Back-2-Back: Lions top Imperials for Region 3 titleIn the ever expanding world of Class B sports co-ops, a good one has been established in south-central North Dakota.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
In the ever expanding world of Class B sports co-ops, a good one has been established in south-central North Dakota.
Two years as the Linton-Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock Lions has equaled two trips to the state Class B boys’ basketball tournament, as the Lions upended Napoleon 63-54 in the Region 3 championship game in Jamestown on Thursday.
“I always felt that we had great kids in Linton. Well, those H-M-B kids are awful doggone nice kids, too,” said Linton-HMB coach Dan Carr, who also picked up his second consecutive Region 3 Coach of the Year award on Thursday night. “We like it, and we’re enjoying it.”
Linton-HMB senior guard Tanner Purintun came ready to play. An all-state tournament team selection last season as a junior, the 6-foot-2 Purintun buried four first-half three-pointers and scored a whopping 20 of his game-high 31 points in the first 16 minutes.
He torched the net from long range twice in the first period — scoring 14 total — and his 15-foot jumper with less than a second remaining fell through the cylinder, as Linton-HMB was in command 22-10 after one.
“He’s a very determined individual. You look in his eyes and you can see it,” Carr said of Purintun. “There wasn’t much question he was going to come out, play well and take charge of things tonight.”
Napoleon attempted to get back into it in the second, using a pair of three-pointers from Dylan A. Bitz and Elijah Hilzendeger during an 8-0 Imperial run to slash the lead to six points at 27-21 with 56 seconds left in the second period.
But just like that, Purintun was there to answer with three-pointer No. 4. Linton-HMB went into the half with a 31-21 advantage.
“I was not going to make this be my last game,” Purintun said. “We needed to come out with intensity right away, and I just had to do what I had to do.”
Purintun missed Linton-HMB’s (17-7) first five games of the season due to a torn MCL in his left knee that he suffered during football season. With Purintun out, Napoleon upended the Lions 70-50 back on Dec. 8.
Thursday night’s meeting was the fourth time the Imperials and Lions met up with each other this season, with Linton-HMB leveling the season series at 2-2. The game was a rematch of the District 6 title game, which the Imperials won 78-73 in double overtime on Feb. 11 in Wishek.
But another win wasn’t in the cards for the Imperials (19-5), who captured a state 9-man football championship back in November.
The Imperials went 4 of 13 from the field over the first eight minutes on Thursday, and didn’t fare much better in the second, shooting just 27 percent in the first half on 8 of 30 attempts.
“We did force a few. That was a tough one,” said Napoleon coach Caleb Ketterling. “They seemed to hit everything and get all the bounces on the rim, and we couldn’t buy one on the rim.
“Hats off to Linton, they’re a good team.”
Napoleon’s Trent Fettig kicked off the third with a bang by drilling a triple, helping the Imperials cut it to seven at 40-33 to start the final period of play. Linton-HMB’s Ryan Dralle scored seven of his 16 points in the third, keeping the Lions viable.
Dralle also captured a double-double with 11 rebounds.
Napoleon, however, wasn’t going down without a fight. Fettig again came through in the clutch from long range, burying another trey with 1:48 left in the game to cut the Lions’ lead to one point at 49-48.
But arguably the shot of the tournament came on Linton-HMB’s next possession. The Lions got the ball into the hands of senior Cody Sehn on the left baseline, and he drained a three of his own just as time expired on the shot clock to put the Imperials back ahead by four.
“We needed it,” Carr said. “It was a great answer. You need to make a big play after they come at you to get the momentum changed again, and that was it.
“There was no question they were going to make a run,” Carr added. “They’ve got very strong, athletic kids and great shooters. They’re not going to give up, and you just know that.”
Sehn’s trey was Linton-HMB’s only field goal of the fourth period, but a 20 of 22 performance from the free-throw line as a team over the final eight minutes iced the victory for the Lions. Purintun went 9 of 10 from the line in the frame.
