Over the years, Shiloh Christian has had some impressive runs through the region tournament.
None were as impressive as the one the Skyhawks put together this week.
The No. 5-ranked team in Class B boys basketball defeated New Salem-Almont 52-28 Thursday night at Century High School to capture the school's second straight Region 5 tournament championship and fourth in the last five years. In their three tournament games, the Skyhawks outscored their opponents by a combined 94 points. They defeated Washburn 79-42 on Monday and Flasher 68-35 on Tuesday.
Macauley Young, Shiloh's 6-foot-9 senior center, said the Skyhawks came into the tournament expecting to win it, though not in such a dominant way.
"You don't expect to come in and dominate teams, especially not in a tournament. But we really wanted this. We wanted to get back to the state tournament and we knew we were capable of doing that," said Young, who scored 14 points and collected 17 rebounds in the title game. "It was a bunch of guys playing every minute of every game with lots of intensity. We played hard, and lots of things went our way."
The next stop for the Skyhawks is the Class B state tournament March 14-16 at the Minot State University Dome. The tournament seeding meeting will be held today.
The winning margin on Thursday was 24 points, but the Skyhawks led by only five, 27-22, late in the third quarter before pulling away. After New Salem-Almont's Logan Becker scored to make it 27-22 Shiloh with 2:21 remaining, the Skyhawks closed out the quarter with a Cole Walth 3-pointer and a Jaden Mitzel basket.
Mitzel and Young opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back baskets, and Canaan Fagerland followed with a 3-pointer with 6:20 left to extend Shiloh's lead to 17, 39-22. After the Holsteins' Tayden Soupir netted a pair of free throws, Young scored four unanswered points to finish off a 16-2 run.
Later, with 4:12 remaining, Fagerland's steal and layup gave the Skyhawks a 20-point lead, 46-26.
Young said New Salem-Almont's defense and scrappy play made it difficult for the Skyhawks to get into a rhythm offensively.
"They're a great defensive team. They make you work for everything," he said. "We had a hard time executing tonight, but fortunately, we were able to go on a big run in the second half."
New Salem-Almont coach Ben Kringstad said that before the 16-2 run, the Holsteins had Shiloh playing their type of game.
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"It was a physical, defensive, low-scoring game. Then it got away," he said. "Shiloh is an explosive team and to stay with them we knew we had to keep them from going on big runs. If they did, we had to answer, but we couldn't."
The Skyhawks also had an 11-0 run in the first quarter after New Salem-Almont's Evan Henke opened the scoring with a 3-pointer. Later, Walth beat the first-quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer, giving Shiloh a 14-5 lead. The first half ended 22-13.
Mitzel and Fagerland finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Skyhawks, who will carry a 21-3 record and an eight-game winning streak into the state tournament.
Soupir tossed in a team-high 10 points for the Holsteins, who finished 16-9. It was New Salem-Almont's first appearance in the region tournament championship game since 2008.
"Tonight is disappointing, but there is so much that we can be proud of," Kringstad said. "We had a milestone season. We won a lot of games, we beat a lot of teams that we hadn't beaten in a long time, and we made it this far for the first time in 11 years. We had a great year and hopefully we'll keep raising that bar."
Cody Ruscheinsky scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds in his final high school game to lead the Flasher Bulldogs to a 51-44 victory over the Underwood Comets in the third-place game.
Ruscheinsky, a 6-foot-2 forward, went 11-for-16 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the free-throw line. He scored 11 points in a key 14-6 Flasher run in the fourth quarter that turned a 32-30 lead into a 46-36 advantage with 4:10 remaining. From there, the Comets never got closer than five, 49-44.
Parker Christenson and Ty Snyder led Underwood with 14 and 11 points, respectively. Snyder also had 10 rebounds.
Underwood's Alex Jangula was named the region's coach of the year.
Senior athlete of the year honors went to Trapper Jacobs of Turtle Lake-Mercer-McClusky.