BY ROB WITZEL
In a rematch of last week’s County Tournament Semifinal game, the Bismarck-Henning Blue Devils defeated the Westville Tigers 51-41 and did something they couldn’t do the week before: Defensively dominate the fourth quarter and close out a game.
The Blue Devils held Westville to just four points in the final eight minutes and this time around, the Tigers went home with the loss.
Last week at the tournament, Bismarck had a double-digit advantage late in the game. A few mistakes and a shift in momentum lost the Blue Devils the lead and eventually they lost in overtime.
“Having a 10 point lead in the county tournament and losing it in the last two minutes was a heart breaker, especially for the seniors,” Austin Reinken said. “All the seniors had extra motivation in this one.”
“A bunch of people were talking about how Westville was going to overcome us again,” Junior Wilde Garowski said. “But we said ‘That can’t happen again, especially on our court.’ ”
The biggest difference in this game seemed to be with Bismarck’s three big men: Garowski, Reinken and Andy Bott. Westville seemed to get lost in the size near the basket and were forced to live on the perimeter. The Tigers thrived there for a while, making eight 3-point baskets (six from Tanner Cox and two from Jeffrey Thompson). But ultimately they cooled off, lost their hot touch and came away with their fifth loss of the season.
“Bismarck wouldn’t let us get the ball inside,” Westville coach Jeff Millis said “Their big kids were pretty effective and forced us to make tough shots. Basically we were living on the perimeter, and did pretty well. But sometimes your legs get a little weary and you don’t shoot the ball as well in the fourth quarter. I would say that was the case tonight.”
Bismarck’s big men were also very effective on offense. Garowski would score a game-high 22 points followed by Reinken with 10 and Bott with 7.
“We wanted to use our physical ability and our size as an advantage,” Garowski said. “We were spreading out and using speed but now we’ve switched to being more compact.”
In the first quarter, things were tight. Bismarck struck first, took the lead for a while but lost it just before the quarter ended with a Tanner Cox three pointer. Westville led after one with 13 to 11.
In the second quarter Bismarck tied it up, Westville’s Cox re-took the lead with another 3-pointer but then the Tigers were on the losing end of a 9-2 run and Bismarck started to break away.
Westville regrouped and closed the gap with a 5-2 run. At halftime, Bismarck led with the slimmest of margins, 24-23.
At the start of the second half, both teams came out on fire, scoring a combined 11 points in the opening 30 seconds. Bismarck outscored Westville this quarter 17-14 and the Tigers lost little bit of ground then trailing, 41-37.
Then came Bismarck’s big stop in the fourth quarter. Four different players combined for 10 Bismarck points while Westville just had a three pointer and one free throw from Cox.
Next week Bismarck (17-5) will travel to Georgetown on Tuesday before hosting Schlarman next Friday for their Hoops For Cancer campaign.
Meanwhile Westville (17-5) hopes to rebound from this loss as they take on Armstrong-Potomac.
In the JV Game Bismarck beat Westville 42-36.