No. 1 Four Winds-Minnewaukan holds off No. 2 Shiloh Christian
By Sam Herder
Journal Sports Editor
A packed gymnasium at Four Winds High School saw North Dakota’s best Saturday in Class B boys basketball. No. 1 Four Winds-Minnewaukan (18-1) overcame a shaky start and held off No. 2 Shiloh Christian (17-2) in the fourth quarter for a 55-51 win.
“It was a great tournament atmosphere against a great team,” Indians head coach Rick Smith said. “I thought our kids held their poise when we got down 10. Our defense was pretty strong to get back into a game like that.”
The Skyhawks handled the sellout crowd to start the game. But the Indians settled in and relied on their pressure defense to make Shiloh Christian uncomfortable.
After falling behind 23-13 early in the second quarter, Four Winds-Minnewaukan mounted a fierce comeback. The Indians went on a 13-0 run as the Skyhawks only scored two points in the final six-and-a-half minutes of the first half.
“Being Parents Night, the crowd, the excitement and the matchup that everyone was building up, the kids were a little excited and came out and we took too quick of shots,” Smith said. “After we settled down, we were getting down into the blocks with (Koltin) ThreeIrons and Tronis (McKay) and it got us back into the game.”
The Indians took a 31-25 lead into halftime after a Tronis McKay layup right before the buzzer. But McKay came up limping and was sidelined in the second half with a sprained ankle.
With one of its top scorers out, Four Winds-Minnewaukan looked to senior Jason Feather and its defense.
Feather responded with a tough first half of shooting by getting into the paint. He scored eight of his team-leading 20 points in the third quarter and the Indians maintained their lead at 42-35.
“When Jason attacks, he becomes an even more dangerous basketball player,” Smith said. “I thought he attacked a lot better.”
There was no shortage of hustle in the fourth quarter. Points were tough to come by as each scrappy defense didn’t allow any easy looks.
But Shiloh Christian slowly began chipping away at the lead with runs of 4-0 and 6-0.
A Zac Martin 3-pointer brought the deficit to 49-48 for Shiloh Christian with four minutes, 20 seconds remaining.
Neither team scored in the next two minutes of play.
Feather finally broke the drought with a layup. A minute later, Steve Redfox came up with a huge offensive rebound and putback and the Indians led 53-48 with a minute, 28 seconds to play.
The Indians got the ball back and with just two team fouls, Shiloh Christian was forced to foul several times as the clock ticked down.
But after several successful in-bound passes, the Skyhawks finally forced a turnover and then Chad Coulter made a 3-pointer with 7.6 seconds left to make it 53-51.
Feather was then fouled and made both free throws to seal the win for Four Winds-Minnewaukan.
“Some kids stepped up and I was really happy with our bench play,” Smith said. “Some kids that don’t really get the highlights that our normal guys do, like a Jacob Yankton and Jaylen LaRock, I thought they played really strong defensively. They made some key baskets and some key rebounds. It was a great team win.”
Postseason now begins for the Indians. The District 7 Tournament is held Feb. 26, 27 and 29 at the Devils Lake Sports Center.
Jason Feather: 20 pts, 5 reb, 4 stl
Koltin ThreeIrons: 11 pts, 4 reb
Steve Redfox: 9 pts, 4 reb, 3 stl
Tronis McKay: 6 pts, 8 reb
Jacob Yankton: 5 pts, 3 reb