Rebels, Imperials advanceMake no mistake, there was one message above all else in Napoleon’s locker room at halftime on Thursday. “(Coach Caleb Ketterling) came in at half and he wasn’t that happy,” junior Trent Fettig said. “He told us to step it up on defense and win the game.”
By: By Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Make no mistake, there was one message above all else in Napoleon’s locker room at halftime on Thursday.
“(Coach Caleb Ketterling) came in at half and he wasn’t that happy,” junior Trent Fettig said. “He told us to step it up on defense and win the game.”
The Imperials executed, forcing 15 second-half turnovers to pull away from Kidder County 45-37 in the nightcap of the opening round of the Stutsman County Tournament at the Civic Center.
“We weren’t creating pressure the way we wanted to,” Ketterling said. “We’re not a big team. We have to force turnovers.”
Third-seeded Napoleon (2-1) plays Edgeley-Kulm at 7:30 p.m. today in the semis, while No. 6 Kidder County (0-3) drops into the consolation bracket to play Central Prairie at 4:30 p.m.
Fettig, a standout football player, finished with 15 points, as did teammate Grant Weigel to lead the Imperials. Eli Hilzendeger had 10 points including a pair of 3-pointers, and Dylan A. Bitz rounded out the scoring with five.
Fettig said the key was getting a hand on every passed ball. Napoleon forced 23 turnovers total, committing just nine itself including zero miscues in the fourth.
“Once we got to the tipped balls, we could run and make layups,” said Fettig, who was 6-of-12 from the field. “(We had) to get our hands on the ball.”
Napoleon trailed 21-20 at halftime after a last-second putback from Kidder County’s Cole Scherbenske.
However, the two teams exchanged leads early in the third until a layup from Fettig at the 3-minute, 56-second mark put the Imperials up for good at 26-25. Bitz followed with a 3-pointer and Fettig added another bucket to build Napoleon’s lead.
Ketterling said it was a matter of getting to the basket, rather than settling for 3-pointers. Napoleon finished 3-of-12 from beyond the arc in the first half, but shot just four in the second half.
“We shot way too many 3s in the first quarter,” Ketterling said. “It’s fine if they’re going in. But we’ve got to make a conscious effort to get to the lane. In the first half, we were just standing around.”
Kidder County stayed within striking distance the rest of the way, but found offense hard to come by, scoring only 16 second-half points. Pirates junior Ben Steinolfson scored seven of his team-high 14 points in the second quarter. Cole Scherbenske and Ryan Sand each added eight.
Edgeley-Kulm 63, Central Prairie 36
The Rebels (3-0) punched their ticket to the semifinals with a big first quarter.
They forced six Central Prairie turnovers in the opening stanza on their way to a 22-9 lead at the first break. They staked a 36-17 lead at halftime thanks to a 15-of-36 performance from the floor (42 percent), taking 12 more shots than Central Prairie (7-of-24). They finished 26-of-59 for 44 percent.
“We shot the ball fairly well in the first half,” E-K coach Kevin Strobel said. “Sometimes, we were shooting too quick.”
More importantly, the Rebels were able to take care of the ball. They escaped the first quarter without a turnover and had just two in the second, while forcing a total of 10 on defense in the first half. They had a total of eight in the game to 17 for Central Prairie.
“Our guards are fairly strong,” Strobel said. “We have a fair amount of experience with our guard play, (but) we haven’t had any full-court pressure to deal with.”
Edgeley-Kulm senior Jordan Nitschke paved the way in the opening half, scoring 10 points including a pair of 3-pointers. He finished with a game-high 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting. The Rebels have had at least three in doubles figures in all three of their wins.
“(Nitschke) is one of our top shooters,” Strobel said. “He’s been struggling a little bit, so it’s good to see him knock down open looks.”
Logan Hanson had eight of his 13 points in the first half, as he finished 6-of-15. Freshman Connor Entzi also proved difficult to stop, ending 6-of-13 for 14 points.
“Connor doesn’t play like a freshman,” Strobel said. “He’s played a lot of basketball. He’s worked on his game a lot. He plays like a junior or senior.”
Central Prairie (0-3), which allowed the Rebels to start the game on an 8-0 run, was led by Alex Eissinger and Brett Williams, who each had seven points. The Firebirds shot 14-of-49 for 29 percent including 1-of-14 (7 percent) from 3-point land.
Edgeley-Kulm 63, Central Prairie 36
Central Prairie 9 17 25 36
Edgeley-Kulm 22 36 52 63
CP — Brett Williams 7, Alex Eissinger 7, Avery Foerderer 6, Wyatt Staloch 6, Zach Meyer 6, Hunter Larson 2, Donavan Moser 2. Totals 14-49 7-11 36
EK — Jordan Nitschke 16, Connor Entzi 14, Logan Hanson 13, Chris Miller 9, Tallen Berg 6, Noah Greer 2, Morgan Harr 3. Totals 26-59 5-6 63
Records: CP 0-3, EK 3-0.
Napoleon 45, Kidder County 37
Kidder Co. 12 21 28 37
Napoleon 13 20 31 45
Kidder County — Ben Steinolfson 14, Cole Scherbenske 8, Ryan Sand 8, Jordan Leier 3, Walker Brandt 2, Zach Six 2. Totals 13-46 8-10 37
Napoleon — Trent Fettig 15, Grant Weigel 15, Eli Hilzendeger 10, Dylan A. Bitz 5. Totals 17-47 7-9 45
Records: KC 0-3, Napoleon 2-1.
Sun sportswriter Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org