Bison basketball kept the belief despite rough start to season

FARGO — It was early December and the North Dakota State men’s basketball team left Ames, Iowa, after an 81-59 beating at Iowa State. At that point, the Bison had a 2-7 record.
They were nine tough games. Eight were on the road; one was an overtime loss and another was at No. 1-ranked Gonzaga. Adding anxiety to the formula was the makeup of the NDSU roster: It had no seniors to help mend the ship.
At 2-7, was the boat ready to sink?
Not so, says point guard Vinnie Shahid.
“The guys in the locker room never lost track of what the mission was at the end of the season,” he said. “We knew everything that happened, happened for a reason. And we knew that going forward what we had to do to fix the record.”
A few home games helped the fix. NDSU defeated a pair of reputable mid-major opponents in Eastern Washington and Missouri State at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex. The Bison opened the Summit League season with a solid win over the University of South Dakota, but closed out 2018 with an overtime loss at home to Purdue-Fort Wayne — a game where youth was evident down the stretch.
Once again, however, Shahid said the belief did not waver.
“We are a process-based team so we weren’t really worried about the results at that time in the locker room,” he said. “We knew that if we kept doing the right thing at the right time that good things would happen.”
Head coach Dave Richman pointed to one date in January where the corner turned — Jan. 24 at South Dakota State, a game in which the Jackrabbits laid the hammer down. The Bison left Brookings, S.D., with an 87-69 loss.
“The spark has been building since January 25th after we got our tails kicked at South Dakota State,” Richman said.
If Shahid said the players never wavered, neither did the head coach in his philosophy of building a team. Richman referenced the book “The Dream Manager” by Matthew Kelly, which uses a fictional company to address the problems of high employee turnover and low morale.
It’s not so much about the paycheck, or in the case of basketball wins or losses, but offering a path to dreams.
In the case of NDSU, a path to the NCAA Tournament. The Bison play North Carolina Central Wednesday at 5:40 p.m. (CST) in one of four “First Four” games in Dayton, Ohio. Both teams are considered No. 16 seeds in the official NCAA bracket.
“I think because we’ve stuck together — a family has their ups and downs, right? — is what makes it special,” Richman said. “We talk about our story, we’ve been writing our story for a long time. I don’t think many believed, but this group — no matter the circumstances, no matter the record, no matter the injuries that we went through — they just kept believing. And that’s really tough for a young group without a senior to do. And for me to just sit back and watch it and be a witness; it’s been a lot of fun.”
Richman saw a few things on the court improve. He shortened his bench, which appeared to lead to a smoother substitution rotation. The Bison improved their field goal percentage defense, which at one time was among the worst in the country.
Shahid, the point guard and a team captain, kept improving since transferring from Western Nebraska Community College in the offseason. He was a rock star in the second half of the Summit title game against Nebraska-Omaha.
“This year has been a roller coaster,” said Shahid, a standout at Hopkins High School in suburban Minneapolis. “But I’m glad I made the decision to come to North Dakota State. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. The guys did a great job of embracing me right away and accepting me as a family member and not just another teammate.”
This week is NDSU’s fourth appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Each year, the Bison did it with a standout point guard. Ben Woodside led the way in 2009, and Lawrence Alexander was the leader out front in 2014 and 2015.
The four teams also appeared to have figured out the team chemistry issue. It’s a major element in what Richman looks for in a recruit.
“I think it goes by how close we are on and off the court,” Shahid said. “You guys hear us say it all the time: One through 14 and 14 through one. Our group is so close and I think you get to see a glimpse of that on the court.”

