The Minot High School boys basketball team dug itself too deep a hole Friday night with 14 first-half turnovers.
Mandan took full advantage of the early miscues and held off a late Minot rally for a 62-50 West Region win at Magic City Campus.
The Braves (10-3 region, 12-4 overall) watched the Magicians commit 20 turnovers the night before in a loss at Bismarck St. Mary's and immediately looked to fluster Minot's ballhandlers.
Minot High School junior Brandon VanDusen looks to score between Mandan seniors Jacob Watson (left) and Treyton Fitzsimmons in the Braves’ 60-52 win Friday at Magic City Campus.
"If you get up on them a little bit they don't look as comfortable," Mandan coach Jason Horner said. "When they reverse the ball and attack and use their screens, they're very good. We had to make sure that it was hard for them to get it where they wanted it to go."
Mandan built a 29-13 halftime lead and Minot (8-6, 10-7) made it easy on the Braves' defenders with a lack of movement off the ball. On each of Minot's final two possessions of the half, Mandan junior guard Erron Collins stole the ball off Minot junior guard Austin Frank's dribble.
"They outplayed us, they outworked us, they outcoached us the first 20 minutes of the game. That's the difference," Minot coach Dean Winczewski said. "It's just sloppy. It's inexcusable sloppiness."
Minot had just two turnovers in the second half, but the game turned from sloppy to choppy. The officials called 49 total fouls and each team saw two players foul out of the game.
Minot junior Brandon VanDusen led Minot with 15 points and 11 of his 13 free throws came in the second half. Senior teammate Kelvin Mackey scored on two rare possessions with no whistle in a late rally, which cut the deficit to 52-48 - the closest the Magi got since the opening minutes.
"The whole rhythm was gone, but for us we were trying to get to the line and make the game longer," Mackey said.
The seemingly never-ending trips to the line helped Minot claw back, but Mandan senior Aaron Janz crushed the rally with a 3-pointer with 1:04 remaining. The shot pushed the Braves' lead to 57-48.
"I think I muttered a swear word on the bench after he made it, I was so happy," Horner said. "It was just a senior that loves big moments and stepped into the shot with confidence and once it left his hand it looked good."
Janz finished with 15 points and Mandan senior reserve Seth Westby led all scorers with 17.
Minot will play its final two regular season games on the road, the first at Bismarck Century on Friday and the finale at Williston on Feb. 21.
"I'd say the last ... three games we haven't played defense, rebounded and defended the ball the way we should be," VanDusen said.