Region 1 - #3 Richland (21-2): Richland is paced by one of the top players in Class B with junior Cole Myers averaging 18.2 points per game along with seven rebounds. Myers does an excellent job of getting to the basket but can also knock down shots from the outside. The Colts have four players that average in double-figures. Along with Myers, juniors Gavin Reiland (14.8) and Carter Lingen (13.7) and senior Hunter Lentz (10) are all averaging 10 points per game or more. Reiland is one of the best at finding his teammates for open shots and averages four assists per game and an impressive 4.8 steals per contest. Richland is heavy at the top with those four student-athletes and coming off the bench they have athletes but they don’t lean on them too much. Juniors Zach Wulfekuhle and Carson Anderson are averaging 2.5 points per game along with a pair of assists. The Colts have no trouble in scoring as they averaged 62.3 points per game in the Region 1 tournament. Fourteen times this season Richland has scored 70 points or more in a game. After suffering a 72-69 overtime loss to Central Cass on Jan. 18, Cody Reiland’s squad has won its last 14 contests. I’ve seen Richland play in person and they go fast. The Colts earned the No. 3-seed and will face Powers Lake at 2:45 p.m. Thursday.
How they got here: Richland outlasted Kindred 50-47 in the Region 1 tournament behind 20 points from Lingen.
Last time at state: 2006
Region 2 - #1 Thompson (23-1): On paper, this was Thompson’s year to get out of Region 2 for the first time in program history. They beat Hillsboro-Central Valley not once, not twice but three times this season and dethroned the back-to-back state champions. The Tommies are led by senior Hayden Overby who averages 19 points per game along with eight rebounds and 2.5 assists. Senior Marcus Hughes is Thompson’s 3-point threat as he’s knocking down 43 percent from beyond the arc. Senior guard Cadyn Schwabe wasn’t on the floor for the first part of the 2018-19 season after suffering an injury at the tail end of the football season but the Tommies floor general came back in January and the green machine has been rolling ever since. Seven student-athletes for Brandy George’s squad are averaging five points or more per game this year. This team can beat you multiple ways and twin towers in juniors Chance Danner and Clay Odenbach make for a nice one-two punch in the paint. Danner and Odenbach are averaging 7.8 and 9.3 points per game and combine for just over 13 rebounds per contest. Thompson is an all-around solid team as defensively they are holding opponents to 46.9 points per game. The Tommies received the No. 1-seed and should have no problem keeping their emotions in check at their first state tournament appearance.
Comment from coach: “We need to defend every possession, get stops and rebound,” George said. “If we can get our opponents to miss shots, that allows us to get into our transition and get the ball up the floor quickly. On the offensive end, we need to play with good pace. Staying active without the ball is going to be important for us. We simply need to "be who we are" on both ends.”
How they got here: Thompson beat Hillsboro-Central Valley 59-53 for the third time this season in the Region 2 title game. Overby finished with a game-high 26 points.
Last time at state: never
Region 3 - Ellendale (15-10): When you look at Ellendale’s record you’ll probably notice they don’t have as many wins as the rest of the field. However, they have one of the best guard-forward combos in the state with junior Hunter Thorpe and senior Austin Molan. The two student-athletes are averaging a combined 32.2 points per game for a team that scores 54.3 per contest. Brian Vance’s crew lost seven of nine contests during the middle of January into February but finished the year strong. The Cardinals lean heavily on controlling the tempo of the game and if they can do that against some of these other high powered offensive teams, they could have a good weekend. Other than Thorpe and Molan, Ellendale gets scoring out of freshman Scott Wagner. The 6-foot-6 center averages 9.4 points per game and 8.1 rebounds. The Cardinals are no stranger to the state tournament scene as they’ve been in the field two out of the last three years. Vance and company have a tall task in the quarterfinals with No. 1-seed Thompson on the other side of the court.
Comment from coach: “We are going to have to control the tempo and slow the games down a little bit, we like to the scores in the low 50's,” Vance said. “Rebounding and turnovers are going to be big also.”
