The B Beat with Harry Lipsiea: District tournaments should bring plenty of excitement

Harry Lipsiea

Harry Lipsiea

The district and region tournaments have come and gone in North Dakota Class B girls basketball. It's now the boys' turn.

For District 7 and District 8, the tournament season opens up Friday, running into Saturday and wrapping up Monday.

The seven-team District 7 tournament will be held in Devils Lake while the six-team District 8 tourney is set to take place in Dunseith.

District 7

No. 4 Dakota Prairie (12-7) vs. No. 5 Benson County (6-13)

The tournament opens up with a pair of region-qualifying teams from last year facing off. In the regular season, the Knights knocked off the Wildcats 48-36.

Dakota Prairie is coming into the tournament off of a pair of nonconference losses to St. John and May-Port CG. Prior to that, the Knights won eight of nine games. Behind All-Region guard Hunter Sand, Dakota Prairie brings a seasoned team to the court of the Devils Lake Sports Center.

After a fairly slow 2-10 start, Benson County has come on strong winning four of its last seven games. The Wildcats have an impressive backcourt of its own, led by seniors Lane Ritterman and Jaydin Risovi.

I look for this to be a tight game.

Both teams do a nice job of playing solid defense and distributing the basketball offensively. To me, this game is going to come down to who can establish an effective transition game by forcing turnovers.

No. 2 Harvey-Wells County (8-11) vs. No. 7 Warwick (1-18)

The second game of the day features last year's Region 4 third-place team Harvey-Wells County against Warwick. The Hornets edged the Warriors 85-56 in late January.

Harvey-Wells County is always a team to watch come tournament time and this season looks to be no different. The Hornets fell in their first four games, but have put together a winning record since. More importantly, Harvey-Wells County performed well in the conference season, earning second in the final District 7 standings. The Hornets are led by an experience core including Brian Fike, Peyton Granger, Ben Bertsch and Eric Keller.

It's been a tough season for Warwick. Featuring a young and undersized squad, the Warriors have taken their lumps. With that said, the team has continued to improve as the year has gone on. Dustin Lovejoy and Joel Redfox give Warwick a pair of established scorers.

Harvey-Wells County is favored in this matchup. It's been a successful conference campaign and the Hornets return a lot of experience from last year's solid team. With that said, I expect Warwick to play its best basketball in the tournament.

No. 3 New Rockford-Sheyenne (11-8) vs. No. 6 Lakota-Edmore (3-16)

New Rockford-Sheyenne and Lakota-Edmore meet up in the final matchup in Friday's first-round action. The Rockets walked away with a 60-44 triumph in the regular season.

New Rockford-Sheyenne brings a squad with a lot of experience to the district tournament. Kaleb Haley, Jack Schaefer and Seth Soderholm are among familiar faces back on the court for the Rockets. New Rockford-Sheyenne has a strong backcourt presence, plays tough defense and moves the ball well.

Lakota-Edmore has been working to find its identity after losing a big senior class a year ago. Upperclassmen Brandt Ronningen and Randy Thompson have given the Raiders a solid core to build around.

Lakota-Edmore has struggled against more experienced squads, but has gotten better as the season has gone on.

The Rockets look to be a strong contender to make the district title game. Between its experience and athleticism on the perimeter, there is a lot to like about New Rockford-Sheyenne. Lakota-Edmore will be well prepared and will make a strong push to punch one of four tickets to the Region 4 Tournament.

Bye: Four Winds-Minnewaukan

There is no secret about it. Four Winds-Minnewaukan is the major favorite going into the District 7 tournament. With good reason. The Indians have put together a brilliant 18-1 regular season. After its early defeat against Dickinson Trinity, the top seed has dominated its competition.

The Indians are coming off of its biggest win of the season over Shiloh Christian. Four Winds-Minnewaukan's difficult nonconference schedule is why the team is a postseason favorite. The squad plays the best competition possible to prepare for tournament time.

The Indians are athletic, well-coached and deep. Another strength of the 2015-2016 Four Winds-Minnewaukan team is experience. Jason Feather, Koltin ThreeIrons, Steve Redfox and Tronis McKay were all key contributors on last year's state runner-up team. I look for the Indians to put together a deep postseason run again this season.

District 8

No. 4 Rolla (8-11) vs. No. 5 Langdon-Munich (6-13)

Look for a good one to start the District 8 Tournament. Rolla earned a 49-34 victory in the regular season matchup. Rolla got off to a nice start this season, but has struggled since the loss of 6-foot-5 Karson Schoening. The Bulldogs feature an athletic, hard-working squad.

Langdon-Munich is a team that has really improved as the year has gone on. The Cardinals have won three of their last five games. Behind good ball movement, the team has put together a strong offensive effort.

This should be a hard-fought contest. I don't think there is a favorite going in.

No. 3 North Star (14-5) vs. No. 6 Rolette-Wolford (9-10)

The final game Friday features defending district champion North Star playing Rolette-Wolford. For the Bearcats, it was a tough run of luck as the team came in third-place of a three-way tie for first place in District 8 with Dunseith and St. John.

North Star, 14-5, is led offensively by three-year starters Jayden Komrosky and Johnny Heisler. The Bearcats feature experience and a strong feel for the game. Over the years, North Star has proved that it excels at tournament time.

Rolette-Wolford has had a nice campaign this season. A very young team, the Comets are led by All-Region performer Jalen Pfeifer. The Comets will be ready to go in the tournament, but the Bearcats are the favorite going into this matchup.

Bye: St. John (17-2)

The Woodchucks took fourth at regionals a season ago. All-Region performers Dalton Poitra and Kyler McGillis return to lead St. John. The team's ability to play in a fast tempo and knock down outside shots is rare to find. Look for the Woodchucks to be right in the thick of things this postseason.

Bye: Dunseith (14-5)

After starting the season 2-3, the Dragons have gone 12-2 the rest of the way. What impresses me about Dunseith is its balance. The Dragons have a nice mix of outside and inside scorers. The team is going into the tournament with momentum after a 15-point win over Rugby.