 3 semis against Napoleon, Randall was held to just nine points, but in came seniors Wes Nicholson and Mike Kalianoff and junior Norm Nicholson.
The trio combined for 34 of Kidder County’s 53 points to help lift the Pirates into the region title game.
“(Randall) has a real nice cast around him,” Olson said. “(We have) guys who know that it takes to win a ball game.”
Thursday’s match-up, which is set to tip-off at 2:45 p.m., will be Round 2 between the Skyhawks and Pirates. Kidder County won 68-63 the first time around but it was also the game Randall went over 2,000 career points, making the win an even more memorable one.
“That wasn’t that long ago,” Olson said reflecting back on the victory, which came in the midst of a season-long 10-game winning streak. “It was a good game. They’ve got two really good scorers in Friesen and (Zach) Lardy.”
It has already been a memorable winter season for Pirate nation after the Kidder County girls’ team qualified for state earlier in the month and senior standout Eli Benz was recently named North Dakota’s Miss Basketball. But the ride is far from over for the Kidder County faithful as the Pirate boys’ prepare to make a run at their first-ever state boys’ title.
“Our offense kind of comes off of our defense,” Olson said. “We figure if we play good defense and control the boards, we have a chance.”
Sun sports writer David Griswold can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by e-mail at email@example.com