Imperials stun E-K in semisThe Napoleon Imperials have found themselves in a position they haven’t been in since taking fourth at the state Class B Boys’ Basketball Tournament way back in 1992.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
The Napoleon Imperials have found themselves in a position they haven’t been in since taking fourth at the state Class B Boys’ Basketball Tournament way back in 1992.
For the first time in 20 years, the Imperials are back in the Region 3 championship game after defeating Edgeley-Kulm 52-47 in the region semifinals at the Jamestown Civic Center on Tuesday night.
Napoleon senior guard Jonah Schwartzenberger capped the third period with five straight points and a huge three-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer, as the Imperials went up 39-35 to start the fourth and they’d hold on to the lead from there.
“We weren’t going to lose,” Schwartzenberger said. “Coach came in at halftime and he was like, ‘Who wants it more.’ We didn’t want to play in the third-place game again, so we came out and played our hearts out and got the job done.”
Napoleon has finished the tournament in third the past two seasons, and it appeared as if they’d be playing in that game again after Edgeley-Kulm put together a nice opening 16 minutes of play.
Leading 11-8 after one period, Edgeley-Kulm’s Beau Diegel went 7 of 8 from the free-throw line and scored 10 of his 15 points in the second, helping the Rebels increase their lead to 12 points (30-18) with just under 2:30 left to play in the half.
Diegel was fouled twice in the quarter while attempting a three-pointer from the very same spot on the left wing. Diegel went to the line and promptly buried five of those attempts, and he also sank another pair of freebies after an intentional foul was called on Schwartzenberger.
All of those points came during a 12-0 E-K run, but a 5-0 run by the Imperials cut the lead to 30-23 at the half. Nathan Elhard also scored all seven of his points for the Rebels in the second.
“I felt really confident at halftime,” E-K coach Kevin Strobel said. “The guys were defending and rebounding fairly well. In the third quarter we were a little slow to start and of course they made a little run at us and we didn’t answer.”
Napoleon shot just 19 percent (6 of 31) from the field in the first half, but that wouldn’t last. A three-pointer by Napoleon’s Trent Fettig opened the third, helping the Imperials close the gap to one point (35-34) on an 11-5 run with 1:42 left before the fourth.
The rest of the period belonged to Schwartzenberger.
“He’s clutch. There’s nobody in this state that wants to win more than that kid right there,” Napoleon coach Caleb Ketterling said. “At a 5-foot-8 stature, it shows a lot of heart and determination to be able to do what he does with the basketball. He won’t back down from anyone, and that’s just his attitude and everyone else feeds off that.”
Napoleon held the Rebels to just two field goals and five total points in the third, all scored by the Rebels’ Logan Hanson. Hanson finished the night with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Napoleon’s Wade Rath-Wald came to life in the final period of play, pumping in six of his 18 points, all of which came following an offensive rebound by the 6-foot-3 forward. Rath-Wald ended the night with 11 rebounds.
“In the second half it was defense and really pushing our tempo that really got them out of sorts,” Ketterling said.
“I think the biggest thing was that we just missed some shots that we normally make,” Strobel added. “The guys worked hard. They worked their butts off on defense, but there were just a couple of possessions where we just didn’t execute very well.”
Edgeley-Kulm finished the game shooting 28 percent from the field (16 of 57) and missed 14 of 17 three-point attempts. Napoleon poured in 11 of its 20 shots after the half.
“It’s tough. Our goal was to go to state, and that’s obviously not going to happen,” Strobel said. “I give Napoleon a lot of credit. Both teams laid it all on the line.”
Napoleon will face Linton-HMB in tonight’s championship, which is a rematch of the District 6 title game. Napoleon — riding an 11-game winning streak — squeaked that on out 78-73 in double-overtime in Wishek two weeks ago.
“It’s Linton/Napoleon. It’s been a rivalry for as long as I can remember,” Ketterling said. “We’re going to come ready to play and I know they are going to come ready to play.
“We’ve got our goal set and we’re one game away. It should be fun to watch.”
Region 3 Boys’ Basketball Tournament
At Jamestown Civic Center
Napoleon 52, Edgeley-Kulm 47
Edgeley-Kulm 11 30 35 47
Napoleon 8 23 39 52
Edgeley-Kulm — Beau Diegel 15, Logan Hanson 15, Nathan Elhard 7, Steven Geisler 6, Lucas Madcke 3, Tallen Berg 1. Totals: 16-57 FG, 12-15 FT, 18 Fouls (Geisler 5), 35 Rebounds (Hanson 10), 4 Assists (Berg 2), 7 Turnovers, 8 Steals (Deigel 3). Three-pointers: (3-17) Diegel 2, Madcke.
Napoleon — Jonah Schwartzenberger 18, Wade Rath-Wald 18, Grant Wiegel 6, Dylan A. Bitz 5, Trent Fettig 5. Totals: 17-51 FG, 13-19 FT, 13 Fouls, 45 Rebounds (Rath-Wald 11), 4 Assists (Fettig 2), 12 Turnovers, 1 Block (Fettig), 4 Steals (Bitz 2). Three-pointers: (5-17) Schwartzenberger 2, Bitz, Fettig, Wiegel.
Records: Napoleon 19-4; Edgeley-Kulm 17-7.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org