How they got here: Ellendale defeated Carrington 56-47 in the Region 3 championship game after Thorpe scored 16 fourth quarter points
Last time at state: 2017
Region 4 - #5 New Rockford-Sheyenne (22-3): The third time was the charm for New Rockford-Sheyenne in the Region 4 championship game. Two of the Rockets three losses this season came against Four Winds-Minnewaukan but this time NR-S got the best of the Indians. Junior Bo Belquist leads the team in scoring with 15.8 points per game and four assists along with 5.8 rebounds. The Rockets also get quality scoring out of senior Teddy Allmaras at 15.2 points per game and junior Hunter Thompson at 12.6. NR-S isn’t the tallest team in the tournament but senior Tucker Longnecker leads the team in rebounding with 6.2. The Rockets play their best when multiple players get involved and have scored 80 points or more eight times this year. Defensively, Cook’s crew is one of the best as they are holding opponents to 53.3 points per contest. Three of the Rockets last four games have been decided by a combined 15 points. This squad has shown that in close games they can hold their composure and not fold. That will definitely help them on Class B’s biggest stage.
Comment from coach: “I think to be successful in the state tournament we need to keep playing unselfish like we have been all year long,” Cook said. “When we get four or five guys in double figures scoring is when we are at our best. We aren’t the tallest team in the tournament so rebounding with be a huge key for us. Also you know when you get to this tournament every possession is important so our defensive mentality must be zoned in at all times.”
How they got here: The Rockets got by the Region 4 favorite Four Winds-Minnewaukan 58-53 in the title game.
Last time at state: 2005
Region 5 - #2 Shiloh Christian (21-3): Shiloh Christian rolled through the Region 5 tournament with a 37-point win over Washburn, a 33-point win over Flasher and a 24-point win over New Salem-Almont. The Skyhawks have all the pieces to win three games in three days this week with most of their roster having state tournament experience. The highly talented multi-sport athlete Jaden Mitzel averages 19 points per game for a team that scores 66.6 per contest. The junior guard also is second on the team with eight rebounds per game and four assists. He and 6-foot-9 senior Macauley Young play a mean high-low game. Young averages 16 points per contest and a team-high 13 rebounds. What makes Shiloh Christian so tough is that Mitzel and Young aren’t the only two players that can score. Seniors Canann Fagerland and Matthew Reep are playmakers and junior Trey Brunelle can knock down some 3-point shots. This team just gels together so well that’s why I think they are one of the favorites to win this tournament. Everyone talks about how Region 5 isn’t super competitive but the Skyhawks had the toughest strength of schedule according to classbbasketball.com. After not finishing where they wanted to at the 2017-18 state tournament, Shiloh Christian has all the tools to bring home a title.
Comment from player: “We just need to work hard,” Mitzel said. “In the state tournament, everybody wants to win and everyone is going to work hard but it’s about the people and the teams who work harder and have grit. It’s not about who is taller or stronger, it’s about who wants it more with that grit. I think our team has that grit and we all are mentally and physically ready.”
How they got here: Shiloh Christian defeated New Salem-Almont 52-28 in the Region 5 championship game behind 25 points from Macauley Young and Jaden Mitzel.
Last time at state: 2018
Region 6 - #4 Bishop Ryan (22-3): After suffering a heartbreak overtime loss in the 2017-18 state title game, Bishop Ryan is back. The Lions are paced by two stellar senior guards in Mason Hedberg and Ben Bohl. Bohl leads the team with 24.4 points per game and 9.1 rebounds. Hedberg on the other hand averages 20.1 points per game with 8.2 rebounds. The two also have combined for 100 steals this season. The Lions lost some height off last year’s squad but they have still been able to outscore their opponents by an impressive 21.8 points. Bohl is shooting 41.8 percent from beyond the arc and 58 percent from the field. Bishop Ryan also gets some scoring out of senior Chinaza Udekwe at 9.2 points per game. The Lions were dominated by Shiloh Christian (71-55) and Thompson (73-57) earlier this season but finished the regular season on a 13-game winning streak. Jeremy Feller’s crew didn’t win the District 12 championship after falling to Our Redeemer’s 52-51 but beat them by 38 in the Region 6 title game. Playing in their own backyard, the Lions will look to get back into that championship game.
