The Tigers from New England rode an incredible win streak all the way to the North Dakota State Class B Tournament.
By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tigers from New England rode an incredible win streak all the way to the North Dakota State Class B Tournament. The state tournament turned out to be a different animal for the Tigers, and they ran into some hard luck on the court.
The Tigers came about as close to winning all three of their games as you could without actually tallying a ‘w’.
The first game New England faced off against LaMoure-Litchville/Marion and nearly defeated them, twice. But the Loboes held on as much as they could, and after two overtime periods took down the Region 7 champions.
In the second contest of the tournament, the Tigers were matched a against a familiar foe, the Shiloh Christian Skyhawks.
The Skyhawks were one of only two games the Tigers lost all season long, and again the Tigers were forced to play an overtime contest. The Skyhawks had their number and were victorious against New England for the second time this season.
In the final game of the tournament for New England, the Tigers were matched against the Patriots from MayPort-CG.
New England entered this game gassed having played more basketball then anyone in the tournament. They also were down a man as Christian Kilwein sat out with an illness.
As the game progressed the Tigers found themselves down two more men, senior Daniel Prince went down with an ankle sprain and was forced to sit out the second half of the fourth quarter. Fellow senior Gavin Fitterer also had to leave, as he went down with knee injury.
The Tigers would fall to the Patriots by four points in the final contest of the season. With a team down three key players, their Head Coach Luke Powers said that it just shows how resilient his team is, and how they work hard until the final buzzer.
New England couldn’t find a victory in the state tournament, but according to Head Coach Luke Powers, it wasn’t because they gave up.
“It didn’t go our way, but it wasn’t due to a lack of effort,” Powers said. “That’s for sure.”
Powers said that making the tournament was a great feat, and something that the team had worked for all season.
“It was a dream come true to get there,” Powers said.
The athletes will have these experiences for the rest of their lives, added Powers. It was a sentiment that senior Ty Nordby echoed after the final game of the year.
“Yeah we definitely had fun,” Nordby said. “We’ll definitely have these memories for the rest of our lives.”
Through each loss, the community never hesitated to get out to the arena and cheer for their team.
“It just showed how great our community is, and we’re really thankful for that,” Powers said. “Win or lose they were there for us, and that’s pretty cool.”
The community involvement started way before the state tournament. Beginning prior to the regional play, New England was gearing up for a long run towards the state tournament. The entire town was behind the Tigers, as evident by the homes and businesses plastered with Tiger regalia. Even highway 22 what littered with cheer signs.
When asked what he thought about how the town responded to the team’s success, Nordby said that it was a good feeling.
“It felt great, everybody was hyped up, everybody was putting signs up, it as a pretty good crowd here,” Nordby said.
Nordby added that he only wished the team could have done better for them.
The head coach said recovering from the losses seemed harder on the coaching staff than the players, which he said is a testament to their integrity.
“Kids surprise me all the time, they are resilient,” Powers said.
At the end of the tournament Prince was recognized for his tournament play and was named to the All-Tournament Team. Prince averaged 17.3 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game throughout the three games at the tournament.
Taking home another piece of hardware was Coach Powers. Powers was previously named the Region 7 Coach of the Year and was named the State Class B Coach of the Year, something he said was a little bittersweet.
He reiterated his sentiments about winning the regional coaching award, and said that it is really a reflection of his team and his coaching staff.
When asked if the award gave his coaching acumen some vindication, he said more than the x’s and o’s, he is most proud of the player development, and the fact that his system can get kids to work hard.
Powers said the team will miss the senior leadership they will lose to graduation this year and hopes the lessons they learned now will help them in the future.
“We love the heck out of those seniors, but you can only play high school basketball so long,” Powers said. “We’ll be excited to have the talent that we have coming back and we think the kids will put in the time and hard work to improve, and hopefully we’re right there again competing for another region championship.”