Tough week for Wolves
By Neal A. Shipman
It was a tough week as the Watford City varsity boys basketball team took three on the chin as the Wolves dropped contests to New Town, Minot Ryan and Hazen.
With the Christmas break, the Wolves, who are 1-4 on the season, will try to regroup before taking on Powers Lake in Super Saturday action on Jan. 5 at Williston State College.
New Town 69, Watford City 68 (OT)
In one of the biggest rivalries in District 15, the New Town Eagles edged Watford City 69-68 in overtime last Thursday.
But it will not be the last time that Watford City will be facing the Eagles this season as both teams will meet again on Jan. 31, and by all early season predictions, Watford City and New Town could very well match up in the District 15 Tournament title game.
“It was a very exciting game to watch as it was back and forth most of the way,” stated Randy Cranston, Wolves’ head coach.
Plagued by poor shooting from the field and at the free-throw line, the Wolves trailed the Eagles, 11-8, at the end of the first quarter and then outscored New Town, 18-12, in the second quarter to post a 26-23 halftime lead.
New Town would regain the lead in the third quarter with the Wolves keeping the game close before tying the game at 57-57 at the end of regulation.
In overtime, Watford City had several chances to win the game but came up short as the Eagles would score the winning basket as time ran out.
“When we took care of the ball and got into our offense, we had a lot of success,” stated Cranston. “But not taking care of the ball early in the third quarter and late, hurt us. We missed out on a lot of scoring opportunities inside and from the free-throw line in the first half.”
Tyler Bates had the hot hand for the Wolves as he posted a game high 27 points, while Michael Schulz and Mitchell Liebel netted 15 and 11 points, respectively for Watford City.
Rounding out the scoring for Watford City was Cole Rolfsrud with six points, Dustin Kleppen and Reid Brown with three points each, Logan Fettig with two points and Shane Jorgenson with one point.
New Town 11 23 40 57 69
Watford City 8 26 39 57 68
Minot Ryan 63, Watford City 49
The Wolves fell to the Minot Ryan Lions’ quickness and outside shooting, 63- 49, on Friday night.
Watford City never challenged Minot Ryan as the Lions jumped out to a 19-11 first-quarter lead before holding a five-point, 37-32, halftime advantage.
“We struggled to score against their man-to-man defense,” stated Cranston. “But our press looked the best it has this year at times, which got us back in the game in the first half.
But a poor offensive effort in the third and fourth quarters by Watford City set the stage for a Wolves’ loss as Minot Ryan outscored the Wolves, 16-10 and 10-7, in the final two quarters of play.
“Once again we showed some capabilities to be a solid basketball team,” stated Cranston. “However, we are just way too inconsistent early this season.”
Tyler Bates was the lone bright spot for the Wolves as he ended the game with a game high 25 points and was the only Watford City player in double figure scoring.
Rounding out the scoring for Watford City was Reid Brown with eight points, Michael Schulz with five points, Mitchell Liebel with four points, Dustin Kleppen and Cole Rolfsrud with three points each and Logan Fettig with one point.
Minot Ryan 19 37 53 63
Watford City 11 32 42 49
Hazen 76, Watford City 59
Watford City closed out last week’s three-game series with a 76-59 loss to the Hazen Bison on Saturday.
Once again, the Wolves were not able to defend against a much quicker team and the Bison took advantage of the opportunity jumping out to a quick 26-13 first-quarter lead.
After trailing the Bison, 44-31, at halftime, Watford City was able to cut its deficit to six points, 52-46, at the end of the third quarter. But that would be as close as the Wolves would get as Hazen outscored Watford City, 24-13, in the final eight minutes of play to take the win.
Tyler Bates led both teams in scoring as he netted 29 points for the Wolves.
Also scoring for Watford City was Michael Schulz and Reid Brown with eight points each, Dustin Kleppen with six points, Mitchell Liebel with four points, while Shane Jorgenson and Andrew Sampsel ended the game with two points each.
Hazen 26 44 52 76
Watford City 13 31 46 59