One of the things that I enjoy trying to identify in every game that I go to is the turning point. When the game goes from an even tilt to one team having the advantage over the other. Sometimes it's as clear as day, other times it doesn't come until the final horn has sounded. But who am I kidding, over the course of quarters, halves and even minutes there can be swings of momentum that seemingly come out of nowhere. Last night's double feature of old cross town rivals had just about everything related to momentum and turning points.
As is normally the case, the girls took the court first. Lead by diminutive freshman Adie Wagner, Fargo South lead for most of the game, often by double figures. Wagner's 24 came in concert with 18 from Sophomore Paige Schroeder. Absent a senior, the Bruins showed that experience isn't everything against a Spartan team with half of it's varsity roster being in their 12th year of education.
So as I watched the first game of the evening, the turning point of the game never revealed itself. All the while, the Bruins maintained their momentum. North made a run to try and turn the course of the game about seven minutes into the second half through the employment of a three quarter court press that trapped the ball handler just beyond half court. Before it could even have genuine impact on South, the Spartans had switched back to a more traditional defensive approach. So the Bruins skated to a 56 - 45 victory.
About 20 minutes after the ladies exited the court, the energy in the building had ramped up and the guys got the main course underway. North jumped out a quick lead that saw Mike Hendrickson take a page out of game 1 and go to a pressure defense. It was as equally short lived for the Bruins as it had been for North, and thus, not especially effective but the Bruins were able to keep the deficit from getting too wide before halftime.
After the break South made quick work of the seven point lead that North had on them which only added to the energy that the largely Bruin based fans were bringing. The swing of momentum that they brought out of the locker room was countered by the Spartans, as both teams began to get a little chirpy and a little chippy on the court. That boiled up to technicals being assessed against a pair of Bruin players within a minutes play of each other, less than half way through the second. That sparked the crowd to turn their intensity up to 11 but also helped spark the Spartans to get some cushion back. Their next two possessions ended with the ball going through the hoop for three points each. The refs were just trying to keep the teams from taking it too far from each but it seemed to me like they were not ready for the game that they got. And to speak plainly, I was loving it. It seemed like a throw back to the days when these were the only two schools on the west side of the river. Rivalries are part of what make sports so great so I couldn't help but smile at the approach that both teams were taking to the other.
So the game continued to be a tug of war between the factions until the final minute of the game. Up by only a layup, Cayden Rickard made what turned out to be the game winning play as he got the ball & doubled his teams lead. But four points can evaporate very quickly in the modern game of Basketball. With time ticking down Josiah Brijlall drove to the basket like he had several times before but got whacked before he could put up a reasonable shot. The hit he took from player and floor was deemed serious enough for a sub to have to come in for the free throws. So in stepped Kameron Arechigo for the tries. As if he had been in the game the whole time, he drilled one then the other to make it a two point game once again. South got another break when the next free throw attempts only gained North a single point off two shots.
But an errant shot by South came to Rickard and he was able to play hero again. Each team scored from the foul line over the final 20 seconds but South could do little else to extend the game or take the lead in regulation.
They had their chances thanks to strong second halves by Dawson Weisenberger (20) & Kiir Mabor (17) and a complete game by Brijlall (16).
The Spartans were just a little beyond them last night. 68 from the trio of Carson Critchley, Cayden Rickard & Keaton Hoeg was just too much for the home team Bruins. I'll say this in closing, if there's a more fiercely played game in the area the rest of the season, I hope I'm in the building! Because even though it's not fun to lose, that was a FUN game to watch!
And the appetizer wasn't half bad either since it included what will hopefully be one of the better teams in the state come playoff time this year and next.
Players of the Game
Any of the three top scorers for North could get the nod for player of the game but I'm going to go with the guy who did it consistently in both halves.
Photos of the Game
For the rest of the photos from each game, click the pics!