Century boys head back to Class A championship with win over Mandan

FARGO — Friday’s North Dakota Class A boys state basketball semifinal was in hand in the final minute. Bismarck Century was ahead by 10, as Mandan’s 6-foot-6 Elijah Klein brought the ball down the court. Century senior point guard Kade Lynch, who guarded Klein all night, sprinted up to him to pressure the ball and was called for a foul with 58.1 seconds left and his team up 10.
“What are you doing?” Century coach Darin Mattern screamed at Lynch, as the crowd laughed.
In the grand scheme of things, it didn’t mean much, as Century won 63-55 at North Dakota State’s Scheels Center, but on a deeper level it portrayed the kind of player Lynch is. He never stops playing.
“We’re really going to miss the kid next year,” Mattern said. “He’s a kid that plays with such a high motor all the time. Obviously, we wanted to keep the clock running, but the kid is a warrior. He lays it on the line.”
Lynch laughed about it after the game.
“It was a dumb foul on my part I’m going to be honest. He was right to yell at me,” Lynch said. “I was just getting up to pressure the ball. Sometimes he likes that, sometimes he doesn’t. Probably not the best situation to do that.”
Lynch and sophomore guard Cade Feeney combined for two points in the first half, hitting one of the six shots they attempted. Mattern had a message for them.
“Mattern told me to keep shooting at halftime,” Feeney said. “He’s one of the best coaches to believe in me. He believes in all of us to keep shooting, so it helps a lot when you have a coach that can do that.”
Mattern claims the message was simpler for those two at halftime.
“I told them to play better,” Mattern said.
In the second half, Feeney and Lynch hit seven of the nine shots from the field they took and 11 of the 15 free-throw attempts, many of which came in the final minutes to clinch the game. Lynch led Century with 15 points and Feeney had 13 points and seven rebounds.
“They’re experienced kids and we expect a lot out of them,” Mattern said. If you’re going to win in tournament time you got to have good guard play and I thought they made some big plays tonight. I thought we got tired in a stretch there in the second half, but tournament time you just have to make enough plays to.”
The largest lead for a majority of the first half was four until Century closed the half with an exclamation point. Tyler Hauglie buried a 3-pointer from the corner, Treyton Mattern sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key and drove for a layup to close the final 2 minutes, 30 seconds on an 8-0 run for the Braves.