The good news for fans of Region 4 basketball is that some of the best teams in North Dakota call the region home.
The bad news is that at least one very good team will be left out of the state tournament when the state qualifiers are determined in February.
That point was driven home on Saturday as top-ranked North Star held on to slip past a determined Four Winds-Minnewaukan team 72-71 to claim the title at the annual Ramsey County Invitational at the Devils Lake Sports Center.
“This was a heck of a conditioner,” North Star coach Jeff Hagler said after his team let a lead slip away before scoring seven of the final 11 points of the game to secure the win.
Collin Delorme’s field goal with 2:38 remaining in the game had given the Indians their first lead of the game at 67-65.
But, FW-M, which was ranked No. 10 in last week’s state poll, was unable to take advantage.
Jacob Hagler connected on five straight free throws and Alex Weston added another that proved to be the game-winner with 54.7 seconds left in the game.
The Indians had a chance at the upset, but were unable to get off a shot before the final buzzer as North Star, which has advanced to the state championship game each of the past two seasons, came away with the win.
“We were right there,” FW-M coach Rick Smith said. “We had the ball and a chance to win the game. We couldn’t get the timeout called in time to set up a play.
“But, these are the types of game you learn from,” Smith added.
Hagler, an all-state performer last season, led the Bearcats (3-0) with a game-high 32 points and was named the most valuable player of the tournament. Weston finished the game with 17 points and was picked to the all-tournament team, as was teammate Daniel Grande, who finished the game with nine points.
Austin Longie led the Indians (3-1) with 21 points while Delorme and Trayvon McKay finished with 17 and 10 points, respectively. All three of those players were chosen to the all-tournament team.
FW-M 18 13 19 21 — 71
North Star 22 21 17 12 — 72
FW-M (71): Austin Longie 21, Collin Delorme 17, Trayvon McKay 10, Hadley Smith 7, Ryan Hill 6, Clarence Morin 6, Jason LaRock 4.
North Star (72): Jacob Hagler 32, Alex Weston 17, Daniel Grande 9, Christian Kvilvang 9, Johnny Heisler 4, Brooks Larson 1.
Dakota Prairie 44
Trevor Gottbrecht and Nicholas Myhre combined for 27 points as Rolette-Wolford defeated Dakota Prairie in the third-place game of the tournament.
Gottbrecht, who was voted to the all-tournament team, scored 17 points to lead the way while Myhre finished with 10 points in the contest.
Dakota Prairie was paced by Bryce Messner’s 24 points.
Page 2 of 2 - The Four Winds-Minnewaukan junior varsity claimed the consolation championship with a 61-53 win over Munich-Starkweather and Lakota-Adams-Edmore used a 34-11 second-half burst to defeat the Devils Lake junior varsity 52-39 in the seventh place game of the tournament.
Dakota Prairie: Bryce Messner. Four Winds-Minnewaukan: Collin Delorme, Austin Longie. Trayvon McKay. Four Winds-Minnewaukan JV: Jason Feather. Lakota-Adams-Edmore: Eric Haugland. Munich-Starkweather: Lucas Dick. North Star: Daniel Grande, Alex Weston. Rolette-Wolford: Trevor Gottbrecht.
Jacob Hagler, North Star
Free Throw Contest Winner
Jason Feather, FW-M JV