All winter, the question has lingered throughout southwest North Dakota.
“Who do you think is going to win Region 7 boys basketball tournament, Beulah or Dickinson Trinity?”
We could be five days from finding out that answer.
Or, who knows? An upset of classic proportions could be set to play out on the Knights of Columbus Activities Center floor during this week’s tournament.
Still, any way you slice it, the Region 7 Tournament goes through the No. 1-ranked and defending state champion Beulah. With many of its main components back from last season, the Miners are undefeated at 21-0 and on a 37-game win streak dating back to Jan. 10, 2012, when it lost to Trinity in the regular season. The Titans want to be the team that doesn’t let that streak reach 40.
It has been four years since anyone other than Beulah or Trinity represented Region 7 at the state tournament and there are six teams in this tournament who don’t plan on being the proverbial red carpet to the Minot State Dome for either team.
District 13 champion Heart River is chief among them. The Cougars upset Beulah in the 2011 region semifinals before losing to Trinity in the title game. In 2012, their season was cut short again by the Titans — this time in the semifinals. With a senior-heavy group that has been building to this week for three seasons, Heart River sure isn’t going to back down without a fight. Neither will Mott-Regent or Hazen, for that matter.
The District 13 runner-up Wildfire are led by senior guard Taylor Zentner, Region 7’s leading scorer at 21.3 points per game. Hazen, the No. 3 seed behind Beulah and Trinity in District 14, follow one of the state’s best all-around athletes in senior guard Stetson Carr. And don’t forget the underdogs. New England and Richardton-Taylor each have seven seniors on the roster and each boasts one of the region’s best scorers.
Raiders junior Lane Voltz (19.2 points per game) and Tigers senior Levi Hollinger (19.1) have ranked among the top five scorers in Region 7 much of the season.
Hettinger-Scranton has just two seniors — including difference-making center Stephen Kristy — and a talented group of underclassmen that have quietly improved throughout the season to a point where they are relied upon to take the reins in the clutch.
Whether Trinity and Beulah tip off for the title Thursday night or if a dark horse finds a way to stick its nose into the mix, this season’s Region 7 Tournament is bound to be memorable.
Continue reading “COLLISION COURSE: No. 1 Beulah and No. 3 Trinity seem destined to meet again for title, but underdogs aren’t afraid to bite back”