No. 4 Magi pound the paint to brush off No. 5 Legacy
BISMARCK — Averaging 10.2 made 3-pointers during the regular season and coming off a school record 18 triples in a 118-65 win over Turtle Mountain Community High School on Feb. 19, the No. 4-seeded Minot High School boys basketball team opened the postseason by only attempting 10 3-pointers and only made three of them.
It didn’t matter in the slightest.
The Magicians (18-4) took what No. 5-seeded Legacy (9-13) gave them Thursday evening in the first round of the WDA tournament at the Bismarck Event Century.
Instead of launching up threes, sophomore Devin Mikell went to work in the paint. The 6-foot-4 forward posted a double-double with a game-high 20 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Magi to a 68-51 victory.
“They just got me the ball,” Mikell said. “Legacy wanted to guard the perimeter, so they gave me the ball and that’s how it worked out. I just started feeling it, so they kept giving me the ball.”
Minot has now won 11 out of its last 12 games, and racked up three victories over the Sabers this year with a 62-47 win at home (Jan. 18) and a 72-57 win on the road (Feb. 10) during the regular season.
In Thursday’s contest, Legacy shut down Minot’s lethal capabilities from deep. But, it came with a price.
Mikell started hot by scoring eight of Minot’s first 10 points and just kept rolling from there. He finished the first half with 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
“Devin (Mikell) was really good,” MHS coach Dean Winczewski said. “We had to have our guys put the ball on the floor and get to the rim a little bit. Chandler (Albertson) left some points out there, but I thought he got there. Peyton (Lamoureux) made some really good plays to get Devin some shots and Alex (Schimke) was good today. Our guards stepped up in different ways.
“At this tournament, with the coaches that are here, you got to be able to make adjustments and our kids did that tonight.”
Junior guard Schimke knocked down Minot’s only 3-pointer in the opening half, as the Magi were held to 1-for-3 from behind the long line through the first 18 minutes.
After Albertson set Mikell up for an easy layup on a wraparound pass, the Minot senior guard finished off the first half by converting an and-one opportunity for his seventh point and had the Magi up 32-20 at the halftime break.
Albertson finished with 15 points and was the only other Minot player besides Mikell to reach double figures. Nobody from Legacy scored more than nine points.
Senior Peyton Lamoureux, the new school career leader in 3-pointers made, buried a triple to start the second half. He made two in the contest on his way to eight points for the game.
Schimke and senior Lofton Klabunde also scored eight points for the Magi. A successful three-point play completed by Schimke had Minot pulling away, 45-23, with a 13-3 run to start the second half.
Minot’s lead hovered around the 20-point range throughout the second half. However, when Legacy made a last-ditch run, Winczewski had no choice but to substitute all his starters back in with 2:22 remaining and the lead trimmed down to 12 points, 58-46.
Albertson converted an and-one at the other end and Winczewski did another full line change to take the starters out again with 2:09 remaining. An unorthodox, but effective statement made that even the role players off the bench can’t slack off when playing with a sizeable lead.
The Sabers were led in scoring by Peyton Wetzel (9 points), followed by Jason Hoekstra (8), Braxon Erhardt (8) and Austin Wolf (8). Legacy shot 34.6 percent from the floor and 2-for-17 from behind the three-point line.
The Magi shot 44.9 percent from the field and went 21-for-26 at the free throw line.
“Defensively, I thought we were really good,” Winczewski said. “We had some missed assignments and gave them some second chances in the first half. But, for the most part, I thought it was good. Now, it’s just a matter of going back and figuring out what we have to do against a really good Century team.”
A semifinal showdown with top-seeded and defending WDA tournament champions Century awaits. The Patriots (19-2) coasted past No. 8-seeded Dickinson in the first round on Thursday, 70-47.
Last season, the Magicians avenged their loss in the WDA championship game against the Patriots by beating Century for their third consecutive state title.
Century has fired back this season by winning both games in the regular season by double-digits – a 79-50 win at home (Dec. 16) and a 48-38 win in Minot (Jan. 30).
Round three at 5:30 p.m. this evening at the Bismarck Event Center will determine who gets to punch their ticket to the state tournament and play for another West Region title, or who will be one loss away from having their season crumble to a close on Saturday.
“We are always ready,” Mikell said about the rematch. “Have confidence and go out there and play.”
Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.