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Northern State tops Presentation College to conclude classic

Northern State University’s Augustin Reede, center, moves with the ball as St. Cloud State University’s Anthony Roberts, right, defends during a game last season at Wachs Arena. Reede, who had a career-high 31 points on Friday, scored 12 points in a win against Presentation College on Saturday night. Photo by John Davis taken 12/18/2021

Northern State made the most of its second-chance opportunities to dispatch Presentation College in the final game of the Dacotah Bank Classic Saturday night at Wachs Arena.

The Wolves used their height and athleticism to help fuel a 101-59 men’s college basketball victory over their cross-town foe.

“It’s funny because in games like this sometimes you can get kids looking at it like a trap game or something like that,” said Northern coach Saul Phillips. “You have to come in and approach this the same way you would any game. It looked liked a feeding frenzy of sharks at the rim a couple of times on some offensive rebound plays.”

Northern outrebounded the Saints 53-28 and had almost as many offensive rebounds (21) as PC had total caroms. That resulted in the Wolves having a 27-4 advantage in second-chance points.

“I told our guys coming into the locker room, this was going to be our toughest rebounding battle of the year,” said PC coach Trevor Flemmer.

The Wolves set the tone early by jumping out to a 10-point lead barely four minutes into the contest and were never seriously threatened after that.

Sam Masten led the surge with 14 points as Northern opened up a 23-9 lead with 12:55 remaining in the first half.

“Obviously, Northern is a very good basketball team,” Flemmer said. “They came out right away and hit us in the mouth and we just didn’t respond very well to it.”

Freshman Michael Nhial led the Wolves with 23 points and 12 rebounds.

“Getting Mike on the floor more, that only gets him more rebounds,” Phillips said, “but he gets his hands on so many of them and other people get them.”

The contest was unique in that many of the players know each other well from either playing against each other in high school or from pick-up games during the off season.

“We’re all here in the summer. We’ll play open gym together,” said Northern’s Augustin Reede. “We might get shots up with a couple of the guys. I know most of those guys.”

At times the Aberdeen native was matched up against former Leola-Frederick standout Isaac Sumption of the Saints.

“It’s cool to play with people on the other side of town,” Sumption said, “people I’m definitely familiar with being from the area.”

Presentation College’s Isaac Sumption, center, moves with the ball around the defense of Mayville State University’s John Ketchel, left, during a game last season at Strode Activity Center. Sumption led the Saints with 14 points in a setback to Northern State Saturday night. Photo by John Davis taken 12/4/2021

Masten finished with 21 points and six assists, Jordan Belka added 16 points and Reede contributed a dozen, making all four of his three-point attempts on the night.

A good share of Northern reserves saw major minutes down the stretch of the contest.

“I kept telling the guys that were in the game for that long stretch in the second half, just keep giving me reasons on tape to put you in the game more. That’s what you’re playing for right now. You’re playing for minutes,” Phillips said. “You’re always playing for something. We’re playing to get better as a group and I thought we took a step forward tonight.”

Sumption led the Saints with 14 points and Travez Nyx added 11 in a game that featured someone cheering on literally every single possession, no matter which side had the ball.

“It’s definitely unique seeing people from both sides of town, both fan bases come out to the same gym,” Sumption said. “It’s kind of a different energy, unique, and not like in every single game.”

Despite the setback, Flemmer saw some positives that his team can take from the contest.

“The biggest positive is we’re still 3-4,” Flemmer said, “and at the end of the day, we just played four D-II’s and we’ve gotten a lot better and learned a lot about our team.”

The Saints host Trinity Bible at the Strode Center on Tuesday, while Northern hosts Mary at Wachs Arena on Thursday.

While Saturday’s cross-city matchup produced a convincing Northern victory, each side has strong regards for the other.

“You respect them. It’s a fun game,” Reede said. “I think both teams kind of know we’re going to compete, but at the end of the day, it’s really mutual respect there.”

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