No. 2 Century snaps Minot’s six-game streak

Turn the page and don’t look back.

That’s the mentality the Minot High boys basketball team is taking after the 61-43 licking it took from No. 2 Century on Friday before a rabid home crowd at Magic City Campus.

“Right now, for the most part, we’re just focused on Williston Tuesday night,” Minot senior forward Kolton Larson said. “We just gotta get back to practice and get after it. We’ll worry about Century when we play them then.”

The fourth-ranked Magicians (7-2 overall, 4-2 West Region) dropped their first game in seven contests and finished with their lowest scoring output of the year.

Most of that has to do with the visiting squad.

The Patriots (9-0, 6-0) applied just enough full-court pressure to bother fourth-ranked Minot into 16 turnovers. In the half court, the Magicians’ offense – which entered the contest averaging 73.1 points per game – never kicked into gear. Century held Minot without a field goal for an eight-minute stretch in the first half when the Magicians (7-2, 4-2) missed six straight shots and turned the ball over three times. By the end of the Minot dry spell, the Patriots had put together a 13-1 run.

“We think the backbone of our team is our team defense,” Century coach Darin Mattern said. “… Our goal coming in tonight was to make it hard for them every possession, and I thought we did that.”

In all, Minot converted just one field goal over the final 9:22 of the first half as it fell behind 33-18 at the break.

Minot junior Dakota Halvorson knocked down three 3-pointers – all from the left wing – in the first to keep the Magicians within striking distance. The 5-foot-8 guard finished with team highs of 16 points and seven boards, but Minot never closed the gap to single digits.

Larson, Minot’s other double-figure scorer at 10 points, blamed the Magicians’ offensive inefficiency on their hesitant approach. Minot coach Dean Winczewski agreed.

“(Century) dictated the pace and played harder than we did. That can’t be,” Winczewski said. “I think we played tentatively. We’re much better when we’re not counterpunching.”

Part of the tentativeness was induced by Century’s relentless point guard, Robert Hutchins, who badgered Minot at every turn and recorded three of his team’s five steals. The 6-foot senior poured in 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, while classmate Tyler Rudolph – who will play at Minot State University next year – added 11 points. Century made 23 of 46 shots and converted as many free throws (eight) as Minot attempted.

The Patriots start five seniors, none of whom appeared rattled by the packed crowd and raucous Minot student section.

“I don’t think the atmosphere was a factor because I think these kids are battle-tested,” Mattern said. “The majority of them played varsity minutes last year, so I think they feel comfortable no matter where they go or who they play.”

Minot has corrections to make and 10 regular season games left to make ’em, but it’s only Jan. 17. Still early, Winczewski said.

“We had a team play a lot better than we did tonight,” Winczewski said. “Our kids have the right mentality about going back to work.”

Ryan Holmgren covers Minot High athletics and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.