Ben Beauchamp is a stud. The 6-foot-4 Monarch 3-point shooter, if given an open look, can hit from just about anywhere around the perimeter. Dakota Ridge knew that, and also knew that Mason Grothuesmann had to do something to contain the Coyotes’ sharpshooter.
In other words, Grothuesmann had to guard Beauchamp just like the Eagles had practiced all week. It paid off quite nicely in the second half.
Dakota Ridge outscored Monarch 35-15 over the game’s final 16 minutes, thanks to a gritty defense that held Beauchamp in check and ignited the Eagles’ free-flowing offense for a 51-37 victory March 1 in front of a packed crowed at Dakota Ridge High School. The win sends the fourth-seeded Eagles (18-6) to their first 5A state tournament Sweet 16 since reaching the Great Eight in 2004. Dakota Ridge will play at top-seeded Overland on March 5 at 7 p.m. in the Bill Weimar Region.
Beauchamp scored 17 of his game-high 24 points in the first half, including a midcourt 3-pointer at the second-quarter buzzer, to give fifth-seeded Monarch (19-6) a 22-16 advantage. Then Grothuesmann, who picked up two early first-half fouls, locked Beauchamp down.
“(Beauchamp) got loose one time in the first half when Mason was guarding him, and then (Mason) got into some foul trouble. Most of those points he scored was without Mason on him,” Dakota Ridge head coach Curi Yutzy said. “Mason did a heck of a job defensively on him the entire second half. He was there on the catch.”
Monarch got up by eight — 24-16 — to open the third quarter before Dakota Ridge scored 13 of the next 14 points and never looked back.
“The first half we didn’t really get into him, and he hit a lot of shots. The second half we pulled it together and started trailing some screens,” Grothuesmann said.
Five of Beauchamp’s seven second-half points came from the foul line after Dakota Ridge had run its lead to 39-29 behind a 10-2 run to open the fourth quarter. Monarch never got closer than six points after that.
While Grothuesmann’s defensive work was evident, Jacob Flores’ defensive presence is not to be forgotten. He locked down on Monarch’s Jay MacIntyre, holding the Coyotes’ second-leading scorer to just eight points — 4.8 points below his average.
“He was awesome on 55,” Yutzy said. “(MacIntyre) is another guy that can change the game, and Jake Flores did a great job of making it very tough for him to get the ball into the paint like he likes to do.”
The Eagles’ turnover-creating defensive pressure sparked a listless offense that couldn’t find a rhythm in the first half against Monarch’s methodical offensive set. Point guard Cambrian Antrillo benefited the most from Dakota Ridge’s revived offense, scoring 11 of his team-best 13 points in the second half. Devante Jones came off the bench to score 12, most of those in the fourth quarter as Dakota Ridge put the game out of reach.
“We pushed the ball more and got the offense moving. The first half we didn’t really get our offense moving. It was one pass and drive,” Antrillo said.
Dakota Ridge has now won four straight and eight of its last nine games.
Contact Michael Hicks at email@example.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.