Cardinals cruiseIf Carrington continue to play the way it played its final two games at the Jamestown Civic Center over the weekend, North Star and Four Winds-Minnewaukan had better take notice.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
If Carrington continue to play the way it played its final two games at the Jamestown Civic Center over the weekend, North Star and Four Winds-Minnewaukan had better take notice.
Napoleon simply had no answer for Carrington’s shutdown full-court press and slick transition play in the championship game of the Stutsman County Boys Basketball Tournament on Saturday night.
The Cardinals forced the Imperials into an eye-popping 23 first-half turnovers and allowed Napoleon just 14 points in the opening 16 minutes of play, as the Cards stormed to their second Stutsman County Tournament title since 2010 with a convincing 74-46 victory over Napoleon.
“I don’t know if it’s a statement, but it certainly is a confidence builder for us,” Carrington coach Matt Hone said, concerning his team’s dominance at the tournament. “Knowing that we can go into a tournament situation, outside of say, the district or the region and perform well, and that confidence will help us in the months ahead because there are going to be some tough teams on the schedule.”
Just like Carrington’s 75-21 semifinal victory over Pingree-Buchanan-Kensal on Friday, this one was over with at the half.
The Cardinals swarmed like bees to the ball, forcing Napoleon into 13 turnovers in the first period, many of which were coughed up trying to get through Carrington’s full-court pressure. Carrington’s 6-foot-5 senior Austin Johnson had a monster half, scoring the Cards’ first six points of the game — four of which came in transition.
Carrington guards Taylor Skytland (8 steals) and Seth Abaurrea (5) wreaked the most havoc in the defensive backcourt, combining for 13 of Carrington’s 23 steals in the game. Skytland (7 assists), Abaurrea (6) and guard Casey Murphy (6) also combined for 19 of Carrington’s 24 assists, as they simply pitched the ball in transition to the open man for the layup.
One of those pitches, however, didn’t result in a bucket of the lay-in variety. Skytland intercepted a cross-court pass with just over 3 minutes to go in the second period and found Johnson streaking down the court to the hoop.
Johnson soared above the rim for the one-handed jam, sending the Carrington crowd into a frenzy. Johnson scored 17 of his game-high 24 points in the first half, as Carrington went into the locker room with a commanding 42-14 lead at the break.
“We wanted to come out here, get the job done right away and put the boot to the throat, as our coach says,” Johnson said. “We’re coming. Just play one game at a time.”
Napoleon trailed 19-6 after the first period, and adding insult to injury, the Imperials’ 6-0 senior Grant Weigel went down with a left knee injury in the closing seconds of the first and did not return. Weigel hit a trey and pulled in three rebounds before exiting.
Napoleon went just 4 of 21 from the field in the first half.
“Grant’s a leader and a senior on the team, and one of the guards, so we needed him tonight,” Napoleon coach Caleb Ketterling said. “We didn’t handle the ball, and we needed to. If we’re not going to handle the ball, that’s the fate of anybody that plays (Carrington).
“Hats off to them, they’ve got a solid team.”
Carrington ran into some foul trouble early in the second half, with seniors Scott Burnham and Alex Nelson both on the bench in the third with four fouls each. But that just meant the ball found the hands of Abaurrea and Johnson more often.
Abaurrea posted two steals and 10 points in the third — all in transition — while Johnson tossed in seven more points to help the Cards put it away 60-22 at the end of three periods. Abaurrea finished with 15 points.
“It’s a tribute to our kids. They’re just great athletes and that style of play is what suits them and they enjoy playing it,” Hone said. “When it gets clicking, yeah, it’s very entertaining and it’s very effective and that’s what you saw here tonight.”
Napoleon hit six 3-pointers in the final period of play, but that was during mop-up time. Trent Fettig drained four treys and scored 16 for the Imperials, while Eli Hilzendeger added 11 points.
Carrington (5-0) is currently ranked No. 8 in the state and sits behind Region 4 rivals North Star (No. 1) and Four Winds-Minnewaukan (No. 7) in the state poll. The Indians (5-1) fell 72-71 to North Star (4-0) in the championship game of the Ramsey County Tournament in Devils Lake on Dec. 8.
At any rate, the Cardinals could be the object in the mirror that is closer than it appears.
“Coming into the tournament when you get the No. 1 seed, it’s like saying they expect you to win,” Hone said. “So that was the expectation, and it was a matter of could we live up to those expectations. With the way the tournament played out … we did meet those expectations, we did gain some confidence and that’s going to be very important as we move ahead.”
E-K-M 49, P-B-K 37
It wasn’t the prettiest win, but Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier head coach Kevin Strobel and his squad of Rebels will take it.
After trailing 15-13 at the end of the first period, E-K-M went on to outscore P-B-K after each of the remaining three periods to capture third place by 12 points.
