When you have a basketball team that can shoot the ball like crazy and play passionate defense, you've got a winning combination.
Bismarck demonstrated that ability Tuesday night, taking down previously unbeaten Mandan 76-64 at the Karlgaard gym.
The Demons shot 49 percent while knocking down a dozen 3-pointers. In their tight man-to-man they held the visiting Braves under 70 points, just the second time this season that has happened.
With the victory, BHS gained a split in the boys-girls twin bill. Mandan's girls easily eclipsed Bismarck 70-49 in the first game of the night.
Five players contributed to Bismarck's huge tally of treys and four Demons scored in double figures. Joe Jahner and Ian Schafer paced BHS with 15 points apiece, Jahner swishing five 3-pointers and Schafer draining one. Jalen Ziegler added a dozen points and Tanner Davis contributed 11 points with three 3-pointers.
Davis, a 6-foot-2 senior, said it's not hard to give up the ball with so many potential maroon-clad scorers on the floor.
"Every day at practice and before every game our coach (Jordan Wilhelm) talks about sharing the ball," Davis said. "When your teammate makes a shot it's just as good as you making the shot."
Bismarck's offense sputtered a bit at the outset, but quickly warmed to the task. The Demons missed two shots and turned the ball over twice in their first five possessions.
Once BHS began clicking, however, things turned around fast, turning a 10-5 deficit into a 12-all standoff on a driving basket by 6-foot junior Matt Trolliey.
Bismarck claimed the lead at 15-12 on a 3-pointer by 5-6 senior Kaide Gimbel and thereby put Mandan in a permanent hole.
BHS opened a 38-30 halftime lead, and Jahner, a 6-1 junior, fired in a 3-pointer to start the second half. Mandan drew no closer than nine points the rest of the way. Bismarck's zenith was a 73-49 advantage on a 3-pointer by Davis with 5:25 on the clock.
Mandan entered the game with a 9-0 record, 6-0 in the West Region. The Braves were ranked third in the statewide Class A media poll. Bismarck was 7-0 in regional play and 8-2 overall, good enough for the No. 5 spot.
That will likely change now that the Demons have knocked off three ranked teams -- Century, Minot and Mandan -- in their last four regional games.
Davis said that hat trick has been good for the Demons' confidence.
"Mandan was undefeated and we were undefeated (in the region). They're one of the top teams in the WDA and we wanted to see where we stood. It was a good win," he observed.
Four players scored in double figures for the Braves. Trae Steckler, a 6-4 senior, scored 22 points and hauled down 11 rebounds. His twin brother, Camren, tallied 17 points. Trey Wiest and Elijah Klein checked in with 11 and 10, respectively. No other Braves player scored more than two points, though.
Davis said defense is required at BHS if a player wants to get on the floor.
"Coming into the program they preach defense. If you're not going to play defense, you're not going to play," he said. "Defense is a big part of winning for us."
Some day, Davis may even start to like defense. For now, he hedges the issue.
"When we're winning (defense) is fun," he said with a smile.
Mandan 70, Bismarck 49
Megan Zander, a 6-foot junior post, roared out of the chute for 17 points and 10 rebounds in the first half to spot Mandan a 39-26 lead and Bismarck never recovered.
The Braves kept adding and adding to the cushion until it reached 23 points on a basket by Sydney Gustavsson in the closing minute.
Mandan limited the Demons to 36 percent shooting and forced 22 turnovers.
That adds up to a good night from the Mandan perspective.
"Our goal is to hold teams under 50. ... We've been working on defense lately to have good ball pressure," Zander said.
Zander, who finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, said the importance of rebounding is that it begins something positive.
"I just want to rebound and get it out to the point guard. That way we can push the ball faster," she said.
The transition game has served the fifth-ranked Braves well. They've exceeded 70 points in seven of their first 10 games.
On Tuesday they shot 43 percent and were charged with 13 turnovers.
Junior guard Kennedy Harris, Zander and 6-foot sophomore forward Lakyn Darras led the attack with 18, 17 and 13 points, respectively.
Megan Henderson, a 5-10 junior, paced Bismarck's struggling offense with 15 points.
Both the BHS girls and boys are done for the week. Mandan plays host to Minot for two games, the boys on Friday and the girls on Saturday.