Loboes top Mustangs for state berthIt was almost like they had been there before. LaMoure-Litchville-Marion sophomore guard Anthony Olson and freshman forward Drew Thielges showed poise beyond their years during the Region 3 boys basketball championship game at the Jamestown Civic Center on Thursday night.
By: By Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
It was almost like they had been there before.
LaMoure-Litchville-Marion sophomore guard Anthony Olson and freshman forward Drew Thielges showed poise beyond their years during the Region 3 boys basketball championship game at the Jamestown Civic Center on Thursday night.
Olson tossed in 17 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, while Thielges hit a pair of enormous 3-pointers and scored 10 of his 12 after the break, leading the Loboes to their first region title since 2008 with a 62-47 victory over the South Border Mustangs.
L-L-M will play the first state quarterfinal game of day next Thursday in Minot against Region 7 champion Dickinson Trinity.
“We played lockdown defense in the second half and it worked out for us,” Olson said, whose Loboes trailed the Mustangs 19-17 at the half. “Coach (Darren Thielges) came in the locker room and told us, ‘We’re only down two. We can come back.”
The Loboes were giving up plenty of height to the Mustangs heading into the game, but that picture changed dramatically when the Mustangs’ 6-foot-5 freshman forward Hunter Pinke ran into foul trouble in the second half.
South Border had built an eight-point 28-20 advantage early in the third period, but with 5:18 remaining Pinke picked up his fourth foul and sat out the rest of the period. That sparked the comeback the Loboes needed to climb back for the victory.
L-M-M erupted to outscore South Border 17-6 over the final five minutes of the third to take a 37-34 lead into the final eight minutes. Olson scored nine points during the run, and Drew Thielges opened up the fourth with his second 3-pointer of the half to create the separation the Loboes needed.
“Anthony had some big post ups and put backs for us, and Drew hit a couple of big threes that were just game-changers,” L-L-M coach Darren Thielges said. “You know, if you miss one of those shots, the run could go the other way.”
Things got worse for the Mustangs after that, as Pinke picked up foul No. 5 just 43 seconds into the fourth period. He entered the game averaging 12.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
“He’s young, and he’ll learn from this experience, but you’ve got to feel for those seniors,” South Border coach Robert Lukens said of Pinke. “That was definitely a turning point in the game.
“You’ve got to hand it to (the Loboes) for being composed under pressure … They held themselves together very well.”
A combination of Jared Meiklejohn going 2-of-5 from beyond the 3-point line and 6 turnovers by South Border gave the Loboes an early 11-4 advantage after the first period. South Border hit just one field goal in the opening eight minutes, a 3-pointer by Adam Jacobson to start the game’s scoring.
But things would pick up for the Mustangs in period No. 2, as they closed the half on an 8-0 run to take over the lead at 19-17 at the half. South Border’s Matt Kretschmar and Michael Jacobson both connected from long range during the run.
Michael Jacobson hit a pair of treys and scored 10 of South Border’s 15 points of the second period. But Jacobson, the 6-4 South Border standout, was limited to just 6 points in the second half as he finished the game with 17 points and 11 rebounds, his third double-double of the tournament.
“We just talked about that he’s the guy they’re going to go to,” Darren Thielges said. “But Brady (Thielges) did a great job battling him … and we had some other guys helping off him too.”
Pinke, who posted 14 points and 16 rebounds during Tuesday’s 63-54 double overtime victory over Strasburg-Zeeland in the semifinals, ended the night with just four points and three rebounds.
“It’s unfortunate. You hate to see a guy (foul) out of the game,” Darren Thielges said. “It was a combination of that and our guys just stuck with it. We were struggling offensively to find our rhythm against that 2-3 zone they were playing.
“We had to change the pace and went to that full-court trap and created a few turnovers.”
Thursday’s championship game was a rematch of the 2008 Region 3 title game, which the Loboes also won by the final of 66-34.
This is the first year of the co-op between LaMoure and Litchville-Marion. LaMoure has four previous state tournament appearances and brought home the championship in 1976. Litchville-Marion has been to the state Class B boys tourney four times, from 1995 to 2000, as Litchville-Marion-Montpelier.
LaMoure took third at state in 2008, finishing with an overall record of 26-2. This was the first region championship for the Loboes in three title game appearances since 2010.
“We’re going to enjoy this one, obviously tonight,” Darren Thielges said. “We don’t have an easy one the first round, but that’s fine. We’re going to go there and battle.”
“It’s the best feeling ever,” said Meiklejohn, the Region 3 Senior Athlete of the Year, who finished with 16 points against the Mustangs. “Only eight teams in the state go every year, and we’re one of them.”
Region 3 Boys Tournament
LaMoure-Litchville-Marion 62, South Border 47
LaMoure-L-M 11 17 37 62
South Border 4 19 34 47
LaMoure-L-M —Anthony Olson 21, Jared Meiklejohn 16, Drew Thielges 12, Brady Thielges 10, Kenny Hodem 3. Totals: 18-46 FG, 20-31 FT, 29 rebounds (Olson 6), 13 fouls, 11 assists (Hodem 5, B. Thielges 5), 9 turnovers, 2 blocks (Olson 2), 6 steals (Meiklejohn 3). 3-pointers: (6-17) Meiklejohn 2, D. Thielges 2, B. thielges 2.
South Border — Michael Jacobson 17, Matt Kretschmar 9, Adam Jacobson 9, Ross Knoll 4, Huner Pinke 4, Michael Rueb 2, Daniel Sayler 2. Totals: 18-44 FG, 5-8 FT, 30 rebounds (M. Jacobson 11), 22 fouls (Pinke), 9 assists (Pinke 4), 13 turnovers, 2 blocks (M. Jacobson 2), 3 steals (3 with 1). 3-pointers: (6-19) Kretschmar 3, M. Jacobson 2, A. Jacobson 1.
Records: LaMoure-L-M 21-2; South Border 14-11.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org