Undersized Loboes upset No. 3 Dickinson Trinity
Considering LaMoure-Litchville/Marion’s glaring height disparity, most coaches would have at least toyed with the notion of sitting back in a zone.
Not Loboes coach Darren Thielges.
His club didn’t stray from its usual man-to-man defense against the trees of third-ranked Dickinson Trinity on Saturday in the first round of Class B state tournament at the MSU Dome.
Sticking to their guns – as well as a fearless offense- boosted the Loboes in a 52-49 upset of the Titans, a moniker appropriate for the team’s physical stature.
“When we talked to other coaches (about Trinity) they said we’re going to have to zone them,” Thielges said. “We talked about it, but that’s not who we are.”
Trinity stalwart Jacob Volk, who pumped in a game-high 28 points, was able to create an open look that would have sent the game into overtime, but the 6-foot-3 gunner’s shot was off the mark.
The band of 6-foot-and-under Loboes – a team that did its damage by committee – generated their offense by a staunch outing on the other end of the floor against a starting lineup of 6-7, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 and 6-foot.
Uptempo L-L/M, led by Brady Thielges (18 points), Jared Meiklejohn (13) and Anthony Olson (11), made a statement in the first half by holding Trinity to 9-of-26 shooting while the Loboes went 55 percent from the field.
Even in a half-court set, the Loboes went right at Dickinson’s interior and were able to finish at the basket more times than not.
“We were tentative and came out and got a couple of our shots blocked.” Trinity coach Gregg Grinsteinner said. “We got into foul trouble because we got outworked.
Meiklejon gave the Loboes their biggest lead of the game at 17-9 after scoring on a three-point play.
“We just knew we had to come out and play as hard as we could,” said coach’s kid Brady Thielges, whose team outrebounded Trinity 26-25. “We had to rebound. We had to play hard defense. And that’s exactly what we did. We were fine being the underdog in this game.”
Trinity didn’t go away, though.
After trailing 29-24 at the half, the Titans went on a 9-1 run to take their first lead of the game with Volk sparking the turnaround. Volk, the only Titan to reach double figures, essentially willed his team the rest of the way.
Four lead changes followed the run.
“He’s a beast,” the younger Thielges said of Volk. “He hit some big shots and we were contesting them.”
With just two minutes left, though, it was all L-L/M, breaking a 44-44 deadlock by going on a 7-0 run. A 23-footer by Volk and a free-throw cut into the deficit, but Meiklejohn went 1 for 2 at the line with 8 seconds left before Volk’s final shot was off the mark.
Olson, a 5-11 guard, also finished with 12 rebounds for L-L/M, which takes on Milnor tonight at 6:30 p.m. for a ticket to the state title game.