Bitten by Demons
Rattled and contained offensively for most of the game, the Minot High School boys basketball team sprung to life with just under seven minutes to go. A desperation 17-4 Magicians’ run to finish the game followed, but it wasn’t enough.
The No. 5-ranked Bismarck High Demons (8-2, 7-0 WDA) held on for a 69-67 road win Saturday evening, only being able to exhale once Minot sophomore Jaxon Gunville had the potential game-winning 3-pointer clank off the back of the rim.
“The thing about our guys is that they played with great energy all night,” Bismarck coach Jordan Wilhelm said. “They did a good job of building themselves a lead. This is an extremely difficult place to win at. We don’t often come up and get a win on the road in Minot. So, to escape with a win feels really, really good.”
No. 4-ranked Magi (6-2, 4-2 WDA) hadn’t lost a home game at Minot High School since Feb. 1, 2016 — a 63-61 loss to Century — and had 15-game home winning streak snapped.
Minot played without senior guard Peyton Lamoureux Saturday, who missed his second straight game with a knee injury. Lamoureux’s usual scoring loading fell onto the shoulders of junior Alex Schimke and senior Chandler Albertson.
Schimke went 9-of-16 from the field for a game-high 27 points, while Albertson chipped in 18 points.
“We had two kids that were extremely aggressive,” MHS coach Dean Winczewski said. “They gave us opportunities to get back into it. It doesn’t matter who it is (scoring).”
The Magi briefly held a 9-4 lead after a 3-pointer by Albertson. It was one of Minot’s largest leads of the night. Schimke also went off to score seven straight Minot points in the middle of the first half.
Yet, it was a 10-2 Bismarck run to close out the half that had Minot down 37-33 at halftime. Bismarck junior guard Joe Jahner Jr. made three 3-pointers in the first half and then made three more in the second half. Like Schimke, Jahner also went 9-of-16 from the floor, and had a team-high 24 points.
“We had a lot of different kids step up at different times,” Wilhelm said. “Ian Schafer continues to be a great leader for us. He hit big shots when we needed him to. He also found our shooters in good rhythm. And Joe Jahner stepped up tonight and played one of the best games he has played in his career.”
Schafer continued to show up in dire situations and finished with 20 points.
Bismarck 6-foot-4 physical senior Jalen Ziegler picked up two early fouls and sat a majority of the first half. Minot sophomore post players Devin Mikell and Easton Larson held Ziegler to just two points and four rebounds in the contest.
Minot couldn’t stop the Demons from behind the arc and were outshot 10-for-28 (35.7 percent) to 6-for-19 (31.6 percent) from deep. A statistic the Magi are rarely beaten in. Yet, Minot did beat Bismarck at its own rebounding game with a 34-29 advantage on the glass.
“To outrebound a team like that is a pretty impressive thing,” Winczewski said. “We still got 33 (points in the first half), so it wasn’t a matter of slowing us down. We didn’t stop them.”
The Magi emptied out everything they had left in the tank with 6:50 remaining, trailing 65-50. Senior Lofton Klabunde got things going, Schimke followed by scoring six quick points and then Schimke finished off the frantic Minot 10-0 run with a crafty dish off to Mikell for an easy layup.
The crowd was back into the game, but Schafer kept answering for the Demons.
Schimke sunk his third and final 3-pointer to make it 67-63. Then, Schimke was fouled shooting another triple. He made two free throws to cut the deficit down to two, 67-65.
“Minot is a team that plays with a ton of energy and thrives on the three-point line,” Wilhelm said. “So, we knew that they were going to make their run. There is no such thing as an easy lead, especially when you are playing a Minot High team because they can score in bunches.”
Schafer drove by Albertson to make it 69-65, but Schimke responded by making a circus layup, 69-67.
Once in the bonus, Bismarck’s Kade Gimbel was intentionally fouled and went to the line for a one-and-one. Gimbel missed the first free throw, Minot grabbed the rebound and Winczewski called a timeout with 14.4 seconds remaining.
With the game on the line, Gunville got off a step-back 3-pointer before the final buzzer. But, it was off the mark.
“We gave ourselves an opportunity,” Winczewski said. “You go through the course of the game and you see missed chances, missed layups, missed free throws, not communicating defensively and it all kind of adds up. That’s the stuff that beats you. It’s not the last two or three minutes… This is what happens when you don’t execute well enough.”
The Magi will play five out of their next six games on the road, starting with an away contest against Turtle Mountain Community High School at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.