Royals defense too much for Thunderbirds

J. Reed Anderson, Devils Lake Journal GM
Cedric Boone goes straight at Thunderbird Robert Beaulieu.

The Royals stayed with it tonight.Last week they lost a heartbreaker to the North Dakota State College of Science Wildcats in the last couple of minutes of the game.Tonight they kept control of the game.

The Royals and United Tribes Technical College Thunderbirds were fairly evenly matched in the back court, but not in the paint.The Royals had a decided height advantage and they dominated the boards pulling down 50 to the Thunderbirds 34.The Royals had 18 offensive rebounds on the night, compared to only six by the Thunderbirds.Lamarr Wood showed off a good spin move with hook against the shorter Thunderbird defenders.

Cedric Boone and Jordan Bolton controlled the pace of the game.The Thunderbirds like to run—and fly.Rob McClain could explode from the floor.He had some spectacular high-flying plays.(He’s listed at 6-5, but most rosters have players 6-2 who might touch 5-10 in the right shoes.Just saying.)In the first half he took an alley-oop and had to reach over to the rim.He went up once in the second half, got fouled in midair, and still almost slammed the ball home from three feet away and from above the rim.A couple of minutes later he intercepted a pass and had a clear path.The top of his head, when he went up for the flush, was just above the rim.

The Royals maintained a precarious lead for much of the first half, but near the end started building momentum and went into halftime up 13 points, 48-35.

The Royals started the second half with a 7-2 run and started putting some more distance between themselves and the Thunderbirds.Wood was a terror on the boards at both ends and helped keep the Thunderbirds from many second-chance points.

A couple of times in the second half the Thunderbirds looked like they were beginning to make a move.They went to a half-court trap and forced some turnovers that they turned into points, and quite a few times moved within five, six points.But the Royals took back control and would then extend their lead back to double digits.More important was the Royals got to the line tonight and made it count, going 13-16.

The Thunderbirds just couldn’t keep the game at the pace they wanted and the Royals won 98-80.

“I kept my bigs in tonight,” said head coach Jared Marshall.“We made them play against us and it worked.They couldn’t get to the boards all night.And free throws.We were good at the line tonight.We had five players in double digits, which is some great team shooting, plus 24 assists—that’s sharing the ball.We did it tonight like we know we can.We controlled the boards and the pace of the game.That’s how we win.”