Glen Ullin-Hebron is the only team that handed Dickinson Trinity a Region 7 girls basketball loss during the regular season.
The Bearcats hope history repeats itself tonight in Dickinson.
On Feb. 16, Glen Ullin-Hebron defeated the homestanding Titans 52-45 in the regular-season finale, improving to 8-4 in region play, while dropping Trinity to 11-1.
The Bearcats and Titans will meet again tonight at the Dickinson High School gymnasium, and this time a berth in next week’s Class B state tournament in Grand Forks will be on the line. Glen Ullin-Hebron, the Region 7 tournament’s No. 6 seed, advanced to the championship game with a 52-48 victory over No. 2-seeded Beach in the semifinal round Tuesday night. A Kiana Schatz basket with 50 seconds remaining broke a 48-48 tie and the Bearcats held on for their 17th victory of the season. They topped No. 3 Hazen 51-40 on Monday.
Trinity, the No. 1 seed, rolled past New England 74-37 on Monday and edged No. 4 Killdeer 43-42 in the semifinals.
A victory tonight would put the Glen Ullin-Hebron co-op in the state tournament for the first time.
“We’re excited here. One of our main goals this year was to get to the region championship game and now we’re one win away from the state tournament,” said Bearcats’ coach Bray Fox, who is in his second year with the program. “We’ve been playing really well and we’ve beaten a couple of higher-seeded teams to get this far. We’re definitely ready to go after that title.”
In their regular-season meeting with the Titans, the Bearcats led 27-24 at halftime and 34-30 heading into the fourth quarter. Four starters scored at least nine points that night – Kendra Gerving 14, Michaela Gerving 13, Kennedy Zuroff 12, and Schatz 9.
“What we were able to do that night was slow Trinity down. We know they like to push the ball, and slowing down the pace of the game tipped the scales in our favor,” Fox said. “That’s something we have to do Thursday night. We have to play our style of game.
“We also had balanced scoring, which is something we’ve had all season,” he continued. “On any given night any one of our starters can score in double figures, and we have kids coming off the bench who can produce, as well. If one girl is struggling, we’re confident that someone else will step up and pick up the slack.”
Glen Ullin-Hebron defeated Trinity in their last two meetings.
“We’ve had some success against them and we have some confidence because of that,” Fox said. “But at the same time we know that anything can happen in the region tournament. Trinity is a good team and well-coached. We have to come ready to play.”
Glen Ullin-Hebron is a veteran team. Kendra Gerving, Michaela Gerving, Zuroff and Taya Bandle are three-year starters, and Schatz has been in the starting lineup for two years.
“We play in a tough region and I think our experience has helped us win a lot of close games,” Fox said. “When things aren’t going so well, we don’t get rattled or lose our composure. We just keep playing hard and try to make things happen. This team never gives up.”
Fox said the Glen Ullin-Hebron co-op took a big step forward last year by winning three region tournament games – a play-in, a quarterfinal and the third-place game. Glen Ullin-Hebron went 16-9 after going 4-19 the previous year.
“It think it had been about 10 years since this co-op had that kind of success,” Fox said. “Things are really looking up here. Our younger programs are doing well and our older girls have done a great job showing them how it’s done. There’s a huge interest here in basketball now. That’s what winning does.”
Shiloh Christian will go after its third consecutive Region 5 championship tonight in Mandan. The No. 8-ranked Skyhawks will face Turtle Lake-Mercer-McClusky in a rematch of a regular-season contest, won by Shiloh 34-33. TLMM is in the region championship game for the first time since 2010.
District 5 foes Carrington and No. 7-ranked Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier will meet for the Region 3 title tonight in Jamestown. The teams split two previous meetings. Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier edged the Cardinals 54-53 during the regular season, but Carrington won the rematch, 37-35, in the District 5 tournament. The Cardinals defeated defending region champion LaMoure-Litchville-Marion 51-34 on Tuesday night.
Watford City will do battle with District 15 rival New Town tonight in Ray for the Region 8 championship. The No. 3-ranked Wolves are 2-0 against the Eagles, winning 76-28 (regular season) and 66-38 (District 15 tournament).
There will be a new state champion this year. Minot Ryan, which won state titles in 2013, 2014 and 2015, lost to Velva 36-29 in the Region 6 semifinals Tuesday night.