The B Beat with Harry Lipsiea: Another year, another one-two battle

Harry Lipsiea

Harry Lipsiea

In general, this column is a look at a number of different headlines in the world of North Dakota Class B basketball. This week on the boys side, however, I felt that there was one subject that deserved to take up a majority of the concentration of this week's The B Beat column.

I can't help but remember last year when Four Winds-Minnewaukan hosted Rugby in a battle of the top two teams in the state poll. What an honor it was to cover that game and take part in an amazing atmosphere as North Dakota Class B squads competed in a thrilling contest.

"This is the kind of game you don't get to see very often. The kind of matchup not many team's get to take part in," I thought to myself last year.

What's interesting is that it's become a common place for the Four Winds-Minnewaukan boys basketball program. In 2014, the No. 1 Indians traveled to take on the No. 2 Panthers in Rugby.

It was the same situation when the two teams met up at Four Winds-Minnewaukan in 2015.

Another year and another opportunity to play in a battle of the state's top two teams for Four Winds-Minnewaukan. This Saturday, the No. 1 Indians take on No. 2 Bismarck Shiloh Christian at home in non-conference play. While it doesn't effect the conference standings, it doesn't mean it's not a huge contest.

While they play in different regions and are located in different geographical sections of the state, Four Winds-Minnewaukan and Bismarck Shiloh Christian are familiar with each other's program.

A season ago, the Indians and the Skyhawks played twice. In the first contest, Four Winds-Minnewaukan won by 15 points in non-conference action.

There was more to play for the second time around as the squads met in the first round of the North Dakota State Class B Tournament.

It was quite the battle as the Indians were pushed to the limit in a hard-fought 61-55 victory over Bismarck Shiloh Christian.

After the win, Four Winds-Minnewaukan head coach Rick Smith was extremely complimentary of the Skyhawks.

"Bismarck Shiloh has a great basketball team and coach Dwyer puts together a tremendous program year-in-and-year-out. Their staff and players always do an excellent job."

The 2016 campaign is no different as the Skyhawks are 16-1 on the season and in the middle of an 11-game win streak, including a win over a top-ranked Our Redeemer's squad.

Meanwhile, Four Winds-Minnewaukan is a pretty hot team in its own right. The Indians have won their past 13 games.

It's interesting to compare the two squads from last year as both teams have return key parts, but are also featuring new components as well.

Leading scorers Trayvon McKay, Four Winds-Minnewaukan, and Andrew Hartman, Bismarck Shiloh Christian, are gone from their respective teams.

The Indians brought back a lot of experience from a season ago including starters Jason Feather and Steve Redfox as well as key reserves Tronis McKay and Koltin ThreeIrons among others.

Four Winds-Minnewaukan features top-notch athleticism, aggressive defense and excellent shooting from beyond the arc.

Bismarck Shiloh Christian brings size to the table that Four Winds-Minnewaukan hasn't seen yet. The Skyhawks feature 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-5 post players to go along with All-Region guard Zac Martin, 6-foot-3, who runs the show for the team.

Shiloh plays stiff defense and works to establish its tempo.

I think it will be an incredibly interesting matchup between two teams with different styles.

With that said, both squads have one thing in common: excellent coaching. Rick Smith and Mike Dwyer are two of the most respected coaches in the state who always have their programs playing at a high level.

I honestly don't know what to expect, but I think either way both teams will show why they are the top two ranked programs in the state.