Three years ago, Dickinson knocked West Fargo Sheyenne out of North Dakota Class A state boys basketball championship play, defeating the Mustangs in the quarterfinals. It was a different outcome this time around on the Scheels Center floor at Sanford Health Athletic Complex.
A second-half offensive onslaught carried the top-seeded Mustangs to an 81-55 quarterfinal victory over No. 4 West seed Dickinson on Thursday.
"I wanted to get our programs back to even," Sheyenne head coach Tom Kirchoffner said. "It's definitely rewarding. But probably the most important thing is to win the first round of the state tournament and advance onto the next one."
Sheyenne moved on to Friday's 8 p.m. semifinal at the SHAC that was never played. The Mustangs downed Dickinson not knowing Thursday would be their last guaranteed game.
About five hours before Sheyenne was set to face Jamestown in the semis, the North Dakota High School Activities Association released a statement stating all winter and spring sports and activities would be suspended until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency on Friday afternoon, the NDHSAA decided it was time to suspend the tournament.
The team overcame a slower start Thursday in what would be their last game for the foreseeable future.
Sheyenne tied the game at 10-10 after Dickinson grabbed an early 6-point lead (10-4). Dickinson tied it up at 13 a minute later, but Sheyenne got out front again and stayed there.
"Our guys just had to get a feel of the game," Kirchoffner said. "Once we got going and figured out our opponent, then we knew what we could take away from them."
Tallon Klatt, who had 18 points, drove in for a dunk to bring Dickinson within one (35-34) going into the second half. Kobe Krenz was the difference in the first 18 minutes, accounting for nearly half of Dickinson's first-half production with 16 points.
Though unaware of any looming suspension, the Mustangs came out in the second half like it would be their last for the foreseeable future.
Sheyenne's Barika Kpeenu guarded Krenz in the second frame, keeping him to just three points.
"Barika Kpeenu did an outstanding job," Kirchoffner said. "Once we shut down their playmaker, it was all over from there."
The Mustangs, who broke a school record Thursday for most wins in a season (23), ran away with 18 unanswered points in the first seven minutes of the second half to build a 19-point lead at 55-36. The Midgets scored just seven points in the first 12 minutes.
“We made our adjustments. We knew we had to get running a bit. The TV timeouts kind of got us out of our stink a bit. But once we got going, we had that separation and our guys felt relaxed,” Kirchoffner said.
The Mustangs were battling their own flu bug last week, but it didn't seem like it. Kirchoffner didn't know if Tyler Terhark would play in last week's region tournament, but the North Dakota State football commit powered through. Terhark made a statement Thursday, adding 20 points for the Mustangs on 9 of 12 (75%) from the floor.
"A couple of our guys didn't even practice Monday or Tuesday," Kirchoffner said. "We were really making adjustments on the fly because we've been battling all week. Our guys are very resilient."
Zion Dettmann led the Mustangs with 21 points and four assists.
D (14-11): Krenz 19, Klatt 18, Hocker 9, Wright 7, Dvorak 2.
WFS (23-2): Dettmann 21, Terhark 20, Kpeenu 10, Moni 9, Leake 8, DuBois 7, Berg 6.
Half: WFS 35, D 34.