Mandan uses its size to top Shanley in the quarterfinals
FARGO — Fargo Shanley had no answer for Mandan’s big men in Thursday’s North Dakota Class A boys basketball quarterfinal matchup at North Dakota State’s Scheels Center. Behind 6-foot-6 Camren Steckler, his 6-4 twin brother, Trae Steckler, and 6-6 Elijah Klein, Mandan topped Shanley 68-53.
Mandan coach Brandon Schafer had a puzzled look on his face when asked what game plan he would come up with if he faced the Steckler twins and Klein. He was happy he didn’t have to answer that question.
“I’m fortunate we don’t have to do that,” Schafer said. “We think each of them would be the focal point of any team. We’re lucky enough to have three of them.”
Trae Steckler finished with 23 points, Klien had 17 points and 13 rebounds and Camren Steckler had six points and 12 rebounds.
“I think it’s hard for other teams. If one of us has a small on us then that one will just go in and we’ll keep rotating,” Klein said. “We just give away the spotlight to each other for the greater good because we have our eye on the state championship.”
The No. 4-ranked Braves will take on No. 1 Bismarck Century at 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 9, back at Scheels Center in the semifinals. The Braves (21-4) are 1-1 this season against Century, losing on a buzzer beater in the latest matchup on Jan. 23.
“We’re ready to come get them,” Klein said.
Mandan pounded the ball down low in the first half. Trey Wiest’s 3-pointer was the only of Mandan’s 30 points in the first half that were not scored by the Steckler twins or Klein. The Deacons were within four early at 15-11, but the Braves answered with a 14-4 run that started with Wiest’s 3-pointer and ended with a layup from Klein.
“It’s very difficult when you don’t rebound,” Shanley coach Andrew Burns said. “We were kind of stuck.”
Talon Hoffer was the only reason Shanley (16-9) had life at halftime. He scored 11 points in the first half, as the Braves took a 30-19 lead into the break. Shanley cut the lead to 37-32 in the second half, but Mandan answered with a 16-8 run to close the door.
“We just huddled up and said we had to calm down, slow things down, run the offense, play defense hard and we’d be good,” Klein said.