Royals falter down the stretch in loss to Pioneers
It has been a tumultuous two weeks for the Lake Region State men’s basketball program.
The Royals returned from the Christmas break in turmoil as the program was put on a stoppage as an internal investigation ensued which eventually led to the return to the court for Lake Region State but with an overhaul of a diminished roster and the postponement of the Mon-Dak opener.
Playing their second game with the revamped team, the Royals stayed with visiting Miles Community College for 29 minutes Wednesday, Jan. 15, but in the end the Pioneers used a 15-2 second half run to come away with the 83-72 win from the Sports Center.
“We played hard. We were the tougher team and we gave ourselves chances with all of the adversity we’ve been through and the new faces, I couldn’t be more proud,” said Royals head coach Jared Marshall. “I’m not one for moral victories but if I was, this would be pretty close to one.”
Myles Arnold and Dion Ford each scored 26 points for the Royals. Ford, who was 10 of 19 from the field, also had 12 rebounds. Arnold was a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line and had six assists. Devils Lake’s own Leif Nelson was the only other Royal in double figures, finishing the night with a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
The Royals (6-12, 0-2 MonDak) opened the game with an Arnold 3-pointer and a Ford basket that was part of a 9-0 run. Two free throws by Ford with 9:35 remaining in the first half gave the Royals a 12 point advantage but the Pioneers crept back in it, taking their first lead of the game at 31-30 with 4:30 left after a Jakim Ricketts 3. The Pioneers went into halftime ahead 40-38.
The Royals regained the lead in the second half after two Arnold free throws to make the score 52-51 and a Beau Feltman steal led to a Ford alley-oop from Arnold that put the Royals ahead by three. With the game tied at 56, Jayvon Lewis made his only 3 of the night to give Miles Community a lead they would never relinquish.
Akeemis Williams finished with a game high 36 points for the Pioneers (10-8, 2-1).
“The positives (from this game) is that it shows that we can compete with these guys,” Marshall said about his team who only suited eight players.
Five players, Arnold, Ford, Nelson, Feltman and Josh Kihle, remain from the beginning of the season. Devils Lake graduates Jacob Greene, who played with Nelson on last year’s Firebird squad, Noah Widmer and Jay Garcia (Four Winds-Minnewaukan) recently joined.
“This game showed these guys that they are right there, that they have the ability to play but on the flip side just shows us how small our margin of error is.”
About what he’s doing to keep the team together, Marshall places it on the players. “It’s not me, it’s them. I’m trying to do what I can as a coach but it’s on them to come and compete everyday and they’re doing that and contribute that to the five guys that are still there. They could’ve have quit but they don’t. They come in ready to go everyday and I’m proud of them for that.”
Box score can be found here.
Chris Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.