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Off to a 6-2 start, Hazen hoping to keep good thing going

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The Hazen boys basketball team headed into a nine-day midseason break on a bit of a roll.

The timing could have been better, considering the Bison were coming off big back-to-back wins over rival Beulah and previously-unbeaten Bowman County.

“I wouldn’t have minded having at least one game this week,” Bison coach John Ward said. “We’ve kind of got a good thing rolling here and then to have to focus on just practicing for five days, for the kids it’s hard to keep it going.

“But we’ve got a good group of kids who push themselves, so that’s a good thing.”

Hazen (6-2, 2-0 Region 7) has won five of its past six games. After a Dec. 29 loss to Thompson at the Minot State Dome, the Bison defeated Beulah 73-67 and Bowman County 70-63 in a span of three days, handing each team its first regional setback in the process.

Hazen, Thompson, Beulah and Bowman County are all receiving votes in the latest Class B poll.

“We’re starting to come together a bit,” Ward said. “We’re a little healthier, starting to play together.”

The Bison have been successful thanks to a balanced offensive attack. In eight games so far this season, Hazen has had four different players lead the team in scoring.

“It’s not one person,” Ward said. “Each night it can be someone different. We’ve had four kids scoring in double figures almost every game. It makes it hard for a defense to pinpoint one or two people.”

Mason Wick (18 points, 3 assists, 2 steals per game) and Talan Batke (20 ppg, 2 spg) have led the way most nights.

Point guard Tyson Wick averages 15 points, 5 assists, three steals and seven rebounds per night and the sophomore directs the offensive attack. Senior Dawson Bruner averages 14 points and 6 rebounds per game.

“They don’t care who scores the points,” Ward said. “When a guy gets the hot hand, they find him.”

The Bison return to action on Monday, traveling to Bismarck to take on Shiloh Christian, another team that has been ranked in the state poll much of the season.

Hazen is averaging 70.1 points per game while allowing 62.1.

“We like to get up and down, but the defense has been successful,” Ward said. “We have a lot of possessions in our games. We have people who can score, people who can shoot. And we create a lot of offense from our defense. The kids enjoy playing that way.”

The Bison are one of four teams without a loss in Region 7 play, but it’s early.

“We just need to keep the defense rolling and keep the ball moving,” Ward said. “It’s tough to defend when the ball moves as much as it does with us. Once we get stuck not playing our game, we slow way down.

“It’s early in the season. It’s not a sprint. We hope to get better. March is a long way away. The whole team is working hard to get better. We’re doing the right things. We’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. The kids are having fun running and playing our game.”

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