AREA GAMES TO WATCH: Bearcats' football and basketball games stay exciting

Kittson County Central's football team won four of the five games it played that were decided by 14 or fewer points during the fall. So far, that success in close games hasn't carried over to the basketball court. The Bearcats take a 2-4 into the...

Kittson County Central logo

Kittson County Central's football team won four of the five games it played that were decided by 14 or fewer points during the fall.

So far, that success in close games hasn't carried over to the basketball court.

The Bearcats take a 2-4 into the Northwest Russ Smith Holiday Classic, which runs Thursday through Saturday in Thief River Falls. Of those four losses, the widest margin of defeat was 10 points. One loss was by two points; two others were by three points.

It wasn't until Friday, when the Bearcats rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit to beat Sacred Heart 58-55, that a close game has gone KCC's way.

"It's been very frustrating," KCC coach Chad Kujava said. "We've had game-tying or game-winning shots in a couple of those games, good looks. But we haven't been able to get them to go down."


The Bearcats' basketball started late because the football team advanced deep into the playoffs, losing in the Minnesota state 9-man semifinals to Grand Meadow, 21-7.

But, Kujava said, expectations were high. There was only one senior on last season's 13-13 basketball team. Most of the basketball players were on the football team.

"All the great experience they had in football should help us," Kujava said. "These kids know what it takes to win. They've experienced success. They take that experience into the basketball season.

"Sports is about momentum. When you get the winning mentality, you feel like you'll win every time you step on the field. I think (the losing) weighs on the kids now. But I think we're confident. We've been competitive."

Besides the late start, Kujava said, the team has been hurt by injuries and other absences. The Bearcats have yet to have a practice or a play game in which the entire roster was available. That, Kujava said, has been more frustrating than the string of narrow losses.

Kittson County Central has shown good depth. Blayne Davis (11.8 ppg), Nick Kennedy (10.4 ppg) and Darwin Kasprowicz (10 ppg) lead an offense run by Mitchell Jenson (7 ppg, 5.2 apg) and Drew Olsonawski (8.6 ppg, 3.4 apg).

The Russ Smith tournament won't give the Bearcats a break. They play Thief River Falls on Thursday and Crookston on Friday in the round-robin portion of the three-day tournament. The tournament starts Thursday with Crookston playing Sacred Heart at 4 p.m., Northern Freeze meeting Red Lake at 6 p.m., followed by the KCC-Thief River Falls game.

"Any time you play a triple-A team and a good AA team, it will be tough," Kujava said. "We just have to continue to work on playing good basketball."


The holidays usually mean tournament time. Here are some other events in the area this week:


• Hillsboro Holiday Hoops: The event will be held Friday and Saturday. Sixteen boys and 16 girls teams participate in a total of 29 games. Play begins Friday at 9:30 a.m. at Hillsboro and Central Valley schools and, on Saturday, at 11 a.m. in Hillsboro and noon at Central Valley.

Boys hockey

• Stadstad Classic, in Grand Forks: The annual event runs Thursday through Saturday at Purpur Arena. Opening-day games are: Grand Forks Red River vs. Bismarck High, 2 p.m.; Fargo Davies vs. Proctor, 4:15 p.m.; Grand Forks Central vs. Chisago Lakes, 6:30 p.m.; and Bismarck Century vs. Shakopee, 8:45 p.m.

• Hockeytown Holiday Classic, in Warroad: The four-team, round-robin event runs Thursday through Saturday. Play opens Thursday with Grafton-Park River playing Warroad at 5 p.m., followed by Osseo vs. International Falls at 7:30 p.m.

• Ralph Engelstad Hockey Classic, in Thief River Falls: The round-robin tournament runs Thursday through Saturday. Thursday's opening round has Crookston against Fort Francis, 2:30 p.m.; Fargo North vs. Achiever Academy, 5 p.m.; and Thief River Falls vs. Siren, Wis., 7:30 p.m.

• Roseau Holiday Classic: The double-elimination tournament runs Thursday through Saturday. First-round pairings Thursday are: Minot vs. Lake of the Woods, 1:30 p.m.; Coon Rapids vs. Alexandria, 4 p.m.; Roseau vs. St. Paul Academy, 6:30 p.m.; and Mandan vs. Princeton, 9 p.m.


Girls hockey

• Crookston Pirates Holiday Tournament: The round-robin event will be held Thursday and Friday. First-day games are: East Grand Forks Senior High vs. Fargo South, 2:30 p.m.; Park Rapids vs. West Fargo, 5 p.m.; and Crookston vs. Mandan, 7:30 p.m.

DeVillers reports on sports. Call him at (701) 780-1128, (800) 477-6572 ext. 1128 or send e-mail to .

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