ST. JOSEPH — The Bismarck-Henning Blue Devils overcame a sluggish start and eventually took control, upending fellow Vermillion Valley Conference rival Westville 42-33 in a semifinal round game of the Class 2A Regional on Tuesday evening at St. Joseph- Ogden High School.
The Blue Devils, who held the Tigers scoreless in the first quarter, jumped out at the end of that stanza 6-0, and it was nearly halfway into the second quarter before Westville scored their first points of the night.
“After you’ve played a team for the third time in a season, you begin to know what their tendencies are,” Bismarck-Henning head coach Jon Clapp said “(Westville coach Jeff) Millis does a good job of preparing them for the game and they take away from the things that you do well.”
Unlike the first game of the evening, an 82-39 romp by St. Joseph-Ogden over Oakwood, this game was had much more lower scoring, with the Blue Devils clinging to a slim 13-9 lead at the break.
Bismarck-Henning extended that lead to nine at 25-16 at the end of the third quarter, and went up by double figures early in the fourth quarter, before Westville made a small comeback, but could get no closer than four points down the stretch.
Andy Bott led the Blue Devils with 12 points, including a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter to help seal the victory. Bismarck-Henning’s big man Wilde Garrowski added nine points, while Chase Connelly added seven points. Freshman Colton Story hit a couple of free throws as well down the stretch to advance the Blue Devils on to the championship game.
“Chase had some big rebounds for us down the stretch, and he just has a knack for finding the ball,” Clapp said. “Colton came in and hit those big free throws in a pressure situation and as a freshman, he just went up there and knocked them down.”
Bott, who was clutch down the line, summed it up by saying “we haven’t been hitting our free throws late in games, and lately we have been focusing on hitting them more lately in practice.”
Westville struggled to hit shots, but according to head coach Jeff Millis, they weren’t bad shots.
“I think we had some awfully good looks at shots that didn’t go in during the first quarter. We had several shots within a couple feet of the basket that didn’t fall either, but I wasn’t sure if they were uncontested or not,” Millis said.
Regarding Bismarck-Henning’s size advantage, that doesn’t come as any surprise to Millis either.
“I think we know what they do, and they probably have a pretty good idea of what we do,” Millis said. “It’s no secret that their big guy (Garrowski) and Bott are longer and bigger than we are.”
Westville only had four players score on the evening, led by Kyle Brazas, who had a game-high 18 points. Jeffery Thompson added eight, while Justin Ottino and Austin Flynn rounded out the scoring for the Tigers by chipping in five and two points, respectively.
With the win, Bismarck-Henning improves to 26-3 on the season and will face top seeded St, Joseph-Ogden on Friday evening. Westville, who ends their season at 15-14, turned the ball over 13 times, compared to Bismarck-Henning, who had 11 turnovers.
For the game, Bismarck-Henning made 13-of-21 free throws, while Westville got to the line seven times and made five of them.
The Spartans and Blue Devils will tip off the regional championship at 7 p.m. on Friday evening, with the winner moving on to the sectional next week in Westville.