Kindred freshman headlines ND Class B girls all-state team

FARGO — The North Dakota Class B girls basketball all-state first team is loaded with youth, featuring Kindred Vikings freshman Abby Duchscherer.
Duchscherer is the lone unanimous selection on a first team that has no seniors.
Kidder County sophomore Madelyn Schmidt, Hettinger-Scranton sophomore Sam Oase, Trenton junior Kaity Hove and Langdon-Edmore-Munich junior Callie Ronningen rounded out the first team. The all-state team is voted on by the North Dakota Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
Duchscherer capped her season by helping lead the Vikings to their second Class B state championship in the past three seasons.
“The kid is really, really athletic, but it’s her personality,” Kindred head coach Sam Brandt said of Duchscherer. “Everybody wants to be around her. Everybody wants to play with her.”
A 6-foot guard, Duchscherer averaged 21.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.0 steal per game. She made the all-state first team for a second consecutive season.
“Her ability to compete on the floor is what makes her that strong player,” Duchscherer said. “She connects so well with the girls on the team and she lifts them up.”
A 5-foot-5 point guard, Schmidt averaged 15.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 4.1 steals per game for Kidder County. She helped the Wolves, who finished 25-2, to the state tournament. Kidder County was undefeated entering the state tournament.
“She runs the show,” Kidder County head coach Dan Welder said. “It’s probably the most important position on the court in my eyes. She’s still growing as a basketball player and a point guard.”
A 5-foot-7 point guard, Hove averaged 16.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 9.7 assists and 5.5 steals per game for Trenton, which went to the state tournament and finished with a 25-2 record.
“She’s as good of an athlete as I’ve ever coached,” said Trenton head coach Bob Turcotte, who has been a head coach for 21 seasons. “She’s quick and she sees the floor like very few girls. She does everything single thing for us.”
A 6-foot-1 center, Oase averaged 15.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 3.0 blocked shots per game for Hettinger-Scranton. The Night Hawks finished with a 24-3 record and made the state tournament.
“Sam was just an all-around impact player on the court,” Hettinger-Scranton head coach Kelly Pierce said. “On the offensive end, she was a force. Defensively, she’s a game-changer. She definitely can control the game.”
A 5-foot-10 guard, Ronningen averaged 18.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.2 steals per game for the Cardinals, who went 23-3 overall and made it to the state tournament. Cardinals head coach Rob Scherr said Ronningen played more of a guard role this season after playing in the post previously.
“Her game just elevated,” Scherr said. “When she is on the floor, everyone becomes better players. She was so flexible some games I’d have her bring the ball up as the point guard and I’d also put her in the post if there was a mismatch.”
All-state second team:
Emma Passa, 5-10, Jr., F, Velva; Carlee Sieben, 5-7, So., G, Grafton; Isabelle Boyer, 5-8, So., G, Grant County; Amanda Roller, 5-4, Sr., G, Fargo Oak Grove; Mackenzie Hughes, 5-5, So., G, Thompson; Alyssa Andress, 5-7, Jr., F, Hettinger-Scranton; Megan Roob, 5-7, Fr., G, Richland; Nicole Schmitz, 5-10, Jr., C, Oakes; Anni Stier, 5-5, Sr., G, Rugby; Leah Feland, 5-7, Jr., G, Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood; Ellie Holen, 5-4, Jr., G, LaMoure-Litchville-Marion; Abbey Kubas, 5-11, So., F, Dickinson Trinity.

Bison will play NC Central in ‘First Four’ NCAA tournament game

By Jeff Kolpack
Forum News Service

FARGO — On St. Patrick’s Day, the men’s basketball team with green as one of its school colors learned it will play sooner than most of the rest of the NCAA Tournament field. North Dakota State was tabbed as one of the “First Four” into the tournament and will play North Carolina Central on Wednesday, March 20, in Dayton, Ohio.
The winner will need some Irish luck with No. 1 overall seed Duke awaiting them in the East Regional Friday in Columbia, S.C. The Bison-Eagles game is scheduled for 5:40 p.m. (CST) and will be broadcast on truTV.
“You dream of this moment,” said Bison junior Tyson Ward. “A couple of years ago in high school, watching the Selection Show, and now getting a chance. It’s every college basketball player’s dream. Wow, we’re here. You can’t explain it; it’s just a moment you’ll cherish the rest of your life.”
North Carolina Central won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference automatic bid with a 50-47 win over Norfolk State. It’s the third straight NCAA tourney berth for the Eagles, who will carry an 18-15 record to Dayton.
They were an upset MEAC winner, defeating No. 2 North Carolina A&T in the semifinals before beating No. 1 Norfolk. As expected, not many Bison players or coaches knew much about North Carolina Central soon after the announcement.
“I watched their game against Norfolk, other than that I don’t know anything,” Ward said.
The Bison players and coaches saw the announcement in front of a gathering of fans on the large scoreboard screen at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex. The first 250 kids received mini basketball hoops with the team, donned in their recently popular T-shirts with “Family” across the front, getting a hand workout with signatures.
That’s what happens when a team gets hot at the right time — the Bison defeated Nebraska-Omaha last week to win the Summit League tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D. It will be the fourth trip to the NCAA tourney for NDSU since first becoming Division I eligible in 2009. It’s the third in the past six years.
The announcement came quick into the Selection Show, with the Bison-North Carolina Central matchup coming right after Duke was tabbed the top seed.
“It was a little melodramatic how quickly it came up,” said Bison head coach Dave Richman. “North Carolina Central is in the NCAA tournament like we are and we know they’ll be a very good team.”
Richman said NDSU was expected to participate in a conference call later Sunday night to determine travel plans to Dayton. Like the Eagles, NDSU will take an 18-15 record into the tourney. That includes four straight victories and wins in nine of its last 12 games.
“To see North Dakota State on the screen and to see North Dakota State on my chest is an amazing feeling,” said Bison guard Vinnie Shahid. “It happened so fast. We weren’t expecting it to come up so fast. We’re excited to play North Carolina Central and we’ll go from there.”
The other regional host cities are Hartford, Conn.; Des Moines, Iowa; Jacksonville, Fla.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Columbus, Ohio; Tulsa, Okla.; and San Jose, Calif. NDSU previously played at regional sites in Minneapolis in 2009, Spokane, Wash., in 2014 and Seattle in 2015.
The Bison are 1-3 in NCAA play defeating Oklahoma in 2014. The Bison were knocked out by San Diego State in their attempt to get into the Sweet 16.
“We’ve talked about the excitement, the carpet behind the scenes, the police escorts,” Richman said, “but for them, when the lights come on, we’re playing a basketball game.”
The other “First Four” game in Dayton is Farleigh Dickinson (N.J.) against Prairie View (Texas) on Tuesday. That winner gets Gonzaga, the No. 1 seed in the West Regional. The University of Dayton has hosted the “First Four” games since the NCAA expanded the tournament field from 64 to 68 teams in 2011.
It’s a mini four-team tourney of sorts that the community has embraced. The university was awarded another “First Four” contract to host it through 2022.
“We need to focus on us and that’s what the focus will be about,” Richman said. “We feel like we’re playing our best brand of basketball and we need to ride that confidence that we built in Sioux Falls.”

Game and Fish seeks habitat contractors

Contractors who are able to perform habitat work on Private Land Open To Sportsmen program lands across the state are invited to add their businesses to a database that the North Dakota Game and Fish Department will maintain on its website to help landowners who are looking to develop wildlife habitat on their property.
PLOTS is an agreement between the private landowner and Game and Fish Department to open private land to walking hunting access. These contracts can involve establishing or enhancing wildlife habitat, such as grass plantings and food plots on PLOTS lands. However, if the landowner does not have the necessary equipment to perform the work, a contractor is usually needed.
“In some parts of the state, there is a shortage of contractors, or equipment, to perform habitat work,” said Kevin Kading, Game and Fish private lands section leader. “The bulk of the habitat work is planting native and introduced grasses, which requires a tractor, operator and a no-till drill or native grass drill. Other work can include wildlife food plots and tree plantings.”
Providing company information does not guarantee any future work, but as projects come about, the Department will refer landowners to interested contractors. More information about the PLOTS program is also available on the Game and Fish website, or by calling the Game and Fish Department at 328-6300.

National campaign for boat safety

A national safe boating campaign kicking off March 17-23 encourages boat operators to take a certified boat safety course.
Spring Aboard – Take a Boating Education Course wants boaters to get educated prior to the start of the boating season.
State Game and Fish Department education coordinator Brian Schaffer recommends all boaters take the state’s boating basics course. However, North Dakota state law requires only youngsters ages 12-15 must pass the course before they operate a boat or personal watercraft with at least a 10 horsepower motor by themselves.
In addition, some insurance companies give adult boat owners who pass the course a discount on boat insurance.
The course is available for home-study from the Game and Fish Department’s Bismarck office. Two commercial providers also offer the course online, and links to those sites are found on the department’s website at gf.nd.gov.
While the home-study course is free, students will be charged a fee to take it online. The online provider charges for the course, not the Game and Fish Department. The fee stays with the online provider.
Upon completion of the online test, and providing a credit card number, students will be able to print out a temporary certification card, and within 30 days a permanent card will be mailed.
The course covers legal requirements, navigation rules, getting underway, accidents and special topics such as weather, rules of the road, laws, life saving and first aid. For more information on boating safety contact Schaffer by email at ndgf@nd.gov; or call 328-6300.

McFeely: Next on the Bison’s docket is a healthy dose of reality

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Omaha tried throwing a haymaker at North Dakota State in the Summit League tournament championship game Tuesday, March 12, midway in the second half. The Mavericks went on a 12-0 run to tie the game 51-51 and the 11-point halftime lead the Bison so diligently built was gone.
There was 8:37 remaining with a berth in the NCAA tournament at stake. The Bison did not have a senior on the floor — because they don’t have a senior on the roster. It looked to those inside the Denny Sanford Premier Center that Omaha owned all the momentum. Surely the rag-tag bunch of Bison assembled by coach Dave Richman — six new players joined NDSU this season after attrition and a lack of victories last season made a reset necessary — wouldn’t have enough left to cross the finish line.
Then Vinnie Shahid happened. The junior point guard, a transfer from Western Nebraska Community College who played high school ball in the Twin Cities, nailed a 3-pointer for a 54-51 Bison lead. He followed it with a jump shot and a layup. Junior Tyson Ward snuck in a basket for a 60-51 NDSU lead.
The storm weathered, the Bison held on for a 73-63 victory and their fourth berth in the NCAAs since 2009.
The story of this year’s Bison team is growth, how a team that didn’t know much about each other at the start of the season and began 2-7 grew into a squad that could challenge for a conference title.
Richman addressed that storyline in his postgame comments and offered an anecdote that illustrated how far the Bison came.
“The exact same thing happened at Denver and we weren’t mature enough, we weren’t experienced enough at the time to handle it and it just spiraled out of control,” Richman said. “In our biggest moment, we gained experience. In our biggest moment, we were able to execute with poise and stay the course and not let that run affect us.”
Richman was referring to the Bison’s 80-65 loss at Denver on Jan. 16. NDSU led 36-30 at halftime and were down only 54-52 with 9:27 left. But the Pioneer went on a 16-3 run over the next 5 minutes and the Bison weren’t able to close the gap.
It was not a perfectly smooth road to Sioux Falls from Denver because the Bison failed to close out two games at home against South Dakota State and Omaha in which they led during the second half, but NDSU withstood rallies in all three Summit League tournament games. That’s the mark of a veteran team, not a youth-filled one like the Bison.
Now the tough stuff really begins.
It’s one thing to withstand an onslaught from a mid-major like Oral Roberts, Western Illinois or Omaha. It’s an entirely different thing to do so against the titans of college basketball like North Carolina, Gonzaga, Kentucky or Virginia. And that’s what likely awaits the Bison as they wait for Selection Sunday to find out who their tournament opponent might be.
The top expert “bracketologists” who make a living predicting which teams will be seeded where in the tournament bracket, and who they might play, all view NDSU as a 16 seed in the 68-team field — the lowest possible seeding for a team. If that holds true, two possible paths await the Bison.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Bison seeded 16th and playing top-seeded North Carolina in Columbia, S.C., in the Midwest Region on Thursday, March 21 or Friday, March 22. That means NDSU would avoid having to play a First Four play-in game in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday, March 19.
Two other bracket experts, Jerry Palm of CBS Sports and Brian Bennett of The Athletic, have NDSU seeded 16th and playing a First Four game. Palm has the Bison placed in the West Region and playing Iona. Bennett placed the Bison as a 16 seed in the South Region playing Farleigh Dickinson on Tuesday.
Palm’s scenario would have NDSU playing No. 1 seed Gonzaga in Salt Lake City if the Bison won. Bennett’s has NDSU advancing to play No. 1 seed Kentucky in Columbus, Ohio, if it won Tuesday.
You see the issue with being seeded 16th. The Bison would eventually have to play college basketball royalty.
It would be another opportunity to grow, as the Bison have done all year. It would likely not be an opportunity to win, even with the moxie NDSU showed against Omaha.

Walseth out as Bison women’s basketball coach

By Mike McFeely
Forum News Service

FARGO — It was about the wins and losses more than the defections. Maren Walseth didn’t win enough games as the head coach of the North Dakota State women’s basketball team and so she no longer has the job.
Walseth and the Bison “mutually agreed to part ways,” according to a press release sent out by the NDSU athletic department Monday, March 11, two days after NDSU’s season ended with a 71-54 loss to South Dakota in the first round of the Summit League tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D.
It was another inglorious and all too common end to a Bison season in their NCAA Division I era and during Walseth’s five years as head coach. She was 40-106 at NDSU, including 19-59 in the Summit League. Her best season came in 2014-15, her first year replacing the fired Carolyn DeHoff, when the Bison went 11-18 and placed sixth in the Summit League.
The Bison, once the gold standard in Division II women’s basketball with five national championships in the 1990s, went 7-22 this season, their fourth straight year of 20 or more losses.
“In Division I athletics, the scoreboard matters,” NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen said. “And I think Maren would be the first to tell you we need to be better. We need to be better. We need to be more competitive.”
In addition to a lack of on-court success, Walseth’s program was marked by players leaving the program the last few years. Most notably, last year’s leading scorer Reilly Jacobson transferred to Western Michigan this season and former Fargo Shanley standout and North Dakota “Miss Basketball” Sarah Jacobson was dismissed from the team recently.
But Larsen said player defections and dismissals shouldn’t be looked at cumulatively and instead need to be analyzed individually.
“Each one had very different circumstances,” Larsen said. “It wasn’t the defining decision-maker.”
Walseth has one year remaining on her contract. Larsen said Walseth and the school are working on a separation agreement.
“I am extremely thankful for the opportunity Lynn Dorn and Gene Taylor afforded me five years ago,” Walseth said. “Although I am disappointed with our lack of on-court success, the Bison women’s basketball has grown and thrived in ways the general public does not always witness. For that I am extremely proud. Matt Larsen and his staff’s guidance and leadership is some of the best I have been a part of. I wish nothing but the best to the NDSU athletic department and specifically the members of the women’s basketball team.”
Larsen said a national search will begin immediately for a new head coach. He envisions a larger committee and longer timeline than what NDSU used when it hired Matt Entz to replace Chris Klieman as its head football coach in December. Larsen said there are no parameters set on who might be the new coach. He’s open to hiring the best candidate for the job, whether that person is male, female, a Division I assistant or comes from Division II.
“It’s wide open,” Larsen said.
Walseth’s struggles are not unique since NDSU moved up to Division I. Since becoming eligible in 2009 to qualify for the NCAA tournament, the Bison have had just two winning seasons and have lost 20 or more games six times. They’ve won just one game in the Summit League tournament. DeHoff, who was hired in 2008 to replace the legendary Amy Ruley, went 72-105 in six seasons.
Walseth’s winning percentage of .274 ranks third-worst among NDSU’s 10 women’s basketball head coaches.
NDSU had high expectations for women’s basketball after going Division I. Under Ruley, the Bison dominated Division II in the 1990s by winning national titles in 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996. Ruley was 671-198 in 29 years and regularly drew big crowds to the Bison Sports Arena, including sellouts when NDSU hosted the Elite Eight five times.
But NDSU’s move to Division I coincided with the meteoric rise of South Dakota State and South Dakota in the Summit League. Both have been regular qualifiers for the NCAA and NIT women’s tournaments and have dominated the Bison.
Larsen said the goal is to lift NDSU to the top of the conference with SDSU and USD.
“I think NDSU women’s basketball is a really good job from a resources standpoint, from a facilities standpoint, cost of attendance. You go down the list,” he said. “I think we’re poised to be really good in the Summit League, but it’s going to take the right coach and staff to come in and recruit athletes who can compete against the South Dakotas and South Dakota States.”
Walseth was hired by former women’s athletic director Lynn Dorn. At the time of her hire, Walseth was the candidate that Dorn was looking for.
“She met all of our expectations,” Dorn said at the time.
Walseth had Division I experience as a player and assistant coach at Penn State, she had ties to the Twin Cities being a graduate of Bloomington Jefferson High School — and therefore assumed recruiting ties — and she had general name recognition in the game. She’s considered one of the greatest players to ever come out of Minnesota.
She was taken in the third round in the 2001 WNBA draft by the Sacramento Monarchs and had connections to NDSU with her younger sister, Annika Walseth, having played for the Bison for one year.
NDSU President Dean Bresciani was also sold on Walseth’s coaching capabilities during their interview. Bresciani, in a 2014 Forum story, said he asked a question of Walseth: What does it take to win?
“I got an impromptu dissertation exactly what it takes to win in Division I women’s college basketball,” Bresciani said.
It never came to fruition.
NDSU went 11-18 in her first season, but the Bison were 7-5 at home and finished 7-9 in the Summit League. Those would turn out to be her best marks in all three categories.
The program won its first game ever in the Summit tournament, beating Western Illinois in the 2009 first round — the first year NDSU was Division I eligible after completing its Division II transition. Since then, however, the Bison have gone 0-11 including this year’s loss to the Coyotes.
NDSU was 47-13 in 18 national tournament appearances under Ruley. The Bison finished runner-up three times.

Jamestown tops Davies for first Class A state boys basketball title since 1993

By Clay Cunningham
Forum News Service

BISMARCK — Coming off a 2016-17 season in which it won just two games, talks of the Jamestown boys basketball team winning a state tournament in just two years may have drawn snickers from some.
With a perfect season, capped by a dominant performance in the state championship game, in the books, it’s hard to imagine anyone laughing at the Blue Jays now.
A 14-2 run early in the first half gave the Blue Jays control for good, as they cruised to their first North Dakota Class A boys state basketball title since 1993 with a 66-49 win over Fargo Davies at the Bismarck Event Center Saturday, March 9.
“I’ve been dreaming of this since I was a third grader,” said junior Boden Skunberg, a North Dakota State commit who led all scorers with 23 points. “It just feels amazing to finally accomplish it.”
Jamestown gained separation by getting clean looks inside and out en route to shooting 56 percent from the floor in the first half.
The Blue Jays may have been even more impressive on the defensive end. Able to match up well with the Eagles’ size, they shut down the Eagles’ inside scoring throughout the first half. The Eagles, who had scored at least 69 points in every other game this season, couldn’t get anything going from 3-point range either, hitting just 3-of-9 in a first half that saw them trail by as many as 20 points.
Davies attempted to claw its way back into the game getting withing single-digits twice, the last time coming on a Ty Satter steal and score to make it 54-45 with 3 minutes, 30 seconds to play.
But Skunberg closed the door on the comeback attempt with a layup on Jamestown’s ensuing possession.
A program that hadn’t even had a winning season in three years, the Blue Jays completed the first perfect season in Class A basketball since Fargo North ran the table in 2002.
“It still really hasn’t hit me yet,” said senior center Mason Walters, who clinched a tournament most valuable player award with a 19-point, 15-rebound performance Saturday. “It’s really special and I’m super proud of it. Undefeated state championship, you can’t ask for more than that.”
A great run through the Eastern Dakota Conference ended in disappointment for Davies, which closed out the season 24-3.
Braeton Motschenbacher led the way with 20 points and Cameron Van Dam added 14. No other player scored more than six and only six Eagles cracked the scoring column.
“Hell of a season, crappy way to go out,” Van Dam said.
Coach Bart Mason is hopeful that final hurdle will be cleared next season.
“No doubt in my mind these guys will be back,” Manson said. “We played with a chip on our shoulder all this year from what happened last year. Maybe this will be a chip on our shoulder to get back and have a redemption next year.”
Half: J 35, FD 18
J: Lunzman 6, Skunberg 23, Kallenbach 6, Lamp 5, Walters 19, Wegenast 7
FD: Satter 2, Motschenbacher 20, Noel 6, Klabo 5, Van Dam 14, Hage 2.
Third place
Bismarck Century 59, Grand Forks Red River 58
Halftime: BC 27, GFRR 27.
BC: Ely 2, Auck 6, Mattern 24, Kraljic 2, Feeney 17, Stuart 6, Coleman 2.
GFRR: Obioha 18, Dvorak 14, Klefstad 5, Benson 8, Feller 3, Springer 3, Enerson 7.
Fifth place
West Fargo 89, Bismarck Legacy 69
Halftime: WF 38, Legacy 29.
WF: Miller 17, Aden 4, Hegerle 14, Birrenkott 10, Lyman 15, Lennon 27.
BL: Clements 23, Hilz 12, Patton 6, Messmer 3, Bitz 2, Kupfer 4, Woodbury 11, Miller 8.
All-tournament team
Braeton Motschenbacher, Fargo Davies; Boden Skunberg, Jamestown; Mason Walters, Jamestown; Treyton Mattern, Bismarck Century; Cameron Van Dam, Fargo Davies; Elijah Klein, Mandan; Will Obioha, Grand Forks Red River; Cade Feeney, Bismarck Century; Luke Lennon, West Fargo; Rhett Clements, Bismarck Legacy.
Most valuable player: Mason Walters, Jamestown.
Senior athlete of the year: Luke Lennon, West Fargo.
Coach of the year: Jacoby Lloyd, Jamestown

