Dakota Prairie outlasts late Carrington push to beat Cardinals, 51-43

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

MCVILLE – If the Dakota Prairie Knights and Carrington Cardinals wished for a track meet Tuesday evening, they certainly held a grin on each of their respective faces once they saw what the first half had in store for them.

Junior guard Jake Johnson (center, white) dribbles the ball for a takeaway against the Carrington Cardinals.

A fast-paced game proved to be in the cards for both teams on Dec. 21, and while the Cardinals utilized their full-court zone defense to extreme effect late in the fourth quarter, the Knights held on just enough to squeeze out the 51-43 victory Tuesday evening. 

While the Knights kept the pace, they additionally showed resiliency. To Dakota Prairie head coach Thomas Trostad, this resiliency proved to be the difference-maker. 

“That is the word,” Trostad said after the game. “That was the word they were using in the locker room before I got in there. The resiliency and having Stein go out were huge. Having Haakenson with four fouls was huge, but they got some turnovers they needed in that press, but once we got a chance to break it, calm down, get some looks…we held on early, and the biggest thing was they [Carrington] got a lot of turnovers, but our defense stepped up.”

Dakota Prairie head coach Thomas Trostad (center) watches his team as they take on Carrington.

The Knights (3-1) close the calendar year as winners of two-straight contests. Meanwhile, the Cardinals (2-1) suffered their first loss of the 2021-22 campaign.

The head-to-head matchup between the two teams was as parity-laden as it was a good old-fashioned stalemate - dating back to the 2013-14 season, both teams had four wins apiece against each other. 

It was anything but a stalemate to open the game, however. The Knights quickly rocketed out of the gate and gifted the Cardinals a 25-14 deficit by halftime. 

Although the Knights wished to put together a steady volume of shots to open the third, the Cardinals responded with a diverse half-court and full-court zone press that swiftly paid dividends for them as they clawed their way back into the contest. 

In no time, a 13-point Dakota Prairie lead through three quarters almost instantaneously morphed into a two-point lead after the Cardinals put together a 13-2 run through the first five+ minutes of the fourth quarter. To make matters worse, senior guard Cade Stein – Dakota Prairie’s primary perimeter shooter and go-to ball-handler – fouled out. Stein finished the game with 15 points. 

However, resiliency once again showed itself as the Knights found enough guard presence from Caden Joramo, Jake Johnson and Garrett Haakenson to help maintain a cushion. The trio combined to score 17 points (eight, five and four points, respectively). 

“Coach [Trostad] said in the huddle to take time off of the clock,” senior center Garrett Syverson said after the game. “Take your shots, play good defense, take time and relax. One of our best ball-handlers was out. Cade Stein had five fouls and went out in the fourth quarter, I believe. For some of our point guards [in] Caden [Joramo], Garrett [Haakenson] and Jake [Johnson], especially, had to step up, be in demand and control the ball. That is what we did.”

To Syverson, it was all about maintaining composure. From scoring inside the paint to tallying a shot-block or two, Syverson helped spread the opposing defense out through the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. Syverson finished the game with a team-high 16 points.  

Senior center Garrett Syverson (white, background) looks to make a pass against the Carrington Cardinals. Senior guard Cade Stein (white, foreground) sets a screen.

Although the senior wishes to improve his scoring ability from the free-throw line, Syverson understands his team role. 

“I always feel like I have a role to step up to be the guy as the shot-blocker and know I am right behind you,” Syverson said. “If your guy is right there, I know I am right there to help you. I know I have to support you and block that guy and whatever I have to do to step up and help my team out.” 

Keeping a level head will always be a top priority for the Knights, even as the calendar transitions into a new year. 

To Trostad, the eight-point victory was not only the sign of a talented team. 

It was also a sign of a resilient one. 

“We turned it over, but we didn’t hang our heads,” Trostad said. “We dug in on defense and got the stops and rebounds we needed. That was the resiliency from this team that I love to see. It was awesome.”