Perfection: Central Cass Squirrels complete undefeated season with Class B state crown
The Squirrels used a 22-point fourth quarter to down Bismarck Shiloh Christian and claim the title in their first state tournament appearance in 11 years.
BISMARCK — For the Central Cass Squirrels, their boys basketball season was perfect.
The Squirrels capped a 26-0 season with a North Dakota Class B state championship after a 61-44 victory over Bismarck Shiloh Christian on Saturday night at the Bismarck Event Center.
The teams played one- or two-possession basketball most of the game, but Central Cass outscored Shiloh 22-8 in the fourth quarter to pull away.
“We couldn’t be more excited,” said Squirrel coach Matt Norman. “I am super proud of these kids and their hard work and everything they’ve done. We wanted to be sure we were here making memories for these kids. I’m really, really proud of them.”
Half of those points came from free throws, with the Squirrels hitting 11 of 13 from the line in the fourth quarter. Norman said the shooting from the line reflected the team’s poise and time put in on the court.
“It’s a credit to how much work they've put in,” he said. “Free throws in pressure situations are tough so for them to have the presence of mind to just take a breath and go through the motion is just huge.”
Cole Holzer had 15 points — in addition to 14 rebounds for a double-double — to lead the Squirrels. Sam Kobbervig had 14 and Carter Vrchota 10.
“I don’t know if I let it sink in yet,” said Holzer. “Me and my cobras and our seniors we worked so hard on this. I’m so happy we got to get this done with this group.”
The Squirrels trailed 13-9 after one quarter but outscored the Skyhawks 21-10 in the second quarter 21-10 to take a 30-23 lead into halftime. Three consecutive shots from Sam Kobbervig put the Squirrels up midway through the second.
Chase Bachmeier, Carter Maasjo, Eli Buhr and Cole Holzer all followed Kobbervig's shots to help build the advantage at the half.
The Skyhawks were able to tie the game once in the second half but the Squirrels never surrendered the lead.
Shiloh's Caden Englund had 13 points while Atticus Wilkinson added 12.
In addition to the state title, Sam Kobbervig was named the tournament's most valuable player. Though happy with the accolade, sharing the title with his teammates was far more important, he said.
“I would rather be a state champion than MVP because I got to do it with this amazing group of guys,” Kobbervig said. “It was just unreal to do it tonight."
Kobbervig added how much the team means to one another.
“It’s just a brotherhood,” he said. “We always care for each other and push each other. I think that’s what got us here tonight and winning a state championship. Everybody loves each other and we pushed each other to be better.”
The boy's title completes a Class B sweep for the Central Cass, which also won the girls state title earlier this month in Minot.
CC 9 30 39 61
SC 13 23 36 44
CC: Bachmeier 7, Vrchota 10, Kobbervig 14, Bosse 2, Wiersma 2, Holzer 15, Maasjo 2, Buhr 9.
SC: Klein 5, Westin 7, Englund 13, Emmel 3, Wilkinson 12, Wanzek 4.