Roars & a whimper
Friday, March 1 was the tipping point for more high school Basketball seasons in the Fargo/Moorhead/West Fargo area. Five of the eight teams playing at the home of the Bison were from Fargo or West Fargo. That's the roar and I'll get to the whimper after.
The day's play started with Wahpeton taking their best shot at Shanley. It was the tie breaker of the season series that saw each team win their home game. On the neutral court of the SHAC, the evenness of the teams was evident over the 36 minutes. Wahpeton was lead by Bryce Rader while the usual suspect for the Deacons, Talon Hoffer, did not counter the offensive output. The offense for Shanley was a combination of four players with eight or 10 points. Braden DeKeyser & Brayden Bares chipped in with eight while Owen Mears & Daniel Wanner paced their play. So it was a showdown of explosion versus balance. Rader followed his 15 point first half with another 10 in the second. The Robin to his Batman was Jared Bartels who finished with nine points. So the game came down to who had the ball last. As Wahpeton clung to their two point half time lead, getting it to four but also losing it to Shanley over the course of the 18 key minutes, it was down to who could close better. The Deacons had their chances to tie it late but they couldn't quite retake the lead.
Wahpeton 49, Shanley 45
What game one was especially good for was setting the table of expectations for the day. Sheyenne & North took the baton and kept right on running with it. North was ready to go from the opening tip and played it's way to a six point lead after a quarter of play. That's not enough to get comfortable but Sheyenne made sure everyone knew it was going to be more of a game than that. They dropped eight quick points to give themselves the two point lead, only to have the Spartans score six straight to go back up by four. It seemed like North was going to be able to take the lead into the second half but the Mustangs had a different idea.
A dunk brought their bench and many of the fans in the stands to their feet. Christian Kuntz followed that up with a jumper to score two of his four first half points and end the scoring for the half. Now playing from behind, it was North's turn to respond. It wasn't until Sheyenne had gone up by eight that the Spartans were able to mount their rally to tie the game at 42. The next punch proved to be the knockout, as the Mustangs quickly regained their lead and were able to hold it through the buzzer. North did close the gap to as little as five but the game got not closer than that.
North finished with 19 from Jake Loberg in 19 minutes of play with Keaton Hoeg & Carter Peratt adding 13 & Jonas Geston rounding out with 10. For the Mustangs it was also a four way split for the majority of the offensive load but with four others helping out as opposed to only two bringing up the rear for North. Tyler Terhark matched 19 while Blake Berg added 14, Kuntz finished with 12 & Nathan Goldade 11. It was the slightest of edges but sometimes that's all it takes to win!
Sheyenne 72, North 66
Davies was next on the schedule and took to the court against Grand Forks Red River but wasn't as inclined to appeasing those who like the dramatic moments in sports. The Roughriders gave it their best effort to start the game and to their credit, held the lead a quarter of the way through. That was as close as it came to being a nail biter.
The Eagle's machine scored the next 15 points in the game and never had much reason to sweat the rest of the way. Red River managed to trim it to nine at the break only to have Davies push their lead to 20 and beyond. Within the onslaught of the first half came the signature moment of the day as Braeton Motschenbacher scored his 1,000th point on a three to give his team the lead for good. It was his signature moment and could only have been better if on the stages that are yet to come. His game high 27 was accompanied by 11 from Jaden Klabo & Jayden Roos. Grand Forks was lead by 15 from Bryce Enerson, 12 from Kobe Springer & 11 from Brady Dvorak.
Davies 81, Grand Forks Red River 61
So all that was left was to find out who would be Davies opponent on Saturday night.
Devils Lake managed to hang with West Fargo over the first 18 minutes, in a loose sense of the phrase. They kept it to a nine point game and had the leading scorer in Grant Nelson & his 11 points but the story lines wouldn't be as juicy in a Firebirds/Eagles rematch. Not to mention that West Fargo just showed that it was the better team.
They took their nine point lead and pushed it to 17, four minutes into the resumption of play. From there, they practically costed to the end and still won by 14. Luke Lennon finished with 21 & 10 while Matt Miller, Hunter Lyman & Carson Hegerle all aded at least 10 points for West Fargo. The Firebirds finished with 10 from Josh Dahlen & 15 from Nelson.
So West Fargo will look to make it a sweep of Davies for the EDC crown while the Eagles will have the chance to avenge their only losses of the year in the sweetest way possible. It was a great day of Basketball that was the tip of the spear for hoops action around the Red River Valley. It was a great day, but what followed was much less impressive.
Today saw state playoff hopeful Park Christan facing Ada-Borup in girl's high school Basketball. The Falcons had played their way to a #3 seed in the section tournament so after a first round bye and a second round win came a rematch with the only team that beat them twice. Park got a monster of a performance from their star player, Karley Motschenbacher with 36 points. The Cougars had no answer for her, she was special on the stage when special players are supposed to shine the brightest. But Ada-Borup did have answers for everyone else on the Falcons roster, the sum total of their contribution to the effort was eight points. 44 is enough offense sometimes. But not when the other team keeps getting extra possessions. The key difference in the game was that Park did not take care of the ball well enough. End of story. It was a whimpering, sad & unexpected performance by them when they could not afford to do what they did.
The good news for them is that they will return with much the same team next year and will look to right the mistakes of today. But for now, it was a disappointing end to a great day and a half of high school Basketball.
With both the girl's & boy's EDC championships playing out tonight, there's a great chance that the weekend will end much better than this afternoon's display. So be on the lookout for photos and more about those games! I wish the Falcons the best, it was fun following them this season and I look forward to next year but I have to call a spade, a spade.