New look for boys title tilt

The last time a Williston boys basketball team played for a state championship, Mark Slotsve was an eighth-grader in Velva -- where football, wrestling and baseball were king.

The last time a Williston boys basketball team played for a state championship, Mark Slotsve was an eighth-grader in Velva -- where football, wrestling and baseball were king.

"This is uncharted waters for me," said the 35-year-old Slotsve, whose Williston team beat Fargo South 63-60 Friday, earning the right to play in its first state title game since 1982.

The last time a Dickinson boys basketball team played for a state championship, Dean Winczewski was a 1-year-old in Minot.

"I was probably lying in a crib crying," said the 27-year-old Winczewski.

Winczewski wasn't crying Friday night, when his Midgets rallied past Bismarck 58-47 earning the right to play in their first state title game since 1976.


It will be Slotsve's Coyotes against Winczewski's Midgets in tonight's North Dakota Class A state title game at the Fargodome.

Before that game, two teams who are accustomed to state championships will square off in the girls title game. Fargo North, the defending state champs riding a 50-game winning streak, takes on Mandan, which has played in seven of the last eight Class A state championship games.

"It's time for the Mandan legacy to return," said head coach Greg Amundson, whose Mandan team lost to North last December 65-37.

A gigantic task

Williston suffered a three-game losing streak earlier this season when Dickinson claimed a 53-41 win.

"We just couldn't match up with their size," said Slotsve, who resorted to a zone defense for only the second time this year.

Later in the season in a home game, Williston resorted to its customary fullcourt pressure man-to-man defense and claimed a 64-56 win.

"We came out at them ... you have to," Slotsve said. "They are so big, you've got to all the little things right ... ball pressure, denying the wings, allowing no ball reversal, denying the high post flash and if you don't, put tons of pressure on the high post so he can't dump it to the low post.


"I'm not saying we're the smallest team in the world, but they have a big advantage."

All but one of Dickinson's starters is smaller than than 6-foot-3. There is 6-9 Lucas Moormann, who averages 13 points; 6-7 Andrew Brown, who averages 11; 6-5 Troy Ott, who averages 16; and 6-3 Scott LaPlante at 8 points per game.

As if that wasn't enough, 6-7 Brett Bauer comes off the bench.

Williston is led by 6-6 senior post Casey Schmitz, who averages 20 points and nine rebounds per game. Guard James Hennessy and forward Josh Foust each average nearly 11 points.

"These kids have been battling each other since seventh and eighth grade," Winczewski said. "It's going to be a great game. Both teams play solid defense and both rebound well. It's whoever does better with one of those that may come out on top."

North against the world

Fargo North's girls committed 29 turnovers against Mandan during a Fargo holiday tournament. Yet, they still won by 28 points.

"We did an awful job against their pressure," said North head coach Anne Watkins. "But we may turned it over a lot, but they didn't convert either. I attribute that to our defense."


North has allowed one team score more than 60 points and only two teams more than 50 this season. The closest any team has come to beating North this season is within 15 points, once by rival Fargo South and last week by Grand Forks Red River in the East Region championship game.

They are led offensively by three Miss Basketball finalists: Carissa Jahner (12-point average), Kayla Dahlen (18) and twin sister Katie Dahlen (16).

"Their front line defense is great and their second-line defense is even better," Amundson said of North. "They help each other out so well. If one person gets beat, four others are there to help her."

Mandan, losers only to North, Bismarck and Bismarck Century, are led by 6-foot-1 sophomore Rebecca Kielpinski, who averages 10 points and 7 rebounds. She's the only player to average double figures.

"Our girls know how to play defense," Amundson said. "We won't be intimidated. We will go out after them."

Just like the last 50 opponents have tried unsuccessfully to do.

"It's us against the world ... it's been that way for awhile," Watkins said. "But our girls relish that challenge."

Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

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