Wildfire finish wild season in fourth place

Thanks to a record-setting performance by Heart River senior Dion Madler, the Wildfire fell to the Cougars 81-73 to finish in fourth place at the Region 7 Boys Basketball tournament in Dickinson on March 9.

Senior Sean Hertz goes up for the basket against the Heart River Cougars. (Herald Photo by Cole Benz)

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor
cbenz@countrymedi.net

Thanks to a record-setting performance by Heart River senior Dion Madler, the Wildfire fell to the Cougars 81-73 to finish in fourth place at the Region 7 Boys Basketball tournament in Dickinson on March 9.

Madler scored 39 points in part because of his eight 3-pointers. Madler also recorded 10 rebounds to finish the game with a double-double.

The Wildfire played a clean game. Their passing was efficient, they created space and shooting opportunities, but they were hard pressed when putting the ball in the air. The only shot 42 percent from the field and a meager 33 precent from the free-throw line.

“It all comes down to fundamentals,” head coach Nate Zachmann said. “That stuff adds up against good teams.”

Mott-Regent hustled from start to finish.

The Wildfire found themselves down by as much as 20 points midway through the third quarter, cut that lead to 11, but that’s as close as they got to catching up to the Cougars.

Along with missing shots, the Wildfire were hammered by long scoring runs by Heart River. Runs of 13, 10 and seven throughout the game gave the Cougars a comfortable lead that they didn’t give up.

“Sometimes the ball just doesn’t drop and you have to pick it up on the defensive end,” Zachmann said. “But you know when you play these good teams every possession is so important, and you’ve just make every possession count and we just had some shots that didn’t drop.”

Mott-Regent was resilient through the tough scoring runs.

Midway through the first quarter senior Sean Hertz had struggled and missed on three straight possessions. But Hertz shook it off and score the next three times he had the ball. It was a testament to what Zachmann had been preaching all season, being noble minded, and don’t let things get the better of you.

“You’ve just got to keep playing,” Zachmann said. “Everyone showed a really good noble mindset.”

As the Wildfire look to the future, they will have to do so without the services of Sean Hertz, Dylan Ambers, and Brady Wegh. It’s hard to replace the seniors, but it’s something you have to prepare for in high school basketball.

But they played some underclassmen during the tournament, which will help in their experience for the future.

Zachmann said he wants his team to grow, in size.

“We’ve got to get in the gym,” he said. “We’ve got to be so much stronger.”

The coach said that they will work with Cody Perkins and get him in the post more. And Tanner Zentner will have to get used to handling the ball more.

Zachmann also said they need to develop more depth. Heart River played 12 players during the game, the Wildfire only put seven players on the court. Hopefully, Zachmann said, the return of Hunter Koeplin and Aaron Roth will help in the depth department. Koeplin and Roth sat out the season with injuries, but both were very much involved with the team throughout this season, Zachmann said.

But right now, the team is just reflecting on the past season.

“We’re proud of the season we put together,” Zachmann said. “We know where we have to improve, and we know where we have to make more adjustments, and it’s just time to regroup and think about things next year and enjoy what we just accomplished, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

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