Class B boys basketball: Four Winds-Minnewaukan rolls in opener
Four Winds' defensive pressure was intense throughout a quarterfinals victory over Stanley on Thursday.
MINOT – Four Winds-Minnewaukan plays a style of basketball that has no brakes. The Indians are on the gas from tipoff to buzzer. In between, the Indians’ opponent somehow must slow their fastbreak offense or solve their smothering full-court press.
Stanley did neither.
As a result, the No. 1-ranked and undefeated Indians torched their way to a 68-28 win over Stanley on Thursday night in the quarterfinal round of the North Dakota state Class B boys basketball tournament at the Minot State Dome.
Four Winds-Minnewaukan advanced to Friday night’s semifinal round against either Grafton or LaMoure-Litchville-Marion. The Indians improved to 25-0 and are attempting to win a second state title as Four Winds-Minnewaukan won it all in 2016 and lost to Kindred in last season’s state B championship game.
Four Winds-Minnewaukan had to replace four starters from last season’s state tournament team, but hasn’t skipped a beat. The Indians have been in every state Top 10 poll since the start of the 2018-19 season.
They dominated from the tipoff against Stanley with its intense style of play..
“We have to play that way; it’s our style,” said Four Winds-Minnewaukan coach Rick Smith. “We have to take teams out of their offensive sets. The biggest thing is we want to at least take the point guard out of his game so can’t run the show. That’s always been our focus.
“Tonight, we got our hands on the basketball a lot, forced them into almost 30 turnovers and we didn’t let them dictate the tempo.”
The Indians led 43-17 at halftime. Stanley had more turnovers (19) than points. And the Indians scored 19 points off those turnovers as well as recording eight steals.
Dalen Leftbear led Four Winds-Minnewaukan with 16 points. Deng Deng added 15, Jacolby Pearson 15 and Jayden Yankton 14 for the balanced Indians, who shot 47 percent and outrebounded the Blue Jays 36-30. The Indians scored 56 points in the paint as they used their athleticism and quickness to consistently get to the rim.
And defensive pressure resulted in Four Winds-Minnewaukan to score 35 points off of Stanley’s 29 turnovers.
The lopsided score, however, continued to keep fans engaged because of Four Winds-Minnewaukan’s athleticism.
Late in the third quarter, Deng Deng gathered a head of steam, drove the lane and threw down a thunderous one-handed dunk that elicited the biggest roar of the night from the fans. That put the Indians up 68-26 and was the end of the night for the FWM starters.
Deng demonstrated considerable athleticism, coming up with a monstrous first-half block
Deng, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, was a presence at the back end of the Indians’ press. If the Blue Jays, who were led by Josh Hetzel’s nine points, did break the press, they had to contend with Deng.
“I’m back there focusing on the lobs,” said Deng. “If they break it and go for a layup, I just have to be the protector.”
The Indians’ offense rolled but it was their defensive quickness that bothered Stanley the most.
“We focus mainly on defense,” said Deng.
And that’s what Four Winds-Minnewaukan hopes will carry the Indians for two more nights at the state B tournament.
If it does, Four Winds-Minnewaukan can accomplish something this weekend it has never done: Complete an undefeated, state championship season.
Four Winds-Minnewaukan 68,
Halftime: FWM 43, Stanley 17
Stanley – Trystan Johnson 5, Cal Sorenson 4, Josh Hetzel 9, Jackson Hynek 2, Tristen Barstad 4, Drake Schlosser 2, Tucker Gorder 2
Four Winds-Minnewaukan – Deng Deng 15, Dalen Leftbear 16, Jayden Yankton 13, Jacolby Pearson 14, Kelson Keja 2, Wade Nestell 4, Kylon Keja 2