E-K-M turned it up a notch defensively after the break, and it was noticeable on the stat sheet. E-K-M forced P-B-K into 12 first-half turnovers, but the Rebels to the north shot 50 percent (7 of 14) from the field in the first half and only trailed 25-23 at the break.
E-K-M forced 15 more turnovers after the half, but this time the defense limited P-B-K to just 5-of-17 field goals for 29 percent.
“It was back and forth. Give credit to their kids, they hustled and worked hard, as well as our kids,” E-K-M coach Kevin Strobel said. “I don’t think we executed maybe quite as well as we could have offensively in the first half. In the second half I think we just defended a heck of a lot better, and really showed a lot of hustle throughout.
“I think that was probably the key to the game, our defensive pressure in that second half.”
Turnovers really stung P-B-K in the third, especially late during a 6-2 run by E-K-M as the P-B-K forged ahead 37-32 after three.
Already playing without junior Nic Blaskowski, who was lost to a knee injury on Thursday, P-B-K senior Shawn Baker fouled out early in the fourth (6:30 remaining), which really hampered any attempt at a comeback.
JR Perleberg led P-B-K with 14 points, while Baker finished with 11.
“(Baker’s) one of their better scorers I know, and he does a lot of the ball handling,” Strobel said. “But we didn’t really change much after that, we just went about our business and wanted to execute on the offensive end.”
Connor Entzi paced E-K-M with 11 points, while Logan Hanson chipped in with 10.
“We won two out of three and got a third-place finish, and I think we’re happy,” Strobel said. “We’re looking forward to next week. We’ve got one game, then it’s Christmas break and on to the next.”
Stutsman County Tournament
At Jamestown Civic Center
No. 2 Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier 49, No. 5 Pingree-Buchanan-Kensal 37
E-K-M 13 25 37 49
P-B-K 15 23 32 37
E-K-M — Connor Entzi 11, Logan Hanson 10, Noah Greer 9, Chris Miller 8, Jordan Nitschke 6, Tallen Berg 8. Totals: 19-47 FG, 9-12 FT, 26 rebounds (Nitschke 7, Greer 7), 14 fouls, 13 assists (Nitschke 5), 15 turnovers, 2 blocks (Berg 1, Hanson 1), 14 steals (Nitschke 6, Greer 6). Three-pointers: (2-9) Greer 1, Entzi 1.
P-B-K — JR Perleberg 14, Shawn Baker 11, Cody Horn 6, Ian Snow 4, Kolten Sabinash 2. Totals: 12-31 FG, 9-13 FT, 27 rebounds (Perleberg 6, Horn 6, Sabinash 6), 16 fouls (Baker), 10 assists (Horn 4), 27 turnovers, 8 steals (Horn 3). Three-pointers: (4-13) Horn 2, Perleberg 1, Baker 1.
Records: E-K-M 4-1; P-B-K 3-3.
No. 1 Carrington 74, No. 3 Napoleon 46
Napoleon 6 14 22 46
Carrington 19 42 60 74
Napoleon — Trent Fettig 16, Eli Hilzendeger 11, Dylan A. Bitz 9, Bryce Fettig 4, Grant Weigel 3, Jaden Jangula 3. Totals: 14-47 FG, 9-14 FT, 37 rebounds (Dylan C. Bitz 9), 16 fouls, 12 assists (Dylan A. Bitz 4), 36 turnovers, 4 blocks (Dylan C. Bitz 3), 11 steals (Dylan C. Bitz 4). Three-pointers: (9-27) T. Fettig 4, Dylan A. Bitz 2, Hilzendeger 1, Weigel 1, Jangula 1.
Carrington — Austin Johnson 24, Seth Abaurrea 15, Tysen Rosenau 8, Taylor Skytland 7, Scott Burnham 7, Casey Murphy 4, Joey Kubal 4, Brady Bickett 3, Alex Nelson 2. Totals: 31-56 FG, 9-19 FT, 32 rebounds (Rosenau 7), 20 fouls, 24 assists (Skytland 7, Abaurrea 6, Murphy 6), 19 turnovers, 3 blocks (3 with 1), 23 steals (Skytland 8, Abaurrea 5, Nelson 3, Jonson 3). Three-pointers: (3-9) Abaurrea 1, Johnson 1, Bickett 1.
Records: Carrington 5-0; Napoleon 3-2.
All-Tournament Team: Logan Hanson, E-K-M; Ryan Sand, Kidder Co.; Shawn Baker, P-B-K; Austin Monson, Midkota; Alex Eissinger, Central Prairie; Adam White, Ellendale; Trent Fettig, Napoleon; Seth Abaurrea, Carrington; Scott Burnham, Carrington; Austin Johnson, Carrington; Grant Weigel, Napoleon.
Free-Throw Award: Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier, 77.8 percent.
Coach’s Award: Kevin Strobel, Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier.
Sportsmanship Award: Central Prairie.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org