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Dakota wins Palace debut

In the long run, it may pay off for Kuyper, who also is the team's general manager, and Dakota coach Ryan Miller, who hope to bring the MBA to Mitchell on at least a part-time basis next season.

In the long run, it may pay off for Kuyper, who also is the team's general manager, and Dakota coach Ryan Miller, who hope to bring the MBA to Mitchell on at least a part-time basis next season.

Dakota (9-5) pulled away from a close game in the second quarter, used a strong overall effort from Dakota Wesleyan alum Austin Ledeboer and cruised to a 144-119 win in front of approximately 950 fans that came to the Palace for the combined MBA game and an appearance by Mitchell native and Orlando Magic forward Mike Miller.

"This is a great sign," Kuyper said of the crowd in the first half. "I really didn't know what to expect, but they're here supporting the team."

With Miller holding an open-forum press conference, during which fans also asked questions, and then later signing autographs, perhaps the Lightning Boltz were guaranteed a substantial following for their matchup against the team from Jamestown, N.D.

And although fans steadily filtered out of the Palace in the second half - with Dakota holding large leads - the attendance still was enough to give Kuyper and Ryan Miller, the team's other owner, confidence that the MBA can work in Mitchell next season.

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"We're pretty excited. Next year, I look for bigger and even better things from this team," Miller said. "Winning over fans is a never-ending process. You're always trying to make people believe, but I think this could be successful (in Mitchell). We still have a lot of people to win over, but every fan counts."

The MBA - which earlier this season was known as the Xtreme Basketball Association - originally wanted to place a franchise in the Corn Palace, but the proposal was voted down by the City Council, which cited concerns about arena availability after a recent state change to move the girls' basketball season concurrent with the boys' season.

The Palace was home to the International Basketball Association's South Dakota Gold in 2001, but the franchise folded after the only season in Mitchell.

Miller said the key for the Lightning Boltz on Wednesday was to take advantage of the crowd and "work hard."

"If you work hard, they'll come back and watch again," he said.

The team's work ethic wasn't in question Wednesday. After holding a 33-29 lead heading into the second quarter, Dakota took a 68-52 halftime lead and, with the exception of only a few minutes in the second half, wasn't threatened.

The team broke the 100-point mark with 2:29 to play in the third quarter and had 113 points heading into the fourth.

Ledeboer, an Armour native who was an all-American at Dakota Wesleyan, had a game-high 25 points, while Dakota's H.L. Coleman, who played with the Gold in 2001, had 24. Also for Dakota, John White had 23 points and Terrence Newby had 20.

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Dakota went 50-of-94 from the floor and 24-of-33 at the free-throw line, and had 45 rebounds to Buffalo City's 36. Buffalo City went 40-of-93 from the floor and 22-of-30 at the line.

Korrie Wenzel has been publisher of the Grand Forks Herald and Prairie Business Magazine since 2014.

He is a member of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. board of directors and, in the past, has served on boards for Junior Achievement, the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, United Way, Empire Arts Center, Cornerstones Career Learning Center and Crimestoppers.


As publisher, Wenzel oversees news, advertising and business operations at the Herald, as well as the newspaper's opinion content.



Wenzel can be reached at 701-780-1103, or via Twitter via @korriewenzel.
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