Full roster effort lifts Lake Region State past Bismarck State in Region XIII semifinals

Jack Williams
Devils Lake Journal
Lake Region State redshirt sophomore guard Beijan Newbern maneuvers past a Bismarck State defender during a game against the Mystics on March 30 at the Sports Center. The Royals won 81-73.

It's been about wanting more for the Royals as they get deeper and deeper into their season. They want to put up more 3's, win more to extend their now six-game streak, and want to show everyone that they can make a run at the Region XIII crown. And they're doing as much as they can to get there. 

Getting more game time than practice time in the last few weeks, LRSC was still looking for ways to improve its game in a controlled environment where they were able to focus on specific elements. Their game court at the Sports Center isn't where they practice, and with all the games and things going on at the high school, the Royals were only playing on their home court when it mattered. 

So the team elected for a 6 a.m. practice, the only slot available for them to play on their own home court, to get shots up on the nets at the Sports Center. A lot of college athletes would still be in bed, but to Royals head coach Jared Marshall, it just shows how bad his team wants it. 

"We don't get a lot of time practicing over here, so this week the guys elected to go at 6 a.m. so we could get more shots over here. There aren't a lot of college kids electing to go at 6 a.m.," Marshall said. "That's a tribute to how bad this team wants it. It really paid off and it's a confidence thing too. Once one goes the next one goes and it picks up." 

The early mornings on their home court would eventually pay off as the Royals would drain over half their overall field goals, including 10 3-pointers, inside the Sports Center Tuesday night, en route to an 81-73 win over Bismarck State in Region XIII tournament quarterfinals. LRSC rolled off of its depth and versatility in order to get the edge, seeing them shoot heavy from 3 in on stretch to driving the paint in order to avoid a Mystics come back.

"Boy, It was a tough one," Marshall said. "They came out and shot a lot of 3's and that's the danger of a team like that. but we adapted and made plays. We went small for a bit, we went big for a little bit, we did a lot of different things tonight to be successful. We had four guys in double figures, controlled the boards, and did all the little things that needed to be done."

Among the nine players who broke into the scoring column for the Royals, four of them would break into double figures in the effort in redshirt sophomore Beijan Newbern (16), freshman forward Brody Kriesel (14), freshman guard James Sommer (12), and freshman guard Carson Henningsgard (11), all offering something different to the offensive effort. 

Newbern would not only lead in scoring but also in the pulldown game, recording a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Kriesel would also work heavily in the paint with five of his field goals coming from under the net and picking up eight rebounds along the way. Newbern would make one more 3-pointer than Kriesel, separating the two in scoring. Alongside shooting heavy in the paint, Henningsgard would down 3-4 at the line for the highest shooting percentage in the game from the line for LRSC. 

Lake Region State freshman forward Djordje Mitrovic follows through with a free throw in a game against Bismarck State on March 30 at the Sports Center. The Royals won 81-73.

Towards the end of the game, the Royals' paint play game was huge as the Mystics would lean on their edge in 3-point shooting to put them back into the game. Bismarck State would pull within one of LRSC's leads before the Royals would lockdown in the paint and build up a solid lead to run out the clock. 

"When you guys like Truck (Trace Evans) who can post, and is doing a nice job, but you got other guys like Brody and Beijan who are getting paint touches gave that had us finish with 38 points in the paint," Marshall said. "When it really getting that, it opens up other stuff for us. We shot 43 percent from 3 tonight, so our paint play really opened that up for us."

The Royals bench depth came in huge as well as they would collect almost 30 points from outside its starting five. In running the entire bench in the game, all nine players would break into scoring figures. Marshall commended Sommer's performance off the bench after taking a nasty fall in the game and coming back to finish with 12 points. 

"Just having fresh legs is key," Marshall said. "28 points off the bench is a huge credit to those guys. It was huge to get James back after he fell. He's a key off the bench and brings a lot of spark for us. Being able to trust that bench is huge."

Quarterfinals haven't been too much of a challenge for the Royals in the past, but have struggled to get past the second round into the championship game in the past. Marshall, who has been apart of the program since 2015, said LRSC hasn't made it to the Region XIII championship in over a decade. Continuing the road to the championship game, the Royals head down the Wahpeton to take on No. 2 North Dakota State College of Science on Thursday. 

LRSC has had an interesting edge this year in Region XIII in beating every team in the conference, except for Dawson, at least once. The Royals did split their season series against the Wildcats, however, in their last meeting on March 7, LRSC did pick up the win over NDSCS on the road, 67-55. NDSCS is a little more rested as they received a BYE into semifinals. 

"The biggest thing about Science is that it's a tough place to get wins and showing that they can do it is key," Marshall said. "I think just being tougher than Science is our key. Science is a really skilled, athletic team and we have to do a good job of keeping them in front, but I think we have the capability to be the tougher team. If we get them to play our pace, I think we're going to be successful."

Jack Williams covers Lake Region sports and general news for the Devils Lake Journal. Contact him via email at JGWilliams1@gannett.com, or on Twitter @jackgwilliams, or phone at 701-662-2127.

Lake Region State 81, Bismarck State 73 

Lake Regions State - 44, 37 - 81 

Bismarck State - 34, 39 - 73 

Lake Region State -- Newbern 7 0-0 16, Kriesel 6 1-2 14, Sommer 5 0-1 12, Henningsgard 3 3-4 11, Evans 4 0-0 8, Hoverson 3 0-0 7, Feltman 2 1-2 5, Mitrovic 2 0-1 5, Widmer 1 0-0 3. Totals 33 5-9 81. 

Bismarck State -- Kramer 6 1-2 19, G. Baines 7 0-1 14, Lee 5 1-2 14, J. Baines 4 0-0 9, Begger 4 0-0 8, Nelson 1 1-2 4, Jacobs 1 0-0 3, Young 1 0-0 4. Totals 29 3-7 73. 

3-pointers: Lake Region State 10 (Sommer 2, Newbern 2, Henningsgard 2, Hoverson 1, Kriesel 1, Mitrovic 1, Widmer 1). Bismarck State 12 (Kramer 6, Lee 3, Nelson 1, Jacobs 1, J. Baines 1).