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Chris Aarhus / Forum News Service, Published March 07 2013

LaMoure-L-M advances to ND Class B state semifinals

MINOT, N.D. – Despite his team being incredibly undersized, LaMoure-Litchville-Marion coach Darren Thielges refused to play zone against Dickinson Trinity in the opening round of the North Dakota Class B state boys basketball tournament.

“I talked to coaches and they said, ‘You’re gonna have to zone them,’” Thielges said. “I thought about it and we talked about it, and I said, ‘That’s not who we are. We’re a man-to-man team.’”

The decision immediately paid dividends as the 10th-ranked Loboes built a big lead, eventually knocking off third-ranked Dickinson Trinity 52-49 at the Minot State Dome. L-L-M (22-2) meets Milnor in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. today.

“We thought they would (play man),” said Trinity coach Gregg Grinsteinner, whose team falls into today’s 1 p.m. consolation game against Shiloh Christian. “That was their best defense. ... The first half we got outworked in every aspect of the game.”

With four players in the starting lineup 6-foot-3 or taller including 6-7 post Jesse Kubik – a North Dakota State football signee – the Titans (22-3) appeared to have the advantage in the paint. But it was L-L-M’s lineup that doesn’t feature a 6-footer that won the rebounding battle 26-25. L-L-M held a 27-19 second-quarter lead before the game tightened up.

“(Lack of size) didn’t change the way we came out and played,” said L-L-M senior Jared Meiklejohn, who scored 12 of his 13 points in the first half. “We came out and rebounded the heck out of the ball. ... We came out with a lot of energy, pushing down the court, rebounding and on the helpside. We were doing everything right, right away.”

L-L-M junior Brady Thielges scored a team-high 18 points and junior Anthony Olson added 11 points and 12 rebounds.

The Loboes used a 7-0 run to take a 51-44 lead with 40.8 seconds left, but an Isiah Binstock basket and 3-pointer from Jacob Volk cut it to two with 14.9 seconds remaining. Meiklejohn followed with 1 of 2 from the free-throw line, and Volk’s potential game-tying 3-pointer was no good as time ran out.

“We’ve been outsized all year,” Brady Thielges said. “That just means we have to work hard to get those rebounds, and that’s what we did.”

Dickinson Trinity held a lead three times, the last being a 44-42 advantage after another 3-pointer from Volk. A second-team all-state selection a year ago, Volk poured in 28 points, six rebounds and four assists. The 6-3 guard stayed aggressive throughout, but Darren Thielges said he felt the rest of Trinity’s lineup was tentative at times.

“It got to a certain point where guys looked to defer to their star,” he said, referring to Volk. “We put enough pressure on them where at some point, they were looking for him and he was gonna be the guy that scores. I thought they gave up open looks a couple times for the extra pass. We knew we had to control Volk and we had to rebound, and I thought our guys did.”

Grinsteinner said the Loboes played as if they were in their own gym.

“They came out very fearless,” he said. “They played how they played throughout the year – very loose, very confident. I think you saw that.”

Coming back and trying to earn fifth place is the Titans’ new goal, after their state title hopes were dashed.

“It’s a life lesson right now,” Grinsteinner said. “How are you gonna react to this? Are you gonna go down and hang your head and feel sorry for yourself? Or are we gonna come back and be the team we’ve been all year? That’s the challenge laid forward.”

DT 15 24 38 49

LLM 10 29 37 52

DT: Volk 28, Good 7, Deichert 5, Kubik 4, A. Binstock 2, Meyer 2, I. Binstock 1.

LLM: B. Thielges 18, Meiklejohn 13, Olson 11, D. Thielges 8, Hodem 2.


Aarhus writes for The Jamestown Sun