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BOYS BASKETBALL: Defense leads Minot past Red River

BISMARCK -- It took Grand Forks Red River 12 minutes to reach the 20-point mark Friday. It took most of the remaining 24 minutes of the game for the Riders to get another 20. Minot's stingy defense ended the Roughriders' bid for a state title wit...

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Austin Slaughter of Grand Forks Red River eyes the basket during the North Dakota State Class A Boys basketball semifinal game against Minot Friday, March 10, 2016, in Bismarck. Dave Wallis / The Forum

BISMARCK -- It took Grand Forks Red River 12 minutes to reach the 20-point mark Friday.

It took most of the remaining 24 minutes of the game for the Riders to get another 20.

Minot's stingy defense ended the Roughriders' bid for a state title with a 65-42 win in the semifinals of the North Dakota Class A high school basketball tournament.

The Roughriders averaged 68.3 points a game entering the state tournament. Their previous low for points in a game this season was 60.

"It's a testament to Minot's defense,'' Red River coach Kirby Krefting said. "We didn't shoot very well. They were pretty aggressive, getting in our face. And they rebounded.''

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The Roughriders actually led 20-12 when Austin Slaughter hit a fast-break layup with 5:58 left in the first half. It was still 22-17 Red River when Minot closed the first half on a 12-2 run, taking a 29-24 halftime lead they never relinquished.

"We went to a trapping defense near the end of the first half,'' Minot coach Dean Winczewski said. "We got some turnovers and got some up tempo going.

"Then, in the second half, we challenged (Jesse) Roberts, (Justin) Engg and (Seth) Peterson to get out and defend. We have size; that's one thing Red River probably doesn't see much.''

The numbers showed Minot's defensive dominance. Red River shot 16-of-59 (27.1 percent) for the game, including just 21.2 percent in the second half. Against the tall Riders, Minot held a 58-32 rebounding advantage. Senior 6-foot-4 Braydon Lund grabbed 18 rebounds.

"They were switching on every screen we set,'' Krefting said. "We didn't get the looks we usually get. They negated our usual size advantage. They did a good job of defending the post. And Lund, I guess he was pretty good on the boards.

"We always feel we can get back into a game when we're down. We've been very explosive. But we didn't shoot very well.''

The Riders were still within 37-33 with 14:44 left after Braedan Hanson hit a turnaround jumper in the lane. But Minot responded with a 13-2 run, in one stretch holding Red River scoreless for 5 minutes, 58 seconds. Most of the Magicians’ points in the spurt were either on free throws (five) or offensive rebound putback baskets (two).

"That's effort,'' Winczewski said. "We got into the paint, which gave us opportunities to get to the line, and we hit the boards. Sometimes you have to grind it out.

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"We're a team of runs. Sometimes you get on them and you can ride the momentum for awhile.''

KiJuan Johnson had a game-high 17 points to lead the 24-2 Magicians. Lund added 15 points to go with his boardwork and Roberts scored 10.

Slaughter scored 16 points and 10 rebounds for the 16-10 Roughriders, with Hanson scoring 12.


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