BISMARCK - Ironically, as senior Colter Hustad sat on one of the white-and-blue, foam-cushioned seats on Minot High's bench, the future of the starting center's high school hoops career depended on the sophomore who will soon replace him as the Magicians' main man in the middle.
Hustad, saddled with foul trouble for most of the final 33 minutes, clocked just 9:37 of floor time after proving to be Minot's most consistent player in the first two games of the West Region tournament.
In Saturday's state-qualifier at the Bismarck Civic Center, first-year starter Braydon Lund scored 12 points and pulled down a game-high 18 rebounds to help the Magicians beat Mandan 72-62 and secure a berth in the Class A state tournament.
Minot High sophomore center Braydon Lund scores on a putback during the Magicians’ 72-62 win over Mandan on Saturday at the Bismarck Civic Center. Lund had 12 points and a game-high 18 rebounds.
"I have to thank him for stepping up tonight and carrying most of the team to put us into next week," Hustad said.
Hustad knocked down a baseline jumper on the game's first possession, but was whistled for his second foul after just 2:54 and sat the rest of the half. Junior forward Noah Bosh, who tied for a game-high with 16 points, added another baseline jumper and Lund followed with the first of his four tip-ins to spot Minot a 6-0 lead.
The Magicians (16-6) led from wire to wire, though Dickinson (8-14) trimmed the deficit to two points on five occasions. The Midgets trailed 28-24 at the half, but never tied it.
The 6-foot-4 Lund had his first two shot attempts stuffed by Dickinson's 6-3 Luke Herauf, yet he kept attacking the rim. He found success in the first half, when he scored eight points.
"I wasn't worried about it (getting blocked twice)," Lund said. "I was just going to stay confident and trust my teammates.
"And I knew that since they were blocking shots, they were going to be eager to jump, so that opened up a lot for us and helped us get to the foul line."
Minot knocked down 13 of its 16 made free throws in the second half, when it led 57-43 with 4:19 to play. Dickinson answered with a 9-2 run over the next 52 seconds to make the Magicians sweat out the final three minutes.
"People don't realize how gut-wrenching this tournament is," Minot coach Dean Winczewski said. "If you're playing in these games on Saturday, they're fun, but you feel nauseous from the time you have to play in it until it's over. Fortunately, today, our kids lined up. You got to give them the credit."
Bosh was tremendous early in the second half, when he scored 10 points. He knocked down two 3-pointers and hit a couple of bunnies in the first 5:50 after halftime. Bosh ranks eighth in the region in scoring (13.5 points per game), but tallied just two points on 1-of-7 shooting in the semifinals Friday against No. 1 Century.
Said Winczewski: "He got challenged. All of the coaches basically challenged him and just said, 'If you're the player that we think you can be, then those nights can't happen.' To his credit, he responded very well."
Minot limited Dickinson to 38.2 percent shooting and contained Herauf, the Midgets' leading scorer, to 16 points on 16 shots. The Magicians dominated the glass 41-26, thanks to Lund, who finished the three-day tournament with 35 rebounds.
"I feel my role is just to rebound and do whatever my team asks of me," Lund said. "They were giving me chances to attack the glass and if they're giving me the opportunity, I'm going to take advantage of it."
Minot junior point guard Dakota Halvorson posted 13 points, seven boards and three assists in leading an offense that made 26 of 56 shots (46.4 percent) one day after finishing with a 26.1-percent clip against Century. Non-seniors accounted for 50 of the Magicians' 72 points.
"We know that they can step up and make shots and do what we expect of them," Hustad said.
Aanen Moody (14), Bronson Lewis (11) and Mark Ericson (10) also scored in double figures for Dickinson.
With the win, Minot's season is extended for another week. The Magicians, who missed the big dance last year, are the West Region No. 4 seed in the state tournament and will play East Region champion Fargo Davies at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Minot State Dome.
Winczewski repeatedly called the win over Dickinson "a great team win," but Lund shouldered more than his fair share of the load.
"I felt like we (non-seniors) owe it to them," Lund said. "The seniors are great people, great leaders. I look up to them a lot. They've helped me through the season, helped me mature."
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.