Lions headed back to stateIn shades of his all-state older brother Justin Purintun, junior guard Tanner Purintun stepped up and connected the dagger that the Linton-HMB Lions were looking for all evening inside the Jamestown Civic Center on Thursday night. Clinging to a 32-25 lead with just over three-and ahalf minutes remaining in the championship game of the Region 3 tournament against the LaMoure Loboes, Purintun fired up a shot from the left wing and drilled the Lions’ only threepointer of the entire contest to hand Linton-HMB a 10- piont cushion they’d never relinquish.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
In shades of his all-state older brother Justin Purintun, junior guard Tanner Purintun stepped up and connected the dagger that the Linton-HMB Lions were looking for all evening inside the Jamestown Civic Center on Thursday night.
Clinging to a 32-25 lead with just over three-and ahalf minutes remaining in the championship game of the Region 3 tournament against the LaMoure Loboes, Purintun fired up a shot from the left wing and drilled the Lions’ only threepointer of the entire contest to hand Linton-HMB a 10- piont cushion they’d never relinquish.
Purintun ended the night with a game-high 13 points in the low-scoring affair, as Linton and Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock will mark its first season as a co-op with a trip to the state Class B boys’ basketball tournament by defeating LaMoure 42-32.
“It was spur of the moment,” Purintun said of his game-changing trey. “In the second half our shots weren’t falling, but we knew they were bound to fall eventually. You can’t hesitate.
“Give credit to LaMoure. They played great defense.”
LaMoure (16-9) prided itself in playing shut-down defense all season — giving up over 50 points just four times all season — and once again stood tall against the No. 7-ranked Lions. Linton-HMB (22-2) came into the contest averaging a stout 65 points per night.
But the Lions soon found out points would be hard to come by during Thursday’s title, even though the Lions shot 52 percent from the field (16 of 31) against the Loboes.
“They do a great job defensively,” Linton-HMB coach Dan Carr (606 career wins) said. “You have to earn everything you get.”
What LaMoure head coach Darren Thielges didn’t want to have happen, happened in the first period. Prior to the game, Thielges said his young group of ball handlers would need to take care of the basketball and keep Linton-HMB out of its uptempo transition game.
But a pair of steals near the top of the key that went back for points in the first, one by Linton-HMB’s Tobie Wald and another by Purintun, aided a 15-10 Lions’ advantage to start the second.
“We turned the ball over in the backcourt and that’s what we said we needed to avoid,” Thielges said. “In a game where the winning team scores 42 points those points were big.”
The Lions maintained a five-point lead at the half, as the Lions and Loboes essentially traded baskets and played to a 21-16 Linton-HMB lead after the first 16 minutes of play.
Shaky shooting and rebounding in the first half damaged LaMoure’s chances of winning it’s fourth Region 3 championship and its first since 2008 in the first half. Lamoure converted just 6 of 19 shots and had been outrebounded by the Lions 16-9 by the break.
“I thought we played really good defense. I don’t think I could have asked for a better defensive game,” Thielges said. “Credit them. They were equally tough (defensively) and it was hard for us to get off shots tonight.”
The two teams combined for just eight points in the third, as Linton-HMB led 24-21 to start the fourth. But just when it looked like LaMoure was going to sneak back in Linton-HMB’s Derek Roemmich started the final frame with a three-point play and another bucket by Ryan Dralle gave the Lions a 29-21 advantage just 2 minutes, 14 seconds in.
Purintun’s exclamation point was to follow, which marked the first 10-point lead (35-25) by either team in the game to that point.
“Tanner is a big game player, and that really breaks a team’s back. He can hit that big shot, there’s no question,” Carr said.
The game could have swayed the other direction just as easily, had LaMoure sophomore Jared Meiklejohn found the bottom of the net from three-point range during the Loboes’ opening possession of the fourth.
“We ran a set to Jared in the corner and he had an open look, but it just rimmed out,” Thielges said. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”
The Loboes were paced by junior guard Tyler Thielges with 11 points. The LaMoure leader struggled to find his shot, converting 3 of 11 shots from the field and just 1 of 7 three-point attempts.
