Article by Harry Lipsiea, Devils Lake Journal Sports, March 2nd, 2017.
There was a point Wednesday evening in which the roof of the Devils Lake Sports Center was in jeopardy. When a shot from beyond the arc by Lake Region State College freshman phenom Cedric Boone, rattled in-and-out late in the second half, the crowd's emotions quickly changed. Once the three-pointer, that would have given LRSC a one-point lead with 20 seconds remaining, rimmed off, the Tetons took full advantage.
Five late free throws from Karon Green and Jamil Jackson gave Williston State College a 90-85 victory over Lake Region State College in the semifinals of the Region XIII Tournament. With the loss, the season of the Royals comes to an end at 20-11.
Big offensive stretches for the Tetons late in the first half and early in the second made all the difference. The team built large leads twice. LRSC battled back to have a legitimate chance to walk away with a dramatic comeback win. However, Williston State College earned the victory with its balanced offensive effort, LRSC second-year head coach Jared Marshall told the Journal.
"Williston had some guys step up and make some really big shots. They had four guys in double figures and three others close," the coach said. "All you can do is give them credit. They made more winning plays than we did tonight."
The Tetons were able to find a way to score more points than a majority of teams have on the Royals this season. LRSC averaged giving up 79 points per game during the year.
"Giving up 90 points is uncharacteristic for us," Marshall said. "At the end of the day, we didn't make enough stops. When we have been successful this season, it has started on the defensive end. We didn't get the job done there tonight."
The Royals showed plenty of heart in the regional playoff contest. Down by double digits several times, LRSC found a way to get back within striking distance. That says a lot about the Royals, Marshall said.
"At the points we made our runs, it would have been easy to turn the key over and just quit," he said.
But, that's not what our guys are all about. It showed our resiliency as a team, but we just couldn't get over the hump tonight."
Williston State College had a key scoring stretch late in the first half. A turnaround jumper by 7-footer Harvey Barr gave Lake Region State College a 42-36 advantage inside three minutes remaining in the first.
From there, it was all Tetons to close out the stanza. Buckets by Tyrese Williford and Jackson helped the team close out on a 13-1 run.
A layup by Karon Green gave Williston State College 49-43 advantage going into the locker room at the half.
The Tetons got out to a nice start in the second half. Jumpers by Shaquille Harris and Jackson along with a three by Hayden Sadowsky gave the team a commanding 60-45 advantage.
LRSC, however, didn't back down. The Royals scored five straight points behind a three by Jordan Bolton and a jumper from Boone to make the score 60-50. Williston State College responded with five straight points of its own. A three by Green gave his team a 65-50 advantage.
It didn't take long, though, for the Royals to cut the deficit once again. A three by Boone got the home team some momentum. The freshman guard added a three-point play and hit a shot from beyond the arc to get the team within 10 points. The Royals then made a big move forward. It started with a long three by Drew Thielges. Layups by Derrick Laudenbach, Boone and Ben Rennie helped LRSC get within eight.
More big plays in the form of two deep threes by Boone pushed the Royals within four points. A minute later Lake Region State College was within one point at 81-80 thanks to jumpers by Boone and Bolton.
After free throws by Green, the home team found itself down by three with a minute remaining. Nick Fassos drained a three to knot the game at 83. It was the first time in the second half the game was tied up. The Tetons answered with a jumper to take a two-point lead. LRSC almost took the lead when Boone's three was just off. The Tetons picked up the rebound and added two more points at the line. The Royals got within two again late, but more free throws helped Williston State College earn the 90-85 victory.
Boone had a gigantic night scoring 36 points to lead LRSC.
"It's amazing Cedric was able to score 36 considering they were hounding him all game long. He made big play after big play," Marshall said. "He is one heck of a player."
Bolton finished with 18 points. Rennie added nine points while Barr scored eight points. Jayson Edwards added four points. Drew Thielges chipped in with three points while James Streeter and Laudenbach rounded out the scoring with two points each.
Jackson led the Tetons with 21 points.
It was a big season for LRSC. The squad hit the 20-win mark and placed second in the always-tough Mon-Dak Conference.
"After being the fifth seed and first team knocked out last season, we made a lot of strides this season," Marshall said. "Now, it's about carrying that momentum."
The head coach credited sophomores Rennie, Edwards and Jon Lund for their contributions during the past two seasons.
"I really appreciate our sophomores," Marshall commented. "I can't thank them enough for their efforts to help move this program forward."
The future looks to be bright for the Royals as a talented group will return.
"We will have a lot of nice things coming back," the coach said. "I believe we will have a chance to be scary again. The hope is to take another step forward as a program."
In the locker room at the end of the game, Marshall finished his address the way he did every other game this season.
"I just told them how proud I am of them. There is no other team out there that I would rather coach," he added. "I truly mean it."