Riders got thrown off
West Fargo was not a gracious host. But home teams aren't supposed to be in competition. It was far from the most one sided game that I've seen this year but the Packers were in control from the tip. The key to their success was junior guard Joe Pistorius who came within a basket of a 30 point night. It was more then just a one man show for the home team, who received contributions from six additional players.
The most notable Robin to Pistorius' Batman was senior guard John Morton, who finished with the second most points in the game for WF. Those two were joined in double digits by sophomore center Luke Lennon, junior guard Abdi Sufi & senior guard Raiden Forrest. The last man on the list did all of his work in the second half, after seemingly not taking a shot in the first half.
Despite being down early and often through the game, Red River didn't come down from Grand Forks to not compete. Due in large part to a quick six points by senior center Mason Benefield the Roughriders managed to close the deficit to three points at the half. It also helped that they had the most athletic player on the court in junior guard/forward Jordan Polynice. His offensive game was limited in the second half but he still managed to be the second highest scorer in the game. His teams also picked up more of the work on offense. Benefield added in a pair of three pointers and did some good work around the glass as well. Diminutive guard Mark Toe also helped relieve Polynice on the offensive end with double digits in the second half as well.
The story for the visitors was Polynice though. There was a series of possessions where he got a block on defense, then scored a bucket on offense. He hustled for loose balls and just kept making plays. He was the one who needed to take over in crunch time for them to have a chance of winning and he did a pretty good job of it.
But the feeling in the gymnasium never swayed too greatly in Red River's favor. Even when the Roughriders managed to take the lead, the Packers just continued to play their game and eventually couldn't be matched. Usually the atmosphere during a game like this would have been better but if someone were just listening to the gym it would have seemed like a small audience. I have to wonder how things may have gone differently if the predominantly West Fargo fan base had collectively cheered for their team. Even with the oddly quiet atmosphere it seemed to me that the odds were well in the favor of the Packers who displayed their mental fortitude and finished the game up 12.
Player of the game
When a guy gets close to scoring 30 there really isn't anyone else in contention for POTG. So without an adieu: