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Valley City teams don't get a chance to play many tournaments in front of a home-town crowd, so Saturday offered a change of pace.
Rather than hitting the road, three local youth teams â€” the 6th grade B boys, 6th grade girls and 4th grade B boys â€” were among 42 teams in seven divisions that took the court at the Valley City Parks and Recreation District Youth Basketball Tournament Saturday.
The tournaments were played on courts spanning from the Recreation Center and City Auditorium buildings to the W.E. Osmon Fieldhouse at Valley City State University.
Locally, the three Valley City teams did well, each winning the championship in their division.
6th grade boys
The first win was the 6th Grade B boys, who won their pool with a 38-8 win over the Spartan Gold team from Fargo and a 26-21 win over the Bottineau/Rugby Blazers.
They won the tournament championship game 33-21 against the Fargo Flames.
"I couldn't ask for better kids to coach," said Valley City coach Troy Miller. "The kids work hard, they play together well as a team, we practice a couple of times a week and they never miss practices."
The game started slow in scoring.
Reese Huschka had a layup two minute in to score the first points of the game. The Flames tied it shortly after. With 11:29 left in the half Hunter Burchill hit a free throw to make it 3-2. Valley City eventually went up 8-4 at halftime on a 3-pointer by Riley Miller.
In the second half, Valley City rallied around solid defense to go on a 13-6 run in the first seven minutes of the first half that put them up 21-12. Te run was fueled by layups from Nicholas Kvilvang, Tanner Thomsen and Matthew Lyter.
Valley City kept the defense up and even broke the press in the closing minutes to seal the victory.
"We didn't have the greatest shooting day we've ever had, but I think we picked it up on defense and we ran our offenses pretty well, which is one of our strengths," Miller said.
4th grade boys
The Valley City Lightning, playing in the 4th Grade B bracket, was the only one of the Valley City teams playing in a traditional bracket Saturday, and had little problem winning.
The Lightning beat Kindred 27-16 in the first round, the Fargo Laserz 17-12 in the semifinals, and capped it with a 29-15 win over the Breckenridge (Minn.) Saints in the championship at 7 p.m. Saturday night.
The ease of the tournament, coach Dan Taylor said, lied in defense.
"We didn't score a lot, but we didn't need to because our defense was so good," he said. "We really hustled hard and it was a total team effort."
The defense, which wrangled away the ball on steals and rebounds alike, limited the Saints to only three points in the first half. On the offensive side, they got balanced points from different players at different times. Mitchel Taylor led the Lightning with three points, and Tate Sufficool, Jake Johnson and Averey Benefield each had two to finish the half up 9-3.
In the second half, the Lightning used their defense to rack up fast break points and led by as many as 16.
6th grade girls
The Valley City Liners won the 6th grade girls tournament by sweeping all three opponents in the round-robin bracket.
The Liners opened the tournament with a 40-14 win over the Fargo Shooting stars, then beat Carrington 22-18. The girls final victory came at the 8 p.m. game against the Breckenridge (Minn.) Giants, which was a 19-14 final score.
Valley City coach Scott Dieterle was somewhat disappointed by his team's lack of offense, but pleased with how the girls played on the other side of the court.
"Our offense was way off," he said. "We missed a ton of layups but your defense is what gets you through and that's what we harp on."
The Liners fell behind 20 with 12:30 left in the first quarter, but went on a run to take a lead the team held the rest of the game.
It started with a free throw by MacKenzie Pederson with 9:04 left in the half and continued with shots by Pederson and McKenna Taylor combined with free throws by Taryn Dieterle and Reagan Ingstad to go up 7-4 with 4:55 left in the quarter.
From there, the Liners never lost the lead and got it as high as eight points.
A large part of the Liners' defense relied on blocked shots in the paint.