Midgets' battle against Bismarck Century a tale of courage and resilience

Mar. 11—BISMARCK — Throughout the season, the Dickinson Midgets boys' basketball program faced formidable opponents, and it concluded in a similar fashion last Saturday, March 2nd. In a state qualifier against the No. 3 seeded Bismarck Century High School, the No. 5 Dickinson High succumbed 76-66. However, they didn't fail to catch attention, with the possibility of an upset very much alive for all spectators.

They instilled a belief in victory for both their fans and themselves, which persisted until the final moments of the game. The Midgets' roster boasts considerable talent, yet the Patriots present a significant challenge with nearly every player towering over six feet.

DHS 6'4" senior Damon Glasser stood tall among his teammates, but the Patriots boasted five players of equal or greater height. This height advantage proved crucial, with Century dominating rebounds and scoring 16 points off putbacks.

"I wouldn't say it was because of lack of effort [on our end], I would say it was more because of genetics," DHS head coach Dan Glasser said. "I think it's one of those things where both teams don't want their season's to end and you just have to come up with those 50-50 balls. Some of them, we did and unfortunately they just got more of them. They are a little longer and a little bigger than us."

As Coach Glasser noted, it was evident that neither team was willing to relinquish their chance at state without a full-hearted battle.

The Midgets seized an early lead in the game, 25-15, with eight and a half minutes remaining in the first half. However, the Patriots capitalized on offensive rebounds, converting second chances into points, tying the score at 36 at halftime.

During the first seven minutes of the second half, both sides traded blows, tying the game at 49 with just under 10 minutes left. Century then initiated a 7-point run, securing a decisive lead. Despite facing a challenging situation, the Dickinson players never relented, mounting a 13-9 run, bringing the game within one score with three minutes remaining.

As the clock wound down, each possession the Patriots secured proved crucial, with their tremendous pressure and tight defense contributing significantly to the 10-point deficit at the game's end.

The rebounding difference between the two teams was significant, with the Midgets totaling 25 rebounds and the Patriots collecting 46. This presented a consistent challenge for DHS throughout the game. Most of Dickinson High's rebounds came from the defensive end, totaling 20, successfully limiting Century to 16 offensive rebounds.

The Midgets displayed superb shooting from the free-throw line in the second half, showing their ability to perform under pressure. However, their 87.5 free-throw percentage was not enough to overcome the Patriots' height advantage.

"That was the goal at the end of the day [leaving it all on the court]" Glasser said. "Just fight, scratch, claw, do whatever it takes and we did that. Throughout the whole year they did whatever our coaching staff has asked them to do and went to the very end today, so I just can't be any prouder. If a lot of teams had their attitude and effort, it would be a very, very ,very, very tough conference and it's unfortunate that it has to come to an end."

Dante Oyugi and the Glasser brothers, Damon and Dylan, all scored in double figures. Oyugi went 2-for-2 at the foul line and made a shot from the three-point line, with most of his points coming from driving into the paint.

Dylan Glasser contributed half of his 12 points from behind the arc, showcasing his long-range shooting prowess. Damon Glasser recorded 10 points and led his team in rebounds with 7. He was also one of two Dickinson players listed on the All-WDA team, alongside Boston Cranston.

Owen Bitter secured the second-highest rebound total with 4 and contributed 7 points overall, including a three-point play. He also led in assists with 3 and tied Nolan Weidner with 2 steals.

Additionally, Cranston emerged as Dickinson High's leading scorer with 20 points, showcasing an impressive 100 percent free-throw accuracy (4/4) and sinking 2 three-pointers. He, along with the rest of the sophomore class, attributes their development over the season to their seniors. And just as in years before, the end-of-season defeat will be used as fuel and will have them striving for greater heights.

"We are so thankful for our seniors that got us younger classmen so much better and just gave us the confidence to come out every game," Cranston said. "We just have to keep working in the summer and the offseason and just keep getting better. Maybe next year the goal should be to be in the championship so even if we do lose we still make it to state and shouldn't be in this situation. That should be our goal for next year."

The seniors ensured they left nothing behind in their final game. Bittner expressed his commitment to playing at peak condition every minute on the court. They shared a strong desire to perform at their best, bonded by adversity and years of playing together. Bittner summarized the seniors' legacy as camaraderie, stating that they leave behind team bonding and a sense of caring for one another. Supporting one another will lead to greater triumph than working as individuals.

"I think that, at the start of the season, one thing we noticed is that our team chemistry is our biggest strength, our biggest weapon. As a team, we really connected well," Bittner said. "What helped is that I went to the guys and said, 'Hey, do you want to start a Bible study or come to church?' We just got that spirituality in other places too and were able to build a community where we supported each other, where we cared for each other even beyond the court. Just a group of guys that care about each other, and that is just amazing."

Not every David and Goliath story has a triumphant ending, but the narrative always reads the same. The small step into the fray to fight a giant, with the odds against them—an unthinkable tall task that becomes possible through sheer will and faith in oneself. The Mighty Midgets certainly brought that belief to their fans with undeniable hard work and team chemistry.

"I am just super proud and honored and grateful to have the ability to spend time with those kids. It is great to be a part of this program and watching those four seniors grow up since the second grade. It has been a great ride and I just feel really grateful," coach Glasser said. "[The underclassmen] are a lot of great kids and a lot of determined kids that want to be successful. Hopefully they keep that hunger, because they have the drive and they have a goal and they are pretty determined and I am excited to see where it ends up."