PHD Playoff Central (ND): State is Set

High School
Dakotas

Posted On: 03/5/18 1:26 PM

The Class A State Tournament is set and begins Thursday.  There have been some surprises that put the Mad in Madness but now it’s all about the three games for the title.

GFRR is Upset City! Davies beat GFRR 109-50 the last time they played.  And Jordan Polynice, a guy who was in the running for Mr. Basketball, moved out west.  But GFRR has turned things around to win three of their last four games including a balanced effort to beat Davies 81-78. The Eagles won 19 of their first 20 games and then, when it mattered the most, Davies lost three of their last four, including GFRR beating them by three.  For GFRR it was all about balance.  Pierson Painter scored 29 and a lot of that was clutch three-point making to get his team into the state tournament.  Painter and Thomas Stephenson are the senior leaders but sophomores Bryce Enerson and Brady Dvorak have matured into key pieces as well.

Minot & Bismarck at Home.  Minot didn’t have the go to guy to finish games this year.  They had the talent to play with everybody but they were 1-4 in two basket games.  They late game struggles putting teams away seemed to go away when Minot beat Bismarck by three and then crushed Mandan, but a third loss of the season to Century followed by a close game loss to Mandan ended the Minot year.  As far as Bismarck goes, you can trace their struggles back to the days when they were starting to be questioned after Century beat them on a long buzzer beater.  “It was just a buzzer beater” they said, things will be fine.  Things were not fine for Bismarck who barely won at Jamestown shortly after the Bismarck loss, Mandan crushed them, and then Bismarck lost at home to Minot.  An overlooking against St. Mary’s – Bismarck beat them by 33 three weeks earlier and then overlooked them in the playoffs – followed by another Mandan loss and Bismarck was the first of the contenders to go home.

Clear Champs. The late season losses that WF Sheyenne had against West Fargo and Fargo Davies seemed to refocus the Mustangs.  Others have had playoff troubles with GFRR but Sheyenne cruised by with a 23 point win.  0-2 against West Fargo? Not this time.  Mustangs moved on 74-71.  And Shanley never had a chance as that was a 24 point game.  The maturity that West Fargo didn’t have as a team trying to put Sheyenne away, the Mustangs did have in putting Shanley away.

Then there is Century, everybody’s favorite right now to win the state tournament. Jamestown scored only 29 points in the WDA title game. Statement made!  December was tough for Century but they haven’t lost a game in nearly three months. Century needed buzzer beaters to beat Bismarck and Mandan mid-year but those wins were huge boosts into Century beating everyone by double digits – besides the third win of the year over Minot – the rest of the season.  Now Century gets a 10-15 GFRR team in round one of state to kick things off.

State Sleeper.  Some losses on the West Fargo schedule have them as somewhat of an afterthought but don’t make that mistake North Dakota.  The same can be said about Mandan.  Sure Mandan and West Fargo lost games that they likely shouldn’t have but they are at state with as good of a chance as anyone.  But the road to state goes through Century.