Greg DeVillers - Grand Forks Herald Link here
BISMARCK - Michael Mathison is used to going home after basketball games with a sore back from all the pushing and shoving he takes. It's the price he pays for standing 6 feet, 10 inches in height.
But Thursday, he had a new source for the discomfort.
“Tonight, they had their heads down and I could feel them ramming into my back,” the North Border senior said. “But I'm sort of used to stuff like that.”
Mathison was head and shoulders above the competition. The senior, towering above the much shorter Shiloh Christian lineup (no starter taller than 6-3), led North Border to a 61-46 win in the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class B boys high school basketball tournament.
The 21-5 Eagles will meet Parshall at 8:15 tonight in the state semifinals.
Mathison had a game-high 15 rebounds, leading the Eagles to a 40-29 edge on the boards. He had a team-high 15 points, making 7-of-13 from the field. He blocked four shots, plus his size was a psychological factor.
“He definitely was a factor,” Shiloh Christian coach Mike Dwyer said. “We just didn't have the strength to hold our own against him (on defense). We didn't have the muscle to do it. It affected our perimeter defense (trying to help down low). And when we went inside, we had a tough time scoring.”
While Shiloh Christian tried to match up with the Eagles' size, it was guard Nick Chaput who jump-started the North Border offense.
The Eagles were never headed after building an early 12-4 lead. Chaput had the first six of those points, and eight of his 11 in that run.
“Chaput got us off to a great start,” Eagles coach Cooter Symington said. “He can do that - he's one of our best outside shooters.”
The Eagles led 16-8 after one quarter, 33-20 at intermission and 49-31 after three quarters, leading by 11 or more the entire second half.
Mathison dominated the boards in the first half with 10 rebounds. He dominated on offense in the second half with 10 points.
“This was a good game for Michael,” Symington said. “He's had several games like this. He really went after the boards; that was a key for us, not giving them many second shots. And we told him to just turn and shoot. We thought he could score with his height advantage.”
Said Mathison: “My main goal was to get double digits in rebounds. I just happened to be in the right spots (for the rebounds). We knew they didn't have a lot of height, so we worked on establishing our inside game.”
Tanner Carpenter added 13 points and five assists for the Eagles, while Paul Meyer contributed nine rebounds and a game-high five steals.
Tanner Friesen had a game-high 19 points for Shiloh Christian.
The Skyhawks had more shot attempts than North Border. But Shiloh Christian, which started three sophomores, was just 19-of-55 from the field compared to North Border's 26-of-53.
“We're young,” Dwyer said. “We were a little too uncomposed, a little too hurried.”
And they were a little too short to offset the presence of Mathison under the basket for the Eagles.