Westhope/Newburg takes down No. 1 North Star in Division B title game 65-52

Mar. 16—MINOT — In a jam without Walker Braaten on the floor, Westhope/Newburg was bending but not breaking just yet as North Star earned its bonus and found a way to disrupt the Sioux.

Then came two-consecutive threes from Dayton Hawkins to restore a double-digit lead and end the third quarter ahead 49-37.

Westhope-Newburg would go on to win 65-52 and claim a Division B title in just its second state appearance as a co-op. While Hawkins hit those poised threes, it was Braden Bailey that was the difference-maker beyond the arc for the Sioux. He collected 26 points.

"He's unreal," Westhope/Newburg coach Anthony Lee told WDAY. "He's been unreal these last three years. He's a special player and puts in the time. I think he gets overlooked a little with his size, but he's a special kid."

As the Westhope/Newburg lead pushed all the way to 20 in the fourth quarter, Bailey drew a foul from three — hitting all three from the line — and then earned a three the natural way. He even came up with a block in the championship effort.

Westhope/Newburg was able to keep up with high-scoring North Star every step of the way. Between 29 combined three-pointers in the first half from the two teams, Bailey and Braaten were able to sink long and contested threes while creating havoc for the likes of Dane Hagler and Parker Simon down low.

"I knew they had it in them all year long. They've worked for this for a real long time. Their love for each other is something else and I'm glad I get to be a part of it," Lee told WDAY.

While Hagler finished with 25 points, he had to work for the majority of them.

Early offenses from both sides combined for 13 straight threes to open the ball game. The Sioux took the 17-14 edge with Bailey and Braaten each hitting a pair. Each team combined for 16 threes in the first quarter.

Braaten came up with an emphatic block on Hagler during the back and forth to give the Sioux some momentum.

The track meet continued in the second quarter. A brief 21-19 North Star lead was quickly erased by threes from Bailey and Braaten. An eight-point lead took Westhope into the break up 31-23 paced by 13 points from Bailey and nine points from Braaten.

Braaten took a tumble early in the third quarter going to the rim and landed right on his back. He labored and even managed to get a fastbreak point, but had to make his way out of the game. He came back into the game to a thunderous applause later on.