Spotty shooting haunts Magi against Century

BISMARCK – At this point, the Minot High boys basketball team can only hope it used all of its missed shots up on Friday in a 57-34 West Region tournament semifinal loss to top-ranked and top-seeded Century.

The fifth-ranked and fourth-seeded Magicians converted 12 of 46 field goals (26.1 percent) – including a 1-for-12 performance from downtown – and 9 of 17 free throws. Their 34 points are a season-low, nine below their previous worst offensive outing.

“We held the No. 1 team in the state to 57 points and we had all kinds of opportunities,” Minot coach Dean Winczewski said. “We didn’t take advantage of them.”

Minot (15-6), the No. 4 seed, plays sixth-seeded Dickinson at 2:30 p.m. today in a state-qualifier.

Century (20-1) seized a 20-9 lead after seven minutes and never let Minot (15-6) have even a sniff of the lead again. The Magicians scored the first four points after halftime to close to 28-21 before the Patriots churned out a 13-2 spurt that essentially put the game away.

Century senior forward Tyler Rudolph, a Minot State commit, turned in game highs of 15 points and 10 rebounds. Classmate Ben Holen also finished in double figures with 13 points, while Minot’s top scorer, sophomore guard Ben Bolinske, tallied just eight.

“I think we ran our offense pretty good, we just couldn’t get our shots to fall,” Minot senior center Colter Hustad said. “If we could’ve got our shots to fall, we would’ve been right in it.”

Minot’s offense connected for just six field goals in each half. After it fell behind 46-26 with 9:56 remaining, the Magicians grew impatient, launching quick-trigger jumpers early in the shot clock. The Magicians had three scoreless stretches of three minutes or more in the second half.

“They took some stuff away,” Winczewski said. “We didn’t execute at times the way we needed to all the time.”

With the 6-foot-6 Rudolph roaming the paint, Minot never established much of an inside game. The Magicians rarely fed the post and settled for jumpers instead of penetrating the lane – nearly the opposite of their previous game, when they dominated Turtle Mountain in the interior.

“He’s kind of the guy we rely on to stand back there and try to alter things if we do get beat off the dribble,” Century coach Troy Mattern said of Rudolph. “I think we’ve been pretty good containing the dribble for the most part throughout the course of the season. We just don’t want to rely on him all the time.”

Rudolph’s strong prowess on the glass also helped Century outrebound Minot 38-28.

Century didn’t shoot particularly well – 22-for-46 (47.8 percent) from the field – but converted its six offensive rebounds into 12 points. The Patriots finished plus-7 in second-chance points.

“Tournament time, teams tend to not shoot it as well,” Mattern said. “So we knew we had to rely on guarding and rebounding. I thought that was exceptional tonight.

Minot’s three lowest scoring outputs have all come against Century, which allows a state-best 50.6 points per game. Three of the Magicians’ six losses have been at the hands of Century, and five were to currently ranked opponents. The one unranked outlier was a 72-68 road defeat to Dickinson on Feb. 7. Minot won the first meeting with the Midgets 67-47 back in December. The winner of the rubber match gets to play in next week’s Class A tournament at the Minot State Dome.

“This game’s over,” Winczewski said. “We’re focused on what we have to accomplish tomorrow. In tournaments, you can’t sit and dwell on anything good, bad or indifferent. You got to get ready for the next game.”

Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.