Journal Sports Editor
MINOT, N.D. — On one side was Northern Cass, making its first ever appearance in the Class B State Tournament. On the other side was No. 1 Four Winds-Minnewaukan, who has played in the state championship game two times in the last three years.
Journal Sports Editor
MINOT, N.D. — On one side was Northern Cass, making its first ever appearance in the Class B State Tournament. On the other side was No. 1 Four Winds-Minnewaukan, who has played in the state championship game two times in the last three years. The Jaguars gave the Indians all they had, but experience in the end had Four Winds-Minnewaukan prevail 62-58 to advance to the semifinals.
“(Experience) is key, especially on the free throw line,” Indians head coach Rick Smith said. “(Jason) Feather and (Tronis) McKay got most of the playing time last year and those are the guys who made big shots. It’s key when you have guys who have been there and understand the atmosphere. It showed because those are the guys who made the key plays at the end.”
McKay finished the game with 21 points and 14 rebounds while sealing the game with a free throw in the final seconds. It was Feather, a Mr. Basketball finalist, who had 19 points and gave the Indians the tie and then the lead late in the fourth quarter.
“Jason and Tronis stepped up big for us,” Smith said. “It was a good game. Hats off to the Jaguars. They battled us and we knew that was the way it was going to be.”
Each quarter-ending buzzer in the game had its share of excitement. Four Winds-Minnewaukan hit two buzzer-beaters in the first half, the second giving it a 27-25 lead at halftime. Northern Cass stood tall in the third quarter, outscoring the Indians 19-14 with its last two points coming at the buzzer to take a 44-41 lead into the fourth.
The Jaguars held that lead down to 3:20 to play with the scoreboard reading 52-49. But Feather tied it up with an and-1. Then the senior guard followed up with a floater to give the Indians the lead with 2:34 remaining.
“At one timeout, we just said that there’s plenty of game left and we don’t need to rush or force anything,” Smith said. “Let’s slow it down and keep getting to the rim. Once we started doing that, we were getting easy baskets instead of forcing up shots.”
Northern Cass, playing inspired, tied it back up at 56 with a Logan Nelson 3-pointer. But the pressuring Indians defense forced a couple turnovers, resulting in four straight points and a 60-56 lead with 52 seconds to play.
Cody Springer hit two free throws for the Jaguars, then Northern Cass forced a turnover with 33.3 seconds left and a chance to tie or take the lead. But a 3-point attempt with 10 seconds left missed the mark.
Koltin ThreeIrons was fouled and hit his first free throw to give Four Winds-Minnewaukan a 61-58 lead and the clock reading 8.9 seconds. ThreeIrons’ second free throw was off, but Feather rose up and grabbed a huge offensive rebound and called a timeout.
The Jaguars fouled quickly and sent McKay to the line. McKay needed just his first free throw to seal the game at 62-58.
“At the end, I thought our shot selection was a lot better than it was in the first three quarters,” Smith said. “It was key to get some stops. They were picking us apart and getting to the lane on us to get to the free throw line. We had trouble with that tonight and at the end I thought we made some key stops.”
Four Winds-Minnewaukan plays the winner between fourth-seeded Dickinson Trinity and Kenmare at 8:15 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
No. 1 Four Winds-Minnewaukan 62, Northern Cass 58
NC;13;12;19;14 — 58
FWM;14;13;14;21 — 62
NORTHERN CASS (18-6)
Nick Nelson 3-7 2-2 8, Cody Springer 2-5 2-3 6, Dawson Hayden 2-6 0-0 5, Logan Nelson 7-11 2-2 19, Marcus Jensen 2-3 0-0 4, Brant Bohmert 4-10 8-11 16. Totals 20-42 14-18 58.
FOUR WINDS-MINNEWAUKAN (24-1)
Jason Feather 8-17 1-1 19, Steve Redfox 2-9 2-2 7, Jacob Yankton 1-3 0-0 2, Tronis McKay 8-17 4-6 21, Koltin ThreeIrons 5-13 3-6 13, Charlie Black 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 24-62 10-15 62.
Halftime score: 27-25 FWM. 3-pointers: NC 4-13 (Hayden 1-3, Logan Nelson 3-5), FWM 4-12 (Feather 2-7, Redfox 1-3, McKay 1-2). Rebounds: NC 30 (Hayden 7), FWM 37 (McKay 14). Assists: NC 6 (Bohmert 3), FWM 7 (Feather 2, McKay 2). Blocks: NC 3 (3 with 1), FWM 2 (Feather, McKay). Turnovers: NC 16, FWM 11. Personal fouls: NC 16, FWM 16. Fouled out: FWM, Yankton.