Following the finish of the Ramsey County Invitational Boys Basketball Tournament championship game Saturday evening, Four Winds-Minnewaukan head coach Rick Smith wrote three numbers on the dry erase board in his team's locker room.
Following the finish of the Ramsey County Invitational Boys Basketball Tournament championship game Saturday evening, Four Winds-Minnewaukan head coach Rick Smith wrote three numbers on the dry erase board in his team's locker room. Written on the white surface were "32," "35" and "43."
For Smith, those numbers were significant as they stood for the number of points that his team gave up during its three games in the tournament.
Allowing 110 points in the three-day event is an accomplishment, Smith noted. That number is just as significant to the squad's success than the 232 points scored in its three games at the Ramsey County Invitational.
"Actually I think it's more important, because we're not like a lot of other teams. We give our opponents more opportunities to score," Smith told the Journal. "Our fast-paced offense means more possessions for the other teams. So for us to limit our opponents it’s even more important than what we do on the offensive end."
The No. 1 Four Winds-Minnewaukan boys basketball team improved to 7-0 with a 70-43 victory over No. 2 North Star to earn the Ramsey County Invitational crown.
It was the second time this season the Indians had defeated the second-ranked team in the state. They beat Dickinson Trinity 71-42 Dec. 28 in Minot.
One of the keys to Saturday's victory for Four Winds-Minnewaukan was to limit Ramsey County Invitational All-Tournament team members Jayden Komrosky, Johnny Heisler and Riley Lagasse to just 20 points.
"I can't tell you how proud I am of our guys for their outstanding defensive effort on three straight nights," Smith said.
"We were playing some of the best teams in the region and some of the top players in the state. So, for us to play with that type of intensity on back-to-back-to-back nights was nothing short of phenomenal."
Four Winds-Minnewaukan started Saturday night's game how it has most of this season; very quick. Early inside buckets by Steve Redfox and Charlie Black along with a Redfox trey gave the Indians a 7-0 advantage.
Using aggressive defensive pressure, the Indians kept marching forward as Irvin Tomahawk nailed a three and Tronis McKay added a slam dunk in transition. A McKay free throw gave Four Winds-Minnewaukan a 13-0 lead to start the game.
Give credit to North Star, the team never backed down. Inside buckets by posts Tayden Thomas and Ian Knutson along with four free throws by Komrosky helped the Bearcats cut its deficit to 18-8 going into the second.
Senior guard Komrosky converted a three-point play and Heisler nailed a three to get North Star within four at 18-14.
Four Winds-Minnewaukan used a key stretch late in the second to pull away a bit. Free throws by LaRock and a layup by Gionni Robertson gave the team a nine-point advantage. The Indians extended an advantage thanks to two made free throws and a shot from beyond the arc by senior reserve Tanner Dauphinais. Four Winds-Minnewaukan led North Star 34-20 going into halftime.
Four Winds-Minnewaukan wasted no time getting to a fast start in the third. A pair of early threes by Tomahawk and free throws along with a dunk by McKay gave the Indians a 24-point advantage.
North Star battled back with close-range baskets by Thomas and Komrosky, but the Indians continued to control the action. Another three by Tomahawk and a put-back by Black gave their team a 57-30 lead going into the fourth.
Both teams scored 13 points in the final quarters as the squad's continue to compete until the very end. The Indians walked away with the 70-43 victory.
"We knew North Star was going to battle us all night long," Smith said. "Even when we got off to that fast start, we knew they were going to make a run. They are just so intelligent. That's a very good basketball team."
The Indians were led by Tomahawk with 20 points. Black finished with 18 points inside for Four Winds-Minnewaukan while McKay scored 15.
Steve Redfox scored eight points while Dauphinais added five. Jaylen LaRock and Robertson rounded out the scoring with two points apiece.
Komrosky had 12 points to lead North Star. Thomas scored 10 points while Heisler netted eight. Knutson finished with four points while Keaton Kvilvang had three. Hunter Borstad, Lagasse and Devin Dugdale rounded out the scoring with two points apiece.
Smith noted that his team didn't play its best offense at the tournament.
In its final two games, the Indians struggled in the second quarter allowing their opponents the opportunity to set the tempo of the game and get to the line.
There are always areas to improve, the coach pointed out. But overall, he was extremely pleased with the squad's effort. It was a true team effort, he said.
"Our guys off the bench were a huge key for us. They did just a tremendous job," Smith added. "It didn't matter who was on the court we didn't skip a beat. That is a credit to the whole team playing together."