In the tightly contested third round Region 2B playoff game on March 1, the battle cry for the home team became, “Not in our house!”
The fifth ranked Faulkton Area Trojans won the right to challenge the Potter County Battlers by upsetting the third ranked Leola/Fredericks Titans on Tuesday, Feb. 26. The Battlers held home court by thumping the Ipswich Tigers in their second round playoff game on this same evening. Thus, with the gauntlet thrown down by the Battlers to best them, the Trojans were more than up for the invitation to see which team would indeed move on to the SoDak 16 Tournament.
The House of the Battlers was packed with ravenous partisan fans wanting nothing more than to see the home team defeat these come-lately challengers to restore basketball greatness to Potter County. Yes, these 10 and 9 Trojans were to be beaten, and beaten bad, since the Battlers had already shellacked them 79-63 in regular season play on Feb. 18.
However, no one told the Trojans to roll over and give up.
Led by 5’ 11” senior guard Tyler Ogle, the Trojans loudly told the Battlers they were here to win it by leading the home team 21 to 18 after the first period of play. This pint size soldier of Troy carried his team by not only scoring 14 of the 21 points for this period, but broke the Battlers press and defense again and again. Then in the second quarter, Ogle netted 6 more points to make sure the Trojans walked off the battle field with a 3 point lead – 33 to 30. If not for Potter County’s Cole Nafziger tallying 8 counter points, these upstart challengers might have created an insurmountable lead.
With the halftime to regroup and obviously recognizing that Ogle was the backbone to the Trojans’ attack, the Battlers adjusted and completely shut down this threat in the third quarter. Nafziger hammered this opponent but when this slippery menace looked like he might shift gears to get back up to cruising speed, Calen Decker, Taylor Frost, Cooper Logan, Grant Luikens, and of course, Dawson Simon all stepped in his path to rebuke his challenge. So it was a full team effort defensively, and offensively where the Trojans only managed to score 3 free-throws and 2 field-goals from three different players, the Battlers had six players contribute to outscore the Trojans 21 to 7 in the third period, making the score 51 to 40.
In the final period, Trojans’ Tyler Ogle did his best to mount a comeback by scoring 7 points as well as his fellow starter, Derek Heitman adding another 8 but it was still not enough to catch the Battlers because Simon and Decker added 15 points collectively to finally run the Trojans off the floor, 68 to 55.
So in this last home game of the 2018/2019 season, the boys triumphantly protected the House of the Battlers to move one step closer to the State Class B Tournament in Aberdeen, but more importantly, they honored their faithful with this hard fought win. And as the seniors shined brightly in this game – Dawson Simon, Cole Nafziger, Kolten Kirby, Taylor Frost, and Shad Sharp, the underclassmen – Dylan Drew, Cooper Logan, and Grant Luikens – clearly demonstrated to all that the house will be in order come next season as well.
Potter County 68
Region 2B semifinal at Gettysburg
Faulkton 21 12 7 15 – 55
Potter County 18 12 21 17 – 68
FAULKTON (11-10): Noah Cunningham 2, Tyler Ogle 24, Derek Heitmann 20, Jaden Melius 6, Nick Schlechter 3. Totals 18 15-22 55.
POTTER COUNTY (15-6): Cole Nafziger 16, Calen Decker 8, Kolten Kirby 6, Shad Sharp 5, Dawson Simon 22, Dylan Drew 4, Cooper Logan 5, Grant Luikens 2. Totals 23 14-23 68.
3-pt FG – F 4 (Heitmann 3); PC 8 (three with 2). Fouls – F 20; PC 17. Fouled out – none. Rebounds – F 34 (Melius 11); PC 29 (Simon 8). Assists – F 2 (Ogle 1, Schlechter 1); PC 11 (Nafziger 4, Simon 4). Turnovers – F 13; PC 10. Steals – F 3 (Ogle 2); PC 5 (Decker 3). Blocks – F 0; PC 4 (Simon 2).