BOYS BASKETBALL: Grafton and Cavalier meet in title game Friday
There will be no secrets when Grafton and Cavalier meet for the North Dakota Region 2 Class B boys basketball championship.
The title game will be Friday night at Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. It will be a repeat of last season’s region final, won 57-50 by Cavalier. And it will be the eighth game between the two teams over the past two seasons.
“It’s never easy to play those guys at any time,’’ Cavalier coach Bryce Laxdal said. “We know each other very well. We’re both familiar with the offenses and defenses the other team runs. It will come down to execution and being patient.”
The teams split their four games last season. This season, Cavalier won has all three games, by 67-54, 56-48 and 48-42 margins. “None of them have been blowouts,” Laxdal said. “I wouldn’t expect it to be any different this time.”
Both teams have their go-to players on offense — Brock Robbins and Ryan Chrest for Cavalier (22-1), Austin Contreras and 6-foot-6 Garek Droog for Grafton (16-7).
“They got the most important win last year,” Grafton coach Riley Lillemoen said. “I would think they’re favored again. We’ve struggled to beat them.
“We have to handle their pressure. They can really get after teams; they’re so quick and athletic. Hopefully, they have to handle our pressure, too. We’ve played good defense. Our height is our advantage. We need to get the ball to Garek.”
The two programs have dominated Region 2 in recent years. Between them, Grafton and Cavalier have won four straight region titles and five of the last six.
New role for Bearcats
North Star is no stranger to the Region 4 boys basketball championship game. When the Bearcats meet defending champion Four Winds-Minnewaukan for the region title tonight in Devils Lake, it will mark the sixth straight season North Star has been in the region final.
Unlike the last few seasons, however, North Star is probably an underdog.
“The last three years, we were probably considered the favorite in the region,” North Star coach Jeff Hagler said. “Last year, Four Winds-Minnewaukan was very good, but we beat them during the regular season.
“But this year, they’ve beaten us. They have the better record, a lot more depth and they have a lot of seniors; we don’t have any.”
While Four Winds-Minnewaukan (21-2) has a deep rotation, its go-to players are high-scoring Trayvon McKay (23 ppg) and point guard Hadley Smith (13.3 ppg). North Star (17-7) has its version of twin towers in 6-6 Alex Weston (18 ppg) and 6-5 Christian Kvilvang (19.1 ppg).
Region 2 to move
The North Dakota Region 2 girls basketball tournament has been moved from Betty Engelstad Sioux Center to Mayville State University.
The tournament is scheduled to be played March 10, 11 and 13. There is a potential scheduling conflict on those days with the UND women’s basketball team.
“It’s very likely UND is going to host the Big Sky Conference tournament, which we believe will start March 13,” region tournament director John Hutchison said.
“We can’t wait until three or four days before the tournament is scheduled to start to decide to move it. That wouldn’t be fair to the Mayville State people. They need time to get ready for it. And the coaches in Districts 3 and 4 need to know.”
Hutchison said he doesn’t think the late change of venue will impact the use of the Grand Forks facility for future region tournaments.
“We hope it doesn’t,” Hutchison said. “A neutral site is very important because it is more fair to all the schools, not giving anyone a home-court advantage. And the Betty is a great facility. The comment I always hear from kids and coaches is that it’s close to a state tournament experience playing the regional there.”
Several area athletes have reached milestones recently. The group includes:
- Korbyn Ross, Win-E-Mac: The senior reached the 1,000-point mark for her career when she scored 14 against East Grand Forks Senior High on Tuesday. Ross, who averages 10.8 points a game, joins Madison McKeever and Shelby Kaster as 1,000-point scorers in the current Patriots lineup.
Ross is probably the most versatile of the three, Win-E-Mac coach Ian Hanson said. “Korbyn is more of an outside threat,” Hanson said. “She shoots the three pretty well, she has good post moves, and she’s more of a ballhandler and slasher than Shelby.”
- Shannon Galegher, Thompson: The 5-foot-10 Tommies senior has grabbed the 1,000th rebound of her career (it was incorrectly reported last week that she scored her 1,000th career point).
Galegher now has more than 1,000 career points and rebounds in basketball, as well as more than 1,000 kills during her volleyball career. “That says a lot about Shannon’s athleticism and her ability to do different things at a high level,” Thompson basketball coach Jason Brend said. “She’s a good rebounder because she has a nose for the ball and she’s an explosive jumper.”
- Brock Robbins, Cavalier: The junior scored his 1,000th career point during the District 4 tournament. Robbins averages 20 points and 10 rebounds this season.
“We don’t post Brock up a lot,” Tornadoes coach Bryce Laxdal said. “He’s at his best when he’s looking to attack and finish at the rim. But he’s also a good outside shooter.”
- Jacob Leier, Thief River Falls: The senior point guard, a third-year starter, recently became the sixth Prowler boys basketball player to reach 1,000 career points. Leier averages 13 points and 7 assists this season.
“He’s a facilitator for other players,” TRF coach Joe Wasfaret said. “He loves that role. He’s a pass first, pass second player, who has shooting as his third option. Most of his points come from his ability to get into the lane and finish or draw fouls and get to the line.”
- In wrestling at section tournaments last week, Fosston-Bagley senior Alexi Bode won his 100th career match, while Austin Hjelle of Thief River Falls scored his 150th career win.