The Center-Stanton Wildcat boys put this theory into practice. After a sluggish start, the Wildcats turned on the defensive intensity to eventually scrap out a 75-69 victory over the Wilton-Wing Miners Monday evening in the first round of the Region 5 Boys' Basketball Tournament at the Bismarck Civic Center.
Jacob Henke may not physically put on a hard hat and carry a lunch pail when he goes to work but the Center-Stanton senior brings that blue-collar mentally to the court every game. No more evident than last week's District 9 Tournament when Henke poured in 42 points in three games as the Wildcats earned a Region 5 berth. "Every team concentrates so hard on Andrew (Anderson) and Shae (Brown)," head coach Scott Jung explained. "When Jacob (Henke) steps up it takes the pressure off. (Opponents) had to back off from doubling down on them. It's a nice compliment."
When asked how much confidence he had late in the Wildcats' game versus the Washburn Cardinals, Center-Stanton girls' basketball head coach Michael Bergstrom couldn't lie. "I'm never very confident," he said with a smile. "No, I knew we needed a basket. We got that 3-pointer from Bailey (Henke) - and that really helped."
The Solen boys' basketball team came to Center last Saturday and 32 minutes later the Sioux won the points off of turnovers battle, 3-pointer points category, points off the bench category and had a higher free throw percentage. What they didn't have were four Wildcats in double figures as Center-Stanton gutted out a 67-60 District 9 victory in the re-scheduled contest. The win should pit C-S in the third place seed as the boys district tournaments begins Feb. 26 in Mandan. The Wildcats only district losses came to No. 1 seed Standing Rock and second seed Shiloh Christian.
Fifty-eight seems to be the Center-Stanton's boys' basketball team's number. Two out of the last three games, when the Wildcats can score 58 points, they walk away with a win. The streak started with a 58-44 topper over Washburn Jan. 30, then a 58-34 victory against Glen Ullin-Hebron Feb. 2. However, Feb. 5 was the day that Standing Rock took the magic out of the number as they beat C-S 58-56 in a District 9 contest.
The Center-Stanton boys' basketball team has faced many different opponents, offensive schemes, defensive styles, size advantages and size disadvantages this season. Mother Nature has only added to the unpredictability for the C-S hoopsters. But through whatever comes the Wildcats' way, they have been able to count on one thing: Shae Brown.
When discussing Center's Drew Erhardt, Dickinson State University head men's' basketball coach Ty Orton does not go into intimate detail about the fifth-year senior's rebounding or scoring ability. Nor does Orton talk about the son of Janet and Matt Jr. Erhardt's defense. Even though the coach emphasizes the 6-foot-6 center's work ethic, it is obvious in an e-mail interview that the most important facet of Drew Erhardt the basketball player is Drew Erhardt the person.
With the temperatures outside hanging around 20 below zero, it took the Lady Wildcats a while to warm up for their game with the Grant County Coyotes Jan. 15 in Center. Once they did get going, the girls gave the team from down south a tough battle taking them into overtime but still losing 57-45. Grant County's Amber Iverson scored first followed by Center-Stanton's Becca Hovey. The score stayed at 2-2 nearly halfway through the first quarter until Iverson hit a short jumper. The Coyote scored soon after when Abbey Gifford got a two-pointer. Wildcat Mikayla Halone followed with two.
A new champion was crowned this past weekend at the McLean County Tournament in Garrison. The title-holder is a first-time champ. Coming away with bragging rights is winter. Clad in home whites throughout the tourney, winter stormed through the competition with relative ease.
Guard Lisa Fricke scored only five points in Center-Stanton's game against Shiloh Christian last Monday night. But the senior's efforts on defense and her impressive stint at the free throw line, making five of six in the fourth quarter, kept the Wildcats goals of being on top of the district standings alive. C-S routed the Skyhawks 46-35 to remain 3-0 in District 9 and claim their first win of 2009. "That's what we're going to need," head coach Michael Bergstrom said, "people to step up. People are starting to fall into their roles. Things are starting to come together little by little."