If the holiday break did anything to the Bismarck Demons, they hid it well.
On Friday, the Demons picked up where they left off in December and rolled over Bismarck St. Mary’s 87-51 at the BHS gym. The Demons are a highest-scoring boys’ basketball team in the West Region and that talent was on display Friday.
Logan Schaubert led 12 players into the scoring column with 20 points. Treysen Eaglestaff added 13 and Kenyon Eagle 10. The big stat, however, was the 29 turnovers forced by the nonstop pressure defense.
“The one thing that’s been consistent with this team is our energy on the defensive end. And it was from the get-go,” BHS coach Jordan Wilhelm said. “That is the plan from the start. We want to make teams uncomfortable and play as fast as we can.”
That defensive pressure and transition offense has the Demons the top scoring team in the region with an average of 91 points. Bismarck set the pace in the first half, racing out to a 45-28 lead after 18 minutes.
Schaubert scored the Demons first basket just 1:22 into the game for a lead the Demons never gave up. He had the Demons’ first five points, forcing the Saints to use a timeout with 15:18 left in the first half.
That only slowed the game briefly and soon Wilhelm was running a steady change of players onto the floor. Given the pace of play, the Demons needed to.
“We want to increase possessions, and I hear people talking about how the Demons aren’t playing defense anymore,” Wilhelm said. “At the end of the day, you see the energy we’re playing with. We’re playing defense, still. It’s just we’re increasing possessions and maximizing our possessions in the game.”
The Saints struggled to keep up. They were led by Jaxon Wiseman’s 12 points. As a team, the Saints had only seven points more than Wiseman scored alone in their previous game.
Isaac Armstrong had two 3-pointers and was the only other Saint in double figures with 10 points.
Bismarck 71, St. Mary’s 65
It was a perfect hockey game and in the end the more physical team won.
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Bismarck coach Bill Shetler masterfully made line changes until he wore the Saints down at the end and the Demons won a rough-and-tumble game that featured 58 fousl, 75 free throws and 40 turnovers (25 by St. Mary’s).
“That’s how we’re going to have to play the majority of our games this year, using our depth and our quickness. We can clean a lot of stuff up yet. Defensively we have to make it ugly and our girls did that tonight," Shetler said.
Jilee Golus scored all of her 11 points in the second half, including a pair of big 3-pointers down the stretch as the Demons held on to snap the Saints’ four-game winning streak.
Payton Gerving and Elle Hill scored 14 points apiece and Anna Schmid added 11.
The Demons played in-your-face defense the length of the field to try to keep the Saints’ twin six-footers Hallie Schweitzer and Maria Mann from dominating inside.
Shetler said turning it into a free throw contest was one way to do so.
“We wore ourselves out tonight. That’s our style,” Shetler said. “We’re going to live with that, but hope to clean it up so we don’t foul 65 feet from the basket.”
Mann finished with 15 points and Schweitzer 10.
The first half was the proverbial rock fight, featuring 30 fouls and 46 free throws. The teams combined to make 15 shots from the field and 33 free throws.
The Saints (15-for-20 from the line) took their largest lead of the half at 18-13 on Elizabeth Peyerl’s free throw with 7:55 to play.
The Demons (18-for-26) went on a 14-6 run, taking the lead on – what else – Anna Schmid’s free throws that made it 19-18 with 7:04 remaining.
The Saints tied it twice but never went ahead again before the break. Elle Hill’s putback with one second to play gave the Demons a 36-30 lead at intermission.
The Saints tied the game 50-50 on Mykie Messer’s basket with 7:35 left. Maddy Miller had four 3-pointers and 12 points after half to keep the Saints in it. But the Demons pulled away late in the second half, stretching the lead to eight points with 2:05 remaining.
St. Mary’s made 28 of 45 free throws, while the Demons made 22 of 30.