Midkota boys basketball coach Ross Florhaug and the Mustangs wrapped up what had to be an interesting week of practice Sunday morning. They've had seven days to prepare for a game, and a tournament, nobody outside the team's circle thought they'd...
Midkota boys basketball coach Ross Florhaug and the Mustangs wrapped up what had to be an interesting week of practice Sunday morning.
They've had seven days to prepare for a game, and a tournament, nobody outside the team's circle thought they'd be playing in.
The Mustangs (3-18) open today's Region 3 tournament quarterfinals facing sixth-ranked Linton-HMB (19-2) at 3 p.m. inside the Jamestown Civic Center.
"The week of practice was actually pretty fun, really," Florhaug said. "The kids are confident and excited, of course, but at the same time they understand that the task in front of them is quite large."
Today's contest will mark the first region tournament appearance for the team since the Midkota-Kensal basketball merger began four seasons ago. Florhaug has been at the helm from the beginning, having won just three games total in the three years prior to this winter.
The Mustangs had just one victory on the season entering last week's District 5 tournament in Jamestown, where they promptly brushed aside Barnes County North and Oakes to give the team something it hadn't achieved in some time-a winning streak.
"The record doesn't show it, but we played some better basketball this season," Florhaug said. "Even though we were getting beat by 15 or 20 points, were were doing a lot of good things and taking the right shots.
"We were struggling to get consistent scoring from more than one or two guys on any given night, and once the lid came off the hoop things have started falling into place."
Midkota poured in 69 and 70 points in its two district tournament victories behind 42 percent shooting. The Mustangs entered the postseason scoring just 41 points per game.
Junior Mason Smith and seniors Laine Hoyt and Chance Wells have led the charge. Smith averaged a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, to go along with seven assists and eight steals, during districts.
Hoyt buried nine 3-pointers and averaged 13.3 points per night, while Chance Wells averaged 13 points and eight boards. The team has also received meaningful minutes from senior Gavin Smith, sophomore Chase Wells (8 ppg. 8.7 rpg) and freshman Jory Boote (7.3 ppg).
"I've seen that in practice from these guys," Florhaug said. "I think the big thing is throughout the year Mason has came into his own and has developed into a leader, and the younger guys have been pushing the older guys. Once they saw a little bit of success it was kind of contagious."
But the Mustangs will need a near-flawless effort today against the champions of District 6. Linton-HMB has won 11 straight games and have a pair of 6-foot-4 big men in senior Cole Vanderlaan and junior Lance Wiser.
"A big key for us will be trying to keep those guys off the boards," Florhaug said. "They also present an outside threat with (seniors Chase) Schiele and (Jared) Baumiller."
The Midkota boys' last regional appearance came in 2007 under coach Mike Monson. Florhaug led the Pingree-Buchanan-Kensal boys to the region tournament as coach in 2013.
Florhaug, a Kensal native, played college ball at Jamestown College after leading P-B-K to a Region 3 championship and 26 wins as a senior in 2006. He was named second team all-state.
"Hopefully we can rebound well and Linton isn't shooting the lights out, and we have to put the ball in the hoop ourselves," Florhaug said. "We need to come out confident. If we let them jump out by 10 points early, it's going to be a tough one."
Region 3 Boys Basketball Tournament
At Jamestown Civic Center
Linton-HMB (19-2) vs. Midkota (3-18), 3 p.m.
Carrington (17-4) vs. Strasburg-Zeeland (10-12), 4:30 p.m.
Ellendale (17-5) vs. Kidder County (11-11), 6 p.m.
Napoleon-G-S (10-10) vs. Edgeley-K-M (9-13), 7:30 p.m.