Although nearly all the tournaments at the Valley City Parks and Recreation Spring Shootout basketball tournament were played in a round-robin format, there were times where it seemed to work out otherwise.
Take, for instance, the 4th grade boys tournament.
There was no bracket, but the championship still came down to one final game at the end of the day.
In the final game, the Valley City Lightning did what it needed in a 30-28 win over Devils Lake. It was the second time in as many weeks that the teams played for a tournament championship. Both times, Valley City came out on top.
It was the only championship won by a Valley City team, although Valley City’s 6th grade boys and girls and 8th grade boys teams all finished in second place. Valley City’s 7th grade girls team went 0-4 in the tournament.
In the championship win, the Lighting held out on the defensive end despite a late-surging Devils Lake team.
“What wins us our games every time is our defense,” said coach Dan Taylor.
The Lightning went up early in the game and held an 18-12 lead at halftime.
In the second half, Devils Lake kept it close, but the Lightning were able to get points from Jake Johnson and Avery Bennefeld to go up 28-20 late in the second half.
From there, though, Devils Lake tightened up its defense and caused numerous turnovers. Valley City was able to penetrate the lane well, but shots didn’t seem to fall.
Instead, the defense came through and didn’t allow a point in the final two and a half minutes. The Lightning pressured guards, caused turnovers, and had multiple steals and jump balls from Mitchell Taylor in that span to keep the game from being close.
Dan Taylor said much of the focus was on keeping Devils Lake from open looks.
“They have really good 3-point shooters, which for 4th grade is tough,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure we guarded out 3-point shooters and push the ball inside on our end.”
8th grade boys
Valley City’s 8th grade boys had clutch shooting late but couldn’t quite close it out in a 46-42 loss to Devils Lake in the bracket’s championship game.
The team struggled early and trailed 24-15 at halftime. Second half, though, the team mixed an inside game based around Lane Kvien and Jessie Johnson with stellar shooting from Nate Rodriguez.
“The second half we came back and played really good ball,” said coach Steve Ondracek. “We’re pretty proud of them. They played good defense the whole game.”
Though Valley City never held the lead, Rodriguez hit a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left to narrow Devils Lake’s lead to 42-39. He then hit another 11 seconds later to narrow it to 43-42.
6th grade girls
The Valley City Liners were largely dominant in their round-robin tournament.
It was the first game, a 27-23 loss to LaMoure, that made the difference.
Both teams won out the rest of the way, giving LaMoure the championship while the Liners finished second.
The Liners finished the day with a 27-14 win over the Frazee (Minn.) Hornets.
In the win the Liners got ahead early with points from Reagan Ingstad and Kacee White. Ingstad hit the team’s only 3-pointer of the game.
The Liners led 12-6 by halftime and allowed only 8 more points the rest of the game.
6th grade boys
The Valley City 6th grade boys came close to a championship, but lost 57-43 in their final game of the day to the Carrington Shooters.
Though the team played played well, Carrington was nearly flawless in shooting. It gave the Shooters a rare win in a long standing rivalry.
“Carrington’s a team we first played when they were fourth graders, so we’ve played them quite a few times,” said Valley City coach Troy Miller. “The best I can remember, we haven’t lost to them before.”
Miller said in those years, Carrington’s improved.
“The play gets closer and closer each time and I see them getting better and better,” he said. “They’re a really nice basketball team and it seemed like they hit just about everything they shot up today.”
Valley City trailed 31-23 at halftime, but allowed an early run from Carrington and never recovered. The majority of the team’s scoring came from Riley Miller and Nick Kvilvang.
Valley City beat the BC Wildcats 58-13 and the LaMoure Bucks 71-2 early on in the tournament.
7th grade girls
The Valley City Wild had a hard time getting into a consistent offensive rhythm in their tournament. The team went 0-4 and finished the tournament with a 25-7 loss to Napleon.
The Wild played well defensively but struggled to escape a press. The Wild scored their first basket 8 minutes on a shot by Sam Bennefeld.