Linton will be making its 18th state-tournament appearance two years after winning the program’s third state title in 2009. Tanner Purintun played on that team alongside his brother Justin, who led the Lions to the championship that season as the Region 3 Senior Athlete of the Year.
“It means everything. Just having the experience, and knowing how to handle those intense situations, will be nice,” Tanner said. “Kelsey (Larson) and Derek (Roemmich) also have that experience, and now I’m grateful that my whole team will get to experience that.”
Hazelton has made it to state twice, while Carr will be directing a Lion team at state for the ninth time.
The state tournament is slated for March 3-5 in Minot, where the Lions will take on Region 2 champion Grafton in the quarterfinals on March 3.
Napoleon 74, Ellendale 70
Napoleon’s Donovan Gross hit three treys and scored 28 points, while his teammate Wade Rath-Wald posted 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds as the Imperials defeated Ellendale by four points for third.
Ellendale’s Pat Swift drilled four long balls to help Ellendale lead 22-18 at the end of one. Gross sank two of his three treys early in the first period, as Napoleon took an early 6-2 lead.
Swift ended the night hitting six treys and scoring 22 points. The Cards were led in scoring by Tanner White with 24.
Rath-Wald was all over the offensive glass in the first half pulling down an almost ridiculous 12 offensive rebounds. Rath-Wald posted 15 offensive boards in the game and scored 14 of his 22 in the first 16 minutes.
Napoleon attempted 13 treys in the first half and sank just four of them, while Ellendale went 5 of 8 from behind the threepoint line (Swift 4 of 6).
Region 3 Boys’ Basketball Tournament At Jamestown Civic Center Thursday Third place Napoleon 74, Ellendale 70
Napoleon 18 34 57 74 Ellendale 22 36 56 70 Napoleon — Donovan Gross 28, Wade Rath-Wald 22, Grant Weigel 15, Jonah Schwartzenberger 9. Totals: 33-72 FG, 3-11 FT, 45 rebounds (Rath-Wald 18), 10 assists (Rath-Wald 4), 15 turnovers, 8 steals (Gross 3), 15 fouls. Threepointers (5-19): Gross 3, Schwartzenberger, Weigel. Ellendale — Tanner White 24, Pat Swift 22, Andy Wertz 8, Jordan Morrissey 7, Donovan Flaherty 5, Kris Lauder 4. Totals: 23-49 FG, 17-25 FT, 28 rebounds (Morrissey 8), 9 assists (Lauder 5), 15 turnovers, 2 blocks (Swift, White), 10 steals (White 3), 11 fouls. Three-pointers (7-17): Swift 6, Wertz 1. Records: Napoleon 19-5, Ellendale 15-8.
Championship Linton-Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock 42, LaMoure 32
LaMoure 10 16 21 32 Linton-HMB 15 21 24 42 LaMoure — Tyler Thielges 11, Jared Meiklejohn 9, Zach Stemen 6, Brady Thielges 4, Skyler Shockman 2. Totals: 12-41 FG, 6-9 FT, 24 rebounds (T.Thielges 6), 4 assists (T.Thielges 2), 4 turnovers, 1 steal (T. Thielges), 17 fouls. Threepointers (2-13): T. Thielges, Meiklejohn. Linton-HMB — Tanner Purintun 13, Kelsey Larson 9, Ryan Dralle 7, Derek Roemmich 7, Tobie Wald 6. Totals: 16-31 FG, 9-18 FT, 28 rebounds (Roemmich 10), 6 assists (Larson 4), 8 turnovers, 3 steals (Purintun, Wald, Larson), 8 fouls. Threepointers (1-9): Purintun. Records: Linton-HMB 22-2; LaMoure 16-9. Region 3 Coach of the Year: Dan Carr, Linton-Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock. Region 3 Outstanding Senior Athlete: Tanner White, Ellendale.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com