A tough one to start: LaMoure-L-M to face Titans today at 1 p.m. in MinotDickinson Trinity’s starting five looks like this: 6-foot, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, 6-7. LaMoure-Litchville-Marion’s on the other hand: 5-8, 5-10, 5-11, 5-11, 5-11. “It’s almost like they’re some of the bigger teams we’ve played on steroids,” LaMoure-L-M boys basketball coach Darren Thielges joked.
By: By Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Dickinson Trinity’s starting five looks like this: 6-foot, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, 6-7.
LaMoure-Litchville-Marion’s on the other hand: 5-8, 5-10, 5-11, 5-11, 5-11.
“It’s almost like they’re some of the bigger teams we’ve played on steroids,” LaMoure-L-M boys basketball coach Darren Thielges joked. “Did we get a tough draw? Yeah … but the reality is you are down to the final eight teams and you’re going to run into a tough team regardless.”
Loboes vs. Titans is act No. 1 of the state Class B boys tourney, which tips off today at 1 p.m. inside the Minot State University Dome. The Region 3 champion Loboes (21-2) should certainly have their hands full during the opening quarterfinals, in what appears on paper to be a David vs. Goliath-type matchup.
“We’ve played some big teams. Maybe not as big across the whole team,” Thielges said. “But we are used to it in our minds anyway. We’re going to go up there and put ourselves in the best position to win as we possibly can and see what happens.”
Dickinson Trinity (22-2) has peaked at the right time, and is fresh off a 64-52 victory over defending state champion and No. 1-ranked Beulah for the Region 7 crown last Thursday in Dickinson. Ranked No. 3 in the final poll of the season, it was Dickinson Trinity’s first win over Beulah in its last five tries and also snapped the Miners’ 39-game winning streak.
Both of the Titans’ losses this season had come at the hands of the Miners.
“We start a pretty big lineup and just keep running kids at the other team,” Dickinson Trinity coach Gregg Grinsteinner said. “Because of our size, we feel we create matchup problems at all positions besides the point guard.”
Trinity’s big three, so to speak, is 6-3 second team all-state senior guard Jacob Volk, 6-3 senior forward Isiah Binstock and 6-7 senior post Jesse Kubik. Volk has scored 1,110 points in his career and leads the team this season in points (20.0), assists (2.5) and steals (2.1) per game.
Binstock (11.6) and Kubik (10.9) are both averaging over 10 points per contest. Binstock leads the team with 8.8 rebounds per game. Kubik has signed to play offensive tackle at North Dakota State in the fall.
“Our focus will be on their big guy (Kubik), and we’ll obviously be focused on Volk,” Thielges said. “Their other guys are solid and make plays as well, but that’s where we are going to start. Move and react from those two guys.”
The other big difference between the Loboes and the Titans, other than height, is experience. Dickinson Trinity primarily plays nine players, all of whom are seniors except 5-10 junior guard Austin Deichert, who comes off the bench.
LaMoure-L-M has just three seniors on its roster in starters Jared Meiklejohn (5-11 guard), Kenny Hodem (5-8 guard) and Nolan Alber (5-10 forward). The rest of the Loboes’ starting five includes 5-11 junior Brady Thielges and 5-11 sophomore Anthony Olson.
Olson leads the team in scoring (15.8) and rebounding (7.2) per game this season.
“The one thing about this team is they come ready to play,” Darren Thielges said. “That’s the comment you hear a lot about this team. They never let up and that’s something they take a little bit of pride in.”
Meiklejohn (14.9) and Brady Thielges (14.1) are the Loboes’ other two leading scoring threats. Meiklejohn, who has drained 53 3-pointers this season, was named the Region 3 senior athlete of the year following LaMoure-L-M’s 62-47 victory over South Border in the region title game at the Civic Center last Thursday.
The Loboes haven’t allowed 60 or more points to an opponent all year, holding teams to less than 50 markers on 16 separate occasions. The Titans, however, have scored 70-plus 11 times.
“We really try to establish an inside game in all games that we play,” Grinsteinner said. “We think with the length we have, we can create problems both defensively and on the glass.”
But LaMoure-L-M has won 12 straight since Jan. 12, and will be relying on solid defense once again.
“Nobody can really change who they are, so we have to continue to play the way that got us to this point,” Thielges said. “We’re going to have to be ready to defend for an entire game. We’ll need to make smart decisions with the basketball and keep turnovers to a minimum.”
This week will mark Dickinson Trinity’s 10th state B boys tournament appearance. The Titans won state titles in 2004 and 2006.
The Loboes will be kicking off their first trip to state since taking third in 2008 as just LaMoure. The Loboes are in their first season of a basketball co-op between LaMoure and Litchville-Marion.
LaMoure now has five state tournament appearances, winning a state title in 1976. Litchville and Marion have been represented at state on five previous occasions, with its last trip coming in 2000 as Litchville-Marion-Montpelier.
“It’s an accomplishment to get to this tournament,” Thielges said. “But at the same time we’ve got business to attend to, and we think we are a tough matchup for a lot of teams.”
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org