BISMARCK — Close to achieving their season goal of qualifying for state, Dickinson fell to Mandan on the final day of the Western Dakota Association tournament on Saturday night — sealing their fate and closing the book on their season.

The hard-fought game saw five lead changes before ending with the score high and the margin narrow at 75-71 in favor of the Braves.

Despite the season-ending loss, the Midgets and junior guard Alex Dvorak made it clear that the experience will only strengthen them for next season.

“We have to come back here,” Dvorak said. “It really hurts to go out like this when that was our goal this season. We were able to, but it just didn’t happen. We didn’t do what we had to do, but we’ll be back .

Dickinson entered the game with senior Grant Bittner, a starter, injured in Midget’s game against Jamestown the day before. The woes continued on the field as second-year goaltender Damon Glasser limped to the bench early in the second half. Senior guard Elijah Pavlicek nearly missed the game struggling with an unstable stomach that started the morning of the game.

Elijah Pavlicek two points from the foul line put Dickinson to a one-point deficit heading into the second half.

Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“It stinks just before your last game and not all of them were available,” Dickinson head coach Dan Glasser said. “I feel so bad for Grant Bittner. There’s a kid who’s played and loved basketball his whole life and he’s just not able to make it to his very last game in high school. That’s what hurts the most. Losses are easy to overcome, but it’s hard when you’re going to lose four big (senior) kids.”

Dickinson’s toughness started early, after losing the pipe to Mandan, Dvorak would quickly catch his first flight and convert on the other end to give Dickinson the edge on the gate.

The biggest first-half lead would be 8 points, at 30-22, but Dickinson would stay close throughout with three and timely moves to the foul line.

Dvorak’s 3 for 4 from beyond the arc coupled with the clutch performance of senior Elijah Pavlicek of the charity strip would make it a one-point game at halftime.

Alex Dvorak (1) had three 3-pointers in the first half against Mandan on Saturday, March 5.

Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

The teams would return to the court to start the second half at 36-35 in favor of the Braves, but Dickinson would take the lead in the first three minutes thanks to a pair of 3-pointers from Glasser and senior guard Britton Cranston to bring the score. at 40-38.

Dickinson found himself foul early in the second, as senior striker Isaac Daley picked up back-to-back personal fouls before taking the bench.

“It’s tough,” Glasser said. “Obviously you have to face Grubb from Mandan downstairs and we get on well with him when Isaac is in the game.”

The waning minutes of third would see the game’s biggest lead after the Midgets went on a 10-2 run with 12 minutes remaining.

Mandan did not stay silent on the night and responded with a 13-2 run with less than three minutes left in the period, a run that would see Glasser out due to injury.

Senior Isaac Daley returns to the game in the second half to provide much-needed post support against Mandan on Saturday March 5.

Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

With Glasser out, Dickinson would bring Daley back onto the field in a move that would have an immediate impact as he would help steer the team through another lead change to restore a Midget lead to 57-53 at the end of the third.

Junior guard Drew Biel put up two threes, each tying the game, before Mandan’s back-to-back steals and long-range shots took the final game lead.

Drew Biel was 3 for 4 three-pointers against Mandan on Saturday, March 5.

Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

With the Braves in double bonuses, they would hold their lead for the rest on accurate shots from the charity stripe to close the game at 75-71.

“I just think it’s hard for kids to adjust in a post-season tournament when he’s referred differently than he’s been referred all season,” Glasser said. “We were really successful when we worked the ball. We were able to get good penetration and open up some guys, but I think overall we didn’t match their physicality.

Strong performances from Dvorak and Cranston earned spots on the All-WDA team, with Dvorak finishing the game with 22 points and five boards. Cranston led the team in rebounds with 8 and had 14 points on the night.

Senior guard Britton Cranston earned a spot on the All-WDA team.

Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“I tried to be a role model for all these guys,” Cranston said. “I think they will come back here next year. They all already have offensive talent. If they go down and play good defense, they will be good.

It was a tough way to end the season, but Coach Glasser made sure each of his players knew how grateful they were for their commitment to Dickinson’s program and to each other.

” That’s all I can say. One of the most enjoyable seasons I’ve had as a coach,” Glasser said. “I just wanted one more week, but this is a special group and hopefully the younger guys can take what these four great leaders have taught them this year and carry on this tradition that we started here.”

Box scores:

First half Second part Final
mandan 36 39 75
Dickinson 35 36 71

mandan: Aaron Grubb 23 years old, Tahrye Frank 16 years old, Luke Darras 12 years old, Karsyn Jablonski 8 years old, Lucas Burgum 5 years old, Nathan Gerding 11 years old; Dickinson: Alex Dvorak 22, Isaac Daley 12, Britton Cranston 14, Drew Biel, Damon Glasser 9, Tyrese Annace 3, Elijah Pavlicek 2