Napoleon was looking for its first trip to the state Class B boys’ tournament since taking fourth at state back in 1992. The Imperials were led by Wade Rath-Wald’s double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds.
“They wanted to take that next step, but unfortunately we fell a little short,” Ketterling said. “They’ll look back and find some things that they probably messed up on, and I’m sure I will. Hindsight is always 20-20.”
Linton-HMB as a co-op will now have a combined 21 state tournament appearances. Linton has three state titles — all under Carr (624 victories) — with the last title coming back in 2009 (26-0).
The Lions will face Region 6 champion Berthold in the state quarterfinals in Grand Forks next Thursday. Linton-HMB finished seventh at state last season.
“When you get in it, you’d always like to win it. So we’re going to set our goals high,” Carr said. “But it doesn’t matter what you do, we’re still playing at state.”
Third place LaMoure 54, Edgeley-Kulm 43
Ranked No. 3 in the last Class B boys’ poll of the season, the LaMoure Loboes’ season came to a close with a single loss on their record and an 11-point victory over the Edgeley-Kulm Rebels in Thursday’s third-place contest.
LaMoure senior Tyler Thielges polished off a fine career with five three-pointers and 20 total points. Thielges also picked up Region 3 Senior Athlete of the Year honors.
Nathan Elhard tossed in 17 points to lead the Rebels.
Region 3 Boys’ Basketball Tournament
Jamestown Civic Center
LaMoure 54, Edgeley-Kulm 43
Edgeley-Kulm 19 23 29 43
LaMoure 11 21 40 54
Edgeley-Kulm — Nathan Elhard 17, Logan Hanson 7, Lucas Madcke 7, Steven Geisler 6, Tallen Berg 3, Beau Diegel 3. Totals: 17-55 FG, 5-9 FT, 14 Fouls, 36 Rebounds (Geisler 6), 8 Assists (Diegel 3), 11 Turnovers, 1 Block (Alex Lindgren), 9 Steals (Berg 3). Three-pointers: (4-12) Madcke 2, Elhard, Berg.
LaMoure — Tyler Thielges 20, Kenny Hodem 8, Jared Meiklejohn 7, Skylar Shockman 6, Brady Thielges 5, Devin Pedersen 4, Anthony Olson 2, Zach Stemen 2. Totals: 22-52 FG, 4-11 FT, 12 Fouls, 37 Rebounds (Tanner Carlson 6), 10 Assists (B. Thielges 4), 13 Turnovers, 8 Steals (Hodem 2, T. Thielges 2). Three-pointers: (6-17) T. Thielges 5, Meiklejohn.
Records: LaMoure 23-1; Edgeley-Kulm 17-8.
Linton-Hazleton-Moffit-Braddock 63, Napoleon 54
Napoleon 10 21 33 54
Linton-HMB 22 31 40 63
Napoleon — Wade Rath-Wald 19, Elijah Hilzendeger 10, Dylan A. Bitz 9, Trent Fettig 8, Jonah Schwartzenberger 6, Grant Wiegel 2. Totals: 21-63 FG, 5-9 FT, 24 Fouls (Bitz 5), 40 Rebounds (Rath-Wald 12), 5 Assists (Schwartzenberger 5), 12 Turnovers, 3 Blocks (Fettig 2), 6 Steals (Rath-Wald 3, Wiegel 3). Three-pointers: (7-20) Hilzendeger 3, Fettig 2, Bitz 2.
Linton-HMB — Tanner Purintun 31, Ryan Dralle 16, Nathan Weiser 9, Cody Sehn 7. Totals: 16-49 FG, 26-29 FT, 12 Fouls, 38 Rebounds (Dralle 11), 5 Assists (Purintun 3), 11 Turnovers, 1 Block (Weiser), 7 Steals (Dralle 3). Three-pointers: (5-10) Purintun 4, Sehn.
Records: Linton-HMB 17-7; Napoleon 19-5.
Region 3 awards
Region 3 Coach of the Year: Dan Carr, Linton-HMB.
Region 3 Senior Athlete of the Year: Tyler Thielges, LaMoure.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org