Article by Joe Mellenbruch, Devils Lake Journal, posted Feb. 24, 2014 at 11:00am.
[Top: Journal Photo by Joe Mellenbruch: Three minutes into the second half of Sunday's Mon-Dak clash between Lake Region State and Bismarck State College, LRSC sophomore point guard Melvin Langstaff drove the lane and finished a nice solo effort for his 1000th career collegiate point. His 1008 career points rand him eighth in LRSC history.
Bottom: Melvin Langstaff with Coach Joe Kittell receiving the game ball.]
DEVILS LAKE -- Sunday evening was a great night for Lake Region State Men’s Basketball (19-11, 4-6 Mon-Dak) for more than one reason.
The men’s team capped the 2013-14 regular season with its fifth consecutive victory, including its third straight in conference play with a convincing 88-69 victory over Bismarck State College.
This season has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for the Royals, filled with moments of triumphant success and head-scratching disappointments, but one of the most consistent aspects of the LRSC team this season has been the play of sophomore guard Melvin Langstaff, who surpassed a personal milestone against the Mystics on Sunday night.
With his team nursing a nine-point lead early in the second half, Langstaff drove the lane as he so often does, finishing a nice solo effort between two Bismarck State defenders, giving him 12 for the game and 1,000 for his LRSC career.
“It feels pretty good,” Langstaff said following his team’s 19-point victory. “I can’t complain. It’s pretty amazing.”
The LRSC sophomore finished the game with 20 points to lead all scorers. His 1,008 career points ranks him eighth in Lake Region State College history.
But though he was pleased by his own personal accomplishment, Langstaff seems just as committed to the team as a whole. Prior to his college career, Langstaff admitted that reaching 1,000 points wasn’t on his mind at all. What was? Winning a national championship.
While winning an NJCAA title might be a daunting task for the Royals to accomplish this season, it certainly seems like Joe Kittell’s team is heating up at exactly the right time.
Against the Mystics, LRSC’s impressive form was on full display for the home fans.
“That was probably the best 40 minutes of basketball we’ve put together all season,” Kittell said. “BSC already beat us at their place, so it’s not like they’re a bad team. We just put it together from start to finish. The guys were focused, and they played all the way to the end.”
The opening few minutes were much more hotly contested than the remainder of the game as Bismarck State actually held a 16-15 lead midway through the first half. A subsequent 9-2 LRSC run put the Royals ahead by six with 6:29 to play in the half, inspiring a BSC timeout in the process.
From there, Lake Region never looked back.
Punctuated by a Kharie Kirkland half-court buzzer beater, the Royals went into halftime with an 11-point lead at the break. Langstaff came into the half with nine points, needing just three more to eclipse his career 1,000-point plateau.
It took Langstaff less than three minutes into the second half to score three more points, at which point the game was stopped for a brief moment to honor the LRSC sophomore for his special accomplishment.
But after his moment of recognition, basketball ensued, and Lake Region State picked things back up without skipping a beat.
The Royals’ advantage never dipped below 10 after Langstaff’s 1,000th point. Lake Region State went on to win by 19 points, far from the high-scoring, seven-point loss they suffered at the hands of the Mystics less than a month ago.
The win over Bismarck State, an opponent that defeated Lake Region earlier in the season, gave the Royals their third straight conference victory, an admirable accomplishment considering the team had won just one of its first seven Mon-Dak games.
Now, the team is matched up against another conference opponent in Williston State, who LRSC will play in the first round of the Region XIII tournament this Wednesday night in Williston. The Tetons have defeated Lake Region twice already this season, most recently a 78-69 decision on Feb. 2.
Kittell knows that playing on the road against top competition will not be an easy task, but he and his players are ready to give their best effort on Wednesday.
“We just have to go out there and compete,” Kittell said. “It think we finally stopped ‘playing.’ Our guys used to go out and just play, and I think in these last three games, we’ve gone out and competed, gone out to actually accomplish something, to win. I think that’s the biggest difference for us right now. We’re competing, and we want to win.”
Tip-off for this Wednesday’s game is scheduled for 8 p.m. in Williston. The Royals will need a win if they hope to extend their season.