South Dakota women roll past Bison in Summit League opener

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The Summit League Tournament woes continued for North Dakota State’s women’s basketball program Saturday, March 9.
Suffering a 74-51 opening-round loss to South Dakota at the Denny Sanford Premier Center, NDSU now has a 1-10 all-time record in the Summit League Tournament. The Bison’s only win in this tournament came in a 2009 quarterfinal victory over Western Illinois.
“Their physicality, specifically in the first half, really got to us,” said NDSU head coach Maren Walseth. “Our inability to make good passes really hurt us.”
As the No. 7 seed, the Bison were the decided underdogs against No. 2-seeded USD. It showed right away when the Coyotes jumped out to a 14-6 lead.
It didn’t get any better in the second quarter for the Bison. The Coyotes went on a 17-2 run to take a 41-16 halftime lead.
USD, which averages 26 points per game off of turnovers, scored 14 points off of 12 Bison turnovers in the first half. The Bison made only 1-of-6 field goals in the second quarter, unable to convert a field during a 9½-minute stretch.
“They are a very physical team,” said Emily Dietz, a 6-foot-3 sophomore from Fargo Shanley who led the Bison with 20 points. “I just think we just needed to be a little more patient on offense. They got us to be a little frantic.”
Sophomore Michelle Gaislerova, who ranks third in career 3-pointers at NDSU with 74, drained six treys the last time the Bison played USD — a 76-57 loss in Vermillion on Feb. 28. She was limited to one 3-pointer and only three points on Saturday.
“We did a much better on Gaislerova today,” said USD head coach Dawn Plitzuweit. “I thought North Dakota State came out in the third quarter and really took it to us.”
But by then, USD — a team many expect to get an invitation to the NCAA Tournament even if it doesn’t win the Summit championship — had built a lead that was too much to overcome.
“They share the ball very well,” said Walseth, who in her fifth season at NDSU now has a 40-106 record. “South Dakota can score at all three levels at a very high rate which makes them a very dangerous team. Hopefully for our league, that could get them a win or two in the NCAA Tournament.”
NDSU’s season ends with a 7-22 record — the fifth straight season of less than 10 wins.

NDSU’s Otterdahl wins second national throwing title in two days

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – It took North Dakota State University a decade to crown its first individual national champion at the Division I level.
On Saturday, March 9, Payton Otterdahl made it two titles in two days.
Otterdahl won the weight throw at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, throwing a career-best 79 feet 1.25 inches on his final attempt to extend his NDSU school record and claim his second facility record of the meet.
Otterdahl took first in the shot put on Friday night. He became only the second man in NCAA history to sweep the national titles in the indoor throwing events, joining Dan Taylor of Ohio State in 2004.
Georgia’s Denzel Comenentia opened the weight throw competition with a launch of 76-6.25 that held the lead through two rounds, but Otterdahl stepped into first place with a throw of 76-7.75 on his third attempt.
“I knew it was only a matter of time until I hit a big one,” Otterdahl said. “I didn’t quite connect with one right away, but I was confident in my training, and I knew it would come.”
Otterdahl extended his lead on his fifth and sixth throws, ultimately taking the gold by a margin of 29 inches over second-place Adam Kelly of Princeton.
“This is the perfect ending to my indoor season,” said Otterdahl. “I hit all the goals that I had for indoor, so I really couldn’t ask for more.”
A redshirt senior from Rosemount, Minn, Otterdahl is in his fifth year training under NDSU associate head coach Justin St. Clair – the Midwest Region assistant coach of the year in both the men’s and women’s categories this season.
“I have to give Justin just about all the credit. He made me into who I am today,” Otterdahl said. “I wasn’t a national-level guy in high school or for the first three years of college. He pushed me, challenged me, mentored me, and really built me into the athlete I am today.”
Otterdahl is NDSU’s first multiple-time national champion in men’s track & field since Nathan Schmidt won back-to-back Division II crowns in the decathlon in 2003 and 2004. He’s the first Bison to earn a pair of first-team indoor All-America honors at the Division I level.