Comment from coach: “We need to find a level we can play at for 32 minutes,” Feller said. “We have had some explosive quarters (Region Championship game second quarter 35 – 3, Regional first-round game first quarter quarter 33 – 8 and second quarter 25 – 6 and last district tournament game third quarter 21 -11 and fourth quarter 17 -4) over the last several games but now we need to find a way to be more consistent. For us to be successful this weekend we need to make defense our number one priority.”
How they got here: Bishop Ryan cruized past Our Redeemer’s 68-30 in the Region 6 championship game.
Last time at state: 2018
Region 7 - Beulah (19-4): Even though Beulah is making its second straight appearance at the state tournament, the Miners are a different squad. Other than freshman Trey Brandt, Beulah is rolling with guys that didn’t see a lot of playing time last season. One of the Miners go-to leaders and leading scorers senior Chad Morsette missed the tournament because of an ACL injury and second leading scorer junior Jonah Larson is new to the team this year. Morsette averages 17 points per game and Larson is pouring in close to 12 a game along with a team-high 10 rebounds. Sean Gierke and Shaye Yeager saw minutes last season but have taken on bigger roles this year. Brandt leads the team with 4.5 assists per contest and Gierke adds about four a game as well. On top of that he averages 8.4 points per game and five rebounds per contest. The Miners may not have received a seed but they are playing their best basketball right now. Since its Dec. 28 loss to Rugby, Beulah has rattled off 16 wins in its last 17 games including a 73-68 victory over Shiloh Christian — the team the Miners face in the quarterfinals.
Comment from coach: “For us to be successful we will need to continue to play good defense, that has been our calling card all year is our ability to defend well,” Brandt said. “We will need to have a good mix of inside/out on the offensive end, we have been at our best when we are able to get points in the paint which in turn opens things up for our perimeter players who shoot the three well. I feel that we are playing as well right now as we have all season long and hopefully that carries over into the state tournament. Even though we were at the state tournament last year we don’t have a lot of experience returning, Trey Brandt is really the only player we have back from last year they played heavy minutes, Morsette had a torn acl, Yeager and Gierke played just a few minutes and Jonah Larson is new to Beulah this year.
How they got here: Beulah out dueled Dickinson Trinity 48-46 in the Region 7 title game behind 15 points from Yeager.
Last time at state: 2018
Region 8 - Powers Lake (20-5): It was a rough start to the 2018-19 season for Powers Lake as they lost five of its first nine games. But then everything started to line up for the Ranchers. Jordan Carlson's squad won their final 16 contests and punched a ticket to the state tournament for the first time since 1939. Powers Lake's final starting lineup consists of two seniors, one junior and two sophomores. Seniors Kyle VanBerkom and Aiden Nordloef lead the way for this Region 8 team and the Ranchers get key contributions out of underclassmen Noah Fredrickson and Noah Schroeder.
How they got here: Powers Lake beat Mandaree 74-72 in overtime for the Region 8 crown.
Last time at state: 1939
#2 Shiloh Christian over Beulah
#3 Richland over Powers Lake
#1 Thompson over Ellendale
#5 New Rockford-Sheyenne over #4 Bishop Ryan
#2 Shiloh Christian over #3 Richland
#1 Thompson over #5 New Rockford-Sheyenne
#1 Thompson over #2 Shiloh Christian
2. Shiloh Christian
5. Powers Lake
6. New Rockford-Sheyenne
7. Bishop Ryan
When: March 4-7
Where: New Town Event Center
(D16) No. 1 Powers Lake (17-5)
(D15) No. 1 Mandaree (16-6)
(D16) No. 2 Ray (18-3)
(D15) No. 2 Parshall (9-12)
(D15) No. 3 White Shield (16-5)
(D16) No. 3 Stanley (15-7)
(D15) No. 4 New Town (12-9)
(D16) No. 4 Kenmare (7-15)
Who is the favorite?
I’ve heard a lot of chatter about how Mandaree is the team to beat in Region 8, however, I disagree. The favorite in this tournament is Powers Lake. What makes the Ranchers so tough is there inside and outside game. Senior Kyle VanBerkom is one of the more talented players in Class B and gets his teammates involved on offense. The Ranchers are also one of the more physical teams in Region 8 and I think they’ll be able to bully some of their opponents around. Many people had Powers Lake crossed out through the first part of the season after they sat at 4-5 a week into January. But now Jordan Carlson’s squad has won 13 straight and should be heading to the state tournament for the first time since 1939.
Mandaree: Another team that started hot and finished the year even stronger is Mandaree. The Warriors won six of their first seven games and ended the regular season with three straight wins. Paced by seniors Ashton Grady and Jesse Chase, Mandaree has a solid chance at getting to the Region 8 championship game. Other than those two players, the Warriors don’t get a ton of offensive production out of anyone else, however, when Grady and Chase play off each other, the Warriors are tough to beat.
Ray: Take out the loss to a Montana team and Ray’s other two losses came after failing to Powers Lake. The Jays ended the regular season winning 11 consecutive games where they outscored their opponents by 24.5 points. Interesting enough Ray is undefeated on the road so playing away from home could benefit this team the most. But will a weak schedule halt them from making a deep tournament run?
Dark Horse Team
White Shield: White Shield has one of the toughest quarterfinal matchups out of any team in the eight region tournaments. The Warriors have an athletic starting lineup, however, there are only eight players on the roster. At the end of the day, depth hasn’t bothered them a ton as they finished the regular season 14-4 with two losses over Montana teams. Staying out of foul trouble will be huge if the Warriors want a chance to play for a spot in the state tournament.
(D16) No. 1 Powers Lake over (D15) No. 4 New Town
(D16) No. 3 Stanley over (D15) No. 2 Parshall
(D15) No. 1 Mandaree over (D16) No. 4 Kenmare
(D16) No. 2 Ray over (D15) No. 3 White Shield
(D16) No. 1 Powers Lake over (D16) No. 3 Stanley
(D15) No. 1 Mandaree over (D16) No. 2 Ray
(D16) No. 1 Powers Lake over (D15) No. 1 Mandaree
Jesse White has heard the haters all over social media.
“I know we can hang with any team in the state,” the White Shield sophomore guard said earlier this week. “They just haven't seen us play yet and will stop hating when they do.”
The Warriors are the No. 10-ranked team in Class B and are 14-1 this season.
With just eight student-athletes on varsity, White Shield joins the two other Region 8 teams with less than 10 players on its roster.
However, the depth doesn’t seem to bother White and his teammates.
“Every single player is capable of scoring 20 points a game,” White added. “It’s very hard to guard us. It’s a pick your poison with our team.”
White Shield’s defense has improved this year as they are holding opponents to 48 points per game compared to 56.3 points per game during the 2017-18 season.
The Warriors offense has also seen steady improvement.
White runs the show at the point guard position and has a lot of weapons around him. Brad Kroupa’s squad plays fast when they need to, however, can slow it down on a dime and run their offense to get multiple looks at a score.
“We are also very disciplined with our offense in the half court,” White said. “Last year we would come down and rush shots. We’ve learned to win games.”
With a win today against Dunseith (10-3), the Warriors will surpass last season’s win total.
In White Shield’s 14 victories, five of them have come against teams with a .500 record or better. But White isn’t letting the haters have all the fun.
“It helps us though (because) it makes us play with an even bigger chip on our shoulders,” he said. “We’ve always had talent, it’s just all coming together now.”
The Warriors have three regular season games left before they start the District 15 tournament.