Watford falls to Linton in first game of Class B Tournament
By Neal A. Shipman
The much hyped match-up between the top two ranked teams in Class B basketball lived up to its expectations as the Watford City Wolves, the No. 2 team in the state, took on the No. 1-ranked Linton Lions in opening round action of the State Class B Boys Basketball Tournament on Thursday afternoon.
But unfortunately for the Wolves, the outcome of the game, which saw huge momentum swings, was disapp ointing as Watford City fell to the Lions 66-63 after battling back from a 16-point deficit midway through the third quarter.
With both teams trading baskets through the first four minutes of the first quarter, Watford City’s Casey Jore drove to the hoop to deadlock the score at 10-10, and then following a Linton basket, Jore again went to the hoop to tie the score at 12-12. But Linton went on a 11-2 run to take a 24-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Wolves opened the second quarter going on a 14-6 scoring run of their own which was capped off by a Kevin Sanford basket to bring the Wolves back to a one-point, 29-28, deficit with 4:11 remaining in the quarter. But Linton responded to the challenge outscoring the Wolves 10-6 in the final four minutes to take a 39-34 halftime lead.
Linton opened the third quarter again going on another scoring run that saw that Lions outgun the Wolves 15-8 before Watford City started chipping away at the lead to end the quarter trailing by seven points, 56-49.
The Wolves, behind baskets by Sanford and Christian Schulz, battled back to a four-point, 63-59, deficit with 2:36 remaining in the game. Schulz then got Watford City to within two points, 63-61, with 2:14 left and then canned two free throws with 46 seconds left to get the Wolves to within one point, 64-63.
Linton then sank two clutch free throws to up its margin to three points with 6.3 ticks left on the clock.
With time running out, a Kevin Sanford three-pointer at the buzzer, which would have sent the game into overtime, missed the mark.
Christian Schulz had a game high 20 points to lead both teams in scoring, while Kevin Sanford netted 17 points in the loss.
Rounding out the scoring for Watford City was Justin Flatland with nine points, Trey Jacobson with seven points, Casey Jore and Tyler Flatland with four points each and Nick Liebel with two points.
For the game, Watford City shot 46 percent from the field, hitting on 23 of 50 attempts and was good on 14 of 20 at the free-throw line for 70 percent.
Watford City out-rebounded Linton 32-26.
Watford City 14 34 49 63
Linton 23 39 56 66
Watford City statistics: Rebounds: Justin Flatland, 8; Trey Jacobson, 7; Kevin Sanford, 5; Nick Liebel, 5; Christian Schulz, 4. Assists: Liebel, 6; Jacobson, 2; Flatland, 2. Fouls: J. Flatland, 5; Schulz, 4; Jacobson, 3; Sanford, 3; Liebel, 2; Reid Johnson, 1; Tyler Flatland, 1.